Greg Anderson is going back to jail

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Considering that Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds’ former trainer, has (a) already done over a year in jail for not testifying against Bonds; and considering that (b) the practical limit of any future refusal to testify against Bonds is the couple of weeks his trial will take to complete, it’s not at all surprising that Anderson has again refused to testify against Bonds.

He’ll sit in County for a week or two. Then he’ll resume the life that he’s been living these past several years. Compared to the last couple of stints, he can do it standing on his head.

More substantively, the judge ruled thusly:

Illston said she would allow testimony of Kimberly Bell, Bonds’s former mistress, that related to the physical and psychological changes she saw in Bonds.

Prosecutors said those changes would include how Bell noticed the shrinkage of Bonds’s testicles and the worsening of his sexual performance, which the government says indicate steroid use. The judge also will allow Bell to describe an incident in which she has said Bonds grabbed her by the throat and threatened her.

With the caveat that I haven’t read the briefs, I have no idea how this is coming in. At most — at the absolute most — this could be evidence of actual steroid use.  But this trial isn’t about whether Bonds used steroids. He all but admitted that he did during his original grand jury testimony, and the prosecution is going to introduce a positive drug test to that effect.  What this trial is about is whether Bonds knew that Anderson was giving him steroids.  What does this stuff have to do with his knowledge?

It seems to me that to the extent Bell has anything to add to the prosecution’s case, it would be statements she heard from Bonds suggesting that he knew exactly what he was taking.  How the crap about his testicles and how good he was in the sack seems rather beside the point as far as the rules of evidence are concerned.

Moreover, I agree with Bonds’ lawyers that the prejudice caused by her testifying about an alleged domestic violence incident would far outweigh any relevance it might have with respect to the matters at issue in this case. People who aren’t on steroids commit acts of domestic violence every day. Some of the most juiced up athletes in history have wonderful family lives. How does this tell us anything? What, aside from making Bonds look like an evil person in the eyes of the jury — does it accomplish?

Oh well, at least it will give Bonds’ lawyers the chance to grill Bell on the methods she used to estimate relative testicle size and sexual performance during the course of her relationship with Bonds. I mean, her credibility must be tested, no?  Heck, if the prosecutors want to make this into a lurid spectacle, let’s make it into a full-blown lurid spectacle.

Again I will note: your tax dollars at work.

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.