SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Bonds got what he wanted. So did the feds.
What should have been a year of fame and adulation for Bonds had equal parts of shame and condemnation.
As always, though, Bonds handled it his way: From that first day in spring training when he proclaimed himself up to the challenges that lie ahead; through the record-setting day in August when he hit No. 756 to become the all-time home run king; to that day in early December when he walked out of a federal courthouse in San Francisco after declaring himself innocent on charges leveled in a steroids investigation.
In a year that seemingly revolved around news that belonged on the front page instead of the sports page, the trail left by Bonds was voted Story of the Year by members of The Associated Press.
The Bonds saga received 1,352 points and 100 of the 146 first-place votes from sports editors and broadcasters.
Michael Vick pleading guilty to a federal charge he ran a dogfighting ring was second with 1,154 points; former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleading guilty to two federal charges he bet on games he officiated and made calls affecting the point spread was third with 836.
Florida winning both the NCAA football and men’s basketball championships added a purely on-the-field entry at No. 4; Patriots coach Bill Belichick being fined $500,000 for videotaping opponents’ signals, then leading New England to a perfect start completed the top five.
Because it was released in late December, the Mitchell Report, which detailed doping in baseball, was not on the list. However, it received 17 write-in votes for top story and was No. 9 overall.
Clearly, though, it was Bonds, the blemished home run king, who held everyone’s attention the longest.
Feb. 20: “Let them investigate. Let them, they’ve been doing it this long. It doesn’t weigh on me at all,” Bonds said after his first spring training workout.
Aug. 7: “This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period,” Bonds said just hours after hitting the home run that broke Hank Aaron’s record.
Dec. 7: “I’m Barry Bonds,” he told a judge as he stood with his hands clasped behind his back.
It’s not over for Bonds, either. There’s no telling how his case will turn out, or whether he’ll play in 2008 or someday make the Hall of Fame.
“I think in many ways he is a challenge to all of us,” former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent said. “On one hand we admire what he’s done. The record. The performance. I think that the difficulty with Barry is we don’t have all the facts. We don’t know what went on. … The last chapter has not been written.”