MLB welcomes back Bonds cheater — if even for just a week

3/15/2014

My enjoyment of spring training was interrupted last week.

My enjoyment of spring training was interrupted last week.

Starting in February my mood starts to brighten because pitchers and catchers report to Major League Baseball training camps. It means baseball and warm weather are coming — although the weather got off to a slow start.

But everything changed when Barry Bonds arrived for a week at San Francisco's training site.

Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice in 2011 for giving an evasive answer under oath to a federal grand jury when asked if he knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.

Although he was never found guilty of taking PEDs, a book, "Game of Shadows" documented his use.

Besides, when you swell up like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float, something's amiss.

Most of us, long before we're in our 30s, stop growing. Not Bonds. His feet and hat size grew.

But there he was in Giants training camp — noticeably smaller than the last time he donned a uniform — smiling, admitting nothing, avoiding questions about steroids, but puffing out what was left of his chest and saying he belonged in the Hall of fame.

It made me sick. It still makes me mad.

The Giants treated him like a returning hero — even though they did not resign him when his contract expired, even though Bonds said he could still play.

Of course all of this could have been avoided in the 1990s if MLB — when players started showing up looking like they had doubled in size — would have investigated and then made their findings public.

Players should have been fined, suspended and maybe even booted from the game.

Instead, all teams and league officials looked the other way because they loved the attention all the home runs Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting.

Attention was back on baseball like when it really was America's pastime.

More than that, they loved the money all this attention brought in.

Fans were worshipping false gods, and MLB did not care because business was good.

Things have changed. Baseball has implemented the strongest drug testing of all professionals sports.

Cheaters like Alex Rodriguez have been banned for the 2014 season, and his career could well be over.

But there are players, who tested positive for PEDs, served their suspensions and have come back to earn big contracts from teams with short memories who only care about the bottom line on their ledgers.

It's clear Bonds found his way back into baseball, even if it was just for a week.

But he is as arrogant as ever, and the Giants are complicit in forgetting the past.

It starts with a week, but who knows where it will lead?

Baseball was getting along fine without him.

The game has gone back to pitching and more athletic players.

It's the game I grew up loving, and cheaters aren't allowed.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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