No Sweet Deal for Lawyer Who Leaked BALCO Testimony

I'm not sure why I'm satisfied by this news, much less care, but it seems right: Troy Ellerman, the lawyer who leaked BALCO grand jury testimony to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada, reached a plea agreement to serve 15-24 months for that crime and subsequently lying about it. Yesterday, federal judge Jeffrey White rejected the deal, declaring that lawyers should be held to a higher standard.

I know: what planet is that guy from?

But I say good for him. And for that matter, shame on the prosecutors for trying to get this lying, cheating sack of self-righteous vigilante crap a sweet deal. It's not that the guy even came clean, nor came forward to protect Fainaru-Wada, who was getting ready for a crossbar hotel stay of his own for refusing to reveal his source. Ellerman simply got caught.

I enjoy watching Barry Bonds doing what he can do. He's an amazing baseball talent. Whether you think he took illegal performance drugs or not is one thing, but if he did, it still wouldn't explain the best aspects of his game. He's an exceptional player. What seems to drive people nuts, sportswriters in particular, is that he doesn't care what anyone else thinks. He certainly doesn't feel obliged to help anyone capitalize on his image or achievements, especially writers in need of stories. I forget the name of the hack who writes for USA Today -- some smug shit with a contrived axe to grind -- but every time I read a Bonds article written by him, the underlying resentment is palpable. You'd think Bonds had done him some deep, personal wrong.

And I'm disgusted by Major League Baseball's retroactive moralizing on performance drugs in the game. Bud Selig is, and has always been, a tool. Three reasons come to mind: one, because he is. Just listen to the man for a few minutes. Two, because he's the only commissioner to have called a baseball game for going too long, violating a great George Will baseball truth I hold dear: there is always a winner. Three, because he was perfectly happy to ride MLB's fortunes while Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were turning baseballs into satellites at an incredible rate, and now perfectly happy to wag his finger at the player's union for what only a baseball idiot could call a revelation, that some players are doping up. Selig manages to avoid controversy by either generating it or keeping the focus on someone else. He's that nightmare fraternity brother, ready to party with you or sell you out, as the occasion warrants.

Still, it seems odd to me that more hysterically righteous contempt has been thrown at Bonds than, say, your average 42nd President. And it's simply bizarre that so many people have quietly approved of leaking grand jury testimony so a reporter can publish the truth. Since when was the public revelation of protected testimony more pressing than due process? Who got to decide it was especially important for baseball? So important, mind you, that the lawyer who created this controversy should be able to break the law, lie to federal investigators and the courts, get caught, and then plea his way to a slap on the wrist?

This is the nature of the case against Bonds. It is so clearly ruled by sentiment, it will hardly matter what truth will out. The collective animus aimed at Bonds is so intense that a lawyer will violate his trust with the court system, a journalist will shield those criminal acts with the First Amendment, even federal prosecutors will look for ways to excuse it -- because all of them feel the ends justify their means. They know in their heart of hearts that Bonds is guilty of something. They know it. It's racially-motivated doping, or wait! perjury! at least, or...dammit, something. There has to be something we can pin on him.

And here's the price to be paid: at the end of this story, wherever it might lead, Ellerman will serve significant time behind bars, as he should. Let that fact rest on Fainaru-Wada's conscience; I hope Game of Shadows was worth it. Bonds's only proven shortcomings, so far, appear to be moodiness, and a colossal failure to succumb to legal, professional, and social pressure, and courts of public opinion. He's utterly failed to give a damn for what anyone else thinks. He also has failed to test positive, provoke an indictment, or get himself charged with a crime, or be proven to have done anything wrong. He's merely gone back to work. And if he is laughing at all of this, as so many of his enemies want to imagine, even that little bit hasn't shown up.

People like Ellerman, and forces like the sportswriting media, however, demonstrate that there's no such thing as going too far when The Truth is on your side. Not sincere belief, mind you, but Truth. Apparently Bonds is ineligible for due process of law because he benefits from it, the ultimate point of our justice system. Journalists like Fainaru-Wada may therefore rely on the First Amendment, criminal sources, and prejudicial information to cast judgment, and stay home while the criminal who aided him awaits sentencing.

I'm thankful there's at least one judge who understands that the larger outcome hardly matters if the legal process becomes a switch to flip when circumstances warrant. If Bonds is guilty of something, let time and due process do their work. You can damn well bet that if nothing is ever proven, these jokers will still find all the reasons they need never to apologize for smearing his name.


