Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice in the BALCO case. Apparently our government has spent something like $50 million on this effort. It’s stunning on multiple fronts. Bonds won’t have to serve any jail time and isn’t banned from working Major League Baseball. Typically, a player with his pedigree would have his pick of jobs but that won’t happen for Bonds.
ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian says that the taint of steroids is too strong for baseball teams to take a chance by hiring a player who is associated with the drugs. That’s why Barry Bonds won’t be employed by a major league team again. I disagree strongly with his reasoning.
Mark McGwire's job as the hitting coach in St. Louis is evidence that it's not about steroids; it's about personality. If you're beloved, you're more easily forgiven. In ‘98 McGwire lied repeatedly about his use of PEDs but he's been given a chance to work in MLB again. He never demonstrated any attempt to give back any gains he made from his drug use. He never donated the money he made or asked to be removed from the record books. Nope. He just apologized.
And that was enough apparently to gain a high level of forgiveness. There were virtually no fans who were abusive to him as the Cardinals traveled this season and his history only came up a couple times during the teams unlikely run to a World Series championship. Big Mac is back!
The contrast could not be clearer when it comes to Barry Bonds. As much as some people would like to see Bonds back in the game, it won't happen simply because he won't a) put on the cape of public contrition or b) have the fan support to allow a team to hire him without issue. The Giants know that he (and they) would be publicly vilified as soon as he wore their uniform again, even as a hitting coach just like McGwire.
Ultimately, Kurkjian is right and Bonds is likely done with MLB. (Rather, MLB is likely done with Bonds.) But don’t believe that it’s because of what he did. After all, we now know that scores of players knowingly, willingly and deliberately took PEDs. It’s not the what; it’s the who. And that’s the last sad chapter of this entirely sad story.