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I keep hearing these words from Barry Bonds after he broke Hank Aaron’s home run record – words that will be replayed on SportsCenter until we’re so sick of them, we grab the remote and switch to the Lifetime channel in search of a Tori Spelling movie:

"This record isn’t tainted at all. Period."

I guess he meant "semicolon."

Bonds was indicted yesterday on charges of federal perjury and obstruction of justice. He’s facing 30 years in prison if convicted on all five counts, though I seriously doubt that will happen. But we do know one thing: The guy won’t be playing baseball in 2008. I don’t care how badly you need a little extra pop from the left side. He’s not your guy.

I spoke last night with former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, who will be resuming his studio work for MASN next year, and the subject naturally turned to Bonds.

"I don’t think anybody can really be surprised to find out he lied about steroids, especially inside the game, but the fact that anybody would want to take it that far that they’d want to put him in jail, or the threat of it, that’s a surprise. That’s shocking," Dempsey said.

I asked him how this affects the game of baseball.

"It’s a black eye and a half," he said. "The guy just set the all-time home run record and then is indicted and maybe put in jail. Along with the O.J. thing and everything else that’s going on in sports, baseball doesn’t need this. That’s really sad to hear."

Sad, but not unexpected.

So what number will Bonds be wearing next year instead of 25? How many extra digits are we talking about?

Or will it just be an asterisk?

I’ll check in later, either from BWI airport or my hotel room in Tallahassee. We can kick around this whole A-Rod thing and how the Yankees apparently weren’t totally serious about not negotiating with him if he opted out. And maybe how A-Rod’s decision to distance himself from Scott Boras could adversely affect the super-agent down the road. And we can debate how the dominoes might fall now that the Yankees have eliminated the need for a third baseman. 

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