Q: Bonds is reportedly being investigated by the IRS. Should he be worried about being sent to prison, as Pete Rose was in 1990?
A: Probably not. Rose exhibited a pattern of failing to report large sums of income. In Bonds's case, his former mistress, Kimberly Bell, has reportedly told the BALCO grand jury that Bonds gave her $80,000 in cash and instructed her how to deposit it without attracting the attention of the IRS. If Bonds is guilty of a onetime failure to report income, he can likely make peace with the IRS by paying taxes, interest and penalties.
Q: Will the book Bell is shopping around provide other embarrassing information about Bonds?
A: It might, if it's published. Bell, who says she was involved with Bonds for nine years, reportedly saved more than 100 answering-machine messages from him. But reaction to her book proposal has been lukewarm because perhaps she has divulged most of what she knows. One publishing exec, who passed on Bell's proposal, called it "wafer thin."
Q: So what's Bonds's biggest worry?
A: That the grand jury investigating BALCO is still in business, and that federal investigators have gathered a mountain of evidence: bank records, surveillance photos, computer records, e-mail exchanges, drug vials, needles and whatever else they found in BALCO's trash. (Bell has already testified that Bonds told her about his steroid use, and she is expected to be recalled by the grand jury.) If anything Bonds said to the grand jury--he reportedly denied knowingly using steroids--or in interviews with authorities is proved false by the evidence, he could face charges of perjury or of lying to a federal agent.
Q: Bonds is suddenly missing from all baseball video games. Does that mean all this negative publicity is costing him money?
A: No. In November 2003 he withdrew from the players' association's licensing program so he could control rights to his own image. He has yet to come to terms with a video-game maker, but apparel manufacturers Franklin, Majestic and New Era have reached deals with him, and his merchandise is still selling well. Had Bonds remained in the players' association plan, he would have made the same $20,000 that every union member got. Instead, his licensing income is in the low seven figures.
BRAD MANGIN (BONDS)
FREDERIC CARSON/SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE (BELL)
Bell's testimony could hurt Bonds more than her book.