April 17, 2011

Heyman: Barry Bonds Belongs in Hall of Fame: The accomplishments of Barry Bonds before he began using steroids -- which appears to have been the 2000 season -- merit his inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame, writes Jon Heyman, a Sports Illustrated writer and hall voter. "[T]he question voters need to ask, beyond whether a candidate ever used PEDs, is whether those drugs helped transform the player into a Hall of Famer," he argues. "[H]e was Hall worthy before he became a steroid user."

posted by rcade to baseball at 11:24 AM - 65 comments

Well said; since journalism, and sports writers in general, are an unimaginative echo chamber I'd like to see this new meme spread about Bonds.

posted by hincandenza at 03:39 PM on April 17

The thing he wasn't able to take care of early on was quality at the plate in the playoffs as a Pirate. (Along with Bonilla).

He made up for that later. Yes, some of that was with enhancement, but I always keep coming back to the thought: juice or no juice, you still have to have a plan and put together quality at-bats. And make contact with the ball.

In my limited understanding of the physiology of steroid use, as far as I can tell, enhancements do not guarantee either of those things. He selectively went after some of the junk they could barely bring themselves to throw to him (when they weren't walking him) and put the ball in play - late in his career, no less.

posted by beaverboard at 04:13 PM on April 17

All of what has been said above is why it's such a shame (IMHO) that Bonds used the juice.

We'll see how the writers treat him, since they've stayed away from others tainted by steroids it will be interesting to see if they change course.

posted by dviking at 05:26 PM on April 17

The Hall of Fame isn't just about who was the best baseball players, otherwise Pete Rose, Joe Jackson and Hal Chase would be there. There are people who believe in a qualitative element to the selection process which looks at more than just the numbers when you're going to honor someone.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs that two of the most popular offensive category leaders of all time might not be listed in the Hall of Fame, but baseball's always found a way to tarnish its own history and the steroid scandal is no different than the strike, or the various gambling scandals that have happened over time.

By not including people like Rose, Jackson, Chase and Bonds, baseball historians are trying to protect the honor of a tarnished game and it looks pretty silly when you step back a little bit. Baseball's always been filled with cheats, gamblers and liars, and some of them were the best players to ever play. Barry Bonds, steroids or not, was a legendary hitter and deserves to be listed with the best players to ever play because he was one.

posted by dfleming at 05:45 PM on April 17

There is no doubt that Bonds put up HOF stats in his career. Before and after 2000.

...the question voters need to ask, beyond whether a candidate ever used PEDs, is whether those drugs helped transform the player into a Hall of Famer.

And another question I imagine the HOF baseball writers will weigh is whether Bonds' baggage of his post-2000 era negates the stats of the pre-2000 Bonds.

posted by roberts at 05:58 PM on April 17

I agree that Bonds was one of the premier players of his day, even without the juice. He probably would not have passed Hank Aaron on his own, but he'd have been close. He wouldn't have passed McGwire's tainted record without the juice, but he very likely would have bested Maris's. And that makes it such a shame.

All that said and done, rule 5 of the BBWAA HoF Election regulations says

Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Eligibility requirements can't be much clearer than that.

...it looks pretty silly when you step back a little bit. Baseball's always been filled with cheats, gamblers and liars, and some of them were the best players to ever play. Cheating has always existed, and I doubt that it will ever be completely eliminated. But that does not mean we should throw up our hands and just accept it as inevitable, never mind honor it.

As for some of the specific cases pointed to, the case of Pete Rose may be arguable, as it seems his gambling addiction never affected his play or any managerial decisions he made. Hal Chase for sure, and perhaps Shoeless Joe, fall into a different category as their actions did affect the integrity of the game--not to mention the outcome of specific games. Bonds, McGwire, and co. as well.

Maybe by refusing to honor them, perhaps just one player more may resist the temptation to follow the path they chose. To me, for the sake of the one, it would be worth it.

posted by billinnagoya at 09:00 PM on April 17

As for some of the specific cases pointed to, the case of Pete Rose may be arguable, as it seems his gambling addiction never affected his play or any managerial decisions he made

That's bullshit.

The fact that he was gambling on games he was involved in is more than enough proof that it affected his managerial decisions.

posted by grum@work at 11:14 PM on April 17

Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Eligibility requirements can't be much clearer than that.

Yup. So clear that it stopped players like Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry from making it into the ... oh, wait. Never mind.

It's amazing how certain rules really only apply to players that writers don't like.

posted by grum@work at 11:17 PM on April 17

Yup. So clear that it stopped players like Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry from making it into the ... oh, wait. Never mind.

Then take that line out of hall of fame voting. If you're going to use previous cases to invalidate any use of it today, it only makes sense to take it out.

posted by justgary at 11:35 PM on April 17

That's bullshit.

