Maybe the federal government will figure it out now. Lawsuits are like sporting events. The team with the talent, the high-priced guys, invariably wins. Meaning in this situation, the opposition.
Author and onetime sports writer Paul Gallico told us long ago that while the battle isn't always to the strong and the race to the swift, it's still a good way to bet.
Especially in these court cases involving might-have-been Hall of Famers, defendants like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
I still have my media pass from the Bonds trial, or debacle, if you choose, at U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.
"USA vs. BARRY LAMAR BONDS'' it says on the credential.
Sounds like a mismatch. And it was.
But not the way you might imagine. Just the opposite.
Bonds was charged with perjury for testifying under oath he had not taken steroids. He was convicted only of obstruction of justice, an extremely limited victory for federal prosecutors who spent seven years pressing their case.
The all-time home run leader was sentenced merely to house arrest and community service, which still is under appeal. He walks around and appears at AT&T Park, to cheers, of course.
And now Clemens, one of baseball's greatest pitchers, has been acquitted of charges he lied to Congress when saying he never used steroids or human growth hormones. Hardly a surprise.
Bonds and Clemens weren't going to lose. Rich guys almost never lose. The field isn't level. These people aren't playing parlor games, like Clue. They're playing around with people's lives.
Defense attorneys, the best of them, are the Bonds and Clemens of the legal profession, the smartest, wisest, best prepared. They can knock one into McCovey Cove or blow one past a batter on a 3-2 count.
Think of them as former free agents whose skills were rewarded with a symbolic move from the Oakland Athletics to the Yankees or Angels for big money. From the government to private practice.
You want Albert Pujols, you pay. You want Allen Ruby, Bonds' lead attorney, you pay. You want Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lead attorney, you pay.
And you beat the United States of America, which should have better things to do than attempt to make an example of ballplayers because they are famous. OK, so they cheated. But so did entities from Wall Street, and that left people in ruins.
We have to be pleased American athletes are more successful than reps of American jurisprudence or our international sporting reputation would be woeful.
In effect, Bonds beat the feds. Clemens definitely beat the feds. The government dropped charges against Lance Armstrong, although formal accusations were filed by the powerless U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
It's only coincidence, but Bonds was a seven-time National League MVP, Clemens a seven-time Cy Young Award winner and Armstrong a seven-time winner of the Tour de France. Lucky seven?
Eleven months ago, a mistrial was declared in the first perjury trial involving Clemens. Prosecutors at that time showed jurors inadmissible evidence, which Judge Reggie Walton said prevented Clemens from receiving a fair trial.
The government should have pulled its starters right then. The game was over. But prosecutors are stubborn types. It was time for Clemens II, another waste of dough, but the boys in back rooms don't care - it's our taxes.
The jury in the Clemens trial deliberated for only 10 hours before coming to a decision. Years of investigations, nine weeks of testimony and the Rocket was declared innocent in about the same time it takes a jet to fly from California to London.
To find Clemens guilty, a law professor told the New York Times, jurors would have had to believe the pitcher's former trainer, Brian McNamee, the government's key witness, who claimed he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Hardin, Clemens' whiz-bang lawyer with the country-bumpkin approach, right out of a Harper Lee novel, destroyed McNamee's credibility, doing what a defense attorney always must do, create doubt that what was said was the truth.
After McNamee appeared in the witness stand one day in March, Hardin cleverly placed a huge, hand-lettered poster board next to McNamee with the words "MISTAKE," "BAD MEMORY" and "LIE" in block letters.
Great courtroom attorneys are great actors. Hardin ought to get an Oscar in addition to his well-earned fees.
What the government ought to get is a new direction in chasing old athletes. Two huge cases involving two of the biggest stars led to nothing more than millions of dollars tossed away with little result.
We've moved beyond the steroids era, unfortunate as it was. Nine years of accusations and denials changed nothing in the record books. Home run and strikeout marks remain. The bitterness is interred in the past.
And Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have shown that if money can't buy happiness, it at least can make a down payment on what most of us see as justice.