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3.07.2006

Innocent until proven guilty 

I've seen a number of folks invoking the principle above in order to defend Barry Bonds and his Baseball Hall of Fame candidacy.

It's patently ridiculous.

First, there's a hell of a lot of direct evidence and testimony that Bonds was a user. Maybe the Feds will drag Bonds into a criminal trial for perjuring the BALCO trial, and maybe these witnesses will suddenly deny their testimony under oath. But I doubt it.

Second, HOF voting is not a criminal trial. Bonds will not be deprived of life or liberty if he is denied admittance into the HOF. (If I were a writer, I might still vote him in based on his projected juice-free career. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa wouldn't make my cut though.)

Finally, giving Bonds the benefit of whatever doubt remains is unfair to his contemporaries. Statistics don't sit in a vacuum -- they need to be compared to the statistics of other players from the era. What kind of numbers could Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez have put up if they were on the juice? (Yes, I am pretty confident that neither of them are users. A-Rod is probably scared of needles, and Manny wouldn't be able to figure out which end goes in.)

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