I wasn't arguing for Rose, just stating that there MIGHT be an argument there, as opposed to some of the other specific cases mentioned.

The fact that he was gambling on games he was involved in is more than enough proof that it affected his managerial decisions.

And which games were those? The way I understand it, he always bet on himself to win. As a player or manager it is pretty near impossible to make moves designed to deliberately win a game.

Still the fact is that he was betting on baseball, and that is why he has been declared ineligible. And personally, I don't disagree.

Yup. So clear that it stopped players like Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry from making it into the ... oh, wait. Never mind.

So, do we throw out the baby with the bath water? Whatever lowlifes and cheats may have sneaked under the radar does not mean we should just chuck the standards altogether. Rather, I would urge that those who do have the vote should be more responsible and unbiased in applying those standards.

posted by billinnagoya at 12:17 AM on April 18

And which games were those? The way I understand it, he always bet on himself to win. As a player or manager it is pretty near impossible to make moves designed to deliberately win a game.

Unless he bet on EVERY SINGLE game he played in, betting on his own team is still a way to affect the outcome of games.

What if Rose bets on games 1, 2, and 3, of a four game series. Which games is Rose most likely to play the best lineup and use the best relievers? Which game is Rose most likely not to care about winning as much as the others? If he decides to rest all his best players in game 4, instead of spreading them out in games 1/2/3, then it has an affect on the outcome of the game.

posted by grum@work at 12:34 AM on April 18

Then take that line out of hall of fame voting. If you're going to use previous cases to invalidate any use of it today, it only makes sense to take it out.

I'm not saying take it out. I'm just pointing out the silliness of quoting that line in the eligibility requirements as a reason to block Bonds, when as little as 20 years ago (Gaylord Perry inducted in 1991), more than 75% of the voters simply ignored that rule.

Why? Because Perry was a good old boy that was shuck-darn likeable to all the 30-40 year old baseball writers. Those same writers are now 50-60 years old, and suddenly Barry Bonds (who, by the way, has never failed an official MLB drug test or been suspended for any reason at any time in his career (that I can find)) fails their integrity check.

posted by grum@work at 12:46 AM on April 18

Using the arguement that Bonds is a hall of famer because he had a hall of fame career before using PED's is not pausible. To use the Rose analogy, Rose had a hall of fame career before he bet on baseball therefore he should be in too--but he's not, and Bonds shouldn't be either. (Though, I do think Rose should be in--but I'll leave that arguement for another day)

posted by jagsnumberone at 01:02 AM on April 18

I don't know that I'm ready to induct Bonds into the Hall of Fame, but I don't think the comparisons to Rose are helpful in making that decision. Rose was punished by the league for gambling on games. Bonds was never suspended for using performance enhancers.

posted by rcade at 07:55 AM on April 18

So, do we throw out the baby with the bath water? Whatever lowlifes and cheats may have sneaked under the radar does not mean we should just chuck the standards altogether. Rather, I would urge that those who do have the vote should be more responsible and unbiased in applying those standards.

Bonds' problem with this group is going to be as much about the way he treated the media as it was the steroid problem he got away with. "Urging" this group isn't going to do anything; they're a curmudgeonly group with an absolute hatred of Bonds.

To paraphrase Grum earlier, the only difference between Bonds and Gaylord Perry is how he was perceived by the media. I mean, imagine the reaction to Barry Bonds accepting a hitting coach job right now...it would be totally different than McGwire, who's as guilty, yet more likeable.

There's no consistency to the way the scandal, or its major players, were treated, and that is problematic when you're looking for a fair and unbalanced process, because there's clearly a bias already established.

Someone from this era is going to have used steroids and make the Hall. Hell, if you believe the scarily accurate Canseco, someone already has (Kirby Puckett is one guess). "Character" isn't concrete and any non-concrete standard introduces bias, and one we already know the outcome of. Bonds is DOA, even if some of the others who did the same thing (and maybe even some who got caught, because to date, Bonds hasn't) get in.

posted by dfleming at 08:02 AM on April 18

By the way, I think A-Rod will be the one who got caught and still got in...not that I think any of Bonds/McGwire/Sosa/Palmeiro/Clemens do.

posted by dfleming at 08:05 AM on April 18

To paraphrase Grum earlier, the only difference between Bonds and Gaylord Perry is how he was perceived by the media.

