Now it is MSNBC reporting that Barry Bonds has so annoyed people that he may be investigated for perjury or tax fraud. The San Francisco Chronicle also describes some Congressional pressure on Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
However, I have not yet seen reports that the baseball writers have commenced any sort of self-investigation. As I noted a few days back, Bonds was voted the National League Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America a record-smashing four straight times, from 2001 to 2004. My (rhetorical) question - were they utterly in the dark about allegations of his steroid use? Or, if his steroid use was so outrageous, why did they keep voting him the MVP award? Which was it, ignorance or indifference? And can these awards be rescinded? The San Fran Chroncicle explains the problems with deleting Bonds' home run records, but I see no obstacle at all to rescinding Bonds' MVP awards and re-presenting them to the second-place finisher. Surely that would be a quicker punishment than waiting five years after his retirement and then electing him to the Hall of Fame with only 80% of the vote, which is the path we are probably on right now.
As to the extent of the writer's ignorance, here is Murray Chass of the NY Times, writing in the summer of 2001 as Bonds closed in on Mark McGwire's recent single-season home run mark (A Select excerpt):
In this era of offensive inflation, people talk about bigger and stronger players, smaller parks, inferior pitchers and juiced balls. Some whisper about the substance that is so taboo people dare not speak its name: steroids.
Two major league officials yesterday expressed concern about the possible use of steroids to build greater muscle mass, which in turn would produce more home runs.
The officials, who spoke on condition that they would not be identified, did not cite specific players.
''Look at all these guys,'' one official said, speaking of players generally. ''Look at their arms, their upper bodies, their thighs. All of a sudden they're huge. They talk about players being bigger and stronger. Where are they getting bigger and stronger? Not in a gym. You can't do it in the gym.''
Neither official offered any evidence that any player uses any illegal or questionable substance. Because there is no evidence, the home run explosion remains untainted.
In spring training last year, Bonds talked about the explosion.
''They're just stronger and bigger,'' he said of the home run hitters. ''That's what it comes down to. Guys are bigger and stronger.''
BASEBALL; As Games Begin, Talk of Steroids Dominates
Steroids continued to be the dominant subject in major league baseball yesterday as players, and baseball's hierarchy, tried to deal with a tide of speculation even as teams prepared for the first games of spring training.
''What matters is not what the players think,'' Mets pitcher Tom Glavine said at training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla. ''It's what the fans think. If they find out guys are doing steroids, absolutely they'll think less of them.''
Glavine, who has long been a prominent member of the players union, added, ''It's a hot-button item, and everyone is digging and trying to find out who did what.''
The focus remains on a number of players, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, all of whom testified before the San Francisco grand jury that last month indicted Bonds's personal trainer, Greg Anderson; a track coach; and two executives of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or Balco, a nutritional supplements company. The four men have been charged with illegal distribution of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of athletes.
No players have been accused of a crime by federal authorities. Bonds has repeatedly denied steroid use.
Giambi and Sheffield have made similar denials at the Yankees' camp in Tampa, Fla.
''Other than Mark McGwire saying he used andro, we don't have any evidence that any players have used any substance,'' Bob DuPuy, the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, said at a news conference yesterday with Representative John E. Sweeney, Republican of New York, who again introduced anti-steroid legislation in Congress.
Still no evidence! But here comes a tidbit citing the San Francisco Chronicle:
In Scottsdale, Ariz., where the San Francisco Giants train, a public-relations official for the team tried to steer reporters from pursuing allegations made in The San Francisco Chronicle yesterday that six players -- Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Marvin Benard and Randy Velarde -- received steroids from Balco through Bonds's trainer and that Bonds also received human growth hormone.
The article was not specific and did not divulge its source, saying it came from ''information furnished the government and shared with The Chronicle.'' Patrick Robbins, an assistant United States attorney in San Francisco, declined to comment on the article.
Well. It was only in December 2004, after the season was over and the 2004 MVP award was tucked away, that the San Francisco Chronicle broke the details of Bonds' grand jury testimony. As to whether the details came as a surprise, the Times wrote this:
December 5, 2004
Revelations Only Confirm Suspicions About Drugs
By Jere Longman
For anyone shocked by the latest doping revelations and accusations involving Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Marion Jones, the former coach of the disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson offers some brutal candor.
"Steroids are so ubiquitous, so omnipresent in sport; they have been for decades," Charlie Francis, who has admitted facilitating Johnson's steroid use before the 1988 Summer Olympics, said in a
Canadian documentary earlier this year.
"There is a level playing field out there," Francis said. "It just isn't the playing field you thought it was."
The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that, in testimony last December before a federal grand jury, Giambi admitted taking steroids and human growth hormone and Bonds admitted he took substances that he did not know were steroids.
For all the attention of the last few days, however, the revelations generated few assertions that a moment of truth had arrived or that much would change.
"It's sort of 'duh,' no news here," said Dr. Norm Fost, director of the bioethics program at the University of Wisconsin. "Any intelligent sports fan assumed Bonds and Giambi used steroids. The moral question is, 'So what?' There are a lot of others using them."
That last is not quite accurate - everyone knew except the baseball writers.