The numbers are not going to change, and neither are most opinions. Barry Bonds will keep the home run records he set, even if everyone from Cooperstown to Candlestick knows he used performance-enhancing drugs.
What everyone didn’t know was he could be convicted for previously testifying before a grand jury that, in effect, he was a celebrity child. That was his defense 7½ years ago.
On Wednesday, the eight-woman, four-man jury at the Burton Federal Building in San Francisco convicted Bonds, now 46 years old and out of baseball since 2007, on obstruction of justice for those rambling statements.
Yet the jury couldn’t render verdicts on three more significant charges of whether he knowingly lied about using anabolic steroids or human growth hormone.
Bonds, a member of the San Francisco Giants from 1993 until his retirement after the 2007 season, surely won’t be going to jail, which saves baseball and Barry great embarrassment.
Nor will Bonds — despite a career in which he was a seven-time Most Valuable Player, set the single-season home run record of 73 and set the career mark of 762 — be going into the Baseball Hall of Fame, at least in the foreseeable future.
His first year of eligibility for the Hall is 2012. But others connected to the steroids scandal, most notably Mark McGwire — who hit 70 home runs in 1998 — have not received much support or many votes from the Baseball Writers Association, which elects Hall of Famers.
Bonds had rambled in his December 2003 testimony when asked if he used steroids, alluding to his late father, Bobby, and trainer Greg Anderson, mentioning he grew up as the son of a baseball star. Attorneys declared it the “celebrity-child defense.”
Critics of the perjury trial, which cost millions of dollars, said Bonds was targeted because of rudeness and petulance during his playing days, when he alienated journalists, management and apparently some federal officials. The government sought to use Bonds as an example, much like Martha Stewart, that the rich and famous were subject to the same laws as common folk.
Stewart did serve time in a minimum-security prison. But although obstruction of justice carries up to 10 years in prison, experts said Bonds most likely will get probation. And since baseball never has negated what has taken place on the field, he’ll also get to keep his records.
Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on www.artspander.com and www.realclearsports.com.