Perry's offense of doctoring pitches was widely celebrated in baseball when he played. It wasn't a dirty little secret like PEDs.

posted by rcade at 08:41 AM on April 18

I think MLB is dumb for not acknowledging Bonds, Big Mac, Clements, You cant just block out 20 years of history. If you want to label that section in the hall the "Steriod Era" do it. Just like the dead ball era. It is a part of the history of the game. History is not always filled with happy sunshiny memories, but you still have to acknowledge that they happened.

posted by Debo270 at 09:32 AM on April 18

I'm not saying take it out. I'm just pointing out the silliness of quoting that line in the eligibility requirements

But if you're going to use the lowest-common denominator as your measuring stick, all those players the Veterans' Committee voted in make the barrier to entry a lot lower. Should we start comparing candidates batting to Phil Rizutto's?

posted by yerfatma at 09:44 AM on April 18

My problem with keeping PED users out of the Hall of Fame is a fairness one. The highest profile players were the only ones who got caught years later - they weren't the only ones using PEDs. And, since MLB began testing, many of the players getting caught are pitchers (and not even well-known pitchers). There is just no way to know who exactly was using and to what extent. It just seems wrong to take a handful of guys and use them as scapegoats for the entire mess. If MLB wanted to make sure that steroids did not affect the game, they could have implemented a policy to do just that. Now they have, so players failing tests should face consequences.

posted by bperk at 11:05 AM on April 18

fails their integrity check

Biggest problem I see with Hall of Fame is that writers/journalists are the voters. I think that some make up for their own perceived lack of integrity by punishing others for a perceived lack of integrity. "I will not vote for (fill in the blank) because of (fill in the blank) unless I happen to like him or he was nice to me."

posted by graymatters at 11:50 AM on April 18

The writers who vote on the Hall of Fame aren't generally beat writers any more, so they're less needful of access to players -- and thus less likely to penalize the ones who snub them. They're like Heyman, a 16-year beat writer who is 11 years removed from those days.

posted by rcade at 11:55 AM on April 18

Just like the dead ball era. It is a part of the history of the game.

I don't see the comparison. In the dead ball era, use of the dead ball was universal and it had nothing to do with cheating.

In the steroid era, a group of players had an unfair advantage because they were cheating.

That being said, the HOF can acknowledge the steroid era without honoring the players. It seems perfectly legitimate and desirable for a Hall of Fame to reject known cheaters. There should be consequences for cheating.

posted by cjets at 12:00 PM on April 18

Rose had a hall of fame career before he bet on baseball therefore he should be in too--but he's not, and Bonds shouldn't be either.

What Pete Rose did on the field is why he should be inducted into the HoF but when he decided to bet on baseball, he knew that if he was caught that he would be banned from the game forever since there's an actual rule for that.

I don't remember seeing that rule about PED's. We can all come to the conclusion that Bonds was on something but since he never failed a MLB drug test or suspended for using, what exactly was Bonds caught doing to not deserve to be inducted into the HoF?

posted by BornIcon at 12:30 PM on April 18

That being said, the HOF can acknowledge the steroid era without honoring the players

That I can agree with, but if you have no proof that bonds juiced, where do you put him?

posted by Debo270 at 12:39 PM on April 18

I'd put him in the Steroid section. It seems indisputable that he used steroids. The only open question is whether he "knowingly" used steroids.

And in terms of his never being suspended, a conviction in a federal court would seem to trump any MLB suspension. And, yes, it's for obstruction, not steroid use, but the whole case revolved around whether or not he did use steroids.

posted by cjets at 12:46 PM on April 18

The only open question is whether he "knowingly" used steroids

Agree. i think if you let people know it happenbed, you can show all the records that were set and let the people decide who should hold the records in their own mind.

posted by Debo270 at 01:19 PM on April 18

The only open question is whether he "knowingly" used steroids.

Wasn't that question answered in court?

posted by BornIcon at 01:25 PM on April 18

To use the Rose analogy, Rose had a hall of fame career before he bet on baseball therefore he should be in too--but he's not, and Bonds shouldn't be either. (Though, I do think Rose should be in--but I'll leave that arguement for another day)

Actually, I'd be surprised if Rose didn't bet on baseball while he was a player, so it's quite possible that he was doing it DURING his "HOF qualifying" phase.

It's almost assured that he was betting on baseball during the season he broke Ty Cobb's record, which is probably the backbone for his entire hall induction.

posted by grum@work at 01:28 PM on April 18

I'd put him in the Steroid section. It seems indisputable that he used steroids. The only open question is whether he "knowingly" used steroids.

Yep so you have a guy that a federal court with a bottomless budget couldn't prove that he knowingly took peds during a time when it wasn't even illegal to do so in baseball, all which came after the fact that he already put up HOF numbers...sounds like a reason to ban him from the HOF to me. /sarcasm

Actually, I'd be surprised if Rose didn't bet on baseball while he was a player, so it's quite possible that he was doing it DURING his "HOF qualifying" phase.

