Barry Bonds overshadowed the rest of the Giants for much of his 15 years with the team. More than three years after his last swing, he’s still at it—even though he surely wishes he wasn’t in this case.
The start of the season is supposed to be an occasion the Giants and their fans savor—the first time in San Francisco history that the team takes the field as the defending World Series champion. Throughout the Giants’ season-opening four-game series in Los Angeles, the good vibes of the team’s stunning postseason run last fall are sure to come flashing back—and they won’t soon go away with the home opener and championship ring ceremony just over a week away.
But even as the franchise kicks off the latest chapter of its extended celebration, Bonds is in many ways upstaging the whole thing.
The former slugger’s trial for perjury and obstruction of justice has dominated headlines for the past two weeks —and it’s still only in the prosecution’s phase. Moreover, the trial has put the focus squarely on the sordid underbelly of baseball and particularly of Bonds’ later years with the Giants.
Current and former players have testified about the game’s steroid culture and how easy it was to obtain performance enhancing drugs. Kimberly Bell, Bonds’ former mistress, brought to light several unpleasant revelations – including intimate details of their relationship and the culture of ballplayers’ womanizing on the road.
After waiting 56 years for a championship, Giants fans should be able to welcome in the new season by enjoying the team’s perch atop the baseball world without such complications. The franchise’s peak accomplishment in over a half century is being celebrated at the exact time its nadir—as the center of the steroids era—is being scrutinized in federal court.
Memories of the rotation’s storied postseason showing and thoughts of whether Lincecum, Cain & Co. can match those feats are interrupted by word of Jason Giambi’s testimony about how he easily obtained the “cream” and the “clear” from Greg Anderson, Bonds’ former personal trainer and a regular presence in the Giants’ clubhouse in the early 2000’s.
As Giants fans pinch themselves at the thought of the first full seasons from Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner—and turn an excited eye toward the initial games of first baseman Brandon Belt, another heralded youngster—along comes news that former Giants outfielder Marvin Benard brought back veterinary steroids he had used in winter ball in Mexico and that he later switched to Human Growth Hormone (HGH) at Anderson’s suggestion.
During the ESPN telecast of the Giants’ opener in Los Angeles on Thursday night, the news crawl at the bottom of the screen made endless references to the trial—including testimony from Kathy Hoskins, Bonds’ former personal shopper, that she saw Anderson inject Bonds with an unknown substance in 2002.
Just when all seems so bright in the Giants’ universe, we have daily reminders of the tainted Bonds era splashed all over the media.
Say it ain’t so.