…. Attack of the drones

Bill Madden continues his relentless character attacks of Barry Bonds in this column.

…. Baseball desperately wants Bonds to go too – but in his case, permanently. As the (unconfessed) face of steroids in baseball, Bonds has become the worst kind of detriment to the game. However, unlike what Stern might have done, Selig isn’t going to have to devise any secret, behind-the-scenes schemes to get rid of him. The government is going to do it for him. Because assuming Bonds is brought up on perjury, tax evasion or money laundering charges, or all of the above, Selig then has the power to suspend him.

So at last Aaron’s Holy Grail record of 755 homers appears safe….

Is this guy unbelievable or what? Here is a sportswriter not only cheering the news that Bonds’ injury may prevent him from breaking Aaron’s record, he’s also blatantly misrepresenting the facts of the situation. OBM reader Tim Schultz obviously has a better grip on reality than Madden:

This is what you all need to remember when it comes to perjury for Barry Bonds: these are federal prosecutors, who while ambitious, tend to be much less prone to ego prosecutions. While Michael Rains is almost certainly correct that this case has always been “U.S. v. Bonds” as far as IRS investigator Jeff Novitzky goes, I don’t think it’s a fair characterization of the Dept. of Justice’s approach.

In order for testimony to be perjury, it has to 1) be material to the matter in question, and 2) knowingly false. It’s arguable that, even if Bonds used steroids at some point, it wasn’t *material* to his grand jury testimony unless the prosecution can link those drugs to Anderson.

For instance, suppose that, in an investigation of a purported Hollywood drug dealer, the U.S. Attorney subpoenas all start associated with the target. Let’s say one such star is Matt Damon, a guy who, while no angel, does not want his career associated with such seediness. When asked if “Blackie the Pusher” ever provided him with illegal narcotics, he says “No.” When asked if he has EVER taken illegal narcotics, he says “No.”

Now, inasmuch as this is a case about Blackie, even is Matt IS lying about his past use, it’s probably not material to his Grand Jury testimony.

But now imagine that all the prosecutor had was the testimony of a woman with whom Matt had had an affair with, who comes forward to tell the Grand Jury that Matt did say to her that he used drugs. She comes forward first to Geraldo Rivera, and only after a protracted legal negotiation about money Damon had supposedly promised her.

If there’s more evidence that what’s been reported, there well might be legal jeapordy. But as of now, both on materiality, and on the testimony that would now apparently comprise the heart of the case, no federal prosecutor would indict.

OBM reader Steve P also demonstrates some synapse activity:

I want to emphasize that this is not just the FEDS in the Eliot Ness comic book sense, but an investigation into non-payment of taxes… right, it’s not actually even about drug dealing except in the sense that it involved off the books financial transactions.

Bonds didn’t receive any illicit income here, he might have paid people cash for supplements, steroids, their winning personality, whatever. The girlfriend is on the hook if she accepted gifts without reporting them or paying taxes, thus a motivation to provide some….juice….(OK that was cheap, but I DON’T CARE!!!), to get immunity.

Bond’s isn’t on the hook, because he wasn’t getting any money from this (a debatable quid pro quo for BALCO’s legal supplement is the closest this comes). So let’s just drop the whole BS line of OMG the FEDS!!!! Bonds isn’t even remotely close to being charged with anything. He’s not bunking with Scott Peterson in May. Baseball ain’t gonna be suspending him in two weeks….he’s got a bum knee.

There are no pretenses to get into finances, I am pretty sure that Bonds’ tax returns have been examined and unless he was reselling his first class fares to ride in coach (oh yeah, that’s likely), or taking cash at autograph shows (Bonds really does have a similar hair cut to Pete Rose), there is not only no fire there, but there is not even a whiff of smoke.

Madden oughta be ashamed of himself. To celebrate Bonds’ injury and pain for the sake of a headline is disgraceful.

So many people read these guys and have their minds made up by them, it’s no wonder AOL Sports has a poll in which 92% of respondents say they believe Bonds used steroids. You ever hear of propaganda? That’s what this is. Propaganda. A non-stop assault on Bonds, for all these years of being a bitchy interview, a difficult target, for being unwilling to play along.

He is already convicted in the court of public opinion, it’s too late, I know. But it really pisses me off.

