March 22, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO
Day Two of the Barry Bonds trial ends early on Day Three, and thats probably a helpful tidbit for those of who you think this sort of thing works in an orderly fashion.Jeff Novitzky, the IRS (and now FBI) agent who was the dumpster-diving linchpin for the case, got through relatively arid prosecution questioning and about half of the defenses cross, with brief but fleeting signs of impatience as defense attorney Allen Ruby couldnt get Novitzky to lose his patiencebreak his programming.And this is one of the two true wedge witness, because to see the defenses side of things one must be convinced that Novitzky wanted Bonds scalp waving from his car antenna more than anything else. Outside the room, people long ago chose sides on that one and will never be convinced to change sides, but inside it, Novitzky and Ruby skated to a scoreless draw, with plenty of time still on the clock.Then comes the prosecutions best chance at a slam dunk, if one is at all possible Steve Hoskins.Hoskins is the former Bonds valet (for lack of a better term) who fell out with Bonds and is really the key witness for the prosecution. He is the one on the other end of the much-discussed phone conversation with trainer Greg Anderson which the government intends to claim is the best circumstantial evidence available that shows that Bonds knew what he was applying to his body and why he was applying it.Hoskins is the one the prosecution needs to turn smoke to gun, as Anderson is again a guest of the crown, playing yet again his customary jail-for-silence gambit. And since Anderson wont talk about the phone conversation, Hoskins has to (a) talk for both of them, and (b) withstand what we can expect will be an even more spirited attack from the defense than Novitzky has received so far.Unfortunately for those of you want this thing to matter a long time, the witness quality drops off after that. Mike Murphy, the longtime Giants trainer, will be asked to testify about the varying circumferences of Bonds head, and then Jim Valenti, Victor Contes co-defendant in the BALCO trial, and Larry Bowers of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency are expected next.At some point, Bonds mistress Kimberly Bell will testify as well, but thats as much for sniggering as evidence, and frankly, we suspect by then that the jury will have learned all it is going to learn about the thing they are charged to decide.Thats the way we should all hope this trial goes decided on the basis of the two most damaging prosecution witnesses, Novitzky and Hoskins, rather than the ancillary offerings of Murphy, Bell, et. al. By now, all the other arguments dont matter anyway, even though they keep getting offered as coin of the realm, to wit:1. The trial is a waste of money: That isnt the measure of justice as much as it is a problem for someone in the comptrollers office, and frankly, who gives a damn about them? Its not like the money was earmarked for schools or the arts or law enforcement. Its what we in the money game call a sunk cost. This trial is about whether the government can prove that Bonds willfully lied to it under oath, and the lengths to which it has gone to prove it in other words, the line between justice and vendetta. What it costs, or doesnt, is a matter for efficiency experts alone. 2. Its about steroids: No, it really isnt. Its about how far the government can be allowed to pursue someone it believes lied to them. If it were about steroids, we wouldnt need the Anderson phone call; Bonds admitted using the cream and the clear, and the only debate would be about his intent when using them.3. Since Anderson isnt talking, this trial is doomed: Maybe, but maybe not. Its probably the way to bet, but if the defense cant undermine Novitzky, it has to win big on Hoskins. Just as the superior team is warned never to let the game get to the point where the referee can influence it, so it is with juries.4. This will be the precedent-setting case that helps guide the Roger Clemens trial: No it wont, not even close. Separate trials, separate issues, separate lawyers, separate defendants.But at least we wont have to wait for the meaty parts. The government led with its high cards, and the defense has to counter right away. Most trials back into the relevant bits, so thats one thing for which we can all be thankful. Well have a pretty good idea who proved what to whom by weeks end.