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Barry Bonds Indictment:

Awhile back, I posted on whether Barry Bonds would be indicted. Here's what I wrote then:

(show)

Since that time, I had become less skeptical about convicting Bonds. Basically, his Sargeant Schultz defense--"I know nothing"--is so implausible that it defies credibility. It just seems absurd to believe that he had no idea what Anderson was giving him.

Also, it is being reported that Anderson was released from prison yesterday where he had been for refusing to testify.

Respondent:
"It just seems absurd to believe that he had know idea what Anderson was giving him."

know--> no
11.16.2007 11:53am
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
All of the "OMG why did it take four years" stuff is driving me absolutely nuts. The feds' competitive advantage is meticulously, practically limitless resources, experience in managing long-term investigations, protracted grand jury work, and flipping witnesses in chains over years. It's ridiculous to want them to squander that just because something is the flavor of the week on talk radio. Remember when everyone was pitching gloom and doom about how Ken Lay would never get indicted because he was under Bush's protection or something?
11.16.2007 12:01pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Todd

your prior recounting of the evidence forgot to mention Kimberly Bell, Bonds' ex-girlfriend. She apparently told the grand jury that Bonds had admitted to her that he was using steroids , when they were living together in the late 1990s.

So, the prosecution case is essentially (1) Anderson's records indicating that he gave Bonds the steroids and (2) Ms. Bell's testimony about Bonds' admissions to her. The theory may be that Bonds, who admitted to using something post Dec. 2002, but denied using anything before then, simply didn't want to tarnish his record, at the time, for the most home runs in a single season by admitting he was using steriods then, even if they didn't know they were steroids.

I don't think it likely that Anderson flipped on Bonds (although, I grant you, there is a 1 in 3 chance that he did). It is more likely that Anderson was released from jail because there was no point in keeping him in jail any longer because the grand jury before whom he refused to testify has now indicted Bonds.

I think the prosecution could win this case, but it is not the strongest case I have seen without incriminating testimony from Greg Anderson.

The most interesting thing to me, in the near future, will be whether the case stays with Judge William Alsup, to whom it was randomnly assigned, or goes to the prior judge who handled Conte's case (Susan Illston). If I were Bonds' attorney, I consider filing a motion to relate the case to the prior BALCO case handled by Illston. Alsup is the judge who ordered Anderson to jail for refusing to testify against Bonds. Illston, as you may recall, expressed regret that Conte didn't serve more jail time.

I think Bonds could have avoided the whole scandal if he had admitted to using all of the stuff that Anderson gave him, since 1998 (when he began training with Anderson), and said he thought at the time the stuff could be some type of steroid, but he didn't ask too many questions, so he didn't really know for sure. He kind of said that regarding his knowledge in 2003, as to what he was taking, but he just wouldn't admit to knowing anything of the sort before then.
11.16.2007 12:23pm
GV_:
Anderson was being held in contempt for not testifying before the grand jury. Once the grand jury was dissolved, Anderson was automatically released. His release is not an indication that he flipped.

This case is an enormous waste of taxpayer money.
11.16.2007 12:28pm
EH (mail):
Hmm, in that light maybe Barry should take his cue from Ken Lay and fake his own death.

I think this is just a screwed up situation for everyone (save the defense lawyer's billing). He likely lied or can be proven to have not revealed something he knew or should have known (possibly professional insurance that requires them to know/document what they put into their bodies). I think he's also being scapegoated for rejecting the celebrity trappings of being a successful baseball player (which I respect him tremendously for, an obviously minority opinion). If not actively scapegoated he is certainly not enjoying the diversity of opinion that surrounds the issue of Pete Rose.

There has been too little public result of any changes due to the doping scandal in baseball, to whatever extent the players' union and owners have agreed, that I think there was just too much invested in the cases not to bring down a major star. That Barry made himself an easy target is unfortunate, but also possibly inevitable. Gratuitous baseball analogy: I'm guessing Barry's GJ testimony will wind up tantamount to a sacrifice bunt. Pro sports is dirty business and scandals require idols to fall.
11.16.2007 12:34pm
nunzio:
All Bonds needs is one Giants fan on the jury. San Franciscans love the Giants and hate the government.

