Fifty-five million dollars. In sports terms, that’s not a great deal of money. It’s a healthy NBA contract or the kind of deal a Major League Baseball team would hand to a quality third baseman. But in the real world, as opposed to the sports world, $55 million is one hell of a stack. In governmental terms $55 million builds a new school. It reopens a public hospital. It repairs miles of roads. It saves lives. $55 million is also what the US Justice Department—mostly spent under Bush but finished under Obama—has wasted on what we can now officially call the failed prosecution of Barry Lamar Bonds. The Major League Baseball home-run king, assumed steroid user and Hall of Fame pariah on Wednesday had the government’s last thread holding him down—an obstruction of justice conviction—finally snipped on appeal.
In a brief statement Bonds said:
Today’s news is something that I have long hoped for. I am humbled and truly thankful for the outcome as well as the opportunity our judicial system affords to all individuals to seek justice. I would like to thank my family, friends and all of you who have supported me throughout my career and especially over the past several years. Your support has given me strength throughout this process and for that, I am beyond grateful. This has been a long and strenuous period in my life; I very much look forward to moving beyond it. I do so without ill will toward anyone. I am excited about what the future holds for me as I embark on the next chapter. Lastly and certainly not least, I would like to thank my legal team for their hard work and diligence on my behalf.
The courts have spoken, and the Justice Department looks awful. Not only for wasting these resources, but also for spending years and 55 million dollars on this case while a sliver of that has been allocated toward investigating the killing of Eric Garner in New York City, the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the killing of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, the killing of Rekia Boyd in Chicago, the killing of so many at the hands of local police forces. Do you think the Justice Department is going through the trash of Officer Daniel Pantaleo the way they pieced through the waste of Barry Bonds and his family? Do you think they are entering police departments and seizing files without court orders as Special Agent Jeff Novitsky did in his pursuit of Bonds? They’re not. And that’s the problem. The only question left is whether the system is broken or if it is operating exactly as it was designed.
That’s the real-world injustice at play, but we’d be remiss to not mention the sports world injustice, which is the continual barring of Barry Bonds from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
My feelings on this are well-known and have been for sometime. I think Barry Bonds is by a country mile the greatest player I have ever seen in person. Barry Bonds is the smartest, most controlled player with a bat in his hand in the last 50 years, and talking to the old-timers, only Ted Williams is in that conversation with him. Hall of Fame voters will probably say that Barry Bonds’ numbers are tainted. But dear Lord, look at those “tainted” numbers. Of the top five OPS in history (that’s the number drawn from combining your slugging percentage and on-base percentage), this is what it looks like as taken from baseball-reference.com: