LIANE HANSEN, host:
Slugger Barry Bonds has found himself in a heap of trouble. A federal grand jury indicted the 43-year-old homerun king this past week. He faces charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Specifically, Bonds stands accused of lying about his use of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances during his testimony before a grand jury.
The rise and fall of Barry Bonds inspired ONLY A GAME host Bill Littlefield to wax poetic.
BILL LITTLEFIELD: For years, the mighty Bonds expanding sauntered to the plate and either walked or hit a ball six miles, and it was great for all the San Franciscans, proud that by their lively Bay, the greatest homerun hitter of them all would daily play. Unless his knees disintegrated or it might be said, he'd play until his massive neck could not support his head whichever bigger in both senses led Bonds to assume transgressions, notwithstanding, he would be immune to doom.
But when this season ended and the ball yards all went dark, old Bonds was told he'd be no longer welcome at the park. And that was just the start of a calamitous off season that's clobbered Bonds and given every team another reason to leave his calls unanswered. For a man can't drop the hammer on anybody's fastball if he's locked up in the slammer.
Now, that may all be premature, he's only been indicted. And even under Bush, the rule of law must not be slighted, we'll all presume he's innocent until the feds can show the truth was something Barry didn't really seemed to know he had to tell when he'd received immunity for same. But Barry's fault aside, there probably is sufficient blame to go around. Of Selig we might charitably say that he was hoping hard that this whole mess would go away.
We also might conclude that Barry only was the greatest of all the dopers if he doped - he certainly the latest. Likewise, sport writers have touched pitch, they too have been defiled as they watched homeruns leave the park and mostly only smiled.
The homers, whether hit by Bonds or earlier Maguire or Sosa, it didn't matter each homerun took that much higher the money baseball generated. Hey, they saved the game. That always seems to need the saving, always it's the same, except for those who love it, warts and all, and are content to love it though the players have both broken rules and bent them. Hey, the game has been played by tugs and criminals before. It has survived the Black Sox and Pete Rose and what is more a collision couldn't kill it. Strikes and lockouts come and go and baseball will survive, Bonds too. I just thought you should know.
HANSEN: Bill Littlefield hosts NPR's ONLY A GAME. He's also the author of a new book by the same name.