Well, the lawsuit the Against-Bonds contingent was been clamoring for has arrived, though probably not in the way that would appease them. Bonds is suing not for libel but for something arcane called, "California's Unfair Competition Law." Sports Law Blog gives their take on it here
. Though they say that libel is very hard to prove
- "Generally, libel is difficult to prove, and as you can tell by their more burdensome standard for proving guilt, public figures have an especially difficult time winning libel suits." - then they say that others have won before, which paints Bonds, to my reading, with a guilty color.
I'm not a lawyer, but the two examples given as winners were cases where it can be proven that the defendents were lying. In Carol Burnett's case, all she needed was Henry Kissinger and another uninterested party at that restaurant to attest that she was not "drunk and arguing." In the other case, all the guy needed to do was have a copy of the interview and prove that he was misquoted. Both cases involve incidences where the plaintiff could prove their version of the story.
But how does Bonds prove a negative? As I noted in a comment in response to another comment on this on another post, if I ask any guy whether he still beats his significant other, he cannot prove that I'm wrong and being malicious. So it seems to be fallacious for people to demand that Bonds sue for libel, when there is no chance to win against claims that you used an illegal substance because there is no way you can prove that, this is a claim on a continuous length of time, not a pinpoint period of time as in the two cases that were won.
In addition, look at the example in the Sports Log Blog of a suit that didn't win. Jerry Falwell sued when Hustler parodied an ad but putting Falwell in there discussing partaking in incest, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was protected by the First Amendment, no matter how upsetting the satire may be. That was pretty heinous and Falwell couldn't do anything about that, partially because he cannot prove maliciousness, but I would assume there is no way he could prove he was not partaking.Not a Bonds Believer, But A American System Believer
Again, not that I believe that Bonds is innocent. I've been beaten down and agree that it certainly looks suspicious and, in any case, I've always acknowledged that the anti-Bonds side had some good ammo, only that there is now more ammo and bigger. However, there is enough "buts" out there that suggest that that Bonds could do what he did legitimately, so it is not like I believe he is absolutely guilty either, though right now my suspicisions (and that is all they are) is that he is using human growth hormone which is untraceable. In addition, some of the logic people have been using for Bonds could also be applied to Hank Aaron as well and to Ted Williams, so does that mean they were using too?
So if we are going to claim he is guilty, we need more conclusive evidence than that provided so far, we need unimpeachible sources. And there is enough issues of impartiality to say that the "evidence" exposed in the books are not actually truths. How do you trust the word of a woman who is scorned and looking for money? Particularly since it has been over a year that she accused him of hiding baseball card signing income and yet the government has not lifted one finger yet to bring Bonds to justice, which would blow a big hole in the only other blockbuster claim that she made about Bonds.
And fraud like this is not new. Pete Rose was caught and sent to jail in the early 1990's. Duke Snider and Willie McCovey was caught around the same time and had to plead guilty to tax evasion. This is something the government is experienced in ferreting out and prosecuting famous people for this. And putting them behind bars when necessary.
And Bonds, given how fast he got a lawyer just for the steroids controversy, obviously uses experts to guide him when he needs help. Does anyone really think he would risk going to jail to pocket $80K in baseball card income when he was making $10M per year at the time? Especially with old family friend Willie McCovey to warn him to watch out for the government, or he could get thrown in jail like Pete Rose? No, he would get a tax lawyer who will lay it straight for him so that he does everything right and not risk that.
How do you trust the word of a man who claims to be a friend but, according to Sheffield, had problems with the way Bonds was treating him - Bonds made him look really bad by correcting his instruction in front of a client - and could have been jealous of his much more successful friend, particularly since Bonds appeared to be stingy with what he paid Anderson for his services.
If you are going to accuse someone of such a serious accusation, you need to have more proof than "well, it looks like he did it." You need something that the government can put him in jail for. And they have the perfect opportunity to do it, Bonds testified that he didn't use and the government has all these schedules and other "proof" that is trotted out in the book. If the proof was good, then why isn't Bonds convicted? Why isn't he in jail, they have had this information for years now. That is how our system works, innocent until proven guilty.Inconsistencies Kills the Story Woven
And even if you believe all the stories told, there is a huge inconsistency between the stories. The reporters would have been better off just focusing on the Balco leak, but that wasn't enough so they included the mistress. But she claims that he was totally paranoid and worried about his legacy as a ballplayer. And Sheffield showed that Bonds was not above openly correcting his hired help - and they hated Bonds for it - if he thought they were screwing up plus was a control freak who tried to control Sheffield, who was none too happy about it; his story is probably the most unimpeachible of the three.
If you believe those, then how can you believe that Bonds would allow Anderson
to have any evidence linking Bonds to drug usage? If I was paranoid and worried about my legacy, I would barge into Anderson's home like a SWAT team and shake everything down to make sure that he wasn't being stupid and leaving evidence. And I would randomly do it too, just to be sure he isn't screwing up - again - and do anything to incriminate me. And I certainly wouldn't allow an invoice to be issued under my name for these drugs, I would force Anderson to buy them under his name and I pay him under the table in small bills over time. In addition, I would have laughed in the face of Conte when he asked me to advertise for his vitamins in a Happy Happy Joy Joy ad
. I took the liberty to put Bonds smiling face here but the link is here if you want to see it as it exists on-line.
