Bonds Trial Update: A charge is dismissed and the defense rests without calling a single witness

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The evidence portion of the Bonds trial is over.

The prosecution rested yesterday, and this morning prosecutors dropped one of the charges: the one about whether Greg Anderson induced him “to take anything before the 2003 season.”  Prosecutors had been of the view that the charge could mean that Bonds took any kind of steroid before 2003. The Judge made it clear, however, that the charge properly referred to whether Bonds used the cream and the clear prior to 2003, and there was no evidence in the record about that at all.  The judge would have dismissed the count on the defense’s motion, but the prosecutors preempted that.

With that it was the defense’s turn. And they called … no one. Which is actually pretty common in criminal trials, and not terribly surprising here. The prosecution did a good job of rebutting large portions of their own case. The one big problem for Bonds — Kathy Hoskins’ testimony that she saw Anderson inject Bonds with something — is pretty much unrebuttable. At least unless Bonds wanted to take the stand himself and say that she didn’t see what she thought she saw.  Which would constitute the biggest bit of malpractice in living memory.

The defense has rested. The jury has been sent home for the day. Closing arguments will begin tomorrow.  As it stands, my best guess is that Bonds is convicted on the “did Anderson ever inject you with anything” charge and acquitted on the “did you knowingly take steroids” questions and everything else.  If the jury was sufficiently angered or confused by the prosecution’s disorganization, they could just acquit him on everything — I’ve seen it happen — but that would seem to be contrary to the evidence on the injection charge.

But hey, therein lies the beauty and terror of the jury system: you never know what they’re thinking until after they’re done doing that voodoo they do.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