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Friday, July 7, 2006
Updated: July 10, 12:49 PM ET
Bonds looks as powerful as ever

By Skip Bayless
Page 2

He is still astounding us with his power.

Now, Barry Bonds turns every pitch the government throws at him into a gopher ball. The windup, the delivery … Greg Anderson, going, going, gone back to jail.

The courtroom might as well be Coors Field for Barry Lamar Bonds. The feds look like the Kansas City Royals, letting chance after chance to nail Bonds go right through their legs. If this weren't so sad, this would all be hilarious.

Absolutely astonishing: So far, Bonds hasn't even been charged with perjury. So far, it appears he won't even stand trial for possibly lying under oath to a grand jury about using performance-enhancing drugs.

Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds' slump hasn't extended off the field.
Of course, it's possible Bonds has never ingested anything stronger than Wheaties.

It's also possible that, by day, Bonds is a mild-mannered reporter who works for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now, the government's potential star witness -- Bonds' trainer and boyhood friend, Greg Anderson -- has chosen to return to jail instead of answering questions before a grand jury about Bonds' 2003 testimony. Then, of course, Bonds said only that he used a "cream" given to him by Anderson to aid in recovery.

The "cream," Bonds testified, was "flaxseed oil."

And of course, Anderson was convicted of distributing steroids and money laundering and served three months in prison. Circumstantially incriminating for Bonds? Nah. Just coincidence.

There were reports -- and indications in "Game of Shadows," the book by the two San Francisco Chronicle reporters -- that Anderson had tired of Bonds' verbal abuse and how little Bonds paid for his services. Between the lines, the book read as if Anderson had been a primary source for the bombshell allegations that Bonds had used every steroid known to man and some to animals. So would Anderson roll over on Bonds when questioned by the current grand jury exploring evidence for a perjury charge?

Sorry.

Anderson chose to again give up his freedom instead of testifying. Apparently, he still loves Barry. Or who knows? Maybe he loves what Barry will do for him when all this blows over.

Bonds is holding his pose at home plate, grinning.

Raw power.

Is this in part a matter of home-field advantage? The grand jury and those governing it are Bay Area residents. Are they simply too grateful for all the great moments No. 25 has provided them to see any evil?

Hey, at least the judge made it look good. At least he rapped his gavel and sent Barry's designated fall guy back to jail, if only until the grand jury is sent home. Justice is served up like a batting-practice fastball.

Maybe the judge will get Barry's autograph before this is over.

At least the federal agents who have been trying to nail Bonds for five years have only one Bonds poster in mind -- a wanted poster. If only these guys weren't Keystone Cops.

Their latest comedy routine: They busted a journeyman relief pitcher named Jason Grimsley for acquiring human growth hormone without a prescription, then tried to bully him into a wearing a wire to bust Bonds.

Grimsley was a Diamondback. Bonds is a Giant. They have no relationship. So Grimsley was going to saunter up to Bonds as he reclined in the Giants' clubhouse and say, "Hey, big guy. You ever use 'roids?"

When Grimsley refused to wear the wire, feds raided his house and his HGH use hit the headlines.

It certainly appeared that these agents, frustrated in their attempts to make any of their evidence stick, emptied their notebooks for the Chronicle reporters. Yes, "Game of Shadows" certainly seemed to succeed where the feds had failed. It nailed Bonds with relentless detail.

Greg Anderson
Greg Anderson just went back to jail instead of testifying.
So why hasn't the grand jury questioned the Chronicle reporters? In interviews, both have indicated they absolutely believe Bonds perjured himself. For sure, they could enlighten jurors and prosecutors by telling them everything they know. But they've also indicated that they won't give up their sources.

The immediate issue here shouldn't have been the reporters' First Amendment right to protect their sources. Yet that's what the government immediately turned it into -- for the wrong reason. Instead of keeping its eye on the ball -- on Bonds -- it swung from the heels over who originally leaked the grand jury testimony of Bonds and other athletes to the Chronicle.

Yes, leaking grand jury testimony is against the law. Yes, you can argue that the reporters were in effect accessories to a crime. But these leaks didn't jeopardize national security. So why did the Bush Administration warn the reporters that they could go to jail if they didn't reveal the sources of their leaks?

Now, who really cares?

Here we go again. The feds can't make anything stick on Bonds, so they're bullying the reporters who printed Bonds' testimony.

What of Kimberly Bell, Bonds' former mistress, who testified that he confided to her that he used steroids?

Apparently, that's not enough for this grand jury.

What of Victor Conte initially telling the federal agents who raided BALCO that he supplied Anderson with undetectable steroids for Bonds? The agents failed to tape that interrogation, and Conte later renounced his testimony.

Not enough?

The feds recorded Anderson telling a friend about giving steroids to Bonds, but Anderson's attorney has argued the recording was illegally obtained.

Not enough?

What about the literal body of evidence against Bonds -- the stunning changes in his body in the late 1990s?

Not enough, even for trial.

No, Bonds has never tested positive. And yes, steroids or no steroids, he's still the greatest hitter ever.

But his most amazing feats have come at the legal system's expense.

Skip Bayless can be seen Monday through Friday on "Cold Pizza," ESPN2's morning show and at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN's "1st & 10." His column appears twice a week on Page 2. You can e-mail Skip here.