Purdy: What-ifs likely behind Bonds delay

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor

Mark Purdy

Mercury News

Why isn't the Giants' deal done with Barry?
Barry Bonds, that is.
We all know about the deal with Barry Zito. We know about the $126 million the Giants are giving Zito for seven years worth of curveballs, hope and personality. Sure, the Giants overpaid. But at least the 2007 season will be more entertaining and dramatic at AT&T Park. Isn't that the idea?
As usual, however, the other Barry needs no actual baseball season to create drama. At last report, Bonds' contract for 2007 remains unsigned and incomplete -- even though he and the Giants reached a general ``agreement'' early last month. All that remained was to work out the exact language.
So? Where are we now? Neither Bonds' people nor the Giants say their ``agreement'' is in danger of collapsing. It's simply a matter of tweaking the details, they say.
This is just a guess, but these might be a few of those ``details,'' in the form of questions:
What happens to the contract if Bonds is indicted by the Balco grand jury during the course of this season?
What happens if he is then suspended by baseball?
Or in the worst-case scenario, actually goes to prison?
And if any of those things happen, does Bonds still get paid his full salary?
Or less than his full salary?
Or not at all?
Or does his deal simply roll over and allow him to return after the suspension or prison term?
These ``details,'' until they are resolved and the contract is signed, constitute the first major Bay Area sports story of 2007. It is never an easy journey with Bonds from Point A to Point B. There are always stops at roadside diners for sips of sour, complicated soup.
And last week, more trouble was thrown into the soup. A federal court ruled that prosecutors can now see the names and urine samples of about 100 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003. That's when Major League Baseball conducted its first extensive drug screening.
The court decision could mean perjury trouble for Bonds, if his name is on that list. Back in 2004, Bonds told a grand jury that he has never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs -- but did partake of the infamous ``clear'' and ``cream'' supplements provided him by personal trainer Greg Anderson.
Bonds' well-reported excuse was that he believed the substances were ``flaxseed oil'' and natural ointments. As laughable as that is, it provides Bonds a defense if the ``cream'' and ``clear'' happen to show up in his 2003 urine samples. They probably won't, though. The ``cream'' and ``clear'' were specifically designed to be undetectable.
However, what if those 2003 results prove that Bonds had other varieties of steroids in his system? That would create problems. And according to ``Game Of Shadows,'' the book that chronicles Bonds' romance with muscle-juicing substances, he was supposedly gulping down and injecting all manner of performance enhancers during that time.
If prosecutors check Bonds' tests and find any such funny stuff, an indictment will come down faster than Randy Johnson's heater. And MLB Commissioner Bud Selig would have the power to immediately suspend Bonds for lying about his use of steroids. So you can see why the Giants might want to iron out what their obligations might be, exactly, should a suspension occur.
Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, has pooh-poohed any such scenario. Rains has told several news services that ``nothing about those drug tests . . . hurts Barry.'' Rains also said sources close to the government have hinted to him that none of Bonds' tests in 2003 came up positive. And besides, the players' union may file an appeal to keep the urine test results confidential.
Which brings us back to Bonds' old pal, Greg Anderson. He currently sits in prison for refusing to answer questions from the grand jury about whether he really did keep Bonds in the dark about his supplements -- or if, indeed, Anderson told Bonds exactly what he was taking. That would wipe out Bonds' ``flaxseed oil'' defense. And would surely lead to another quick indictment. And a potential Selig suspension.
Anderson's loyalty to Bonds is remarkable. But his situation is not unique. In the annals of American jurisprudence, plenty of other people have gone to prison for refusing to testify against richer and more famous friends. It happened in the Whitewater case with former president Bill Clinton and in a tax fraud case involving boxing promoter Don King.
And yet, and yet . . . when Anderson is sitting there in his cell month after month, you have to wonder if he has second thoughts. Is Bonds really worth the grief? And if the urine tests prove Bonds was juicing, anyway, is there any reason Anderson should still keep his mouth shut?
Whenever the final clauses of Bonds' contract are finally completed, the document should be fascinating to read. What is the old saying about the devil being in the details? This time, the devil is swimming in them. And doing the backstroke across McCovey Cove.