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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Bonds, Bad & Good News?
by Hal Vickery

It’s difficult for me to say whether this was a sad week for baseball or a great week for baseball. We’re talking here about the indictment of San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds and his indictment by a Federal grand jury for lying to them under oath about his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

It’s definitely a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that Bonds will probably never wear another major league uniform again. The bad news is that this gives baseball a black eye for allowing the entire steroid mess to occur.

Bonds is under indictment for six answers to the Federal prosecutors that he gave to the grand jury investigating BALCO for production and distribution of illegal drugs in the San Francisco area.

When asked if his personal trainer Greg Anderson gave him anything that Bonds knew to be a steroid, Bonds evasively replied, “I don't think Greg would do anything like that to me and jeopardize our friendship.”

This led the prosecutor to ask, “Well, when you say you don't think he would do that, to your knowledge, I mean, did you ever take any steroids that he gave you?”

Bonds replied, “Not that I know of.”

This answer is alleged lie number one.

Later, Bonds was asked, “There's this number associated on a document with your name, and corresponding to Barry B. on the other document, and it does have these two listed anabolic steroids as testing positive in connection with it. Do you follow my question?”

Bonds answered, “I follow where you’re going, yeah….”

The prosecutor continued, “…I mean, did you take steroids?...

Bonds replied, “No.”

That answer is alleged lie number two.

Next the prosecutor asked, “Okay. Were you obtaining testosterone from Mr. Anderson during this period of time?”

Bonds answered, “Not at all.”

Alleged lie number three….

Next Bonds was asked, “In January 2001 were you taking either the flax seed oil or the cream?”

Bond reply was a simple, “No,” and that is alleged lie number four.

Next Bonds was asked, “Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”

Bonds response: “I've only had one doctor touch me. And that's my only personal doctor. Greg, like I said, we don't get into each others' personal lives. . . . We don't sit around and talk baseball, because he knows I don't want - don't come to my house talking baseball. If you want to come to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we'll be good friends.”

The prosecutor followed up, “And were you obtaining growth hormone from Mr. Anderson?”

Bonds replied, “Not at all.” Alleged lie number five.

Bonds was next asked, “Did you ever get anything else from Greg besides advice or tips on your weight lifting and also the vitamins and the proteins that you already referenced?”

Bonds, responded, “This year, in 2003 - at the end of 2002, 2003 season, when I was going through - my dad died of cancer. . . .”

The prosecutor said, “Yes, I’m sorry about that,” and Bonds continued, “And everyone tries to give me everything. You got companies that provide us with more junk to try than anything. And you know that as well. I was fatigued, tired, just needed recovery, you know. And this guy says: ‘Try this cream, try this cream.’ And Greg came to the ballpark . . . and he rubbed some cream on my arm, like, some lotion-type stuff, and, like, gave me some flax seed oil, that's what he called it, called it some flax seed oil, man. It's like: ‘Whatever, dude.’”

The prosecutor decided that this answer was a bit evasive and decided to zero in more on exact dates, asking, “But let me ask, I mean, is it possible it's actually a year before, after the 2000 - well, actually two years before, after the 2001 season? . . . Were you getting items during that period of time from Greg?”

Bonds answered, “No. Like I said, I don't recall having anything like this at all during that time of year. It was toward the end of 2000, after the World Series, you know, when my father was going through cancer.”

And by stating that, Bonds told alleged lie number six.

Now Bonds will be facing trial, if he listens to his lawyers who are telling him that he has a good chance to be acquitted. In this case, “a good chance” of being acquitted of perjury is just under one in four. Since 1998 out of 412 prosecutions in Federal courts for perjury, there have been exactly one hundred acquittals. I guess that’s considered a good chance. Somebody should tell Bonds that this is actually the equivalent of batting under .250.

So the steroid story continues. Bonds is indicted. Bud Selig, Don Fehr, and everyone else associated with this mess can say, “Justice will take its course. The team owners can suspend Bonds without actually doing so. After all, he’s 44 years old, under indictment, and by the time any trial is over, he’ll probably be too old to play, even if he’s acquitted.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is the black eye that it gives everyone in baseball who allowed this farce to continue. It goes to those who looked the other way when androstenedione was found in Mark McGwire’s locker. It goes to everyone who didn’t bother to question players who put on forty or fifty pounds in a single off-season. It goes to those who decided to not question how bulked up players like Bonds, McGwire, and Sammy Sosa started shattering long-standing records because, after all, attendance was booming and “Chicks dig the long ball.”

It’s bad news because the commission led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell will soon be issuing a report that will name names of other players who abused performance enhancing drugs while everyone else was looking the other day.

So I guess, in the long run, it’s a sad day for baseball. The only real good news is that the game will continue, no matter what the idiots in charge try to do to it.

______________________________________________________________________

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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