The 7½-year itch. The government’s unrelenting attempt to convict Barry Bonds begins once again next month, yet another form of March Madness.
According to the best reports, the feds are now into taxpayers for $6 million in trying to prove Barry is guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. And they’ll be spending a great deal more.
Money that could help our schools. Money that could fix those awful potholes in seemingly every road in Northern California. Money that could keep the U.S. government from going even deeper in debit. OK, the amount is miniscule, but a dollar saved is a dollar earned.
Let us say Bonds indeed took steroids and told a jury he did not. Let us say Bonds at times can be very disagreeable. But he didn’t beat anyone up. He didn’t set up a Ponzi scheme. He merely drove prosecutors to the point of revenge.
Is America really better off because Martha Stewart was removed from society for a few months? What if Barry Bonds was a singles hitter? What if Barry Bonds were Caucasian?
“This is the latest in a long litany of America’s near-obsession with the troublesome black athlete” was part of a comment by Steven Millner of the African Studies Department at San Jose State in 2007.
Greg Anderson, Bonds’ trainer, who already has served more than a year in jail for his refusal to cooperate, again will not testify against Bonds, which attorneys agree weakens the government’s case.
“There is no doubt that the case has suffered significant damage as the result of Anderson’s refusal to testify,” wrote Lester Munson, a Chicago lawyer who reports on legal issues for ESPN. “And it has been further damaged by adverse rulings from U.S. District judge Susan Illston.”
But the feds won’t relent. This is the fourth version of the charges, stemming from Bonds’ testimony before a grand jury in December 2003. Before America went broke and the prosecutors decided to go for broke.
“When you step back, you really do have to wonder what is going on,” Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law told Bill Rhoden of the New York Times, almost exactly two years ago when the trial first was scheduled. “Why are [the prosecutors] so aggressive? Why have they spent so much money, and to what end? I don’t know what the point is anymore.”
The point is to look good by making Barry look bad. The point is to get a big name — housekeepers and grocery clerks never are charged with perjury — and cut another notch on a belt. Or should that be a bat?
The presumption is Barry Bonds used something stronger than flaxseed oil. Does it matter any longer? Doesn’t the United States government have more important issues with which to deal than what supplements were used by athletes?
“Although a verdict of not guilty is no certainty [it never is],” wrote Munson, the legal analyst telling why a plea bargain would be a surprise, “it is sufficiently likely Bonds will be willing to take his chances in a San Francisco
It’s Barry’s case, and it’s our money. No matter who wins, everyone will be a loser.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.