Squared Up: Case Closed
It didn't take long before I started fast-forwarding through the parts of Baseball Tonight that concerned the Bonds trial. The outcome wasn't entirely without interest for me, but until I heard an actual outcome, knowing about the ex-mistress's testimony, which Giambi took the stand today, on and on…by following the story before it ended, I felt complicit in a redundant proceeding that put me in mind of the Kenneth Starr era.
Craig Calcaterra's columns about the Bonds verdict crystallized the similarity between the two trials for me, particularly when he remarked that "the jury just punted here. They decided to 'do justice' rather than follow the evidence. I'm not OK with that. You shouldn't be either." I really like Calcaterra's coverage generally — HBT is definitely worth a follow on Twitter — but he's also an attorney (although I believe he's not currently practicing), so he's got insightful things to say about the case from that perspective as well, and Calcaterra's comments made me wonder what it's all about, in the end. What is it for? What are we doing here? It seems to me as though the entire point of bringing suit against Bonds for perjury and obstruction is to "do justice," and to do it because we don't have the evidence we want about Bonds and his actions — an admission of guilt; an assessment of exactly how steroids affected his numbers; what the information we do have really means.
A fool's errand, all of it. It is not possible to wring justice out of the Bonds situation — not the kind of justice I can see as the motivation for fans. Bonds won't tell what we've decided is the truth about his alleged steroid use, won't explain and apologize and crunch the numbers for us on precisely how many home runs it might have added to his total, so instead, there is the trial process, the ritual, a collective moving-on pageant during which dishonesty and theft is punished, an important lesson is learned, and we all rededicate ourselves to blah blah blah cue "The Stonecutters' Song." Again, I can't speak to the prosecutorial requirements as far as bringing and pursuing a case against Bonds. Citizens should not lie to a grand jury. But this isn't just a citizen. This is a grouchy superstar who farted in the church of baseball, repeatedly, and he's simply got to take a punishment! It's only right! It's what he deserves! "Who pollutes the Hall of Fame? / Cheapens this, our sacred game? / HE do, HE do!"
Fine. He's an ass. And? What are we doing here?
Look, I wish as much as any other baseball fan that the Steroid Era had never existed. I feel like I have to add a qualifying phrase about it to every fackin' sentence I utter on the topic. I don't particularly think that I would enjoy hanging out with Bonds on an interpersonal level, either; he seems like a twat. If he lied to a grand jury, he should take whatever the punishment is for that. That, not for what eighty-odd other guys did, or for being a nozzle, or for forcing us to confront the fact that the game isn't played by saints, because Bonds's punishment needs to be about what it's actually about. As it is, we're in stained-dress territory.
It's likely impossible for Bonds to get a fair trial, in either direction, unless you move said trial to a neutral venue like, say, the Czech Republic — but there is no emotional point in pursuing it any further, because if it's about an unfairness done to the game or the fans, it's done, and nothing in the criminal code can undo it. We have to account for it, and just learn to live with it, because continuing to prosecute Bonds, to make this point, to see to it he doesn't get away with it…I mean, what "it" do we mean? The game is alive. It's fine. I've got it on now; Giambi's playing first base for the Rockies, and a few feet away from him, Mookie Wilson is manning the coaching box, same as it ever was. And if it weren't, would convicting Bonds of lying fix it?
I don't not care; I don't think anyone else should not care; I don't feel especially sorry for Bonds. But if it's about what he stands for and not what he did, Calcaterra's right — I'm not okay with it, and whatever is genuinely wanted or needed from this process, legally or emotionally, is, I think, not available. Sit down with his legal team, get him to agree to a giant fine and a few hundred hours at the local Boys' Club, acknowledge that the scales of justice will not line up exactly this time. Sometimes it's like that. Usually it's way way worse.
Tags: Barry Bonds Craig Calcaterra Jason Giambi Moooooookie