Feature

Bonds: Hero, or villain?

A grand jury has indicted home-run king Barry Bonds for allegedly lying about using performance-enhancing drugs, said Dave Sheinin in The Washington Post, but that's "hardly surprising." Fans would have forgiven Bonds if he had come clean, said

What happened
A federal grand jury indicted baseball slugger Barry Bonds on Thursday on charges that he lied to a grand jury when he said he never knowingly used drugs to boost his performance. Bonds has said the record he set in August "is not tainted," but the indictment sparked fresh criticism from fans and sportswriters who say Bonds doesn’t deserve to be recognized as professional baseball’s career home-run king. (The Columbus Dispatch)

What the commentators said
The indictment was “hardly surprising,” said Dave Sheinin in The Washington Post (free registration). He is the “most polarizing figure” in baseball, and “his transformation from lithe leadoff hitter in the 1990s to hulking slugger” has drawn suspicious sneers for years.

So go ahead and slap an asterisk next to No. 762, said Tom Verducci in SI.com. Bonds this year surpassed the most hallowed record in baseball—Hank Aaron’s 755 career home runs—but you can bet that everybody in Major League Baseball’s offices is relieved that the indictment will probably stop Bonds from ever playing again, so they can just “root hard” for some other slugger to set a new record soon.

“It wasn't cheating that brought down Barry Bonds,” said Linda Robertson in The Miami Herald (free registration). “It was lying.” Fans would have forgiven Bonds if he had come clean on his own, now the only question is whether they’ll boo him on the courthouse steps “the same way they booed him at the plate.”

Sure, everyone’s angry now, said Joe Saraceno in USA Today. But fans, team owners, and the media “didn’t care one whit what Bonds took” as long as he kept slapping balls out of the park. So if you’re looking to blame someone for letting steroids become “the scourge of the game” that tainted baseball’s “hallowed record books,” don’t point the finger at Bonds.

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