Matt York, Associated Press
San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds watch his solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix in July 2003.
As for Bonds, the best thing would be to see him simply fade away into oblivion.

Boy, the U.S. justice system must be mighty proud of itself today.

After eight years of chasing after Major League Baseball's all-time home run king Barry Bonds for steroid use and subsequently lying about it to a federal grand jury — allegedly, of course — he was finally sentenced for his crimes on Friday.

And here's the punishment big, bad Barry received: 30 days of home confinement, two years of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine.

Please note that there's not the word "prison" mentioned anywhere above.

Wow, U.S. prosecutors, all that time and money was really well spent, wasn't it? You must be so proud of yourselves.

It must surely be a hardship for Bonds to be forced to spend 30 days in his 15,000-square-foot mansion, which reportedly has six bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a gym, a swimming pool and enough other amenities and comforts of home that spending 30 days there would likely seem like a lovely vacation for most of us common folk.

And, after the untold fortune — millions, maybe? — of dollars which was spent going after this guy, he gets a measly $4,000 fine?

Keep in mind that Bonds made more than $192 million during his career as a baseball player. So $4K amounts to nothing more than chump change, walking-around money for a high-paid athlete of his caliber.

In an Associated Press story, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella, who had been seeking a 15-month prison term for the former slugger, called Bonds' sentence "a slap on the wrist" and considered the fine "almost laughable."

Ya think? Yep, it's absolutely a farce, a joke and a mockery — they all apply.

Oh, but what about all that probation and community service?

Such harsh punishment for one of professional sports' most unlikable athletes. Maybe he can open a batting cage for underprivileged youth and teach them how to hit a baseball — something he did very, very well for a long, long time.

And he didn't need 'roids to rank among the game's greatest players of all time, either.

But he apparently chose to take 'em, anyhow, and it paid off as he shattered the single-season home run record with 73 bombs in 2001 on his way to the career mark of 762.

Of course, his career will forever be tainted by those steroid allegations which will continue to follow him wherever he goes. And the seven-time National League MVP likely won't be elected to baseball's Hall of Fame after he becomes eligible for the shrine in 2013.

That might be the only punishment that will truly bother Bonds in all of this, because he certainly had the talent and a spectacular career which was Hall of Fame worthy, even before he started juicing — allegedly, of course.

But, like fellow sluggers Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi and pitcher Roger Clemens — who is still awaiting his eventual day in court after a mistrial was declared on charges similar to those which Bonds faced — their career accomplishments will always be tarnished by their alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

As for Bonds, the best thing would be to see him simply fade away into oblivion.

Too much was made of his involvement with those shady characters at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative — BALCO — the same outfit that wound up getting former track and field star Marion Jones sent to prison for lying to federal investigators about her own performance-enhancing-drug use.

And, like he did far too many times during his baseball career, Bonds got to walk, getting basically another free pass when many of us were hoping someone would figuratively stick a fastball in his ear or at least brush him back off the plate of life for cheating the game, the fans and basically being an all-around bad guy, too.

Instead, he skated and will remain essentially a free man.

And our flawed judicial system strikes again, like it has so many times before, sending guys like Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress to prison for killing dogs or shooting themselves while athletes like Donte Stallworth and O.J. Simpson who killed other human beings — allegedly, of course — wind up going free.

Sometimes, justice is served. And other times, it just isn't.

With Bonds, though, it's like a very disappointing meal — indeed, we were hoping for steak and potatoes with all the trimmings, and we wound up with Top Ramen instead.

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