Breaking: Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice, but not perjury. Which makes no sense at all.

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The jury in the Barry Bonds case has reached a verdict. At least on one count: Barry Bonds is guilty on the charge of obstruction of justice.  The jury has reached a hung verdict on the other three remaining counts. This makes no sense at all.

Bonds was facing four charges in all: three counts of lying to a grand jury — one each about taking steroids, taking HGH and receiving injections of any kind — and one catch-all count. That was the obstruction charge.  I’m not entirely sure how the jury could logically conclude that Bonds obstructed justice but not also conclude that he lied about the three specific topics for which he was accused of perjury.  There were no allegations of any other acts of obstruction beyond his testimony. He didn’t destroy evidence, for example.  If you have him for obstruction, how do you not have him on everything?  What possible act beyond lying — which the jury is saying they can’t agree on — can they convict him of obstruction?

The maximum sentence Bonds can receive for the obstruction count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. That’s not going to happen, however: others who have been convicted of similar charges in the BALCO prosecutions with similar criminal records (i.e. none), have received probation, short jail sentences and/or home confinement.  Most believe that Bonds would not receive anything greater.  The next hearing in the case — which could be the sentencing, but could be something prior to sentencing — has been set for May 20th.

As for the other three: the government has the option to retry Bonds.  I’d normally say that after all of this they wouldn’t bother. But then again, I thought they wouldn’t bother after most of their perjury evidence was thrown out on appeal, and yet they plowed ahead.

Now they have a conviction. On one count, and it’s a confusing verdict at that which could very well be the subject of a lot of post-trial procedure by the defense due to its logical inconsistency.  If you thought a verdict would bring closure: think again.

UPDATE:  More mystery.  It’s being reported that the basis of the obstruction conviction was the jury finding that Bonds obstructed justice with respect to his “Statement C” as listed in Count 5.  The underlined part of the following is “Statement C”

Q: Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?

A: I’ve only had one doctor touch me. And that’s my only personal doctor. Greg, like I said, we don’t get into each others’ personal lives. We’re friends, but I don’t – we don’t sit around and talk baseball, because he knows I don’t want – don’t come to my house talking baseball. If you want to come to my house and talk about fishing, some other stuff, we’ll be good friends, you come around talking about baseball, you go on. I don’t talk about his business. You know what I mean? …

Q: Right.

A: That’s what keeps our friendship. You know, I am sorry, but that – you know, that – I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see…

That is the answer that, according to the jury, obstructed justice. This despite the fact that the government lawyers questioning him had every opportunity to follow up, to clarify and to tell Barry Bonds that he wasn’t answering their question. An opportunity that they didn’t take, presumably because at the time they didn’t think that the answer Bonds gave was particularly problematic.

So: Bonds saying that he was a “celebrity child” who didn’t get into anyone’s business obstructed justice and brought down a prosecution over seven years in the making.
You cool with that?

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.