Barry Bonds

UPDATE: Judge in Bonds trial calls newly-discovered tape “almost entirely inadmissible or irrelevant”

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UPDATE:  Judge Susan Illston said in court today that the tape prosecutors claim will rebut the damaging (to the prosecution) testimony of Dr. Arthur Ting is “almost entirely inadmissible or irrelevant.” She added that the contents of the tape “were not very substantive,” and that “almost all of this is people’s comments being driven by what is said to be newspaper articles and news reports” from around the time of the BALCO raid, which makes it less evidence than commentary.

There has not yet been a ruling — everyone is waiting for a full transcript — but based on the judge’s comments it seems highly unlikely that the tape will come into evidence. What’s more, given that the revelation of the tape led to a broader argument in court today regarding the prosecution’s seeming failure to turn over various bits of evidence to the defense, the entire affair could end up being worse for the prosecution than if the tape had never turned up to begin with.

1:35 PM:  Remember a couple of hours ago when I said that the testimony of Barry Bonds’ doctor, Arthur Ting, was devastating for the prosecution?  Yeah, well, things could turn the other way quickly: prosecutors revealed today that they have a tape that they believe will contradict his testimony from Thursday in which he said he never talked about Bonds’ steroids use with Steven Hoskins.

We don’t yet know what’s on the tape, but the prosecution certainly wouldn’t bring it up if it was bad for them. Well, at least I think not, because I would have assumed that they wouldn’t have called Ting in the first place unless they knew what he was going to say, and given that they didn’t immediately treat him like a hostile witness and confront him with all of this last week suggests that they were just as surprised as anyone else.

The judge is going to take the tape under advisement and rule on its admissibility. Criminal procedure is not my strong suit — so help me IdahoMariner and others with more crimlaw experience than me — but generally you can’t just trot out new evidence like this so late in the game unless it’s newly discovered (and even then not always), exculpatory for the defendant (thus protecting his due process rights) or so damn important that the injustice of not allowing it would outweigh the injustice of letting it lie. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve seen if this truly is new or merely newly relevant in light of Ting’s testimony, so it’s hard to see how this cuts.

If it shows that Ting lied, however, or even if it showed that his memory about conversations regarding Bonds’ steroids use was faulty, it would seem to snap Steve Hoskins’ credibility back into shape. And could even cause the jury to infer that perhaps Ting was trying too hard to help Bonds, depending on what they think of the cut of his jib. That would be a bad thing indeed for Bonds.

The court is in recess now and will be back later this afternoon. There will be no testimony today, however, because a juror got sick.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.

Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito: WHO SAYS NO?!!

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 28:  Lucas Giolito #44 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on June 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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The rumor mongers are churning up some good stuff about the Yankees and the Nationals maybe talking about an Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito deal. It started with Jon Morosi saying that the Nationals were willing to trade Giolito, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, to the Yankees for Miller straight up.

Taking two steps back, the idea of a Miller-for-Giolito deal seems like it’d be something the Yankees would jump at in a heartbeat. Giolito would, in the normal course, be worth more than a relief pitcher. Even a good one under team control like Miller is. So if the Nats were willing to do this, the Yankees would be fools not to accept, right?

Well, no. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman are saying that the Yankees are looking for a massive return for Miller, more than what Cubs gave them for Aroldis Chapman. That deal netted New York prospect Gleyber Torres and three other players who have future value. Gioloto is worth more straight up than Torres, but the Yankees want another big package, not just one guy. Assuming those reports are true, are the Yankees being greedy?

Maybe not! Maybe it’s not about the Yankees’ eyes being wide. Maybe it’s about the nature of prospects and how all of our eyes get a bit wide over them, especially when national rankings are released each spring. We see Giolito or someone like him named the top prospect — or maybe a top-3 prospect — and immediately believe they are untouchable or, at the very least, close to invaluable.

But here, if the rumors are to be believed, the Nats are offering him for a relief pitcher. And the Yankees are saying “nah, we need more.” Maybe they both see something the prospect raters and coveters don’t. Maybe, in the abstract, they’re just as high on him as the raters and coveters are but maybe they don’t live in the abstract. Maybe they have the added benefit of (a) experience with the fortunes of young pitching prospects; and (b) a downside risk in loving them too much that the raters and coveters don’t have. No prospect rater risks being fired if the guy they rank #1 in any given year blows his shoulder out. Team employees have been.

I have no idea if there are legs to these rumors. I know that I like Giolito as a prospect, for whatever that’s worth, and the Yankees definitely have a need for young, projectable and controllable pitching talent. Likewise, given that they’re in a transitional period right now and given that they Have Dellin Betances, they could do without Andrew Miller if they needed to. He’s someone they could deal in order to get a guy in Gioloto who would instantly become their top prospect.

But it’s the deadline and people get a bit nuts. Teams ask for the stars, yes, but those of us on the outside tend to forget that a huge number of prospects, especially pitching prospects, never pan out. For all of the hype a deadline occasions and for as much as we see a beautiful future for each and every young hurler that comes down the pike, there are no clear answers about who is or who isn’t being unreasonable here. That is, if any of this stuff is true.

Enjoy the trade deadline, everyone. Just remember that no one knows anything and everyone, on some level, is making a bet.