Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Barry Bonds Trial: Not A Referendum On Whether He Did PEDs

His skull allegedly grew. His foot went from a size 10.5 to 13.

At 34, an age when players typically enter the decline of their careers, his production improved - dramatically. Starting in 1999 and over a period of 6 years, Bonds had his best seasons and achieved what can only be described as exceptional offensive production. He went from great to immortal. 

He had his best season at the age of 40. He hit .362 en route to his second NL batting title, and broke his own record of 232 walks. He slugged .812 (4th highest ever) and had a career best .609 on base percentage. He hit 45 home runs in 373 at-bats, while only striking out 41 times. Few major leaguers have ever had more home runs than strikeouts in a season. Bonds won his fourth consecutive MVP award and his seventh overall.

He has admitted to taking steroids in the form of the Clear and the Cream but with a wrinkle - he thought it was something else.

There are calendars and ledgers allegedly tracking his drugs, doses and drug cycles.

According to Game of Shadows, early in the 2001 season, the calendars indicated he "tried trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of beef cattle. Within the year it would be the chemical foundation for a new formulation of the Clear".

There are positive urine samples from 2000 and 2001.

So shouldn't a conviction and jail time be a given for Barry Bonds?


The Barry Bonds trial is not a referendum on whether he did steroids and PEDs. Rather, the issue is whether the prosecution has made its case such that each juror believes beyond a reasonable doubt that Bonds was lying when he said he didn't knowingly take steroids and PEDs. Put another way: it's not about any one person's personal belief that Bonds took steroids, but rather whether the prosecution proved he did and lied about it.

While it's always tough to know how a jury will rule, the prosecution struggled to make its case. The biggest problem for the prosecution was that its star witnesses, Kimberly Bell, Steve Hoskins and Dr. Arthur Ting, contradicted one another and left the impression they lacked credibility.

As well don't forget that the urine samples, drug ledgers and doping calendars chronicling Bonds' drug use were all excluded by the Judge. They were deemed inadmissible because the only person that could conclusively link them to Bonds was Greg Anderson, Bonds' trainer. Problem is that he refused to testify, and rather than spend time in the witness box, he sat in a jail cell.

It wasn't all bad for the prosecution. One highlight was Kathy Hoskins. She gave compelling and detailed testimony that she saw Anderson inject Bonds in the navel in 2002. By most accounts, Hoskins was believable and sincere. However, her testimony may only help the prosecution as far as Count 2, which is that Bonds knowingly lied about being injected - doesn't matter with what. The other 3 perjury counts accuse Bonds of knowingly lying about taking steroids. Since Hoskins can't say what he was injected with, her testimony is unlikely to help on the 3 perjury charges relating to steroids.

Some of the jurors may believe that Bonds took PEDs. Generally, many people believe that. However, personal belief aside, the issue is whether all jurors believe that the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Bonds is guilty of perjury.

And on that point, I have some doubt.

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