Some fun evidentiary fights in the Barry Bonds trial

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There’s an article in the New York Daily News today that gives a rundown of some of the evidentiary fights the Barry Bonds prosecution and defense are having.  Among them:

  • Bonds’ ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell posed in Playboy and told them her story back in 2007. The government wants Bonds barred from mentioning that and showing photos from the magazine;
  • The prosecution wants Bell to testify about Bonds being mean and disrespectful to others, that his temperament changed over time and that he once threatened someone with violence;
  • The government wants to present photos of Bonds from various stages of his career to show the changes in his physique; and
  • The government wants the judge to disallow Bonds’ attorneys from suggesting that the government had a vendetta against Bonds and singled him out for prosecution.

Litigation is rough business, obviously, and of course each side is going to try to get in anything they can to win. But these particular evidentiary fights — however the law demands that they be decided — do paint an illuminating picture of how absurd this prosecution really is.

An allegedly key witness told her story once for profit and fame, but prosecutors want to keep anyone from using that to attack her credibility. Of course, this whole prosecution is about bringing down a famous person, so it’s amusing that Bonds probably won’t be allowed to go there.

Saying a prosecution is a vendetta or that a defendant was singled-out is generally not admissible, but it’s certainly the case that those less famous than Bonds who testified most similarly to Bonds such as Benito Santiago aren’t in the dock. There is no escaping that Bonds was singled out here — it’s probably the biggest thing animating the general zeitgeist of the thing —  so, again, it’s amusing in a pathetic sort of way that Bonds probably won’t be allowed to go their either.

Evidentiary rules generally prohibit prosecutors from putting on evidence of a witness’ character when those character traits have nothing to do with the charges, but the prosecution wants to tell the jury that Bonds was a meany-head.  Maybe this comes in as evidence of “roid rage,” but I don’t see how this isn’t the same thing as the prosecution telling the jury that Bonds is just a bad seed, so you probably should just convict him.

Finally, anyone who knows anything about athletes and steroids knows that it’s possible for someone to take steroids and not have dramatic changes to their physique. Indeed, we mock the sports writers who play that “that dude got huge, so he must be juicing” game.  But really, that’s a big part of the prosecution’s game here. The prosecution is basically Murray Chass.

Maybe the prosecution should, legally speaking, win all of these battles.  But the issues they’re raising seem to say more about the nature of the Barry Bonds prosecution than they do about whether Barry Bonds lied under oath.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.