None of this holds together when you put all the logical implications of the various stories out there together. But when you go into this with the hypothesis that Bonds is guilty, you don't bother to work out the inconsistencies in the stories and just accept what the reporters say, or rather, what the government prosecturos were saying, since they were the ones who leaked the information to the reporters - the reporters would have nothing if they didn't get those illegally released documents.Prosecutors Not Infallible
Also, because the information is from a Grand Jury investigation, it lends weight to the findings because most people believe that our legal system is infallible (I believe in our system but know that it is definitely fallible) . However, the San Jose Mercury recently had this big expose about prosecutors who made all sorts of errors in their trials, particularly in favor of their hypothesis:
Here's a opening quote from the article
The three cases are among hundreds examined in an unprecedented three-year Mercury News investigation of the Santa Clara County criminal justice system
that shows a disturbing truth:
A dramatic number of cases were infected with errors by prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges, and those errors were routinely tolerated. In dozens of cases, the errors robbed defendants of their right to a fair trial. And in a small number of the very worst cases, they led people to be wrongly convicted.
The study reveals "a basic truth about how the criminal justice system operates," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law and ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Levenson was one of seven experts in criminal procedures and ethics who reviewed the Mercury News findings. "A lot of sausage gets pushed through that machine. Errors that help the prosecution are common. The uneven nature of criminal justice is a serious concern."
I think this shows that prosecutors are not infallible in pursuing their trial convictions and, in particular, their zealousness blinded them to the truth. I don't doubt that there are a lot of prosecutors, even among the ones who committed these errors, who care about justice and who do their best to do what's right, but this article shows that there are problems with the system that need to be fixed. And for a government employee to be unable to prosecute because they didn't have enough evidence, then illegally releasing this information to reporters, shows how zealous he or she was.
Also, this paragraph was very eye opening (my bolding): "The review established that in 261 of the appellate cases reviewed -- more than one in every three of the total
-- the criminal trial had been marred by questionable conduct that worked against the defendant. In only about one in 20 cases did the defendant win meaningful relief -- either a new trial or a significantly reduced sentence -- from higher courts." That is a huge rate of problems! And brings into question how valid these suppositions (not truths) proferred by the authors are given the likelihood that the investigation was compromised by an overzealous government prosecutor.Taking the Higher Moral Ground
In addition, I just heard one of the reporters rationalizing why he had to circumvent U.S. grand jury laws and release the grand jury testimony: to save the children from the scourge of steroids. I had to laugh at that one. It is the news that glorifies and publicizes all this stuff. If the news were operating the way it was in the 1920's, we wouldn't know about Bonds taking steroids, we would just know he was hitting homers at a great pace. We would see him hulk out over time but assume that he earned his muscles the old fashion way.
If anything, they will now contribute to widening the use of this. They are laying out what is claimed to be his entire regimen of taking the drugs. Before, kids could wonder if they were doing the right thing, or taking too much. But if they go over the whole regimen in their book - and it is my understanding that they laid that all out according to all the marketing hype I have heard about the book - then they have a ready recipe that a superstar player "reportedly" used to get bigger and stronger and they don't have to worry as much about poisoning themselves, as long as they hold to the recipe and get a clean and reliable source of the drugs.
If they don't want to add to the scourge, then stop reporting on baseball games that Bonds play in. F' the readers of your newspaper, you are doing something to save their children's souls, they will thank you later that they are not hulked out loonies using steroids. While they are at it, don't report all the various evils of society that happens on a daily basis, just report news as if we live with Beaver Cleaver as neighbor and "Father Knows Best", because the news just teaches the kids new ways of breaking the law, of how to mis-behave.
Also, how does the book discourage the youth of America from using steroids any more than the newspaper articles did? Even with all the proselytizing on how bad Bonds is from this book, I don't see the youth of America being saved in any incremental way by the book over the newspaper articles. There was already all the news about Balco the past two years, the kids would have to be living with their heads in the sand for them not to get the message. In addition, there were the blowups with Palmeiro, Giambi, and Sheffield at various times to further drive the point home.
And yet the point is actually being driven another way for some of these youths: these stars probably used, made a lot of money, and they still look pretty healthy to me, just not held in high esteem by society, but remember the millions of dollars. How does that convince kids not to use? It would have been much more effective if they wrote a book discussing all the horrible things that would happen to you if you took steroids. But that don't sell books - however, a tell-all book on Barry Bonds, well, that's a horse of another color!
So the only reason to do a book would be to make money as authors, not this high moral ground of saving the youth of America, because there is a lot of other more effective ways of accomplishing this. Not that there is anything wrong with making a buck, but don't make it seem like a noble cause by saying you are doing it for the kids when there are better ways of influencing the youth of America.