Former two-time All Star and author Jim "Mudcat" Grant likens home run king Barry Bonds to a high profile politician, explaining that it is as though the former Giants slugger has become a target of mudslinging while standing for public office.
"He's like Barack Obama or John McCain or President Bush or anybody else," Grant, 73, said during his ongoing appearance in Cooperstown, N.Y. for weekend National Baseball Hall of Fame induction activities. "When you run for election you open yourself to all kinds of criticism, abuse and slander -- dirt really."
In an exclusive interview with MLBnewsonline, Grant asserted that Bonds is entitled to a constitutionally guaranteed presumption of innocence of charges that he lied before a federal grand jury. The public should not jump to conclusions, Grant said.
"Barry Bonds says what he says and he's willing to go to court to prove it, and I don't think we have a right to say what is going to be the outcome," Grant said. "When I played people had opinions and opinions were opinions, but nowadays everybody has an opinion and they think they are right. They don't look at it as an opinion anymore. They look at it as if they know what they are talking about."
Grant, who resides in Los Angeles, played for seven major league teams from 1958 to 1971, including a seven-year stint with the Indians. He is the author of "The Black Aces," a book about African American major league pitchers, and was a personal friend of Barry Bonds' father Bobby Bonds, who died in 2003.
"We all (should) think Barry Bonds is innocent; everybody's innocent until you're proven guilty," Grant said. "Barry has a right to defend himself."
Bonds -- currently under consideration to be signed by the Yankees -- is scheduled to go to trial in March on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, but has steadfastly denied knowingly taking steroids. Though he has 756 home runs to his credit, Bonds so far this season has found no takers for his services.