Even as a life-long San Francisco Giants fan, it certainly seemed to me that one of the best arguments out there that Bonds had definitely used steroids was that he was actually more productive in his late 30s and early 40s than he had been in his mid-20s. Naturally, when the BALCO case exploded, this clinched it for most of the public. Bonds had used steroids, period.
As a result, the cacophony of boos, chants, taunts, signs, etc., etc., that Bonds faced during every road game as he chased Aaron's record was almost unreal. I'm still impressed that he managed to break the record under such difficult circumstances.
But what always bothered me during Bonds' home run chase was how hard people went after him, especially when he had never tested positive for steroids and wasn't yet on his way to a federal perjury trial. He was killed in the court of public opinion before technically being guilty, just like McGwire and Sosa. Meanwhile, Clemens, who also fit the steroids M.O. to a T, basically got off scot-free.
Of course, people will say the rage directed at Bonds was primarily due to the fact that he was connected to BALCO, while Clemens was not. There's certainly some truth to that. It also helped that Bonds was chasing baseball's defining record, while Clemens was not.
But for Clemens, the same signs were there for the court of public opinion to judge. It wasn't quite at the BALCO level, but it sure was close.
Clemens was incredibly productive late in his career. He beefed up substantially after Dan Duquette said Clemens was "past his prime." He went nuts and threw a bat at Mike Piazza. Baseball writers openly speculated if Clemens had used steroids. And perhaps most damning of all, former pitcher Jason Grimsley in late 2006 named Clemens as a player who used performance enhancing drugs.
When you line up both Bonds and Clemens, according to the strict letter of the law, neither had ever tested positive for anything at the time these separate instances broke - BALCO and Grimsley's admission.
Yet everyone began bashing Bonds incessantly after BALCO, while no one really jumped on Clemens after multiple signs that he too was a user.
The reasons why Bonds got the raw end of the deal are of course limitless. It has to do with the home run record, it has to do with race, it has to do with the mistaken belief that steroids wouldn't really be beneficial for picthers to use, it has to do with the media, it has to do with the fact that Bonds is a bigger jerk than Clemens (barely), etc.
Now, the public has essentially the same proof on Clemens that they used to bash Bonds with. Again, for neither man is there proof of a positive test, but documents that say Clemens got steroid shots in the butt should be viewed on the same level as BALCO.
But for Clemens, he isn't going to have to deal with people coming after him, because he's probably never going to play again.
He should have gotten killed in the court of public opinion just as hard as Bonds did. But for whatever reasons, he didn't.
He got off easy.