Besides, Bonds is the all-time leader in walks, so he'll probably walk again.
11.16.2007 12:54pm
samuil (mail):
I hope Bush will pardon him
11.16.2007 1:03pm
Houston Lawyer:
I want Bonds and OJ on trial at the same time, televised of course. I want Brittney, Paris, Pete Rose, Ricky Williamws and David Hasselhoff on the jury. I want Bill Clinton to get his law license reinstated so he can represent the defense.
11.16.2007 1:13pm
Aaron:
I want all of the people who defended Scooter Libby to throw themselves into defending Bonds.
11.16.2007 1:42pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I think Bush should (1) let Bonds' trial go to a verdict and (2) commute his sentence if he is convicted and sentenced to prison.

That way, Bush can say he is a non-partisan when it comes to giving convicted perjurers a break. Might even help the Republicans with the African American vote.

Indeed, I predict this case will reveal, once again, a racial divide that still exists in the US. It is my guess that, if you sampled public opinion, many more African-Americans than white people will think the government is going after Barry because he is black and successful. There were surveys that showed a similar belief among women, interestingly, when Martha Stewart was indicted.

Personally, having worked with the US DOJ (on joint investigations, I think the DOJ goes after people whom they believe lied to them during their investigations, and this case is yet another example of that phenomenon.
11.16.2007 2:06pm
PLR:

Indeed, I predict this case will reveal, once again, a racial divide that still exists in the US. It is my guess that, if you sampled public opinion, many more African-Americans than white people will think the government is going after Barry because he is black and successful. There were surveys that showed a similar belief among women, interestingly, when Martha Stewart was indicted.

Probably true, unfortunately. Just as some groups on the right tried to dismiss the Scooter Libby perjury/obstruction by irrelevantly claiming he wasn't the first leaker, some groups on the left will dismiss the Bonds perjury/obstruction by pointing out the irrelevant fact that steroid users McGwire, Palmeiro, Giambi et al. are not being prosecuted.
11.16.2007 2:57pm
wfjag:
I see a pattern developing here:

President Clinton commits perjury: Punishment, nill (Has to give up Arkansas Bar license after he moves to New York, and so no longer has to take annual CLE courses and pay bar dues);

Former Nat'l Security Advisor Berger destroys classified documents to keep them from the 9/11 Commission, and likely also perjures himself: Punishment, fine, no jail, and the threat that maybe, someone in DOJ will make him take a polygraph and ask him what was in the documents and who else was involved;

CoS for the PV Libby perjures himself as to which reporter he talked to first, and when: Punishment, fine and 3 years in jail, which jail time is commuted;

Home Run Record Holder Bonds perjures himself about whether he and others are using steroids and so should have an asterisk next to their records: Probable punishment -- huge fine and 10 years in jail. (unless the suggestion above comes true and he gets an O.J. jury, that doesn't care what the facts are and so lets him walk. Bonds' problem is that Johnny C. died and it's not clear if someone else can pull off saying "Since he got the hit, you must acquit" and not have everyone start laughing).
11.16.2007 3:10pm
Anderson (mail):
I deny having anything to do with this Bonds character!
11.16.2007 3:10pm
GV_:
wfjag, neither Clinton nor Berger were convicted of perjury.

For what it's worth, Rita (of United States v. Rita fame) was also convicted of perjury. His sentence was 33 months, I believe.
11.16.2007 3:19pm
abu hamza:
"I think Bonds could have avoided the whole scandal if he had admitted to using all of the stuff that Anderson gave him" so sez Christopher Cook. Others are similarly convinced that Barry Bonds is everything the sports radio idiot racists say he is. So I thought I'd drop these two facts on ya'all:

1) Barry Bonds has never tested positive for steroids. This fact cannot be wished away.

2) Barry Bonds, in addition to leading the majors in home runs, also leads in walks. This fact also cannot be wished away. I read this in Jet. Won't see that in the white media. Tell Jim Rome to stick that up his white asterisk.

Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter ever to play the game and his unpopularity is hard to understand.

This lame indictement is just v. II of what we saw started in v. I, the Vick case. But at least the feds are focused on this instead of on the drug war, at least partially.
11.16.2007 3:29pm
whit:
" Probable punishment -- huge fine and 10 years in jail"

get real. 10 years? first offense. most probably probation.

personally, i think its absurd that congress has any oversight over what professional ballplayers use to enhance their playing. it's ridiculous. i realize the "reasons" why congress has this authority, but it's pretty absurd.

and of course some of the steroid users (mcgwire etc.) are not being prosecuted. you can't prosecute somebody for admitted PAST drug use. you need the actual DRUG to prove they were in possession (note that drug use is not illegal, drug possession is) and not using the drugs via prescription, etc.

bonds was stupid to (allegedly) lie to a grand jury. dumb.
11.16.2007 3:50pm
BladeDoc (mail):

2) Barry Bonds, in addition to leading the majors in home runs, also leads in walks. This fact also cannot be wished away. I read this in Jet. Won't see that in the white media. Tell Jim Rome to stick that up his white asterisk.