Skylers Dad said...

Whether or not Bonds is guilty of juicing we may never know because he will probably be gone long before a defacto test will be available.

What I do know from watching him interact with other human beings is that he is pure asshole through and through.

vikkitikkitavi said...

I've known a couple of players who got close enough to the show to tell me that yeah, about 1/3 of players juice to some extent, or at least they did before the league's reluctant, half-assed and hypocritical attempts at detecting substances that they won't even freaking come out and ban in many cases. Personally, I can't blame a player who knows he's only got a couple of years to make his name and his fortune in a league already rife with chemical cheating from doing whatever he has to do to his body to stay or get on top. His body's going to be ruined when he's done anyways, so why not?

And don't get me started on Selig. Besides the crimes you mention, he also tried to shut down the Twins, in spite of their popular support. Why would he do that? Maybe because the closest MLB team to the Twins and the one most likely to benefit from the vaccuum was Selig's own team, The Brewers. Oh, I forgot, it's not his team anymore. He sold it, as was required when he became commissioner, in order to avoid conflict of interest. He sold it to his daughter.

And yes, I'm still steamed about that All-Star game, too. I'll tell you Bud, there's a real simple solution to the problem you had there: the first team to decline to send a pitcher to the mound FREAKING LOSES, you stupid ass douchebag.

So, anyways, here's what else I know:

1. Bonds juiced. So did McGwire, so did Sosa, etc. etc. Look, you just can't explain the extraordinary and extraordinarily fast changes in their bodies any other way. I'm sorry, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then excuse me for not waiting for the results of the DNA test.

2. The public will like you better if you're not a foul-tempered asshat with an inclination for blaming other people for your own shortcomings.

3. And lastly, yeah, there is also a good deal of the "bad nigger" syndrome at work here. It's why people rooted so hard for Sonny Liston to fail and for Floyd Patterson to win. Barry Bonds is uppity, and for some people that is still a huge problem, even though those same people probably don't even realize why they hate him so very much.

And lastly, I hope Fainaru-Wada enjoys his Faustian bargain. What portion of his soul will he sell off for his next book, do you think?

Michael said...

sd: When it comes to baseball players, I'm usually careful to couch my terms, e.g., "he's an amazing baseball talent." Baseball itself to my eyes is high art, which is not to say I think highly of the artists themselves. There are some tremendous assholes in the game, just God's purest and finest pricks ever. And of course there are nice guys. But in growing up playing baseball, I never once understood why people thought athletes should be role models for kids. I mean, geez, just listen to one of them.

vtt: I'm with you. So long as they hurt no one but themselves, I don't see much to get worked up about. Professional sport is, after all, an entertainment business first.

Selig is to the MLB what Don King is to boxing. Discuss.

1. Did you see the LA Times bit on Lenny Dykstra, then and now, a year or so ago? Oh my Lord. It's just not a secret. It's all this bullshit and bluster once the public scrutiny ratcheted up that offends me.

2. Agreed! Just apologize for your excesses and clean up your act, MLB! This transparent scapegoating is almost as bad as declaring how much money you were losing while refusing to open up your books in the same breath. How stupid do we all look to you?

3. That's the term, all right. The more rhetoric and hysteria a writer can heap on this character Bonds, the more everyone can excuse their own bigotry, which lets them praise black players as long as they're self-effacing and keep their heads bowed. Imagine how much I loved it when the street-thug Oakland Raiders beat the crap out of the Vikings in '77 Super Bowl. Just what America needs and still does: competitive sports don't build character, they reveal it. TS.

As for M F-W, well, my heart's broken a little. An alumnus of my high school making the cheap reach for fame. Oh well, at least I still have Robin Williams.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Oh, don't get me wrong, I think the so-called "performance enhancing" drugs should be banned from the league, but MLB can't create rules that invite players to use them, and then point the finger at them and the player's union when they do.

1. Have you seen Schwarzenegger with his shirt off recently? Ye gods.

2. Actually, I was talking about Bonds.

3. There are plenty of white players that are foul-tempered, mean, and ugly. But they still get promotion deals (Randy Johnson springs to mind). But no such luck when you are black and surly.

Oh, and two words: Patch Adams.