Now that Barry Bonds has been indicted on perjury and obstruction charges, the odds that he will be kept out of the Hall of Fame and/or be stripped of his single-season and career home run records have substantially increased. To some extent, this is simply a matter of evidence. Should Bonds be convicted or plead guilty, there will be no reasonable doubt that he in fact used performance-enhancing drugs. The basis for the perjury charge, after all, is that Bonds was lying when he said that he did not knowingly use the drugs, so a conviction for lying will be the equivalent of a conviction for using the drugs. There will no longer be any basis for plausible deniability.
But I suspect that some number of people will also think that the fact of a conviction itself (if one is obtained) will be a reason to keep Bonds out of the Hall and strip him of his records, apart from what it says about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Being branded a felon will, in their eyes, make him unworthy of the Hall and keeping his records, quite apart from what it says about his drug use. At some level, this makes little sense. Perjury and obstruction are serious offenses but no more serious than other offenses committed by professional athletes (including acts of violence) that do not completely tarnish their athletic achievements.
Not that I'm defending Barry Bonds. I'd only do that if he had played for the Yankees.
Posted by Mike Dorf