I ask this as an ignorant baseball non-fan. Why is this important and why wouldn't it be reported in the white media?
11.16.2007 3:54pm
PLR:
I guess ESPN is not part of the white media. I knew Bonds held the walk record.
11.16.2007 3:56pm
Aultimer:

Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter ever to play the game and his unpopularity is hard to understand.


1. Just deserts for leaving the Pirates to rot.
2. America loves the underdog.
3. Persistent failure to understand that he's an entertainer.
4. Apparently, there ARE some racists still around.
5. Oh, like he'd get this far if his dad WASN'T Bobby.
11.16.2007 4:02pm
whit:
"I ask this as an ignorant baseball non-fan. Why is this important "

it means he has a "good eye". it means that he is not just hitting the #$(# out of the ball, but that he is patient in choosing which pitches to swing at. steroids are not going to affect your "eye" for pitches, or the discipline to be selective (and be able to fouloff pitches till you get one you like).

of course, good/dangerous hitters often tend to get more walks because pitchers will pitch around them. there is sort of a feedback loop between the batter/pitcher (catcher) combo. a hitter who is hitting better gets worse pitches (generally) than a poorer hitter, because game theory says it is positive expectancy to pitch around them, whereas its better to pitch AT a poorer hitter. thus, a good hitter will be able to draw more walks if he has discipline.

the comment about the 'white media' is either sarcastic or stupid. the sports media in general (and the public) doesn't care much about walks cause they are not flashy and exciting. even though they are eqaully valuable as a hit (with no runners on) and still of value with runners on (but not as much as a hit)
11.16.2007 4:04pm
whit:
"Apparently, there ARE some racists still around"

get real. race card rubbish. race hasn't hurt big papi, tiger, michael jordan, shaq, etc. etc. etc.

it has NOTHING to do with race. that's like saying ty cobb was unpopular because he was white. no, ty was unpopular cause he was a jerk.

personally, i like barry's style, but it's clear to see how he rubs many the wrong way. but claiming that race has anything to do with it is pretty ridiculous imo.

that's right up there with saying criticism of hillar only exists cause she's a woman. riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight
11.16.2007 4:07pm
Crunchy Frog:
If Barry wasn't such an antisocial bastard, he wouldn't get such bad press. Other athletes have learned that being a nice guy to the media types and actually smiling once in a while can cover up a multitude of sins (see: Kirby Puckett).
11.16.2007 4:14pm
PeteTheStreak:
Well, Abu, according to the indictment there IS a failed drug test for Bonds. Whether its a steroid or some other performance enhancer, I don't know.

Also - who's trying to 'wish away' facts? What's your point?
11.16.2007 4:14pm
Kovarsky (mail):
i don't "know" barry bonds, but i think it's fair to say that it is statistically very unlikely that he is not a gaping asshole.

why is this a waste of taxpayer money? i'd like to hear the economic theory of why the integrity of sport and the punishment of the symbol of the steroid epidemic is wasteful.

again, it's hard for me not to be swayed by my visceral hatred for barry bonds. but what is the rational argument for why this is an economically "wasteful" endeavor?
11.16.2007 4:19pm
whit:
imo, it's not so much that it's wasteful, as that its none of the fed govt's business any more than any other workplace (unless they are in a safety field like airline pilot, trucker, etc.)

baseball can't have a "we don't care what drugs u use policy" because it's under federal oversight because its a monopoly. at least that's the rationale as far as i understand it.

personally, i think steroids improve the game, and make the players better, so i really don't care. the smart ones will get a prescription, or go to mexico once a week, so they aren't breaking the law.
11.16.2007 4:24pm
Aultimer:

whit[ey] wrote:

[Bonds is unpopular because:]
4. Apparently, there ARE some racists still around


that's right up there with saying criticism of hillar[y] only exists cause she's a woman. riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

While you were protesting too much, you might have missed that I listed 4 other reasons, 3 of which were quite sincere.
11.16.2007 4:32pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Abu:

First, let me say this, I am a fan of Barry Bonds. Although he may have a prickly personality, he is one of the greatest homer run hitters of all time, maybe the greatest, and is a very exciting player to watch. I tend to believe that he used the "clear" and the "cream" (supposedly undetectable steroids developed by BALCO), but of course I may be wrong. I was just saying that, assuming he did, it is a shame what happened yesterday, because the whole situation could have been avoided if he had admitted as much, because he is still a great player.

