As Thanksgiving rolls around each year I generally reflect on the things in the sporting world for which I am grateful. One of the things I'm most thankful for this year is a host of huge news stories breaking a week earlier, thereby providing all kinds of easy fodder for this week's column.
The federal government shed some light on the “Game of Shadows” by indicting Barry Bonds on perjury and obstruction of justice charges last Thursday. In listing the evidence, the feds pointed to a positive steroids test as part of its case against the San Francisco slugger. And now it gets interesting.
The court case likely means Bonds' career has come to an unanticipated and ignominious end. As a free agent, it's doubtful any team would touch him with a court case of this magnitude hanging over his head. That means that the clock is ticking until his name surfaces on a Hall of Fame ballot. That's the real judgment day, at least as far as the game of baseball is concerned. That's when the Hall of Fame voters get to decide if they rub out Bonds' accomplishments and try to erase the stain of the Steroid Era from the record books.
Or will they acknowledge his achievements? True, if the evidence is accurate, he cheated. He also was not caught by Major League Baseball. Some would say the sport turned a blind eye to steroid use, and that eye was blinded by box office receipts generated by the home run. Even this past year, Bud Selig acknowledged baseball's revenue hit the $6 billion mark. If you don't think Bonds' pursuit of Aaron's record had a little something to do with that, you're kidding yourself.
Bonds may or may not go to jail, and the government's pursuit of this case may not even be justified — that's a different column for a different time — but the evidence in this case opens up a new, and likely final, chapter in the Barry Bonds saga.
By the way, I am cringing in anticipation of the first full week in December. Not only is the Bonds' hearing set for the 7th, Michael Vick is due back in court on the 10th. Roger Cossack better up his caffeine intake now in preparation for all of the legal analysis he'll be doing.
On another baseball front, the Alex Rodriguez saga seems to be wrapping up, with the third baseman in the final stages of negotiations with the Yankees. However, the name of interest in the story, is not Rodriguez, but Scott Boras. Boras may be able to wipe away his tears with a box of Ben Franklin Kleenex, but the super agent had a bad week after A-Rod pulled a U-turn and began negotiating his return to the Yankees behind Boras' back. A few days later, Kenny Rogers dumped Boras altogether.
Is the man, whom many view as Satan, finally going to get his comeuppance? Only if your idea of a comeuppance is $14 million — in which case, I'll take all the comeuppance you can dish out. That's about how much he's going to get if A-Rod signs on to the Yankees' deal as expected.
How crazy is it that a guy like Boras can make that kind of money for screwing up? And how ridiculous is a sport's financial system when it's considered a monetary coupe to scale back what would have been the single biggest sports contract ever to … the single biggest sports contract ever.
Is Boras going to suffer for this? Maybe a little. But the most notable change to his business is that the players he represents may start to realize that they, not Boras, are the ones calling the shots. Boras may have to learn to respect his clients' wishes rather than always push for top dollar. Just something for the super agent to think about as he falls to sleep on his bed of bearer bonds tonight.
A few sincere notes of thanks as we come up on Turkey Day …
Thank you to Appalachain State and a host of other underdogs for making the college football regular season extremely enjoyable. I'll remember it fondly as I suffer through a string of meaningless postseason bowl games sponsored by the makers of marginally known pharmaceutical products.
Thank you to RFK Stadium for going away. The stands at Nationals games will appear 50-percent more full next year, now that half the fans won't be standing in line at one of the three ATMs inside RFK.
Thank you to the Redskins for continuing to underachieve while the front office throws its hands up in despair. It makes for such fun talk radio.
Thank you to my girlfriend for understanding the priceless value of a playoff beard and for the irrational need to yell loudly at inanimate objects, such as a high definition television, during sports games.
Thanks to my mom for teaching me to appreciate the value of the written word and to my dad for teaching me to appreciate the value of athletic competition. Without those lessons, I probably would have been done something practical with my education like gone to business school and become a tycoon instead of going into sports journalism and having the time of my life.