Update: I don’t read the NY Post very often. It is much more of a tabloid than the NY Daily News, always has been; but I just happened to see today’s backpage, and it leaves me seething.


And it’s not just one headline-grabbing insult. No, here’s Mike Vaccaro telling Barry that he should retire, for the good of baseball.

…. Bonds should take his time away to reflect on all the damage he’s inflicted on himself and on a game that has made him wildly rich and famous. He should understand that nobody in baseball wants him to break Aaron’s record, not now, not after he’s been exposed as a fraud and a liar, not after all the hate mail and death threats Aaron had to endure on his way to 755 home runs, every one of them collected with clean blood and honestly earned muscle.

Reflect on all the damage he’s done to baseball?! That’s what this Vaccaro wants, for Barry to reflect on the damage he’s done to the game?!? So, I guess that reading between the lines, Vaccaro thinks that it’s writers like him that make this game so great. It’s not the great baseball players, obviously. No, it must be the fantastic writing being done by hacks like him that drives me to the backpages everyday.

Or maybe it’s morons like Joel Sherman that foster my love for the game. I mean, why shouldn’t we compare Bonds unfavorably to Hank Aaron? Aaron played baseball back when the only extra boost available was amphetamines and cut-throat competition. Well, what do I expect, that Sherman would have any real understanding or knowledge of the history of the game? That hacks like these guys should, oh I don’t know, stick to covering what transpires between the lines and let the fans decide whether or not they want to see Barry hit home runs.

Or how about Kevin Kernan?

…. Bernie Williams said, “I don’t know what’s on his mind. It seems like he’s under a lot of pressure. He’s frustrated with all that’s happening to him. He’s pursuing all these milestones, but instead of hearing positive stories he’s hearing negative. This should be one of the greatest moments of his career, but it’s turning into a bitter situation,” Williams said. “I think it’s sad.”

A sad situation, but a situation Bonds helped create.*

As a fan of the game, (Derek) Jeter said he is excited about seeing Bonds attempt to break the all-time home-run record. Bonds is at 703 home runs, behind Babe Ruth at 714 and Aaron at 755.

“All this stuff aside, baseball-wise, it’s exciting anytime you have someone approaching records or milestones,” Jeter said. “It keeps everyone watching. I think that’s great for the game. It puts the attention on the game in a positive way. Unfortunately, you have all this other stuff that’s going on. He loves to play the game. He’s one of the greatest players of all time, so I’m looking forward to seeing him back on the field playing.”

*Italics mine

You think Derek Jeter or Bernie Williams might have an idea of what’s good for baseball? Or is it Kevin Kernan who’s the custodian of the good of the game? I mean, it’s not writers like Kernan who have helped create Bonds’ situation is it?

I mean, these writers have certainly demonstrated that they have their finger on the pulse of the fans, given that Bonds and the Giants were the number one road attraction in the NL last season. Isn’t that evidence enough that the fans might want to see Barry make history?

It’s something else, reading one writer after another presume to tell Barry to retire, for the good of the game, (and the children, I suppose, let’s not forget the children); while in the same breath ridicule Bonds’ assertion that the media play a part in his troubles. You mean, it’s OK for you to have the audacity to tell another person how to live their lives; but it’s outrageous for that person to suggest that when you do, you are making problems for him.

You can slander and speculate with little or no evidence or facts about his legal troubles, but he cannot suggest that without your slander and innuendo and speculation, he’d have none?

Here’s something to think about….

If Bonds had washed his hands of Greg Anderson at the beginning of the BALCO case, came right out and said that Anderson had lied to him and set him up for a fall and misled him; and that if he had doen steroids it was Anderson’s fault for lying to him, would Barry be fogiven?

Or, if he had come clean, and said, yes, I did it. At the time, it wasn’t against baseball’s rules, and I stopped when it was; would he be forgiven then?

Or if he had been drug-testing himself for the last five seasons, and could produce these tests to show that he’s been clean the whole time, would he be forgiven?

He hates the media, has since he watched how his father was literally torn to shreds by them during his troubles with alcohol and drugs; and they hate him. The only difference is that he’s allowed to irresponsibly hate the writers, and treat them as poorly as he likes. Sportswriters are beholden to a code of journalistic ethics; and they are violating it, every day, over and over, with how they are handling this situation. They are a disgrace to their profession, and the sports editors at these papers are as well.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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