Indeed, I remember seeing him when he first came to the Giants, in the early 1990s, well before he allegedly used anything improper, and remember being impressed by what an exciting player and hitter he was. The whole stadium would "bow" to him, as a god. He would respond, by hitting it out. He is truly, a great hitter.

Second, although Bonds is unpopular in many places, I think this is fueled primarily by two factors: (1) The perception that he is a cheater (even if not true, many people believe he used steroids); and (2) his prickly personality, by which I mean that he sometimes acts rudely to fans seeking his autograph, etc., and is not a naturally friendly, easy-going guy (like Sammy Sosa, as an example). Now, Bonds may have very good reasons for acting they way he does. The press, for example, can literally hound a player into not giving interviews by their rude behavior. Fans, also, can treat players poorly, and hound them unfairly. But, it is true that Bonds has not been the most out-going, friendly guy on the planet, and that may influence his unpopularity in places outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. However, I would venture, though, that he remains fairly popular in the SF Bay Area, which is why the criminal case may be hard to make stick.

On the walks statistic, there was a period of time when pitchers were afraid to pitch to Barry, so that may account for some of his walks. He also does have an excellent eye for pitches. As I said, he is an excellent hitter. The whole indictment is a shame.

He won't face 10 years, though, if convicted. More like 20 to 33 months, but I could see Judge Illston sentencing him to 6 months, citing Victor Conte's sentence as a reason to downward depart. That is why I would try to get her assigned to the case.
11.16.2007 5:18pm
GV_:
If he goes to trial and is convicted, his guideline range will likely be 24-30 months. Perjury has a base level offense of 14, and he'd get a 3 level bump because he obstructed justice. I don’t believe he has any criminal history, and I don't believe any other enhancements would apply. If the Government really wanted to be dickish, they could also try to get his sentenced bumped for tax fraud. Anyway, given Alsup’s attitude, I bet he gets 30 months. If he pleads guilty, I bet he gets 6 months.
11.16.2007 5:39pm
QuintCarte (mail):
I have a really, really hard time understanding why this is a legitimate concern of the government. I mean, is this anywhere on the top 100 problems that government ought to be spending time, energy, and tax dollars on? Even in the top 500 problems?
11.16.2007 6:10pm
PLR:
One can make an argument that Bonds should get a harsher sentence than Libby if he's convicted. Scooter lied to a grand jury, but received no obvious benefit from the justice system in exchange for his testimony. Bonds was testifying under a grant of immunity.
11.16.2007 6:14pm
wfjag:
GV_

Go back and read what I wrote. I didn't say the either Clinton or Berger were "convicted" of perjury. Clinton was held in contempt of court for his untruthful testimony. Berger testified to the 9/11 Commission using the documents produced, without disclosing that he'd taken and destroyed others -- not exactly truthful testimony, either.

Meanwhile, 4 perjury and 1 obstruction of justice charges against a man who won't admit to "knowingly" using steroids or say which other professional atheletes he knows also used them. The less important the event or the position of the person, the more harshly they are pursued and the more press coverage they get. Neither Bonds' case nor O.J.'s case are worth more than a passing mention. But, we'll get breathless commentary and up to the second analysis of both for some time to come. Understand my point now?
11.16.2007 6:17pm
Smokey:
What irks me is that BB is a great hitter, one of the greatest of all time. But the problem is that we will never know how much of his success to attribute to his [alleged] steroid use, and how much to attribute to his natural ability.

Having seen Barry Bonds go from having a regular athlete's physique, to a gigantic, muscle bound monster - in only one season - leads me to this conclusion:

" * ".
11.16.2007 6:27pm
Cold Warrior:
Lots of incorrect information here.

1. The indictment alleges that Bonds did take and fail a steroids test. The test was apparently administered by BALCO itself. This is hardly a surprise, since BALCO obviously wanted to make sure that its designer steroid products were test-proof. Conte claims that tests were only logged by numbers, and that the feds have no way of matching up the numbered test result with Barry. Maybe they can, maybe they can't; this is a question for the jury. But we do know that Bonds categorically denied ever testing positive for steroids at any time under any circumstances. If the feds have a witness linking the numbered test result unequivocally to Barry, perjury is established.

