SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- You can wipe the slate clean on Barry Bonds and the Balco scandal that has haunted him since 2003 when a jury found the former Giants slugger guilty of obstructing law enforcement.
Today, 12 years later, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction. It was a grand slam for Bonds who beat federal prosecutors that spent a reported $55 million trying to get a conviction.
Given the astronomical and mind-numbing financial obligation on taxpayers, it seems highly unlikely that the government will want to throw another pitch at Bonds.
Bonds legal victory comes on the heals of receiving a third Giants World Series ring. Last night he sat next to Giants CEO Larry Baer at AT&T Park to take in the Giants victory over the Dodgers. Life is good for number 25. Like his godfather Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, Bonds has his place in Giants lore. A spot in the "club." Perhaps not a recliner, but certainly a seat at the table of Giants Hall of Famers, even if he's not actually in the Hall of Fame.
Will this legal victory erase the last obstacle keeping Bonds out of Cooperstown? Likely not, because it wasn't really the last obstacle. Bonds might be a free man in the court of legal opinion, but he remains guilty in the court of public opinion, and more importantly, to the writers that cast a vote for the Hall of Fame.
Barry Bonds is, and perhaps will always be, the poster child for the steroid era. He will walk down the street and a kid will say to his father, "Look dad, there goes the home run king!" To which the father will respond, 'yes son, but." The "but" will never go away. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't exist in baseball. Bonds cannot appeal history.
Someday, hopefully soon, Bonds will be voted into the Hall of Fame. He was baseball's biggest draw, most prodigious home run hitter, and the one player you wouldn't miss swing the bat. Did he cheat? Yes. Does that erase all the great things he did in the game? No.
If I had a Hall of Fame vote, I would cast it for Barry Bonds. It's just time.
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