Bonds Trial Update: A very yawny Wednesday

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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.

Cardinals beat Brewers, both clinch postseason berths

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS — Harrison Bader tripled and homered to help the St. Louis Cardinals clinch a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee, and the Brewers also earned a playoff spot Sunday via help on the West Coast moments later.

St. Louis (30-28) will be the fifth seed in the NL and open a three-game wild-card series at San Diego on Wednesday. By winning, the Cardinals avoided having to travel to Detroit for two makeup games Monday. St. Louis finished the regular season with 23 games in 18 days as it made up a slew of postponements caused by a coronavirus outbreak in the clubhouse.

“You had to throw some of the expectations out the window not knowing what to expect after taking those couple weeks off and all those doubleheaders and so many new guys,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “It was very different, very fulfilling to make the playoffs.”

The Brewers (29-31) locked up the eighth seed and a third consecutive postseason berth after the Padres beat San Francisco 5-4 in a game that ended about 15 minutes after St. Louis’ victory. The Giants finished with an identical record as the Brewers but lost out on a tiebreaker due to an inferior intradivision record.

“It’s fitting for 2020 and everything we went through,” Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich said. “It felt just as good as past years. This year’s a unique one. There’s so many challenges we had to go through on a daily basis behind the scenes, things you don’t deal with in a normal year.”

Milwaukee will face the top-seeded Dodgers in Los Angeles in a three-game series that also starts Wednesday.

The Brewers haven’t had a winning record at any point this season. Milwaukee and Houston will be the first teams ever to qualify for the playoffs with a losing mark.

“It’s a celebration,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s how you see it. There’s no reason to apologize for getting into the playoffs.”

Cardinals starter Austin Gomber allowed one run, one hit and two walks and struck out three over four innings.

Giovanny Gallegos (2-0), Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final five innings. Reyes got his first save.

“We’d have been happy getting in as the eight seed,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We’d have been happy being the one seed, but people can say we got in if there was no expanded playoffs so that’s even another feather in this group’s cap.”

Brett Anderson (4-4) surrendered a triple to Bader and a walk to Tyler O'Neill to start the third inning before departing with a blister on his left index finger. Anderson opened the season on the injured list with a blister on the same finger and did not make his debut until Aug. 3.

Freddy Peralta replaced him a day after being activated from the paternity list, and O’Neill promptly stole second. Kolten Wong then hit a line drive off Peralta’s leg that Peralta threw into right field to score Bader and O’Neill.

Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong each added RBI singles to push the St. Louis lead to 4-0.

After Milwaukee scored in the top of the fifth, Bader hit his fifth home run of the season.

“That was a big counterpunch,” Shildt said of Bader. “Got them on their heels again.”

THREE TIMES THE FUN

Yadier Molina grounded into a triple play in the eighth inning when he hit a one hop grounder to Jace Peterson at third base in the eighth inning. It was Milwaukee’s first triple play since Sept. 23, 2016, when Cincinnati’s Joey Votto lined out to first base. Molina was also the last Cardinals player to hit into a triple play when he grounded out to third base at Boston on Aug. 15, 2017.

TRAINING ROOM

Brewers: Counsell said it was too early to prognosticate Anderson’s status after departing with the blister.

Cardinals: St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak announced that RHP Dakota Hudson will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday. Hudson went 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA in eight starts before leaving his start on Sept. 17 at Pittsburgh with right elbow discomfort after two innings.

UP NEXT

Brewers: The Brewers head to Los Angeles and will likely be without two of their top starters in Anderson and Corbin Burnes, who sustained a left oblique injury on Thursday.

Cardinals: This will be the fourth postseason series between St. Louis and San Diego, who faced each other in 1996, 2005, and 2006 in the Division Series.