Most of the easy justifications for Bonds's unemployment make no sense. He's under federal indictment on perjury charges, but ballplayers accused of worse crimes, such as wife beating and drunken driving, have stayed in work. He probably used steroids, but teams have hired plenty of players who actually failed steroid tests. He's 44 years old, but so is Randy Johnson, who's making $15 million this year, and so was Roger Clemens last year when he signed a contract worth a prorated $28 million. By now, it's too late in the year for him to make much of a difference for any contender that could use him, but that wasn't true in March or June, and he still couldn't get a job.
All of this looked rotten several months ago and looks worse right now. Bonds's announcement came a day after the opening of the Olympic Games, among other things a quadrennial celebration of brazen drug use. It came two weeks after Senator McCain made a campaign appearance with cyclist Lance Armstrong, whose alleged use has been documented just as thoroughly as Bonds's. It came a week after the Boston Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez while all but openly accusing him of tanking during a pennant race, which, if actually true, would class him somewhere near "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and Rose. Less than a year since he last played, Bonds's offenses seem almost quaint.