Agreed..we don't know half of the details of what he actually bet on because he agreed to the deal to be banned from the HOF to prevent any further investigation into his betting. That's the main reason I think he should never see the hall...who knows what else they would have been able to dig up if he didn't agree to the deal that he's now trying to back out of?

posted by bdaddy at 02:51 PM on April 18

Yep so you have a guy that a federal court with a bottomless budget

Because poor Barry was stuck with a public defender, right?

during a time when it wasn't even illegal to do so in baseball

Nope, just illegal under federal and state law.

.....but good thing he wasn't breaking any MLB rules!/sarcasm

posted by cjets at 04:43 PM on April 18

I think they should just allow them all in on their baseball accomplishments. Rose and Bonds should be in as they are undeniably HOF baseball talents.

Sure you label a certain period in baseball history as the steroid era because it was. For every home run aided by the use of a PED, there was a pitcher throwing harder and faster also because of a PED. Bonds did not hit those homers in vacuum. How many did he hit against Clemens?

Not having the all time hit leader or all time HR leader in the hall only diminishes baseball and the HOF.

Put an asterisk next to Babe Ruth's record as while other players may pass it by using PED's, Ruth established the record by using performance reducing substances like drugs, booze, partying, women and all while being a fat slob. Man that guy was something. Try hitting 714 homeruns in the majors while hungover!

posted by Atheist at 05:44 PM on April 18

Nope, just illegal under federal and state law.

A federal court just spent four years and reportedly tens of millions of dollars and were not successfully able to prove he knowingly was taking them. Until they can prove otherwise, the "illegal under state/federal law" doesn't even come into the picture...he hasn't been convicted of anything ILLEGAL, other than obstruction of justice.

So the only question for the hall voters should be whether he broke a BASEBALL law...whether having them in his system, even unknowingly, was an unfair advantage and should prohibit his inclusion. But being that the drug itself wasn't even banned in the sport, I think the answer to that is pretty clear, no pun intended.

posted by bdaddy at 05:46 PM on April 18

Rose and Bonds should be in as they are undeniably HOF baseball talents.

Except, Rose broke the most important rule in baseball, agreed that he did it, and also agreed to be banned from baseball for life. I don't see anyone going into the hall of fame while banned from the sport.

So, there's that.

posted by grum@work at 07:21 PM on April 18

Various quotes from above:

Yep so you have a guy that a federal court with a bottomless budget

Because poor Barry was stuck with a public defender, right?

A federal court just spent four years and reportedly tens of millions of dollars

I have never understood the complaint that a wealthy person somehow subverts justice or gets more justice because they have money to match the prosecution. It's like saying that they should not be allowed to defend themselves because a poor schlub with a public defender will have a poor defense. Instead of trying to penalize someone for being able to match the prosecution dollar for dollar, maybe it would be better to either limit how much the prosecution can spend, or require it to expend a matching amount on the defense, or some other alternative. If justice cannot be bought, then it should not be bought by either side. In this case, "tens of millions of dollars" sure did not buy much.

posted by graymatters at 07:52 PM on April 18

I look at the Bonds trial much like I look at the OJ trial. Just because some group of people (in Bonds' case, one woman) get twisted over technicalities doesn't mean the guy was innocent. The Bonds trial ended the way it did because the one guy that had the smoking gun evidence refused to testify. Yeah, that's a good marker of innocence/character, get off because you have solid control of the stoolies. (Did he pay off the guy? If he is truly innocent, why would Anderson be afraid of testifying? Flaxseed oil in a syringe? It all makes no sense)

Beyond which, while the prosecution may have spent millions, keep in mind that the best minds in criminal law tend to end up on the defense side, much more money in it. Bonds and OJ had the best money can buy...it bought them their verdicts. Well, the initial verdicts for sure.

Anyway, not sure what the % of baseball writers believe that Bonds is tainted, but I'd guess it's north of 50%. So, he's going to have a hard time getting in.

Should be interesting over the next 5-10 years as more of the steroid bunch becomes eligible for the hall. As I've said before, Selig had a chance to end all of this. A simple declaration that "Baseball acknowledges that there may have been some PED usage in the past. Amnesty is granted to this point. Violations going forward will be dealt with harshly". That may not have solved all issues, but it would have cleared the plate, so to speak, and allowed play to continue. Many were granted a unstated form of Amnesty (think A-Rod), while others paid a huge price (think Bonds) I see no difference in those players with the exception of which one has the media in their back pocket.

posted by dviking at 10:32 PM on April 18

Just because some group of people (in Bonds' case, one woman) get twisted over technicalities doesn't mean the guy was innocent.

First, that is why the criminal trials require unanimous guilty verdicts. You call it a technicality, the juror found the one witness less credible than the other jurors because the witness's testimony supported her brother's story. Second, even if the prosecution won on the one count of perjury for getting a needle (which was the one close perjury charge), the prosecution didn't prove he did PEDs. They weren't even close on those charges. Beyond which, while the prosecution may have spent millions, keep in mind that the best minds in criminal law tend to end up on the defense side, much more money in it. Bonds and OJ had the best money can buy...it bought them their verdicts. Well, the initial verdicts for sure.