2. Everyone seems to be assuming -- mistakenly -- that Bonds was the real target. He wasn't. He was an end user. A very prominent one, and the consequences of his usage had a far greater impact (on an entire sporting enterprise) than would be the case with ordinary user. But remember what was going on here. BALCO/Conte were running an illicit lab, producing a controlled drug, and distributing it willy-nilly without a license or a prescription. Conte was the target, and the feds case is pretty compelling: Bonds lied, under oath, to protect Conte. He knew full well what Conte (perhaps through Anderson and others) was providing him, and he lied to protect him. He obstructed justice, and made it that much harder for the Government to prove Conte's guilt. This is no different than any of the other prosecutions mentioned in this thread. Martha (rich white woman); Scooter (relatively wealthy white man); Barry (rich black man). If there's a pattern here, it's discrimination against the wealthy. Maybe Pacific Heights and Seacliff residents should take to the streets in support of Barry.
11.16.2007 6:52pm
Cold Warrior:
And I might add that Giambi is different, since Giambi apparently spilled the beans on Conte in his grand jury testimony. One of the interesting things here: will Giambi be a prosecution witness?

Meanwhile, I don't know exactly what kind of cooperation agreement the feds got out of Conte, because it sure as hell seems as if he's violating just about any such agreement I've ever seen.
11.16.2007 6:55pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Cold Warrior:

I disagree with your supposition that Bonds lied to protect Conte. Assuming he did lie, I think Bonds lied to protect Bonds, i.e., his own reputation as a baseball player.
11.16.2007 7:37pm
MarkField (mail):

why is this a waste of taxpayer money? i'd like to hear the economic theory of why the integrity of sport and the punishment of the symbol of the steroid epidemic is wasteful.


Let me take a crack at answering this. There are two things which make me uncomfortable about this prosecution:

1. I'm generally opposed to the "War on Drugs". More specifically, I'm especially opposed to treating steroids as Schedule III drugs. That doesn't mean I think taking steroids is a good thing; it just means that (a) I agree with the AMA, which opposed scheduling steroids; and (b) I can't get too upset about what guys making $18 million/year decide to do which might be harmful to themselves.

For these reasons, I think the prosecution is a waste of federal resources which I'd rather see devoted to what I consider more serious crimes.

2. The atmosphere surrounding Bonds has for years resembled a lynch mob. I want to emphasize that I'm not making a racial point here (though I think race may actually play a part when it comes to the way Bonds is viewed by the country generally), but simply that I'm uncomfortable any time the press hounds are baying for a particular person whom its obvious they dislike personally. Having the feds go after someone in such circumstances is at best unseemly and at worst dangerous.

There's a third factor here as well. I don't think it's the job of the federal government to enforce the "integrity" of MLB or any other sport. That's up to the sports themselves. If that's the purpose of this indictment (I doubt it is), then it's seriously beyond the scope of proper government behavior.
11.16.2007 7:48pm
whit:
"I agree with the AMA, which opposed scheduling steroids"

interestingly, the DEA (during testimony for the ACSA of 1990 (that made them controlled substances) *also* came out against making them controlled substances. like most bad law, it was done "for the children."

the absurdity of the war on drugs aside, there are two clearly ridiculous scheduling errors - marijuana in schedule I is ridiculous, and AAS in schedule III are ridiculous.

most states (rightly) don't treat MJ as the feds do (sched I), which is a good thing. im all for decrim. as a cop, i'd rather deal with stoners eating twinkies and laffing at dumb movie jokes than tweakers on crystal meth, thanks very much
11.16.2007 10:45pm
Zywicki (mail):
First, if Mark McGwire lied to the Grand Jury, then slam him too. I don't know if he did. But this clearly isn't a race issue.

Second, I don't know how prosecutorial discretion works. But if steroid use/abuse is a crime--certainly a contestable proposition--then this seems like exactly the sort of case that a prosecutor would want to pursue for the deterrent effect.
11.17.2007 12:44am
jgshapiro (mail):

it means he has a "good eye". it means that he is not just hitting the #$(# out of the ball, but that he is patient in choosing which pitches to swing at. steroids are not going to affect your "eye" for pitches, or the discipline to be selective (and be able to fouloff pitches till you get one you like).

There's more to it than discipline, or having opposing pitchers pitch around him. The extra strength he has has from the drugs has three main advantages.

First, it allows him to hit a ball slightly farther than he could without the drugs, which means that a lot of hits that would otherwise be long fly-ball outs become home runs.

Second, it means that he can swing faster, so he can wait slightly longer before swinging, which gives him a better look at each pitch before he has to decide whether to swing.

