As it turns out, Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record may be safe.
A federal grand jury is considering whether to indict San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds for perjury because of testimony he gave to another grand jury 16 months ago, CNN has learned.
Bonds told the first grand jury in 2003 that he was clean. The new panel has been hearing testimony for a month about whether the baseball superstar lied about his steroid use during the hearing, several sources said.
"This is extremely bad news for Barry Bonds," said CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin, "because a federal prosecutor doesn't start looking into perjury unless he has a pretty good idea he's going to find perjury at the end of the day."
I have always admired the talent of Bonds. Ever since he won his first National League MVP award in 1990 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, I realized he was something special. He was the catalyst behind the Pirates winning three straight NL East division titles from 1990 thru 1992. In his debut season with the Giants in 1993, he collected his third MVP award in four years. As of this post, he is only 48 home runs away from surpassing Aaron for most career home runs.
However, Bonds has never been the most popular amongst fans, media and even some teammates (koff koff Jeff Kent koff). His cockiness was preceded only by his “kiss my butt” demeanor when dealing with all the adulation he constantly received. He gave the impression that he just wanted to be the best on the field and left alone off of it.
Then came 1998.
Mark McGwire (St Louis Cardinals) and Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs) were engaged in a hot pursuit to determine who would be the first to break Roger Maris’ single season home run record of 61. McGwire wound up hitting 70 and Sosa clubbed 66. Bonds had a nice season with 37 home runs and 122 RBI. But those numbers were paltry by comparison in ‘98. And with his Giants not even on the radar screen as a playoff contender, Bonds was persona non grata.
This is the period where Bonds was alleged to have begun steroid use. There is no doubt that he wanted to be the most prolific power hitter the game has ever seen. Steroids may have been the way to give him that competitive advantage. In 2001, just three seasons after McGwire hit a seemingly insurmountable 70 homers, Bonds topped it with 73. Yes, he was back on the front page. And he didn’t seem to shun all of the accolades like he once did. One of the theories bandied about was that he really did like the attention he received. He just didn’t realize such feelings until he no longer had people fawning all over him. Could it have been out of sheer envy that Bonds decided to indulge in such performance enhancers?
The sad fact here was that Barry Bonds already had hall of fame numbers through 1998. With 411 home runs and multiple MVP awards, his stellar accomplishments were unquestioned.
But allegations of steroid use, and his potential lying about it, could deny Bonds the Hall of Fame enshrinement he seemingly had in his grasp.