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The Default Position of McCovey Chronicles on Barry Bonds

Jed Jacobsohn

Hello. You might not be a regular visitor here, and you might just be checking to see how Giants fans are responding to the Barry Bonds sentence. Welcome. I don't presume to speak for all Giants fans, but I can at least spell out the default Barry Bonds position of the editors of McCovey Chronicles. Well, "editors" is a subjective term, seeing as their is no indication anything I've written for the site has ever been properly edited.

First, I get the reason behind the case. The government has good reasons for not wanting people to lie to grand juries, so when they think that a high-profile witness has lied in a high-profile case, the government is right to want to address that. Even without a conviction, this case was a year-long commercial for not lying to grand juries. The government will, at the very least, annoy the crap out of you if they think you lied.

And I don't like the misleading figures like "The Feds spent $75 million on this!" because it's not like they went down to Home Depot, loaded some prosecutors in the back of a van, and paid them $75 million. The time and resources were the real wastes, assuming that what amounted to a public-relations message against lying was unsuccessful.

But I'm happy that Barry Bonds is not going to jail. Very happy. I've never met the man, and I'm sure if I ever did meet him, he'd sneer me into a corner. Despite the charity work and philanthropy, I don't have any illusions that Bonds is someone I'd want to go backpacking with through Europe. He's a complicated, interesting man, and by almost all accounts, he has a dark side I wouldn't want to experience for myself. But I'm ecstatic that he isn't going to jail.

The default position of McCovey Chronicles is that you wouldn't understand. You weren't there when Bonds was doing amazing things. You weren't there when the Giants played their first game of 1993 in San Francisco instead of Tampa, and they had the best player in baseball -- a local kid with a family history that was completely intertwined with San Francisco Giants history. You weren't there when he hit his 500th homer into the water against Terry Adams to beat the Dodgers. You weren't there to see him hit any into the water after battling hypothermia and sludge mites at Candlestick, doing it at a new park that he was at least partially responsible for.

And when I use "you," I mean heathen non-Giants fans. Those people. But Cardinals fans who still have an affinity for Mark McGwire can surely understand a little bit. Cubs fans who still remember Sammy Sosa fondly can understand. The repeated success of a player -- with the player in question being wholly tied into the identity of your favorite team, which you've somehow tied into your own identity for some weird reason -- toggles a bunch of switches in your brain. Those switches are hard to turn off. Some of them might be irreversible.

I can't give a refund on those endorphins. As such, when I think of Barry Bonds, I'm going to think about baseball. Good baseball -- the best I've ever seen. I'll think of the fear he put in pitchers and managers. I'll think of Brent Mayne's liner to right field against the Diamondbacks, letting Buck Showalter off the hook after walking Bonds intentionally with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. I'll think of a hitter working the count -- I would have appreciated it even more at the time if I had known he would be the last Giant in the history of the franchise to do it.

And if you can't think of all that when you read Bonds's name? Well, I understand. Bonds almost certainly took advantage of chemicals that other players in baseball weren't willing to. He broke records that belonged to people who didn't have access to those specific enhancements. I can peel off the leathery Giants-fan skin long enough to understand how that would be annoying and/or offensive.

Just put yourself in our shoes when you get a second. Or in the shoes of Cardinals fans or Cubs fans. When 40,000 people get out of their chairs in Milwaukee next April and give Ryan Braun a standing ovation, don't just assume that they're all bleating goats who will chew on whatever tin cans they're fed. This stuff's complicated. Being a passionate fan of anything messes with your brain chemistry. That's what made my brain spam me with feel-good chemicals after Bonds got off with a slap of the wrist. When I think of Bonds, I think about some of the fondest memories baseball has ever given me. Around these parts, that will give him a pass for an awful lot over the rest of his life, even if you can't understand that.