The results of the Barry Bonds trial, which today concluded with the jury finding baseball’s all-time home run champion guilty of obstructing justice by misleading a grand jury investigating the distribution of illegal and banned steroid to professional athletes but unable to agree on the perjury charges, helps to balance the ethical scales. It should silence the shameless Bonds defenders who misused the “innocent until proven guilty” standard to maintain poor Bonds was being unfairly suspected of inflating his biceps, head, statistics and income through the marvels of chemistry, though it was blatant and obvious in dozens of ways. Now he has been proven guilty—not of everything, but for celebrity justice, in a trial where much of the most damaging evidence was withheld from the jury, enough—, so the claims of racism and unfair prosecution will ring even hollower now.
Prosecutors have to decide whether to re-try Bonds on the deadlocked perjury counts. I hope they don’t. He lied, of course, but the fact that his trainer, steroid-injecter and childhood best friend, Greg Anderson, has repeatedly gone to prison for contempt rather than have to testify against Bonds has stymied their case from the beginning, and will again. I’d just like to see them watch Anderson carefully and wait until he turns up driving a Rolls, so they can try Bonds for bribing a witness, as many people think he did.
Without a conviction of any kind, Barry Bond’s late-career cheating and lying strategy could have been said to have paid off. He got everything he wanted, really—glory, a long career, Hank Aaron’s record, Mark McGwire’s record, more MVP awards than any player who ever lived, and enough money to live like a sultan even after paying his legal bills. His success helped corrupt a generation of ballplayers, encouraging others to cheat, while placing successful sluggers who didn’t cheat under permanent, irreparable suspicion.
The conviction further reduces his chances of being elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, though, ironically, the very mass of records and achievements he collected by cheating continues to persuade muddled sportswriters that he should be admitted anyway. “How can we not include the greatest home run hitter of all time in the Hall?” they ask, illogically. The worse the damage done by a player’s cheating, the less he should be accountable? Here’s the answer, fools: a player who cheated cannot possibly be and isn’t “the greatest” anything. He’s the most successful cheater, that’s all. Start a cheater’s Hall of Fame, and vote him in. He won’t be lonely.
Most objective observers knew what Barry Bonds was, but this verdict makes it official.