>Free Barry Bonds!

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By The Common Man

(Note: This post was one of two originally submitted to ESPN’s SweetSpot blog, but was “spiked” for being “totally inappropriate.”  This post was called, “nothing more than a forum to call [Bonds] a jerk,” which is the exact opposite of TCM’s thesis.  The other post is available here.)

I’m so sick of this. Barry Bonds is, indeed, a pretty bad dude. He comes across as petty and childish and mysoginist, and he probably is all that and more. But it’s time to move on.

Yesterday, prosecutors tried to get evidenence introduced at his perjury trial that consisted of text messages and voicemails he left for his then girlfriend. Those messages were not flattering, but nor did they mention steroids, BALCO, Greg Anderson, Victor Conte, the San Francisco Giants, baseball, or even parking illegally. They were evidence that Barry Bonds is a jerk. Which, fine, he is.

But none of that…not one bit…has anything to do with whether Bonds perjured himself in front of a grand jury in 2003. Prosecutors must have known that. After all, it was virtually laughed out of court as the judge wrote, “They are at most very marginal in terms of any relevance to this case,” which is a polite way of saying, “I can’t believe you actually want me to rule on this crap.”

Given the way the initial questioning was bungled by prosecutors and their increasingly desperate motions, it’s looking more and more like Barry Bonds will never see the inside of a jail cell (for this allegation, at least). But that seems to be ok with the US Attorney’s office. Since this investigation began in 2003, this has not been about justice; this has been about embarrassing a public figure.

Now, that public figure may deserve some embarrassement. Again, Bonds does seem to be an absolute jerk. But since 2003 (EIGHT YEARS!!!), Barry Bonds has had his life turned upside down. He’s seen his family fall apart. He’s had his friends harrassed and jailed. The world has been told of all of his misdeeds. At this point, there can’t be even one Bonds believer left among us. Everything that can possibly be done to this man short of actually starting the trial against him (a trial the US government seems destined to lose) has been done.

All that’s left is to spend more money and time and effort to discredit a man who is no longer an icon. No longer an example. The crowds don’t cheer his name anymore, and he’s almost certain never to work in Major League Baseball again. All that’s left is his name in the record books, and even those records will fall sooner or later, whether the US Attorney keeps up her fight or not.

It’s time to let go, people. Not just for the government lawyers, but for us too. It’s time to stop being angry and vindictive. Let the man be. If you really want to hurt him now, just forget him. Let his memory and legacy fade. Try and forget how you tuned in to ESPN every night during his 2001 chase, waiting to watch him break the single-season record. Don’t look back on his 2007 at bats, when you were watching him close in on, and then pass, Hank Aaron. Because while our attention and our worship created this monster that now we all hate, our inattention can end it. It doesn’t matter anymore; let bygones be bygones. The baseball season is about to start, let this season of renewal and hope be the last time you think on Barry Bonds and whether he lied under oath almost a decade ago. Find something worth caring about. And that goes double for the US Attorney for Northern California, Melinda Haag and those working for her.

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