Finally, it means he can work out longer and recover faster, allowing him to maintain a physical fitness regimen that few clean players (and probably no players his age) could match, keeping his production higher through his late 30's (when it typically starts to fade) and well into his early 40's.

No doubt he would have had impressive stats without the drugs. But how impressive? Hall of Fame impressive? Probably. Top five players ever impressive? No. A clean Bonds would almost certainly still have had some significant numbers behind him, such as 500 HRs and 500 steals, which no one else has ever done, plus more than one MVP award and a staggering number of all-star game appearances. But he would not have broken either HR record (career or single season), the walk record, or have the OBP or the slugging numbers he had.

He just got too greedy, and now everything he would have accomplished as a clean player will have a cloud over it, along with baseball for allowing this to play out for so long.
11.17.2007 1:08am
Lonetown (mail):
Does the fact that the Major League Baseball virtually buried this problem help Bonds in any way? Can that support his ignorance defense? (as in, "if I was doing anything wrong, they would have caught it? I thought it was vitamins.)
11.17.2007 8:43am
kehrsam (mail):
First, it allows him to hit a ball slightly farther than he could without the drugs, which means that a lot of hits that would otherwise be long fly-ball outs become home runs.

Second, it means that he can swing faster, so he can wait slightly longer before swinging, which gives him a better look at each pitch before he has to decide whether to swing.

Finally, it means he can work out longer and recover faster, allowing him to maintain a physical fitness regimen that few clean players (and probably no players his age) could match, keeping his production higher through his late 30's (when it typically starts to fade) and well into his early 40's.


1. Evidence please.

2. Ditto.

3. Recovery time appears to be the major benefit of steroids. While they certainly increase muscle mass, there is little to no evidence that they give added strength.

No doubt he would have had impressive stats without the drugs. But how impressive? Hall of Fame impressive? Probably. Top five players ever impressive? No. A clean Bonds would almost certainly still have had some significant numbers behind him, such as 500 HRs and 500 steals, which no one else has ever done, plus more than one MVP award and a staggering number of all-star game appearances. But he would not have broken either HR record (career or single season), the walk record, or have the OBP or the slugging numbers he had.


There has been nothing put forward to suggest that Bonds took anything before 1998. To that point in his career, he already had three MVPs and was considered an inner-circle Hall of Famer by knowledgeable fans. Hitting all the late-in-life HRs is interesting, but really doesn't change his historical importance.
11.17.2007 9:01am
MarkField (mail):

if Mark McGwire lied to the Grand Jury, then slam him too. I don't know if he did. But this clearly isn't a race issue.


McGwire didn't testify before the grand jury. He's not involved in the BALCO case.

My point about race was limited to the public perception of Bonds. I do NOT think the indictment is racially motivated.


I don't know how prosecutorial discretion works. But if steroid use/abuse is a crime--certainly a contestable proposition--then this seems like exactly the sort of case that a prosecutor would want to pursue for the deterrent effect.


It's my understanding that drug prosecutions typically focus on the distributors. After all, if they really tried to prosecute every user who denied using, the system would collapse.


No doubt he would have had impressive stats without the drugs. But how impressive? Hall of Fame impressive? Probably. Top five players ever impressive? No.


I'm going to leave aside your claims about the benefits of steroids. I think they belong in the category of "this seems logical to me" rather than the category "fact".

But your assertion about Bonds is just flat wrong. Bonds through 1998 -- a time when NOBODY thinks he was using steroids -- was on track to be one of the greatest players ever. Bill James, in the winter of 98-99, said Bonds would end up in the top 10 ever. Other sophisticated analysts like Pete Palmer reached similar conclusions. Steroids or not, Bonds is a historically great player.

There have been a number of attempts to estimate the number of HRs Bonds would have hit if he had stayed clean (assuming now that he actually did use steroids). All of the ones I've seen had him in the range of 650 or higher, depending on the precise assumptions made.

