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Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Is Barry Bonds headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame or to prison? Why not both? After the indictment of the career home run, later, on Thursday, neither is really out of the question.

Joining us now is Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine.

Howard, thanks for being with us.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (Senior Writer, ESPN.com): Hey, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Well, better than Barry Bonds, and I don't - I ordinarily can't say that. Is his playing career over? A free agent had hoped to sign.

Mr. BRYANT: I think Barry Bond - his career is finish. I think that his career, for the most part, should have been finished last year, if not for the cynical San Francisco Giants' ownership that needed him to break the record in a Giant uniform to earn money for them to continue paying for that ballpark.

I think this was the last straw. And I don't see any team taking a risk on him or taking a flyer on him simply because he wants to keep playing. He's going to be a player who's under indictment, who was already a lightning rod in the first place. I think we've seen the last of Barry Bonds in a baseball uniform.

SIMON: Grand jury says that he lied when he said he didn't knowingly take steroids that were given to him by his personal trainer. So legal experts have noted he's not actually being indicted for taking steroids but for lying to investigators when he said he didn't take them. Is this just a fine legal point but not a real point?

Mr. BRYANT: No, I think it's very real. This is an investigation that isn't taken lightly by the investigators of - by the federal government. I think that when you read the indictment, and I suggest that everybody read the indictment. It's online in PDF form. You can read it in about 10 minutes. It's a 10-page document.

It's just Bond's true defiance. And what I took from it was this idea that he really did believe that he was above the law, that he treated these federal investigators as if they were rent-a-cops outside of a high school. It's really fascinating reading. And you can tell how contentious things were and how much the federal government was convinced that he was lying to them.

SIMON: Quick last question, Howard. Alex Rodriguez agreed to a $275-million 10-year deal with the New York Yankees. Good deal for both sides?

Mr. BRYANT: Oh, it's a great deal for both sides. It's a great deal because I couldn't for the life of me think of another baseball player at the height of his power especially in the modern era now that would walk away from the New York spotlight with the New York marketing machine and all the power that New York can bring to you. Alex Rodriguez would have been the first.

Every other player from Dave Winfields to Ricky Henderson, to Reggie Jackson, to Babe Ruth, all of them left New York against their will. And for Alex Rodriguez to walk away would have been remarkable. Also, he's got a chance now to break Barry Bonds' home-run record in a Yankee uniform. So it's all set up for him. It's set up for the Yankees. At $27 million a year there weren't going to be that many other suitors. He is where he belongs.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine.

Thank you.

Mr. BRYANT: Thank you.

SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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