Entering the third season since his retirement from the game of baseball, Major League Baseball’s all-time leading homerun hitter is up against one of the toughest pitches he has ever seen.

Barry Bonds is enduring a gruesome trial in the aftermath of the BALCO steroid scandal dating back to a 2002 United State Federal government investigation of a Bay Area laboratory.

The former Giants slugger is up against some serious chin-music since allegations have arisen claiming he lied to a grand jury in 2003 about knowingly taking steroids.

The case U.S. vs. Barry Bonds stands to be a monumental ruling for the government in their attempt to eliminate steroids from professional sports.

Several important witnesses have already taken the stand against Bonds, providing first-hand evidence against the defense’s claim that Bonds never “knowingly took steroids.”

(Remember that Bonds first claimed that he never took steroids. He has now shifted his argument so that it reflects that he never knowingly took steroids).

Regardless of the jury’s ruling, if Bonds receives little to no jail time or is acquitted despite the strong evidence, the case may test the public’s tolerance for lengthy and expensive legal battles with athletes who took performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).

It may put an end to the government’s fight against other athletes – Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong and others – who have been accused of lying to Congress about doping.

Thus, it could set the government back several years in their fight against PEDs in professional sports.
Though Bonds may or may not be guilty – and my gut feeling says he is – his attorneys will likely attempt to portray Barry Bonds, the face of the steroid era in baseball, as a victim in this case.

Since the initial investigation began in 2003, Bonds has been the focal point of the BALCO investigation.

While others have been targeted along the way, the case has always been about destroying the home run king.

Furthermore, the accusations against Bonds are widely perceived as unworthy of time, money, effort and man-power.

An unlimited amount of resources have been put towards the case and, as Sports Illustrated reports, federal prosecutors not working it privately complain about the resources dedicated to Bonds’s prosecution.

Due to the budget cuts, courtesy of a flailing economy, prosecutors are working shorthanded on issues they would argue are far more important – immigration and drug issues – than knocking Bonds out of the park for lying to a grand jury.

Even if Bonds is convicted, it is unlikely that he will spend any time in jail. The longest sentence given to a BALCO perjurer thus far was handed out to former Olympic track coach, Trevor Graham, who received a year of home confinement.

With those facts in place, the question remains: Is Barry Bonds just simply a criminal? Or is he also a victim? I say both.