This is a pretty warped way to view our criminal justice system. In almost all cases the resources are on the side of the prosecution. The defense doesn't have enough money for their own tests, their own expert witnesses or their own investigation. What's worse is that our justice system is built for just the adversarial system that you see in the Bonds and OJ cases. So in the very rare case where each side has the resources and skill to tell the jury their story, you no longer see the easy wins.

posted by bperk at 10:54 PM on April 18

It's almost assured that he was betting on baseball during the season he broke Ty Cobb's record, which is probably the backbone for his entire hall induction.

Huh? You could take away the last four to six years(?) of his career and he'd still be a shoe in.

also agreed to be banned from baseball for life. I don't see anyone going into the hall of fame while banned from the sport.

THEREFORE, the Commissioner, recognizing the benefits to Baseball from a resolution of this matter, orders and directs that Peter Edward Rose be subject to the following disciplinary sanctions, and Peter Edward Rose, recognizing the sole and exclusive authority of the Commissioner and that it is in his interest to resolve this matter without further proceedings, agrees to accept the following disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Commissioner.

a. Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Rule 21 and placed on the Ineligible List.

b. Nothing in this Agreement shall deprive Peter Edward Rose of the rights under Major League Rule 15(c) to apply for reinstatement. Peter Edward Rose agrees not to challenge, appeal or otherwise contest the decision of, or the procedure employed by, the Commissioner or any future Commissioner in the evaluation of any application for reinstatement.

c. Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.

This document contains the entire agreement of the parties and represents the entire resolution of the matter of Peter Edward Rose before the Commissioner. Agreed to and resolved this 23rd day of August 1989,

So there's that.

posted by tselson at 10:55 PM on April 18

I know he admitted to betting on baseball, btw. But he did not agree to be banned for life as you stated.

posted by tselson at 10:57 PM on April 18

bperk, do you really, and I mean really, believe that Bonds is completely innocent of every touching steroids and/or human growth hormones? Nothing in his behavior/changing physical appearance backs that up. Again, what's Gary Anderson hiding? sit in jail because you don't want to testify against a client/friend??? Why, if neither of you has done anything wrong? It just doesn't add up, not giving all the PED's out there. I do not for one single second think that Bonds is innocent. I don't give a rat's ass if the government goes after him either, but to act like this trial somehow proves he never touched the juice is to believe that OJ was really looking for the real killer before he got put away on the later charges.

What is warped about my view of what happened in the OJ and Bonds trials? They hired very good lawyers that knew how to twist the story enough to make the jury vote their way. It was their job, and they did it well. I didn't make up the notion that the smartest guys at law school go into private practice...seems pretty much common knowledge. You throw some stupid crap out about the defense not being able to afford their own tests, or their own investigation??? WTF is with that? Try to explain yourself on how that relates to the Bonds or OJ trials. I'll grant that if I get run up on double murder charges I may be at a disadvantage, but we're not talking about me.

I get how someone can have a man crush on a player to the point that they look past obvious issues, but seriously, this trial in no way proves anything other than Bonds lawyers were able to beat the prosecutors given that the key witness elected to sit in jail rather than testify.

posted by dviking at 02:10 AM on April 19

b. Nothing in this Agreement shall deprive Peter Edward Rose of the rights under Major League Rule 15(c) to apply for reinstatement. Peter Edward Rose agrees not to challenge, appeal or otherwise contest the decision of, or the procedure employed by, the Commissioner or any future Commissioner in the evaluation of any application for reinstatement.

I see that you forgot to point this portion out.

I know he admitted to betting on baseball, btw. But he did not agree to be banned for life as you stated.

Pete Rose didn't have to agree to being banned for life, that's the rule for betting on baseball.

posted by BornIcon at 07:58 AM on April 19

bperk, do you really, and I mean really, believe that Bonds is completely innocent of every touching steroids and/or human growth hormones?

No, but he was found "not guilty" of lying about doing them. So, with all the government's resources and years of investigation, they still couldn't muster much evidence that he did. No checks, no credible witnesses, no dirty syringes, nothing.

What is warped about my view of what happened in the OJ and Bonds trials?

I said your view of the criminal justice system is warped. You take two cases where the resources are equalized and complain about those results because you think they should have been convicted. It's supposed to work that way. It was meant to be difficult to convict people of crimes. It's not supposed to be the equivalent of some folks on the internet think he is guilty, therefore, go directly to jail. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way in 99.99% of the cases.

