Not the best day for the prosecution in the Barry Bonds case

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It was a short day for the Bonds trial — they must all want to get home in time to watch the Giants-Dodgers — and they are now wrapped up for the week.  A bad morning for the prosecution, though, as Bonds’ former orthopedic surgeon, Arthur Ting, totally killed one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, Steve Hoskins.

Hoskins testified last week that he had discussed his concerns about Bonds’ steroids use with Ting many times. In fact, Hoskins said more than 50 times during his testimony. And when he did, Bonds’ lawyer asked him “are you sure about that?” I questioned that at the time, but we now know why he said it:  today Ting said that he and Hoskins only had one cursory exchange ever about steroids. And that it wasn’t even about Bonds. It was just a request for generic steroids information.

That testimony kills Hoskins’ credibility, it seems to me. Seems to be the case for the prosecutors too, who admitted that Hoskins had been “impeached heavily” by Ting’s testimony. And it seemed that way to the judge too, as she later grilled the prosecutors about whether they knew of these inconsistencies outside of the presence of the jury. Between an angry judge and the fact that Hoskins is the guy who has had the most to say about Bonds’ steroids use, this is a big problem for the prosecution.

Also helpful for Bonds was Ting’s testimony that all of Bonds’ alleged steroids symptoms — described by Kimberly Bell — could have been caused by corticosteroids that Ting prescribed for Bonds following surgery he had in 1999, undercutting the notion that such symptoms had to have been called by anabolic steroids supplied by BALCO and Greg Anderson.

After Ting came Kathy Hoskins, Bonds’ former personal shopper and sister of Steve Hoskins. She was far better for the prosecution, testifying that she actually saw Greg Anderson inject Barry Bonds with something on one occasion.  This could, if it holds up, be enough for a conviction on one count inasmuch as Bonds testified that Anderson never injected him with anything and was charged with lying about it. It does not seem, however, that she knew what the substance was, though she did say that Bonds referred to it as something that was “undetectable” and that he took it before road trips. Still, it is likely not enough to get him on the “did you take steroids” counts by itself.

After Hoskins came anti-doping expert Don Catlin, who testified about how his organization figured out what “the clear” was, testifying about how difficult it was to detect. Seems to me that the more they play up the high-tech nature of the substance the less likely it is that a dumb baseball player would be able to understand it, but really, it doesn’t seem to do a ton for either the defense or the prosecution.

All in all a fairly big day: two of the most significant witnesses against Bonds — Kimberly Bell and Steve Hoskins — were harmed. However, Bonds may have been sunk on the count regarding taking injections.  I think the defense will take that trade.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.