Bonds prosecutors get an evidentiary win

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Yesterday I outlined some of the things I thought were on the silly side when it came to the evidentiary battles in the Barry Bonds prosecution.  There was a ruling yesterday, however, that is not at all silly. At least if you’re Barry Bonds:  the judge will allow prosecutors to play a recording to the jury in which Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson tells former Bonds business partner Steve Hoskins that he injected Bonds with undetectable steroids.  The transcript of the recording, which was unsealed a couple of years ago, is as follows:

Anderson: [E]verything I’ve been doing at this point is undetectable.

Hoskins:Right.

Anderson: See, the stuff that I have . . . we created it. And you can’t, you can’t buy it anywhere. You can’t get it anywhere else. But, you can take it the day of and pee.

Hoskins: Uh-huh.

Anderson: And it comes up with nothing.

Hoskins: Isn’t that the same [expletive] that Marion Jones and them were using?

Anderson: Yeah same stuff, the same stuff that worked at the Olympics.

That recording was the subject of a boatload of litigation by Anderson in connection with his own conviction several years ago. He contended that it was illegally obtained by Hoskins, though ultimately the court did not agree.  Even so, the judge presiding over those proceedings called the tape “as worthless a piece of evidence as I’ve ever seen.”

Maybe that’s so in connection with Anderson’s prosecution, but it’s damaging to Bonds.  Not mortally so in that nothing on the tape speaks to Bonds’ knowledge of what he was being injected with and that’s what’s at issue here.  Indeed, Bonds has long claimed that he knew nothing about what Anderson gave him. The only person who can truly prove that Bonds is lying about that is Anderson and he’s not testifying. But in some ways a tape of Anderson talking about all of this may be more damaging than him actually being there. There’s an illicit quality to it, ya know? It’s all so CSI and juries love that.

Still, I don’t think the case is going to turn on the tape for a couple of reasons.  One reason is that, if Bonds’ lawyers are smart, they’ll paint the absent Anderson as a malevolent figure from the outset.  They can’t and won’t claim that Bonds never took steroids — even Bonds himself suggested in his grand jury testimony that, yeah, in hindsight he did take steroids — they’re claiming that he never knew.  In doing that they’re going to portray Anderson as some training Svengali to whom Bonds simply abdicated his decision making.  You or I may not believe it — I don’t* — but that’s their case. It has to be their case.

And it’s an all or nothing case.  It’s a case that will have to gain purchase in the jury’s mind early.  If it’s doubted at all from the outset — from opening arguments on — there is nothing the defense can do to rehabilitate it because they have no evidence themselves that affirmatively establishes Bonds’ ignorance.  How could they?

At the same time, if the jury believes the defense it will likewise believe it from the beginning . If the jury believes the general idea — if it buys the theme — there is nothing the prosecution can do to rehabilitate its own case because the prosecution has no evidence that affirmatively shows’ Bonds’ knowledge. Not even this tape, which doesn’t speak at all to what Barry Bonds knew.

Indeed, I think that by the time the tape is played, the jury will have made up its mind one way or another. If they’re skeptical of Bonds’ overall defense to begin with, the tape will bolster that skepticism. If they believe Bonds they will dismiss it because it doesn’t jibe with their assumptions.  I don’t see it as a game-changer.

*The fact that I say I don’t believe Bonds didn’t know what he was taking may surprise you given how pro-Bonds I’ve been though this whole prosecution.  That opens up a whole different topic.  One that’s complicated enough that I think is worth its own post.  A post that I’ll put up in a few minutes.

 

Red Sox opening as betting favorites vs. Dodgers

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Series prices could fluctuate wildly in a World Series matchup between two legacy franchises on opposite coasts. The Boston Red Sox are an opening -165 favorite with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming back as a +135 betting-line underdog on the World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Red Sox, who host Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series at Fenway Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, are attempting to become the sixth team in the last 24 seasons to win the World Series after having the best record in the regular season. The Dodgers are the 28th team to return to the World Series after losing the previous one and those teams are 15-12 all-time.

For Game 1, the Red Sox, with left-hander Chris Sale starting, are a -148 betting favorite while the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw are a +128 underdog and the total is at 7.5 runs. The total has gone OVER in Sale’s last three home starts and the total has also gone OVER in five of Kershaw’s last six starts on the road.

The Dodgers had the shorter turnaround – two days to the Red Sox’s five – after the league championship series and also had 17 fewer regular-season wins. However, they played at a nearly 100-win clip over the final three-quarters of the regular season (75-46 in the final 121 games).

Los Angeles offers higher-reward, higher-risk betting value, as its deep starting staff of Kershaw, Rich Hill Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler and its bullpen, anchored by Kenley Jansen, will try to stymie baseball’s best offense. The Dodgers bullpen had a 1.45 earned run average over 31 innings during their most recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hitting-wise, the Dodgers are not as deep as the Red Sox and will need the likes of Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig to carry them.

Boston, paced by right fielder Mookie Betts, led MLB in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and has shown little sign of cooling off against October pitching.

The Red Sox’ series price will only go deeper into minus money if they overcome Kershaw in the opener, or take a 2-0 lead after Game 2. Speculators looking for more immediate value with Boston might want to bet a more specific outcome such as Red Sox in five games or six. There are reports that Betts will move to second base so that designated hitter J.D. Martinez can start during the games at Dodger Stadium, where National League rules will be used.

Boston has had consistent starting pitching for most of the playoffs from Sale, fellow lefty David Price and right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello. While there has been a great deal of hand-wringing about Boston’s bullpen, specifically closer Craig Kimbrel (7.11 ERA in the playoffs), middle relievers Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly have thrived at protecting leads.

Game 2 on Wednesday is also an all-lefty pitching matchup, with Hyun-Jin Ryu starting for the Dodgers while David Price starts for the Red Sox.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.