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Barry Bonds isn't going to prison. Is he being punished enough?

Barry Bonds, seen by many fans as having irreparably harmed baseball, is sentenced to home detention, community service, probation, and a fine. Experts call the punishment appropriate for the crime.

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“The sentencing of Bonds should serve as a barometer for the likes of Roger Clemens, who faces charges of lying to Congress about his use of steroids and who likely will look carefully at how Bonds was treated in assessing his own defense strategy,” says Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha, a former federal prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney's Office.

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The court of public opinion, meanwhile, is where Bonds has the bigger uphill battle, say public relation specialists.

“[This] ends a public relations nightmare for Bonds and baseball. Beyond the Bay Area, Bonds drew very little support due to his stunning denials and his ‘I’ll beat this wrap’ attitude,” says John Goodman of John Goodman PR. “That hurt Bonds in the world of public opinion. He’s damaged goods and his marketability for endorsements and advertisements has been harmed greatly.”

He also feels the sentence will reflect badly on professional baseball.

“The wrist-slap verdict is a terrible setback for Major League Baseball, which has tried to convey a crack-down image of testing for steroids, and most recently HGH [human growth hormone]. But all the testing is meaningless if those accused can get off with easy sentencing. The average baseball fan is outraged, and feels another rich, entitled athlete got away with a crime that would have put the average guy in jail.”

But some sports writers feel that whatever fans feel, baseball has the Bonds case in its rearview mirror.

“Major League Baseball has moved on from Bonds and the BALCO case. The only question pertaining to Bonds is how long voters will wait before electing him to the Hall of Fame,” says Yahoo! Sports columnist Les Carpenter in an email. “Baseball has been lauded for its attempts to strengthen steroid policies – as evidenced by the pending 50-game suspension of National League MVP Ryan Braun after a random test showed high levels of testosterone.”

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