King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Suspending Barry Bonds wouldn't be right or likely to stand. But this Giants fan wishes it could happen today.


Salon Staff
July 20, 2006 8:00PM (UTC)

Speculation is that Thursday will be the day the Barry Bonds indictment comes down. The term of the grand jury reportedly contemplating perjury charges against the San Francisco Giants slugger is set to expire, though prosecutors could ask for more time.

Various experts have been quoted saying it's likely Bonds will be charged with lying to the grand jury in the BALCO steroid-distribution case when he said he never knowingly took steroids. There's divided opinion about whether this grand jury will also indict him on tax evasion charges for allegedly hiding cash income from memorabilia sales.

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The New York Times and Washington Post have both reported that baseball commissioner Bud Selig is thinking about using his "best interests of baseball" powers to suspend Bonds if he's indicted, a move that Bonds and the players union would fight, with all of the precedent on their side.

The arbitrators who settle such battles have always found that players can't be suspended for being charged with a crime. There's some thought that because Bonds' alleged offense, unlike, say, Ferguson Jenkins' 1980 pot bust, has an effect between the foul lines, Selig might have a leg to stand on, but it would be a tough argument to win. Innocent until proved guilty does still carry some weight in these parts.

Here's what I wish as a Giants fan. Not as a sober commentator reflecting Solomonically on the serious issues surrounding our national pastime, but as a guy with a couple of interlocking-S.F. hats lying around in all this clutter.

I wish Selig could suspend Bonds right now, today, just for the hell of it if for no better reason, and that it could stick.

Because I want my team back, you know? I want to be able to root for the Giants without having to slosh through this quagmire of denial, moral relativism and just plain nausea.

I want to turn on a game from Your Call Is Very Important to Us Park and listen to the crowd cheer wildly for a guy in the home vanillas without thinking about how weird that is, without having to sort yet again through all these thoughts about why we suspend our disbelief about a guy's actions just because of the uniform he wears or, worse, why we just don't care if a guy has lied, cheated and generally acted in the most vile ways toward his teammates and humanity in general -- as long as he gets that guy home from second for the home nine.

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I swear, I have flashed on thoughts of the Nuremberg rallies when I've watched Bonds get a standing ovation for emerging from the dugout as a pinch hitter.

Hang on. Please don't write me that e-mail. I'm not equating Giants home games to Nuremberg rallies, Giants fans to the people who populated them or Bonds to anyone who starred at them. I'm just saying I've seen a mob mentality -- or, at the very least, an example of unsinister but still unsettling groupthink -- and my brain has played a fast, involuntary game of word association.

And it hasn't been fun.

The world should arrange itself so that I have the most fun, is what I'm saying.

Actually, I understand that's what a lot of my fellow Giants fans are saying when they cheer for Bonds. They're saying, I don't care what this guy shot himself in the ass with, or who he cussed out or talked about wanting to kill. I just want to come to the ballpark and root for my team because that's fun. I don't need to think any deeper than Ball 1, Strike 1.

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I understand that and I do it myself. For all my talk of the complete moral and ethical bankruptcy of big-time college athletics, I have no problem rooting for my sturdy California Golden Bears -- serial cheaters in the big sports -- rather fervently.

We all have our limits, and Bonds has crossed mine. I just don't want him around, even if he's that rare guy in black and orange who can create fear in opposing pitchers.

But more than wanting Bonds to be gone so I don't have to think about him every time I watch my favorite team, I want his era to be over.

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If Bonds were to be suspended right now ... Or wait, if he were to decide on his own that it would be in the best interests of baseball for him to remove himself until his legal problems are cleared up!

I know. Now you're wondering what drugs I've been taking.

If Bonds were to be suspended right now, maybe the Giants would decide they can't win even their eminently winnable division, and would finally stop this long process of reloading around Barry every year instead of blowing up a mediocre team that needs rebuilding.

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Anybody need pitching? Got a Jason Schmidt right here if you want to part with some prime prospects. Looking for something in an aging second baseman with balky hamstrings who can still rake? We've got a lovely Ray Durham to show you. This is Moisés Alou. Don't shake his hand, just watch him hit. Got any still-viable former No. 1 draft picks lying around?

Two or three years of youthful losing sounds like heaven to me after these last couple.

I'm just fantasizing here. Wishful thinking. Bonds isn't going anywhere, by his own hand or Selig's, and that's as it should be. Suspending people who are accused, but not convicted, of crimes is a bad business.

And it's a whole nother level of fantasizing to wish for Bud Selig to provide the solution to any problem.

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I don't believe in curses, but I feel as cursed to have Bonds play for my favorite team as any Giants fan ever felt cursed to have Johnnie LeMaster as the starting shortstop.

I don't care if Barry Bonds goes to prison or the Hall of Fame someday. Or both. Or neither. I just wish someday would get here, and bring a new left fielder to San Francisco when it comes.

Previous column: Pay up, Seattle

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