December 10, 2004

Barry Bonds Doesn't Get a Presumption of Innocence?

Not from the press, George Bush, Bud Selig, John McCain ...

This Matt Welch column is positively delicious. I don't have much interest in Bonds one way or the other (though I don't see how anyone can argue with considering him one of the best baseball players ever). But I think Welch is correct in noting he's getting a bum deal, and the behavior of McCain, Bush, Selig, etc. on this issue has been unfair. In some cases it's been hideous.

Posted by armand at December 10, 2004 03:58 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Sports


Uhhh,.....Bonds admitted to doing steroids in case you forgot that little minor detail. What is there to presume he was innocent?

Posted by: big country at December 12, 2004 08:24 PM | PERMALINK

Big Country, the actual status of Bonds's testimony regarding what he did or didn't do is summarized nicely by Welch in his post:

"Bonds testified that he had received and used clear and cream substances from his personal strength trainer, Greg Anderson, during the 2003 baseball season but was told they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis." The "clear" and "cream" resembled specific BALCO-supplied steroids, investigators think; Bonds denied ever knowingly using banned substances.

That's it. No charge of illegal possession or use or conspiracy, no hint (so far) of perjury, no indication that he ever broke any Major League Baseball rules. Still, it was enough for the nation's editorial boards to wag their disapproving fingers, and for Congress to resume its headline-chasing song-and-dance.

Bonds quite clearly has not admitted to using steroids. Nor could the sort of use he's alleged to have engaged in explain any of his short-term exploits (73HR) or his long-term ones (four consecutive MVPs). He's the best hitter in the history of the game, and he's villified solely because he doesn't play the media game the way the bosses want him to. Is he arrogant? Absolutely. Was the Babe? You better believe it. And the Babe, as were many of his contemporaries and great ballplayers since, was given a free pass for his less than exemplary lifestyle as long as he played the game well. Bonds deserves the same respect.

Posted by: joshua at December 13, 2004 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

He denied knowingly using them, yet acknowledges that he knows now that he used them. Therefore, he admitted using them.

Posted by: big country at December 16, 2004 09:41 AM | PERMALINK

the post, and the discussion (i thought), was about the presumption of innocence. he didn't use the hard core injectibles (or at least hasn't acknowledged doing so), and only admitted to using substances that were misidentified to him at the time. thus, he did not knowingly use steroids. now whether "specific intent" (intent to use steroids) is required to damn him or "general intent" (intention to do something which he later finds out was using steroids) i think is (and should be) very much in question. as i've said before, and continue to argue, nothing about his performance in the past five years reflects the familiar cycle of exploding size, brief exploding production, and then an endless series of injuries and diminished performance that is typically associated with meaningful and ongoing steroid use (sheffield, giambi, canseco, mcgwire (the last is assumed, but i'd be shocked if he didn't use them when young)).

for people who have followed his career, it's clear that his size steadily increased more or less from the time he entered the league, and didn't radically change all at once. similarly, his home run production also followed a linear path if you measure by HR/AB. though his gross numbers have dropped since his single-season home run record breaking year, that's largely because people stopped pitching to him. his HR/AB has largely been stable for five years. furthermore, he's had far fewer injuries than the usual 40-year old, something you wouldn't expect from someone reliant on any sort of anabolic juice.

my position remains unchanged: he's the greatest hitter in the history of the game, bar none, no asterisk, end of story.

Posted by: joshua at December 16, 2004 05:02 PM | PERMALINK
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