As for the rest, you're assuming that Bonds was unique in using steroids. The disclosures over the past 5-6 years have made it clear that the proportion of players using them was much higher than I personally thought. An estimate of 50% now seems reasonable. If that's true, then it's hard to argue that Bonds got nearly the advantage your post implicitly assumes.
11.17.2007 10:09am
whit:
"Recovery time appears to be the major benefit of steroids. While they certainly increase muscle mass, there is little to no evidence that they give added strength"

that's absurd. look, the AMA etc. for years tried to claim that steroids effect was mostly placebo and they didn't give added strength. ANY sports scientist worth his salt, any athlete who has used them, etc. knows this is complete hogwash. the studies were particularly devised to give the results they wanted (by dosage etc.).

i have been a competitive weightlifter (drug tested i might add) and have trained with many athletes on the NAN (no advanced notice testing program ) at the olympic and national level. you will not find ANYBODY knowledgeable about strength and weightlifting who will claim that AAS don't increase muscularity and strength. nobody.

the PRIMARY difference between men and women (the reason men are much stronger on average) is that men have on average 10X the testosterone level in their bloodstream that women have. women bodybuilders and strength athletes who take AAS get stronger. transexuals (women to men) who take AAS get stronger and more muscular (and get personality changes that result in more "malelike" behavior).

back when Ben Jonson tested positive for stanazolol (winstrol), i already knew (as a strength athlete) that AAS were de rigeur among sprinters, strength athletes, and others but the public had no idea. it's simply common knowledge. it's been common knowledge for decades among sports scientists that significant strength, size, recovery, etc. gains are gotten from AAS. AAS *significantly* increases nitrogen retention, protein turnover, recovery ability, hypetrophy (and arguably hyperplasia which is much more rare) etc.

there is one reason why the claims that AAS don't increase strength still exist (to some extent). politics. the AMA etc. want to discourage steroid use, and have cooked the (limited and ridiculous) studies to promote that idea.

like i said, i've worked with many athletes and coaches, many of whom (back in the day) took steroids during training (before there was testing etc.) and nobody who has used them in powerlifting and weightlifting competitions will deny that they increase strength - significantly.

strength and power athletes know to use the AAS that result in significantly less size increases relative to the strength increase (the anabolic/androgenic ratio is important as is the level of aromatization etc. etc. etc.)

bodybuilders otoh choose drug protocols (and workout protocols) that concentrate on increased SIZE because they are judged on size, not strength.

look at the sydney olympics. and the bulgarians (among the elite in the world) and how many tested positive for AAS. coaches do not give their athletes AAS to make them bigger (whcih is detrimental in weight classed strength sports). they give them to them to make them stronger. and they do work. anybody who thinks otherwise does not understand physiology, endocrinology, sports science, or common sense.
11.17.2007 2:28pm
Michael B (mail):
Aaron was right to keep himself at a remove from Bonds' leveraged "accomplishment."

"But your assertion about Bonds is just flat wrong. Bonds through 1998 -- a time when NOBODY thinks he was using steroids -- was on track to be one of the greatest players ever. Bill James, in the winter of 98-99, said Bonds would end up in the top 10 ever. Other sophisticated analysts like Pete Palmer reached similar conclusions. Steroids or not, Bonds is a historically great player."

No one doubts this, it is certainly not the issue being contested. Shoeless Joe was likewise "on track" and was certainly a far better than avg. player as well, but that also was not the point in his own case with the Chicago Black Sox.

"Hitting all the late-in-life HRs is interesting, but really doesn't change his historical importance."

To the contrary, it very much changes his importance and critically so. But "interesting" certainly is an apt and well chosen term applied to "all" of Bonds' "late-in-life" HRs. How many of those HRs would otherwise have been fly-outs or base hits only? We'll never know and can only opine - i.e., another area where "facts" will not be able to be applied, but neither will countervailing "facts" be able to be applied. Again, we will never know, either way. Never.

"I'm going to leave aside your claims about the benefits of steroids. I think they belong in the category of "this seems logical to me" rather than the category "fact"."

In point of fact, it seems logical to many, including those in the know, e.g., major governing sports bodies such as the IOC, FIFA, the NHL, the NFL, the NBA - also national legislatures, etc.

Aaron was right to keep himself at a decided remove. Aaron will always be able to be lauded and applauded without caveat, without hesitation. Always. And that's a fact, a permanent fact, one that will never be applicable to Bonds.
11.17.2007 2:29pm
whit:
look, two things are clear. assume that bonds did take steroids.

regardless - even if he didn't take steroids he is obviously an incredible top tier athlete and even w/o steroids would have done amazing things in baseball.

would he have been AS good? probably not.

hitting a baseball is such a complex, multifactored athletic skill that steroids are only a VERY small piece of the whole. sure, ceteris paribus, being stronger/more explosive helps your batting ability.

hitting the ball hard (and far) is going to be primarily reliant on the type IIb fibers. certainly steroids are going to help an athlete activate these fibers in a more efficient manner - iow, for a batter, the neural factors MUST keep up with the IIb/IIx fiber complex to really get explosive bat speed/wrist turnover/power.

