The following urgent plea goes out to Billy Beane, Michael Crowley and Lew Wolff of the A’s: Don’t do it. Don’t even think about doing it. If you start to feel tempted to do it, go outside and slam your hand in the car door five or six times until you come to your senses. When you see him or his agent approaching, don’t just walk in the other direction. Run. Do whatever you must, but find a way to stop yourself. Do not offer a contract to Barry Lamar Bonds.
And before you start to argue with me, stop. I already know what you’re thinking:
“But he lives right here in the Bay Area!” you’ll scream. “The fans here still love him! He’ll sell a boatload of tickets for us, make us a ton of cash and as a DH, he can play 140 games!”
True. But don’t sign him.
“But what if the Angels grab him?” you’ll shout. “Then we’ve got to face him in our division 19 times a year! Baggage or no baggage, indictment or no indictment, he still hit 28 home runs last year in only 340 at-bats! We’re trying to make the playoffs and if he goes to a division opponent and gets 500 at-bats, he can really hurt us!!!”
I don’t care. Don’t sign him.
Call Angels owner Artie Moreno. Make him a deal. Tell him you won’t sign Barry if he doesn’t. Make him a pinkie promise.
Collusion, you ask? Yes, it’s collusion, and I know it’s illegal. Do it anyway. Keep it secret, but collude all you want.
In fact, tell Artie to call half the general managers in baseball and you call the other half. Use those throwaway cell phones that drug dealers use, if you need to. Make one call, throw the phone away. Untraceable. Then call all of them and don’t stop until every last one agrees that no one will deal with the devil and talk to Barry Bonds.
“But what if he’s acquitted?” you ask.
Forget about it. Don’t be fooled by the tough talk coming from Bonds’ attorneys. We heard the same thing from Michael Vick’s attorneys when the feds returned their indictment against the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback on dogfighting charges. We heard the same thing from Marion Jones’ attorneys, too. Right up to the time when both of them confessed.
The United States Department of Justice reports that roughly 95 percent of criminal defendants in federal trials plead guilty to their crimes in exchange for favorable sentences. Of the 5 percent that decide to face federal prosecutors in open court, 90 percent of them are convicted. You know what that means? It means Dick Cheney has a better chance of being named Man of the Year by MoveOn.org than Barry does of beating this federal rap.
A California court of law? Maybe he’s got a shot. But state trials are different. Grand juries return suspect indictments all the time in state courts. The feds, however, do not indict unless they know they’ll win. You’d have an easier time getting a straight answer from Hillary Clinton than you would an acquittal in federal court. Barry is going down, and, as Al Davis might say, he’s going down hard.
Even the Giants saw this coming, which goes a long way toward explaining why they cut him loose weeks ago. They milked Barry’s run toward 756 for all it was worth and they were willing to endure the controversy as long as it was only media-driven. But when an indictment looked imminent and when words like perjury and obstruction of justice were bandied about, Peter Magowan and Co. couldn’t cut their ties with Bonds fast enough. No one wants to hold news conferences defending an employee on his way to federal prison.
Take a lesson from the Giants on this one, Messrs. Beane, Crowley, Wolff — along with the decision-makers in every front office in baseball — let Barry fight for his career, his legacy and his freedom on his own. His reputation has been thoroughly destroyed — don’t run the same risk with your own.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.