Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Barry Bonds trial finally begins

Barry Bonds, all-time home run leader and single-season home run champion, finally went on trial Tuesday.

He is charged with four counts of perjury when he testified before a grand jury in regards to the BALCO scandal that he was involved with.

As big of a deal as this trial is, it seems that the media has finally grown tired of the Bonds story. Sure, there were a few headlines, but it really wasn't the big baseball story of the day. That is a surprise considering that no games that most baseball writers are desperate to write about something different than team previews and fifth starter battles.

Has the sports fan finally turned the page on the so-called "Steroid Era"? Has the poster boy for steroids going on trial really turned into a second page story? Bonds holds what was once the most sacred record in baseball.

Babe Ruth's 1927 season in which he hit 60 home runs stood as a record until Roger Maris broke the record on the final day of the 1961 season, and even that new record had an asterisks next to it because then-commissioner Ford Frick claimed that Ruth's record would have to be bested in the first 154 games to match the number of games the slugger played in his record season.

The reality is, besides Ruth and Maris, only three players have ever tallied 60+ home run seasons. Those three are Mark McGwire, an admitted steroid user, Sammy Sosa, who has tested positive for steroids, and Barry Bonds, who, in court on Tuesday had his lawyers argue that he used steroids, but didn't know it.

The general public is so sick of the steroid talk that even an admission of steroid use from the third new member of the 60+ home run club doesn't get more than a minute of attention from the sports world. The owner of both the all-time home run record and the single-season home run record admits through his lawyer that he was physically altered through steroids, and no one cares.

The fact is, baseball needs to do something to acknowledge the steroid era. It is their black eye that has ruined their sacred record book. It is the pink elephant in the room that makes media guides blasphemous and hall of fame ballots more about finger-pointing then about the way someone played.

No longer does baseball need Bonds to be convicted to address the issue. Many of Bonds' defenders have said that there is no proof that he did steroids and that he has never admitted it. Well, that argument now goes out the window. The fact is, whether or not Bonds knew what he was doing or not, his body was enhanced by illegal steroids.

Also, Bonds case in court may be that he didn't know what he was taking, and a jury may buy that, but should the general public? Is there anyone out there who honestly believes that a professional athlete who is making upwards of $22 million per year and is a self-professed workout junkie would take a supplement without knowing what is in it is simply naive. These players livelihood depends on what they put into their body and how well they take care of it. Would a player playing at the level that Bonds was continue to take a supplement or put a needle into their body without ever questioning its ingredients? Maybe not at first, but when their body started to transform and the magic of steroids started to make the body feel so much better and become so much bigger, at that point, wouldn't even an everyday Joe start to wonder what is in the stuff that he is taking?

If Bonds didn't know what he was taking, would Greg Anderson, his personal trainer and lifelong friend continue to go sit in a jail cell for time that has amounted to over a year rather than simply testify? If his testimony is simply that Bonds had no idea what he was putting into his body, wouldn't that be pretty easy to say? Wouldn't that be easier than going to jail for the duration of every trial?

The reality is, if Bonds has an IQ of just above idiot levels, he knew what he was doing. So whether Bonds comes out of his federal case guilty, or not guilty, fans, even San Francisco Giants fans, should acknowledge that Bonds was a cheater. This doesn't mean that 90 percent of the players that Bonds was playing with weren't cheaters also, but it still puts Bonds, along with the two other record-breakers on the guilty side of steroid use.

Instead of hiding in the shadows and hoping that they can weather the storm, as Bud Selig and the rest of Major League Baseball brass seem to be doing, they should take a stand. This would be as good of time as any to erase the record and give it back to it's rightful owner, Roger Maris. It would make a statement to the steroid era and it would suggest that baseball will not put up with cheaters.

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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