Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Barry Bonds On Trial Underway But Does Anyone Care?

Today in San Francisco the criminal trial for Barry Bonds, or as its officially known The United States of America vs. Barry Lamar Bonds, case 07-0732, began as the prosecution will attempt to prove that Barry Bonds committed perjury seven years ago when under oath he swore that he had never knowingly taken perforation enhancing drugs.  Bonds told the court that he believed was taking flax seed oil and using arthritis cream which in his openings statement today Assistant U.S. attorney Matt Parrella called "ridiculous and unbelievable."

This trial is the culmination of eight years worth of relentless work by the prosecutors to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Barry Bonds is a liar and a cheat.  Makes you wonder why they spent so much time and money trying to prove something that everybody already knows anyways.

Barry Bonds used performance enhancing drugs to become a better baseball player, of this there is no doubt.  I don't need a jury of 12 people and a judge to tell me that, nor do I need to hear it from Bonds himself.  The proof that Bonds cheated exists on every website that keeps baseball stats and every image of Bonds that shows how he transformed from an average sized human being to a gorilla almost overnight.

I'm not going to sit here and throw stats at you about how as Bonds aged he got stronger or about how his batting average in August was otherworldly and the grind of the season didn't slow him down like it did to other players even though he was close to 40 (Tom Verducci of SI.com already did that).  If you have followed baseball at all over the past decade you know about all this and by now you, like myself, are unmoved by it.

Before this trial began I don't think I had heard the name Barry Bonds in well over a year.  He is beyond irrelevant as baseball fans have moved on from caring about him and are now once again focusing back on the field.  The fact that these lawyers have been working so hard to prove that Bonds lied back in 2004 is ridiculous.  How much money has been wasted on this trial at this point all for the sake of saying 'I told you so' to the media?  What do these lawyers expect to happen should Bonds be proven guilty, which by the way is next to impossible as the evidence is lacking and his former trainer Greg Anderson refuses to testify?

Fans have already made up their mind about Barry Bonds and have moved on.  No one has been sitting around for eight years waiting for the outcome of this trial to pass their own personal judgment of Bonds. Bonds has already been judged in the court of public opinion and the outcome there is far more severe then any punishment he would receive for perjury.

What I do find really interesting about this trial is that it has been eight years in the making.  Think of the other players who were caught for performance enhancing drugs and how their lives have been affected over the past few years.  Sammy Sosa continued to play for a little while and then quietly retired in 2009 and has been out of the public eye since.  Mark McGwire got burned a bit by the public but has now reinvented himself as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bonds on the other hand has been the target of the authorities for eight years now and has earned the ire of every baseball fan in North America (even people in San Francisco who used to defend him seem to have given up on him now) and I find that fascinating.

When Sosa and McGwire were hitting all their home runs nobody cared, or even wondered, if they were on steroids.  Ignorance is bliss as they say.  But as soon as Bonds starting blasting them out of the park every other at bat people started to wonder why and more importantly people got upset.  Bonds became the face of the steroid era and has never been able to shake the  accusations that he cheated and earned the title of Home Run King' unfairly.

The reason for that, I think, is because Bonds is a prick.  He is cold to the media and just genuinely seems like a real asshole as opposed to Sosa, who is constantly smiling and creating handshakes in the dugout, and McGwire who was nicknamed 'Big Mac' and had an engaging personality and seemed like a decent guy.  Had Bonds been a better person he probably could have avoided a lot of the vitriol and maybe even avoided some of the hassle from the authorities.

But now Bonds is back in the media again and will no doubt be mentioned on PTI everyday for the rest of the week despite the fact that as I mentioned earlier this trial will change the minds of absolutely no one.  I get why the prosecution wants to nail Bonds.  Lying to the grand jury is something that can't go unpunished but at some point an investigation that lasts eight years for a simple perjury crosses the line into theatrics.  This is no longer about whether Bonds lied or not, its now about making an example of Barry Bonds.

The outcome of the trial could take weeks to be decided and I have already lost interest in the whole thing, well that's not technically true as I was never interested in the trial to begin with.  Bonds is a liar and a cheat and it doesn't take eight years and a trial to figure that out.

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