Bonds Trial Update: A very yawny Wednesday


It was a great day at the Barry Bonds trial if you’re into chain-of-custody testimony and talk about urinalysis.  I think that covers approximately 0.0045% of the population, and that’s a generous estimate. There are, like, three dudes, however, who love both topics so yesterday was like Christmas for them.

The day started with ballplayers at least: Marvin Bernard and Randy Velarde, each of whom testified about their Greg Anderson-supplied steroid use. There was one interesting moment when Bernard was grilled about whether he was coached by the prosecution to use the term “undetectable steroid,” which was a term he did not use in his 2003 grand jury testimony. Then he used the term “stuff.”

Bernard said he wasn’t coached, but yeah, using a precise term like that clearly would give the jury the impression that he had somewhat more precise information about what he was taking back when he played.  And that’s pretty critical given that Bonds’ testimony — and every other ballplayer’s, really — was vague about it all. But I have to ask: if everyone, back in 2003 was calling it “stuff” and didn’t really concern themselves with what, exactly, it was, doesn’t that cut against the prosecution’s case?

Velarde testified that Anderson gave him injections when they’d meet up in parking lots.  That may be the saddest, most pathetic thing I’ve ever heard. Get a room, will ya?

As for the chain-of-custody/urine testimony, the highlight was the cross-examination of IRS agent Mike Wilson, who was the one who seized the famous MLB pilot-program test samples during a raid. You know, the ones where it was later ruled that the government abused its authority in taking samples for players who were in no way associated with the BALCO investigation.  Wilson testified that he brought the urine samples home with him on an airplane, stashed in his garment bag.  So, ewww.

Today may be the last day in the prosecution’s case. There are three witnesses left: Bonds’ former personal shopper and the sister of his former lackey, Kathy Hoskins; Bonds’ orthopedic surgeon; and another urine sample analytics expert.

The key thing, though, will be something that could actually help the defense: Bonds’ grand jury testimony will be read.  As I’ve said time and again, the jury is not going to hear a lot of stark lies. At least nothing that sounds like it. They will hear confusing, multi-part rambling questions premised on scientific terms, followed by a mostly confused-sounding and often rambling Barry Bonds.

The jury doesn’t need to believe everything that Bonds says in this testimony in order to acquit him. But they do need to believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he lied in order to convict him.  I’ve read that testimony before and it’s about as clear as mud.  This may not go as well for them as they hoped.

Henderson Alvarez signs with Tigres de Quintana Roo

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Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.

The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.

That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.