“I’m a convicted felon.”
Barry Bonds joked with the media at a Giants game in San Francisco about the outcome of his court case a couple of weeks ago, but at the same time, he was quick to point out that the conviction was never for steroid use.
“I went through the system. And that's what it is,” Bonds said. “And that’s what I got. I went through the system. I’m in an appeal process right now. I was never convicted of steroids.”
This week, Roger Clemens was found not guilty on all six counts in his trial for lying to Congress about his steroid use. Although the powers that be went after him hard, he managed to escape any jail time or probation or even fines. This is despite the fact that the government produced fairly overwhelming evidence that Roger had in fact used steroids during his baseball career. They had the trainer who claims to have injected him on numerous occasions. They had his wife who had even received injections herself, but he still got off.
When they went after Barry Bonds, essentially the same thing happened. He was found guilty on only one count and that came with just 30 days of probation. Although Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice for giving a vague answer, there was even less evidence that he had used performance-enhancing drugs than they had against Clemens. Bonds is appealing that decision.
It seems as though Roger has a steep hill to climb, but at some point, the ticket-buying public will forgive him or at least put his link to steroids out of their collective mind. Many players have been proven and/or admitted to using steroids and they always seem to find their way back into the adoration of the fans. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez would be Exhibit A. In an interview on national television he swore up and down that he had never used drugs to help his game, but a while later his test results were leaked and lo and behold, he was a user. However, to most fans it was almost as if it had never happened. The irony here is that when Baseball first started trying to nail Bonds, many people pointed to A-Rod as someone who would break Barry’s homerun record “the right way.” That is, without the use of drugs.
A-Rod has never received the full scrutiny of the baseball public or even the league itself over this. Others have been excused as well. Andy Pettitte, Jason Grimsley, Mark McGwire and others have used steroids. Even last year’s MVP, Ryan Braun was accused, yet the public goes very easy on them. McGwire was given a job as a hitting coach and no one barely utters a word about the fact that he was all juiced up during the famous homerun race between him and Sammy Sosa during the 1998 season. Andy Pettitte was exposed at the same time as A-Rod as both of their test results were leaked, but Pettitte is still looked at as the Christian family man plodding along, getting strikeouts despite the fact that he plays in the country’s largest media market.
The majority of players suspended for steroid use, have been Latino and most go under the radar barely generating a short newspaper article when they are caught.
It is rare… very rare that a Black baseball player is associated with steroid use, but somehow the one big name, Barry Bonds, is not being allowed to come back from it in the hearts and minds of the fans or in the front offices of any of the 30 Major League teams despite the fact that there is no proof that he actually used steroids.
Barry Bonds is now up for a job in the Giants organization, but nothing will happen until after his appeal plays out. However, after witnessing what has gone on with so many proven steroid using players before him, if Bonds is not allowed back into baseball with the same open arms that welcomed Mark McGwire back, this writer and fan of the sport, will find it very hard to watch baseball ever again.