...And The Hammer Came Down 

As you might notice, I don't blog much about Barry Bonds's off-field troubles and allegations. Being a Libra, I tend to fall in the middle between the rabid Bonds defenders and the rabid Bonds haters, which doesn't make for scintillating blog copy.

With no on-field news or transactions to report today, however, I will dip into the latest on Bonds, what with rumors swirling that an indictment for tax evasion and perjury could come down as early as next week. This is according to the New York Daily News. Calibrate it as you see fit.

The latest charges were in play as soon as Barry told the grand jury that he didn't bother to ask Greg Anderson what was in the, ahem, flaxseed oil: "You know me, I'm 39 years old. I'm dealing with pain. All I want is the pain relief, you know? ... I never asked Greg. When he said it was flaxseed oil, I just said, 'Whatever.'"

That must have made Bonds's lawyer Michael Rains choke on his morning brioche. Defensible? Perhaps. Plausible? Sorry, I can't answer that, I have a brioche in my throat.

As flawed as the system is, lying to grand juries and filching on your taxes are not the best ways to register one's dissatisfaction. And by the way, Barry, if you haven't noticed, we've got a big deficit to reduce and could really use your help.

I want Bonds to help the Giants win baseball games until it's no longer legally viable for him to do so. I think the steroid issue has been fanned into hysteria by tut-tutting media and grandstanding politicians. I also think taking steroids to enhance performance is wrong. (See? Not scintillating.)

If there is evidence Barry has committed perjury and tax evasion, however, the process to determine his guilt or innocence should go forward as it would for a regular Joe. If it begins during the baseball season and sabotages the Giants' playoff hopes, so be it. My favorite team's fortunes are not immune to the law. If Brad Penny were indicted for assault and battery or grand theft auto or being an ugly Dodger -- look it up, it's against the law -- and managed to postpone the hearings until November, I'd be mighty steamed.

Is this a vendetta against Bonds because the feds haven't been able to nail him on steroids/HGH/Viagra/Jesus Juice charges? I don't know. I don't immediately assume so; there are checks, balances and budgets federal prosecutors must adhere to. It doesn't mean they don't ever abuse their power, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this because, at least on the perjury charge, Bonds's testimony (as reported by the Chronicle) was so far-fetched it's worth investigating.

Also note that the federal vendetta theory lost some steam when it was reported recently that Victor Conte was likely the source of the grand-jury testimony leaks. That may turn out to be false. The charge came from prosecutors themselves, who could be trying to cover their own asses. It'll all come out in the wash.

Some like to say that the government's main witness, ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell, is unreliable and has her own agenda. Counterpoint: is there ever a witness without an agenda? Blaming Bell for Bonds's woes has disturbing echoes of D.C. mayor Marion Berry lamenting that "the bitch," ie, the agent who passed him the crack pipe, "set me up." The flip side of this dubious defense is the "little-ol'-me" corollary: "I would never have thought of doing such a thing if I weren't coerced into it!"

Now a second Friend of Barry will testify against him, according to this report. (Thanks to Elbo for the link -- and for the update on Pioneertown. If you're a desert rat and music lover, stay tuned to Fort Miley for the latest fire news.)

To be clear, I'm not hoping for an indictment, and I'm not breathless to see Bonds get his just desserts. I lay the steroid/PED fiasco mainly at the feet of MLB, which turned a blind eye to the problem for years when, post-strike, it conveniently helped bring fans back to the ballpark. Barry was doing (and yes, he probably was doing; no sense in denying it) what he saw many others doing -- and getting away with. He's not blameless. But he's not the uber-villain. And for the record, I still don't believe in asterisks.


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