Barry Bonds Perjury Trial Begins in San Francisco

The Barry Bonds trial has a jury and now Greg Anderson is on deck

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Twelve people have been picked to sit in judgment of Barry Bonds. A couple of them are baseball fans, but not serious ones. They haven’t heard of BALCO or, if they have, they don’t know anything about it, really. I sometimes find myself surprised that someone could not know anything about this stuff but then I remember that I do nothing but read about baseball all day. If you asked me the first thing about any off-the-ice hockey news, for example, I couldn’t tell you a damn thing and I’m nominally a member of the sports media. It doesn’t shock me at all that you can find 12 people who are largely ignorant of the Barry Bonds case in a single day of jury selection. Guys like this tend to get left off juries.

According to the Daily News, one of the jurors is a young woman who graduated college Phi Beta Kappa, which makes me wonder who actually puts that down on official forms of any kind even if they are Phi Beta Kappa. Another flew choppers in Vietnam. One is always tempted to stereotype jurors based on this sort of information, but you almost always find yourself surprised by how they vote and what they thought about the trial when you interview them after a case. Everyone has jury horror stories, but for the most part people take the job seriously. They’re not perfect, but my experiences with juries are one of the things that allow me to maintain confidence in the system.

With a jury seated, today is the day that Greg Anderson gets called before Judge Ilston again, will refuse to testify again and, unless Judge Ilston is just sick of the guy, she will likely send him back to jail again.  One has to marvel at a person who is so committed to a course of action that has no apparent upside for him. A lot of commenters around here have said in the past that Bonds has to be paying the guy off or something, but if there’s one thing the government is outrageously good at doing it’s tracing money. If Anderson shows any amount of financial largess in the next decade — and I mean even if he buy premium gas or super-sizes his value meal — he’ll likely have IRS agents tracing his accounts back to his grade school paper route and monitoring them until his dying day, eager to see if they can find anything with which to bring new charges against Bonds and Anderson.  The upshot: I’m skeptical that Anderson’s refusal to testify is premised on some kind of payoff, be it promised, assumed or merely wished for.

Of final note was Judge Ilston’s order to the jurors, as reported in the Mercury News:

The judge and lawyers stressed in jury selection that the case, despite its dramatic connection to steroids and baseball, centers on allegations about lying under oath to a grand jury. “You must decide the case on the evidence presented at trial,” Illston told the potential jurors. “You will not be asked to decide whether you like or don’t like steroids.”

And with their theory blown out of the water, the government likely frantically re-wrote their opening statements and direct examinations.

Onward into the trial. Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area has a most excellent scene-setter for us. This story needs someone with Ray’s sense of humor covering it.  Stick with him throughout and this will all seen less depressing.

Joe Mauer reveals he’s had blurred vision since 2013 concussion

Joe Mauer
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After a decade as the best all-around catcher in baseball Joe Mauer suffered a concussion in August of 2013 that forced him to change positions and marked the end of his time as a great hitter.

Mauer was doing his usual thing at the time of the concussion, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage and .880 OPS. Since returning from the brain injury he’s hit .270 with a .348 on-base percentage and .725 OPS while seeing his numbers decline across the board.

Mauer revealed today to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “lingering symptoms occasionally blurred his vision at the plate the past two seasons” and “he will experiment hitting with sunglasses for the first time to improve his pitch tracking” this season.

Here’s more from Murphy:

Bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision that Mauer links to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013 after absorbing at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was still catching.

“I don’t want that to be kind of an excuse. If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s just the way I am,” Mauer said. “There are times I’ve gone up to the plate and I just couldn’t pick up the ball. That’s part of the frustration because I’m trying to do everything I can to get back. It just takes time.”

There are more quotes along those same lines and Mauer’s numbers in night games were much better than his numbers in day games last season.

I live in Minnesota and it has been incredibly frustrating to see such a large (or at least vocal) segment of the Twins fan base treat Mauer’s steep decline as if it has nothing to do with the significant brain trauma he suffered. I’m hopeful that Mauer going public about literally struggling to see the baseball while at the plate will convince people to treat him more humanely, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point.

What a shame, on every level.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

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Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.