Also, how can you look at this Balco crap and see Bonds "getting off" as an injustice? Anderson pled guilty to distributing steroids and money laundering and got 3 months in jail and Conte got 4 months. How long are they seeking for Bonds? I guess rambling on in your grand jury testimony is more serious than running a steroid distribution ring.

posted by bperk at 09:30 AM on April 19

I guess rambling on in your grand jury testimony being a celebrity is more serious than running a steroid distribution ring.

Prosecution viewpoint.

posted by graymatters at 10:30 AM on April 19

Just because some group of people (in Bonds' case, one woman) get twisted over technicalities doesn't mean the guy was innocent.

She admitted during this trial that she lied during her grand jury testimony.

That isn't "technicalities".

Heck, I hear that if you lie to a grand jury, you might even be charged with perjury...

posted by grum@work at 11:31 AM on April 19

No, but he was found "not guilty" of lying about doing them

Ah, I see the problem. You equate a hung jury with being found not guilty. That's not true. The jury returned a no verdict ruling. The case may be dropped, or it may be retried. A not guilty verdict would have ended it, can't retry the case.

I said your view of the criminal justice system is warped. You take two cases where the resources are equalized and complain about those results because you think they should have been convicted

Well, yeah, I was specifically talking about two cases, so if you are trying to take my statements about OJ and Bonds and spread them across the system, I suppose it might look warped. However, I did specify the two cases as being different. The line about the best minds in criminal law go into private practice is still valid. Some of the best criminal defense lawyers might start out in public offices, but after they cut their teeth they tend to move to where the money is.

Also, how can you look at this Balco crap and see Bonds "getting off" as an injustice? Anderson pled guilty to distributing steroids

thanks for making my point. If Gary Anderson is a known steroid distributor, and we know he had access to Bonds (this is known), and Anderson refuses to testify (again, why if he's done nothing wrong?), then yeah I'm "Jumping" to conclusions. As I've said, I have not the slightest bit of doubt that Bonds used steroids, not a hair on my body thinks he didn't.

Now, if you want to discuss whether, or not, the whole Balco investigation made sense from a public standpoint, that's a different discussion. I have stated that I would have preferred Selig to just move past it. He didn't, I'm not the prosecutor so I can't call off the case, but that doesn't mean that Bonds is innocent of using steroids.

posted by dviking at 11:52 AM on April 19

I see that you forgot to point this portion out.

Why don't you explain what your comprehension of that part of it is. I don't get your point.

posted by tselson at 12:00 PM on April 19

Heck, I hear that if you lie to a grand jury, you might even be charged with perjury...

Really?! They can do that?!

posted by BornIcon at 12:01 PM on April 19

Just because some group of people (in Bonds' case, one woman) get twisted over technicalities doesn't mean the guy was innocent.

She admitted during this trial that she lied during her grand jury testimony

My bad, was referring to the lone jurist that voted against conviction on the one charge. She stated in an interview that she was conflicted on part of the testimony.

My thinking is that if the prosecutors had received two counts in their favor it would have been over. They may still decide not to retry any of it...let's hope so.

My real point was, that great lawyers can make some of the panel vote the wrong way (in OJ's case the entire panel) but that doesn't mean the person didn't commit the offense.

posted by dviking at 12:25 PM on April 19

Why don't you explain what your comprehension of that part of it is. I don't get your point.

It speaks for itself but sure, I'll explain it to you since you " don't get [my] point".

You orginally posted the document detailing the Pete Rose ban but only highlighted the portions that coincides with your opinion.

However, what Pete Rose agreed to was to not challenge the bad, appeal it, contest the decision and to also not apply for reinstation at a later date.

posted by BornIcon at 12:26 PM on April 19

No, it clearly says he may not challenge, appeal or contest his punishment in conjunction with a future application for reinstatement, if he chooses to pursue that avenue.

posted by bender at 01:01 PM on April 19

My bad. I misremembered what the document stated. Carry on.

posted by BornIcon at 01:11 PM on April 19

My real point was, that great lawyers can make some of the panel vote the wrong way (in OJ's case the entire panel) but that doesn't mean the person didn't commit the offense.

I still think this is backward. Every time someone who you think is guilty isn't convicted that isn't a jury voting the wrong way. The system is designed to put a big burden of proof on the prosecution to prove their case. If they are unable to prove their burden even if that person did commit the crime, that is the "right" result.

Ah, I see the problem. You equate a hung jury with being found not guilty. That's not true.

I could have used innocent if you prefer. I know what a hung jury is. That means Bonds wasn't convicted of the crime in which he was charged. Since someone is innocent until they are proven guilty, Bonds is still innocent of those charges.

If Gary Anderson is a known steroid distributor, and we know he had access to Bonds (this is known), and Anderson refuses to testify (again, why if he's done nothing wrong?), then yeah I'm "Jumping" to conclusions. As I've said, I have not the slightest bit of doubt that Bonds used steroids, not a hair on my body thinks he didn't.

