Lance Williams on Barry Bonds
Posted on Dec 7, 2007
By James Harris
Harris: In your recent story about Barry Bonds there was a quote from Bonds, I think in 2003, and it says, “If I’m stronger, it doesn’t matter; I’ve still got to be able to hit the baseball.”
Williams: Yeah, that’s true. The drugs don’t take an average person and make them into a superior athlete. What they do is take a really good athlete and make them better. If you can hit the ball with more power, hit it harder, it’s going to go farther. That stands to reason. But certainly he was a wonderful baseball player before he ever turned to the banned drugs. I can’t imagine he would still be playing today without the assistance of banned drugs. He’s 43 years old but had a really good career before he turned to that. The future is a process. If he decides to go to trial, we’ll have six to nine months of legal motions, perhaps an attempt to satisfy the indictment and then, if that fails, go to trial and, my goodness, that’ll be just a heck of a story. I can’t even imagine. You have the prospect of him having to take the witness stand. He doesn’t have the legal requirement to use it, but usually to beat a perjury case you have to put the guy on and he’s got to say, “Hey, I didn’t do it,” or “Here’s what I thought I was being asked,” or whatever. So it’ll just be fascinating.
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Williams: Yeah, no. It’s true. He [Bonds] might be able to avoid it. It just depends on how the evidence rolls in. I don’t know these lawyers very well. I just think it’ll be fascinating to watch, and I’m just so happy it’s not about me now.
Harris: Me too. I don’t think journalists are fit for prison, Lance, so I’m glad, too. I’m glad it’s not you.
Williams: I don’t want to be sitting up there anymore.
Harris: A final thought. Let’s imagine a year into the future, let’s say Bonds is guilty. And I think it’s pretty clear—maybe some would say as clear as O.J.‘s case was before that was decided. Let’s say that he’s guilty.
Harris: Should baseball tear his records down or should they settle for an asterisk?
Williams: They’ve never done that, really. They’ve tried it with [Roger] Maris’ record for a few years and abandoned it. You can still look in the books and see the number of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was involved in the Black Sox scandal, or Pete Rose, who was banned from the game for betting on it. Their numbers are still in the books. I just don’t think that’s where this is headed. It would be extraordinary if they did that. I think more likely where the judgment will be passed is going to be on whether he gets in the Hall of Fame or not. But I think his numbers will be in the book until somebody surpasses him. He’ll be the home run king until that day.
Harris: Final thought from me is, I think you’re right and I think that baseball is looking for something to blame their problems on and I think that they are losing a market share, not because of the steroids scandal and not because of the work that you guys did, but because people just aren’t interested in America’s game like they used to be.
Williams: It could be. It’s an acquired taste and many of us have acquired it. I think baseball still has quite a future if it can get a handle on this particular problem. If it can’t, forget it, but if it can wrap its arms around it and convince people that it’s serious about letting the athletes play drug-free, I think there’ll be a lot of people watching games.
Harris: Lance Williams, San Francisco Chronicle writer and author of “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports.” Pick up a copy if you don’t already have one. How are book sales on that one, Lance?
Williams: I’ve been really pleased. They’ve sold a couple of hundred thousand hardbacks in the last year and a half, and that’s 10 times as many as I ever thought.
Harris: I want to talk to you off-air about a loan, by the way.
Williams: I wish you made more money selling books. Unfortunately, it’s more of a labor of love. I’ve just been happy with the experience. So there you are.
Harris: All right. Thanks for spending time on Truthdig, and maybe we can check in as the trial gets under way.
Williams: My pleasure.
Harris: All right, Lance. For Lance Williams, this is James Harris, and this is Truthdig.
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