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Article:Why collusion isn't needed to keep Barry Bonds unemployed

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Barry Bonds

The Major League Baseball Players' Association wants to know if the owners are colluding to keep Barry Bonds out of work, or at least that's how ESPN is reporting it.

If you read between the lines, this is somewhat of a non-story. The players' association does a similar review every year, it's just that this year Bonds happens to be involved. What's silly to me, though, is that the decision to avoid Bonds seems easy enough to make without having to violate anti-trust rules to reach it.

There are plenty of obvious reasons:

The man is 43 years old, and he'll be 44 soon after the All-Star break. Bonds has put up decent numbers in the last years, but he's definitely tailed off since 2004. And once you get past 40, there's always the threat your body will go on strike mid-season.

Certain substances seemed to have "cleared" his system. How can this be said delicately? If indeed he's been getting some "help," it will be tougher than ever to continue this season.

He'll cost a fortune to sign. Even if he takes a pay cut from the $16 million he earned last season, as he would almost certainly have to, it's hard to imagine Bonds settling for the $5-7 million a team might -- might -- be willing to pay him.

Bonds doesn't have the greatest reputation as a teammate. What team wants to sign a potential, dare we say likely, clubhouse cancer? The stories that have come out about Bonds' behavior in the Giants' clubhouse over the years, and even this spring, make it seem unlikely that a team would want to add an attitude like that to the mix.

Oh yeah, and there's that whole indictment thing. Always nice to know when you sign a player that he's got a decent shot to finish the season on your roster, not playing softball on the prison's rec yard. Bonds' trial will probably drag on for years, and he may never do jail time, but for now the legal cloud follows him wherever he goes.

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