Fans in the stands at San Francisco’s
AT&T Park skipped a heartbeat last night when Barry Bonds, just one home
run away from equalling Babe Ruth’s record of 714, skied a ball deep into
centre field. Chicago Cubs fielder Juan Pierre thought it was gone, but he
leapt and when he came down the ball was in his glove.

“I know I ruined about 40,000 people’s
nights tonight,” Pierre later said. Bonds didn’t talk to the press after the
game, preferring to stay quiet ahead of his second attempt at equalling Ruth’s mark,
and setting out in pursuit of Henry Aaron’s all time record of 755.

Interestingly, Babe Ruth’s family are not
interested in celebrating the achievement when it happens.

“In my heart, it’s hard for me,” Ruth’s
granddaughter Linda Tosetti said.
“I like to do things in Babe’s name. I just don’t want his name mixed up in
steroids.”

Tosetti is referring to the BALCO drug
case, in which five people were convicted of supplying steroids, and to which
Bonds has been linked. Indeed, Bonds’ alleged steroid use is at the very front
of people’s minds as he approaches Ruth’s record. And in a twist, the San
Francisco journalists who reported on the affair could end up spending more
time in jail
than those convicted of supplying the steroids.

Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada have
been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury
to reveal who leaked Barry Bonds’ (and others’) secret testimony. The reporters
are saying they won’t talk, which makes them liable for contempt of court
charges and a possible jail sentence. Just as Herald Sun journalists Michael
Harvey and Gerard McManus have been facing jail for
contempt in Australia.

There is no clear-cut precedent in the US protecting
the San Francisco Chronicle pair from porridge. There are examples of
journalists being given the right to protect their sources in US courts, and
many instances, some quite recent, of journalists being jailed for the same
thing.

Whether or not Williams and Fainaru-Wada
are forced to reveal their sources, the case is an open wound on Barry Bonds’
claims to greatness, and part of the reason many are saying he’ll take the
record, but not the legend.

Peter Fray

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