I wouldn't want you on my jury if I was ever accused of something. This is pretty classic guilt by association. I have no difficulty believing that Anderson doesn't trust the prosecutors who prosecuted him and that's why he won't testify. Maybe he is covering for Bonds, but it is not the only possible explanation. I don't even know if Anderson had an immunity deal or if that would matter to Anderson anyway. After all, Bonds had an immunity deal, too.

posted by bperk at 02:50 PM on April 19

I'm not saying take it out. I'm just pointing out the silliness of quoting that line in the eligibility requirements as a reason to block Bonds, when as little as 20 years ago (Gaylord Perry inducted in 1991), more than 75% of the voters simply ignored that rule.

But I would take it out. At the very least, make it more specific and not up to the voters, since as you pointed out it's enforced randomly.

posted by justgary at 04:27 PM on April 19

I could have used innocent if you prefer. I know what a hung jury is. That means Bonds wasn't convicted of the crime in which he was charged

Dude, you are mixed up on this. A hung jury is a non-verdict, it's as if the trial never happened...it most certainly is not a ruling of innocence.

Now, in the real world it often works out as a get out of jail free card, in that the case isn't retried, but Barry Bonds was found GUILTY of one count (emphasis mine) and had three no-verdict rulings. He is neither guilty nor innocent on those charges at this point as they are no longer charges. A person not being charged with a crime they committed does not make them innocent of the charges, it just means they somehow got away with it. Happens all the time. To commit a crime is to be guilty of that crime, not necessarily convicted of that crime. I don't even know if Anderson had an immunity deal or if that would matter to Anderson anyway

Huh? Wow, follow the case a bit more closely. If he had an immunity deal he would have been forced to testify. Now, you are free to think that Bonds has never in his life touched steroids, and that convicted steroid peddler Anderson just happened to be the guy that Bonds picked to administer flaxseed oil and various balms to his body, and that for whatever reason, Anderson used syringes to administer said oil and balms. I don't buy it any more than I bought OJ's testimony.

I still think this is backward. Every time someone who you think is guilty isn't convicted that isn't a jury voting the wrong way

Well, in OJ's case that certainly seems to be what happened. The only Bonds verdict was guilty, so I guess there's that. But, yes, I do not have my head in the sand, and quite often certain celebrities and/or wealthy defendants do seem to get off on charges that the normal citizen would not. OJ/Bonds are just two sports related cases of note. But, yes, if I feel a person is guilty of a crime and the jury votes to acquit, yes I think they made a mistake. Isn't that normal human nature? Now, if evidence that I didn't know prior is introduced I may change my mind, but barring that I would admit that I want the jury to see things my way. You wanted acquittals on the Bonds trial, you didn't get any, don't you think that's incorrect?

posted by dviking at 08:00 PM on April 19

I have no difficulty believing that Anderson doesn't trust the prosecutors who prosecuted him and that's why he won't testify. Maybe he is covering for Bonds, but it is not the only possible explanation. I don't even know if Anderson had an immunity deal or if that would matter to Anderson anyway. After all, Bonds had an immunity deal, too.

As I understand it, Anderson did strike a deal to testify for the government during the grand jury. However, the government then went and decided to raid his mother-in-law's house for more evidence. Part of his deal was that the government wasn't going to harass him or his family any more, and they broke that part.

So he said, "Fuck you!" to the government, and it's been that way ever since.

posted by grum@work at 09:30 PM on April 19

A hung jury is a non-verdict, it's as if the trial never happened...it most certainly is not a ruling of innocence.

That distinction is relevant only in a system where I'm guilty until proven innocent.

posted by yerfatma at 10:07 PM on April 19

It's relevant because double jeopardy does not attach to a hung jury/mistrial. The prosecution can choose to retry the case.

posted by cjets at 10:32 PM on April 19

thanks cjets, beat me to the obvious answer.

Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

posted by dviking at 11:03 PM on April 19

It's relevant because double jeopardy does not attach to a hung jury/mistrial. The prosecution can choose to retry the case.

Uh-huh, but I'm still innocent until they do. Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

posted by yerfatma at 11:25 PM on April 19

A hung jury is a non-verdict, it's as if the trial never happened...it most certainly is not a ruling of innocence.

That distinction is relevant only in a system where I'm guilty until proven innocent.

Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

It's relevant because double jeopardy does not attach to a hung jury/mistrial. The prosecution can choose to retry the case.

Uh-huh, but I'm still innocent until they do. Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

(The previous four entries)

Of course, we are talking about a court of law here. As far as Bonds' guilt or innocence on the criminal charges is concerned, there should be no other standard. However, on the question of election to the Hall of Fame--where this conversation began--we move from the court of law to the court of public opinion, in which the standards for the burden of proof is much lower.

