One year after Game of Shadows, one of the most important books of our time, the possible indictment of Barry Bonds remains unresolved, his trainer, Greg Anderson, remains loyal enough to his client to stew in prison rather than testify against him, and baseball remains hostage to the ill will Bonds generates as the face of baseball Bud Selig can't stand. The stench of stagnation is everywhere.
When will it end? Lance Williams, who authored Shadows along with Mark Fainaru-Wada, thinks the answer of whether or not Bonds will be indicted for perjury could come in the next six months.
"My gut feeling is we're going to know before the end of the season," Williams told SI.com. "I think they'll come to some resolution [on whether to indict] and we'll hear about it."
But as the book is released this week in a paperback edition with a new afterword, the most important constant in the 12-month wake of Shadows is this: Bonds has not challenged a single fact in the book. It stands as an encyclopedia of this doping era in general and of Bonds' massive doping regimen in specifics.
Bonds' attorney, Michael Rains, has thrown his share of smoke bombs to divert attention from the facts: challenging the authors' right to profit from the book (he summarily dropped the challenge, with virtually no hope of success), and now trying to demand disclosure by the feds of how much money they've spent on investigating Bonds and, ironically enough, asking them to continue spending more money in the case by continuing to pursue the identify of people who might have leaked information, though the chief leaker already has been outed.
You hear all that noise from the Bonds camp and yet most conspicuous is the silence on challenging the facts of the case. Shadows succeeded because it couched nothing and stood unchallenged. My favorite fact: the authors detail in their afterword the freakish growth of Bonds' body parts in his years with the Giants: from size 42 to a size 52 jersey; from size 10 1/2 to size 13 cleats; and from a size 7 1/8 to size 7 1/4 cap, even though he had taken to shaving his head.
"The changes in his foot and head size," they write, "were of special interest: medical experts said overuse of human growth hormone could cause an adult's extremities to begin growing, aping the symptoms of the glandular disorder acromegaly."
You cannot read the book without concluding that Bonds is one of the biggest serial dopers in sports history. So why haven't the feds dropped the hammer on his little story about how he thought he was using flaxseed oil?
Williams said he believes the prosecution team "intended to indict last season" but its boss, Kevin V. Ryan, the United States attorney for the Northern District of California, wanted Anderson's testimony against Bonds for an airtight case. But as Williams said, "Anderson has shown no intention to ever participate."
Why would Anderson continue to simmer in an East Bay, Calif., prison? In addition to protecting "his biggest and best client," Williams said, Anderson may feel double-crossed by the feds. Williams said the feds cut a plea deal with Anderson that included his cooperation in the form of testimony. Anderson objected to cooperating, and when he did so, the feds pulled the entire plea deal out from under him.
Anderson could remain in prison until January 2008 --- "when the grand jury's term expires in July and, if they wanted to be mean, they could extend [the sentence] another six months," Williams said.
Meanwhile, Williams and Fainaru-Wada may have dodged prison themselves. The reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle faced the possibility of incarceration if they did not comply with a subpoena to reveal the identity of the person or persons who provided to them leaked grand jury testimony from the BALCO case, including Bonds' flaxseed bit.
But since then, Troy L. Ellerman, a former defense lawyer for BALCO founder Victor Conte and BALCO VP James Valente, admitted he leaked the testimony to the reporters. He agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice and related charges. The subpoena compelling the reporters to testify was withdrawn last week. (The authors have not acknowledged any of their confidential sources.)
Ellerman is looking at a two-year sentence as part of a plea offer, but if the judge rejects that offer -- there is a sentencing hearing in June -- the judge could order the case to go to trial. In that scenario, Williams and Fainaru-Wada would most likely be called to testify, and they would be staring at the possibility of prison again if, as they intend, they do not testify regarding the identity of their sources.
"We're still in some jeopardy," Williams said.
Meanwhile, the decision on whether to indict Bonds no longer belongs to Ryan, who left his position Feb. 16, but to his replacement, Scott N. Schools, a former general counsel at the Justice Department.
"We can't tell what he's going to do," Williams said. "The prosecution team thought they'd had enough [to indict] before. Now the question is does he agree with that?"
Until Schools decides to indict or not, the case moves nowhere, Rains' histrionics notwithstanding. Anderson remains in lockup and Bonds remains a drag on the game. Meanwhile, the voices of Williams and Fainaru-Wada remain as free and clear as when we heard them last year.