Barry Bonds loses his appeal, faces 30 days home confinement

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction for obstruction of justice today. While he could potentially appeal again to the Supreme Court such appeals are rarely if ever granted. This is probably it for him, and he’ll likely soon have to serve his 30 day home confinement sentence.

In denying the appeal, the court ruled that the statement Bonds gave to grand jurors in response to a question about whether he was ever given injections of any kind by Greg Anderson “served to divert the grand jury’s attention away from the relevant inquiry of the investigation, which was Anderson and BALCO’s distribution of steroids and PEDs. The statement was therefore evasive.”

As I’ve noted several times, however, the verdict on this question, and now this ruling from the appeals court, is bizarre. Bonds was asked a yes or no question. He went off on a tangent for a bit, but then the prosecutor led Bonds back to the subject at hand. Here was his answer:

source:

Did he evade? He tried to, sure. For a few seconds. And then he answered “no.” How this misled anyone or how this was any different than thousands of question/answer exchanges in grand jury testimony is beyond me.

It’s beyond the jurors too, as four of them said after the trial that they felt compelled to give this verdict despite the fact that Bonds answered the question and that they were deeply uncomfortable with that. So why did they do it? Because the prosecutor’s jury instruction adopted by the judge prohibited them from looking at the part of the testimony where Bonds answered the question. Which is just dumb. A man was convicted of evading a question that he did not, in fact, evade. And the jurors were prevented from considering the fact that he answered the question in determining his guilt. They were directed to only look at the small part of his testimony where he did, for a moment, go off-topic.

Bonds probably lied elsewhere in his testimony, but those lies weren’t the subject of the count on which he was convicted or this appeal. Indeed, he was acquitted of lying in those instances. It was only about this bit. And in this bit, Bonds answered the question asked. Now he’s got a criminal record for it.

You may like that if you don’t like Barry Bonds. Or if you think that, since he likely skated free on charges he was likely guilty of, it’s OK to get him on a charge he isn’t guilty of. But it’s not justice and it’s not right.

Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak ended 78 years ago today

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There’s nothing special about a 78-year anniversary. It’s not a round number or anything and we tend to like round numbers. But (a) I was reminded of this today; and (b) we have no idea if the Martians will have invaded and taken over the planet come 2021, so I feel like it’s best to run this now than wait for the 80th anniversary. Cool? Cool.

Anyway: on this day in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s still-unbroken and possibly unbreakable (see below) 56-game hitting streak came to end. The game took place in Cleveland in front of a staggering 67,468 fans. Not bad for a Thursday night. The way the streak ended, courtesy of an ESPN Classic post from Larry Scwartz back in 2003:

Third baseman Ken Keltner makes two outstanding plays, grabbing DiMaggio smashes down the line in the first and seventh innings and throwing him out at first base. In between these at-bats, left-hander Al Smith walks DiMaggio in the fourth.

The Yankee Clipper has one more chance to extend his streak when he bats in the eighth with the bases full against Jim Bagby, a young right-hander who just enters the game. DiMaggio hits the ball sharply, but shortstop Lou Boudreau plays a bad hop perfectly and turns the grounder into a double play.

Stuff happens.

To be clear: 56 may not be broken in my lifetime or yours. It’s obviously a SUPER difficult task to string together a hitting streak of considerable length. As we saw when guys like Pete Rose or Paul Molitor or whoever have come within spitting distance of DiMaggio’s record — long spitting distance — the pressure ramps up and it’s hard to do you job with a lot of pressure. Add in the fact that simple base hits are harder to come by in today’s game than they used to be due to prevalent hitting, pitching and defensive trends, and it’d be no shocker whatsoever if no one ever does it.

But I draw the line at “unbreakable,” simply because, as noted above, stuff does happen. And because there’s nothing structural preventing it from happening. It’s not like Cy Young’s 511 wins or something which fundamental changes in the game have made basically impossible. No one is going to win 26 games a year for 20 years straight or what have you. Heck, CC Sabathia is baseball’s current gray hair among pitchers and only has a few dozen more career starts than that. It’s just a different game.

Hitters do play in 150-160 games now, though, and the good ones do average more than one hit per game. Putting them in the right arrangement may never be likely, but doing so is only a matter of stars aligning, not breaking the fundamental rules of engagement. It could happen. Maybe. Because, unlike some other records, it did before under broadly similar circumstances.

OK, that aside, I’ll offer up my favorite and most maddening DiMaggio hitting streak fact.

During his streak, which lasted from May 15-July 17, DiMaggio went 91-of-223, which is a .408 average. Between April 15-September 28 (i.e. the whole dang season) Ted Williams hit .406. And when it was all said and done he was substantially better in virtually every other batting category as well.

Joe DiMaggio won the MVP Award.