Induction into the Hall is certainly not a right; it is a privilege. And perhaps exclusion from the Hall is the most fitting price Bonds could pay for his choices. After all, if he was a steroids user--and all of the signs convince me that he was--he did so because it irked him that lesser talented players (e.g. McGwire, Sosa) were getting the adulation he felt should be his. It would be ironic, but depriving him of that glory and recognition he so desperately craved would probably be more unpalatable for him than any fine or jail term a court of law might hand down.

And if it is ever shown that he was wrongly accused? Well, he certainly would not have been falsely imprisoned and thus deprived of his liberty. Nor would he have been wrongly deprived of his livelihood. And he can have the satisfaction of telling a humbled and apologetic public to kiss his a$$.

posted by billinnagoya at 05:09 AM on April 20

... I'm still innocent until they do. Not sure why so many have such a hard time understanding that very important distinction.

You're innocent in the eyes of the law, but that doesn't automatically mean you are actually innocent of the crime. The guilty sometimes go unpunished.

I would treat Bonds with the full presumption of innocence if I was empaneled as a juror. Freed of that obligation, I'm looking at the evidence just like everybody else and making my own judgment.

posted by rcade at 07:09 AM on April 20

After all, if he was a steroids user--and all of the signs convince me that he was--he did so because it irked him that lesser talented players (e.g. McGwire, Sosa) were getting the adulation he felt should be his.

This is what makes me nuts about this case. It seems that Bonds started using steroids because of the McGwire, Sosa HR chase because he knew he was a better player than them. Baseball let things spiral out of control such that a player with as much skill and talent as Bonds felt he needed to do steroids. What else could we expect from people as competitive as professional athletes? Then, they are going to scapegoat Bonds for the whole era. Singling out individual players avoids the real issue for me - that baseball knew what was going on and let it happen anyway.

You wanted acquittals on the Bonds trial, you didn't get any, don't you think that's incorrect?

I wanted two things out of this Balco mess. The MLB anonymous drug testing to actually be anonymous, and individual athletes not to be singled out for punishment for actions long in the past. I got neither.

posted by bperk at 09:39 AM on April 20

Baseball let things spiral out of control such that a player with as much skill and talent as Bonds felt he needed to do steroids.

Baseball also let a lot of other players on the bubble convince themselves they needed steroids to stay in the game, I'd imagine. I feel for the players who stayed clean and lost roster spots to players who didn't.

But at this point, I've completely exhausted my capacity to be outraged about any of this. I wonder if that's how cycling fans feel.

posted by rcade at 10:29 AM on April 20

I wonder if that's how cycling fans feel.

Yes, yes it is.

posted by apoch at 02:31 PM on April 20

This is what makes me nuts about this case. ... Then, they are going to scapegoat Bonds for the whole era. Singling out individual players avoids the real issue for me - that baseball knew what was going on and let it happen anyway.

I can certainly appreciate your point regarding the legal case against Bonds. There is a saying in Japanese that translates something like this: "It is the peg that stands out which gets hammered back down." And Bonds' superstar status MAY certainly have something to do with the prosecutor's decision to go after him.

But, it seems to me two issues are getting inextricably twisted here. First, it isn't MLB that prosecuted Bonds; it is the federal government. Nor was he prosecuted for using steroids, which did not violate MLB rules at the time (though the manner in which said drugs were obtained and administered did violate federal law). Rather, he was prosecuted for (allegedly) perjuring himself in testimony during an investigation into a company that was selling such drugs illegally.

Should he have been prosecuted for that? A good question. Any answer I would give would depend on how essential his testimony was in the case against BALCO. Certainly, any alleged perjury had more to do with his ego (i.e. having to admit his records were tainted) than with fear of self-incrimination (he was granted immunity).

As far as MLB is concerned, they haven't done a thing to Bonds or any of the other alleged users of that time. All remain eligible. McGwire recently got a coaching job with St. Louis. Should he have? If I were an owner, I wouldn't engage any of them--but that is a decision each organization must reach for itself. I also feel none of them belong in the Hall. But that is just my personal feeling.

Baseball let things spiral out of control such that a player with as much skill and talent as Bonds felt he needed to do steroids.

I do have a problem with this. Blaming the pressure of competition or MLB's failure to address the problem immediately and head on reminds me of the old Flip Wilson "the devil made me do it" defense. These are grown men we are talking about; not little children. Nor are they victims of anything but their own egos or greed. Each of these users made a choice to engage in behavior they all knew was less than ethical (otherwise they would do it openly rather than surreptitiously). This sort of defense only undermines any sense of personal responsibility we assume mature adults should have.

posted by billinnagoya at 07:02 PM on April 20

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