With the news this week that the federal government has decided not to pursue its prosecution of Barry Bonds, you have likely read articles that claim Bonds was found innocent of the charges, or that his name his been cleared.
Those accounts are worse cases of perjury than the ones Bonds was charged with following his grand jury testimony in 2003 in the government's steroid probe into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.
Bonds is a lot of things, but innocent is hardly one of them. His name remains murkier than ever, just like the answers that he gave federal prosecutors in a San Francisco courtroom 12 years ago.
Contrary to the flag bearers of the futile "Bonds for the Hall of Fame" campaign, the decision by an appeals court to overturn his obstruction of justice conviction, and the feds' decision not to appeal that ruling, has nothing to do with the admitted cheater being innocent.
When the court overturned the conviction, it wasn't because it didn't believe Bonds tried to obstruct justice when he answered questions about his use of steroids with everything but the truth.
No, the judges didn't clear Bonds of anything. They just determined that his evasive testimony was not "material" to the government's BALCO prosecution.
In other words, the ruling — Bonds' second appeal of his felony conviction, having lost a previous one two years ago — doesn't even come close to clearing Bonds or declaring his innocence. It just says that Bonds' attempt to avoid telling the truth was not material to the BALCO prosecution. Remember, Bonds was not on trial — Victor Conte and his crew of mad scientists were — and they would all plead guilty on steroid conspiracy charges. Bonds was not on trial. He had been granted immunity in the case.
And yet, when asked if his trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with, Bonds answered, "That's what keeps our friendship. I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see."
You see, an innocent man says, "No." And, as an aside, a man doesn't hide behind his father.
Bonds had initially been charged with perjury as well, but was not convicted of those charges in his 2011 trial. Again, he wasn't found innocent, either.
The jury deadlocked on three perjury charges. They didn't find him innocent. The judge declared a mistrial on those three charges.
Speaking to reporters after the trials, jurors said they unanimously believed Bonds had been deliberately evasive in response to questions about whether he had ever been injected with banned drugs.
"He was evasive throughout his testimony," one juror told reporters.
Nothing that has happened in a court of law for Bonds since has changed that.
Bonds admitted before the grand jury that he took substances known as "the cream" and "the clear" that were supplied by Anderson, but he testified he didn't know what they were.
We are to believe that this man, who employed his own chef because of his concern about what he put in his body when it came to food, had no idea what his trainer was giving him to put in his body.
A reasonable person would conclude that such an answer strains credibility "beyond a reasonable doubt." Or, as one juror said, was "evasive."
Nothing has changed since prosecutors introduced BALCO test reports from Anderson before the grand jury in 2003 that showed Bonds had tested positive for anabolic steroids in his system. Bonds denied using those steroids — but didn't refute the authenticity of the reports. He just said he never saw them before.
"You're going to bring up documents and more documents," Bonds testified. "I have never seen anything written by Greg Anderson on a piece of paper."
There has been much criticism about the resources the federal government used to pursue the Bonds conviction that was overturned, and that criticism is valid.
But Bonds declared innocent? His name being cleared?