Scott Cavanagh
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Bonds indictment an exercise in hypocrisy

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baseball's all-time home run king Barry Bonds was charged last week with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying when he said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs. If convicted on all counts, Bonds could face 30 years in prison.

By Scott Cavanagh
For years, Major League Baseball made millions and millions of dollars off of the exploits of steroid users. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, players whose bodies and statistics literally exploded before our very eyes, were held up as paragons of virtue and hard work, while former singles hitters like Brady Anderson and Rafael
Palmeiro became home run bashers -- assaulting the record books like Ruth and Gehrig.

While all of this was going on, those in charge of our national pastime did nothing. Former MVP and current cemetery resident Ken Caminiti, claimed in 2002 that at least 50% of all major leaguers were on the juice. He was laughed at and ignored.

Years later, fellow former MVP Jose Canseco published his memoir Juiced, in which he identified the users by name -- Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa, Pudge Rodriguez -- a virtual who’s who of power-hitting stars. Baseball ignored him as well, until a public outcry led to 2005’s congressional hearings, where Palmeiro, Sosa, McGwire and others either denied ever taking the stuff (Palmeiro), refused to answer (McGwire), or suddenly forgot how to speak English (Sosa).

Within months of his testimony -- in front of Congress no less -- Palmeiro tested positive for steroids. Sosa quickly became a pathetic player who was out of baseball within a year, while McGwire left the public stage so quickly and efficiently he has been harder to find than D.B. Cooper.

Two years ago, slugger Gary Sheffield testified to the same investigators as Bonds that “if” he did any steroids, it was without his knowledge. He also admitted that trainer Greg Anderson -- the same guy that trained Bonds and spent over a year in jail for failing to testify against him -- rubbed some cream (known as “The Clear” for it’s difficulty to detect on tests) on him, but if it was a steroid cream, he was unaware of it.

In just the past couple of months, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel and Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd have been caught ordering years worth of illegal performance enhancing drugs.

Sheffield has received no punishment whatsoever, nor has Palmeiro, McGwire, Sosa or any of the other group of cheating liars. Victor Conte, the founder of the infamous Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) and man behind the entire case against Bonds, copped a plea in 2005 and served a total of four months in jail.

Now Barry Bonds deserves 30 years? Why? Because he's a surly guy that never kissed-up to the media like Sosa and McGwire? Because he's called this witch-hunt for what it is from the beginning?

The hypocrisy runs all the way to the top. President Bush issued a statement last week expressing deep sadness and disappointment over the Bonds situation. What team did Canseco, Sosa, Rodriguez and Palmeiro all play for during the days described in Canseco's book? The Texas Rangers. Their owner at the time -- George W. Bush.

Either everyone is guilty or nobody is. Either every player and provider that has knowingly lied to investigators and the public about steroids deserves investigation and possible jail time, or no one does. Singling out one player because he happens to be the best one is unfair and unjustified.

Scott Cavanagh is president of Midland Avenue Communications and editor/publisher of Bark Back News.

Column copyright 2007 Midland Avenue Communications. Reprints without permission are a violation of Federal Law.