can AAS help that? of course.

there is a reason why many athletes involved in explosive sports took drugs (including AAS) that significantly increased the neural factors of strength (fiber recruitment efficiency).

hitting a ball hard and far is not very much a matter of limit strength (which is how most people think of strength - bench press is a good example (primarily) of limit strength).

it is much more reliant on explosive strength (think clean and jerk or vertical jump).

weightlifters (olympic style) train their neural recruitment and primarily their explosive strenght. that's why an athlete like nicu vlad, at 230 lbs bodyweight had a 4 ft standing vertical jump, and mark henry who weighed in the mid 300's lbs could dunk a basketball.

a batter has similar needs in regards to that type of explosive strenght, and GIVEN skill (so called hand eye coordination, reaction time, etc.) AAS would definitely give him an edge and improve performance - especially if his training was geared towards this type of strength
11.17.2007 3:29pm
barrett58 (mail):
Logically, it seems Anderson's actions is probative of Bonds's guilt. If Bonds did no know then Anderson would have testified to such. But he refused to testify because he did not want to tell the truth. It make no sense for Anderson to not testify if Bonds is clean. Of course this besides the point because Bond's (1) appearance and (2) performance are the strongest circumstantial evidence ever. But there are still idiots that will not convict the cheater unless they have direct evidence. Gullible.
11.17.2007 5:40pm
Kovarsky (mail):
it seems that some are laboring under the misconception that bonds did not testify before a grand jury.

bonds testified before the balco grand jury on december 4, 2003.
11.17.2007 6:02pm
DeezRightWingNutz:

There has been nothing put forward to suggest that Bonds took anything before 1998. To that point in his career, he already had three MVPs and was considered an inner-circle Hall of Famer by knowledgeable fans. Hitting all the late-in-life HRs is interesting, but really doesn't change his historical importance.


I strongly disagree. Bonds best years in SF, after he allegedly began using steriods, dwarfed his other MVP seasons. Before those years, most people thought Ken Griffey Jr. was the best player of his generation, not Bonds. So how would Bonds in contention for all-time best if he wasn't even the best of his generation? It's like saying Michael Jordan's historical significance wouldn't be any different if he were Dr. J.

Now, based on numbers, the best hitter of all time is probably Ruth, followed by Bonds. If Bonds career had followed the trajectory of most other players in their late 30s, he be solidly in the second tier of hitters. After Ruth, et al but above almost everyone else after the 60s besides A-Rod.

The problem is, it's hard to know how much, if any, of Bonds success is attributable to steroids.
11.19.2007 12:27pm
Mark Field (mail):

I strongly disagree. Bonds best years in SF, after he allegedly began using steriods, dwarfed his other MVP seasons. Before those years, most people thought Ken Griffey Jr. was the best player of his generation, not Bonds. So how would Bonds in contention for all-time best if he wasn't even the best of his generation? It's like saying Michael Jordan's historical significance wouldn't be any different if he were Dr. J.

Now, based on numbers, the best hitter of all time is probably Ruth, followed by Bonds. If Bonds career had followed the trajectory of most other players in their late 30s, he be solidly in the second tier of hitters. After Ruth, et al but above almost everyone else after the 60s besides A-Rod.


This is simply a mis-evaluation of Bonds' career through 1998. At that point in time, he had won 3 MVP awards -- more than Mays or Aaron -- and was jobbed out of a fourth. He was an 8 time Gold Glove winner; many people considered him the greatest defensive left fielder in history. He was the only player in ML history to have 400 HRs and 400 SBs. By linear weights, Bonds was already the 15th greatest hitter in ML history for his career; add to that his outstanding SB totals and defense, and the 6th Ed. of Total Baseball (through 1998) had Bonds the 11th greatest player all time in career value. Since he was just 33 years old (playing age) that year, it was clear even then that he would end up in the top 10 and almost certainly in the top 5, even with a "normal" aging curve.

It's true that sportswriters at that time tended to see Griffey, Jr. as the better player. That's not surprising, given Bonds' well-known relationship with the press, but it's by no means an accurate assessment of Bonds' actual performance.
11.19.2007 1:34pm
Casual Pirates Follower:
This is rather late, and baseball is not my favorite sport, though I've been to a game or two. But the Pirates have a fairly long history of dumping free agents when they're about to become expensive. I always assumed this was at least part of what happened with Bonds in Pittsburgh.
11.19.2007 3:35pm
Casual Pirates Follower:
The above was meant as a reply to Aultimer's first point.
11.19.2007 3:36pm