Friday, September 19, 2014

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9th Circuit Court Could Overturn Barry Bonds 2011 Perjury Conviction, Make Him A Free Man - Would Baseball Suffer? 


After years of legal wranglings -- and many more years of apparent steroid use to enhance  his and the  San Francisco Giants' numbers and records - Barry Bonds may soon be free of  illegal convictions.  

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Watch the latest 9th Circuit Court of appeals  opening session regarding the Bonds appeal to overturn his 2011 conviction.         The 11-judge  federal  9th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals gave signs of overturning Bonds' 2011 'obstructing of justice' conviction.  9th Circuit Judge William Fletcher told assistant U.S.assistant attorney Merry Jean Chan that he found her reading of obstuction of justice 'alarming.'   A majority of the 9th Circuit's 29 ful-time judges voted to consider Bonds' bid to overturn  his felony conviction which stems from a jury finding that he gave evasive answers to a federal grand jury probling the BALCO steroids candal in December 2003.

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Bonds  'Rambling, Evasive Answers' 

The judges  indicated that Bonds' 'rambling, evasive' answers  to a question  about whether his fomer personal trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever supplied or injected im with steroids were not necessarily evasive despite their  rambling nature.   Chan told the judges that Bonds'testimony was designed to obstruct the BALCO investigation.  Last year  a three-judge 9th Circuit panel rejected Bond's  legal arguments that he was convicted of simply providing a rambling answer that did not amount to a crime.  The judges found the testimony 'evasive'and 'misleading' .  But, the 9th Circuit is one of the most liberal and lenient courts in the country, and that they would take back the case indicates that they could  overturn the previous verdict, leaving Bonds technically innocent of any crimes;no doubt Bonds is trying to do as Roger Clemens,  who successfully appealed a similar steroid case against


 If this were to happen, it would make for a dark day and further cloud over baseball, that a player like Bonds, who, technically admitted to using steroids by saying he thought it was 'flaxseed,' could apparently get away with using performance enhancing drugs for more than a decade.  Bonds broke Henry Aaron's career homer record  by hitting more more than 40 homers after the age of 30, after only hitting as many as 40 once prior to that .  Significant body changes to Bonds mirrored those years, yet Bonds was not challenged really challenged about PED usage 2004 when he admitted to using 'the cream and the clear,' saying that he thought it was told it was flaxseed oil,  in  the BALCO investigation. Meanwhile, his personal trainer, Anderson, would spend two rounds of more than a year in jail rather than testify in the case.  Bonds could have been convicted on a number of other counts, also involving 'rambling'  answers including his purpurted 'disadvantage' being a 'celebrity child with a famous father' (Bobby Bonds, a star for the Giants in the late 60s and early 70s) but the jury deadlocked on other counts.      

 Bonds - More than a Simple 'Evasive' Answer? 

  On the surface, Barry Bond's attorney, Dennis Riordan  is claiming that an evasive answer to a question doesn't necessarily have to be  a crime.  When you strip away everything else, that may sound true. Yet, with all the additional Bonds 'baggage' one has to wonder, if Bonds is not at least guilty of this single count - he never was charged for using 'the cream and the clear,' admittedly illegal drugs - one has to ask what does it take to convict ?  Bonds went on to continue playing baseball another three years after the 2004 testimony.   The Mitchell Report did seemed to help bring an end to the careers of many, including Bonds, Sammy Sosa, McGwire.   Bonds remains a 'hero' in his hometown of San Francisco, where he was invited back this year as an hitting instructor for the Giants in spring training.  Today, even though perhaps lax MLB drug testing has not caught anyone of late, it's likely that neither the Mitchell Investigation or last year's Biogenesis 'lead' have done much to curtail the use of PEDs in baseball. Balco's Victor Conte and others have guestimated that upwards of 50% of players are still using , which might be indicated in continuing heighted numbers, especially among pitchers with lowered ERAs.  


  HALL OF FAME CREDENTIALS?  People debate whether purported PED players like Bonds should make the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Without PEDs, there's some question whether Bonds REALLY had the numbers...   Though Bonds was not prosecuted for his purported use of PEDs, it's interesting to note that Bonds never hit more than 36 homeruns in a year, nor  did he hit over .300 but twice - until he came to the San Francisco Giants in 1993, when he had  his best year by far (.336 and 46 homers)- certainly not Hall of Fame numbers, contrary to  peoples'  belief - people who have probably not looked at the numbers (below). Once in San Francisco, Bonds seemed to get better with age, hitting 73 homers in 2001 and lead leaguing .370 the following year at 37, an age when most players have retired.      

  barry bonds career  As seen in the chart above,  Bonds 'only' had a .275 average in his 7 years at Pittsburg and 176 homers. If these numbers were extrapolated over the next 15 years, Bonds would have finished with 525 homeruns - far short of the lifetime homerun record (and that's assuming he'd be averaging 25 homeruns a year  in his late 30s sans PEDs - and if he'd even be playing in his 40s. .

      Meanwhile, baseball attendance continues to do well, especially in San Francisco , which has had over 200 straight 'sellouts,'  a somewhat controversial figure in itself.  Former Commissioner of Baseball leaves claiming baseball is 'cleaner than ever'with the best drug testing in all sports.  Most younger fans , who've grown up under the PED cloud,  don't know any other way enough to care - but older fans , who probably know better, seem to also be turning a blind eye - especially in San Francisco where their hero, Bonds, performed a full 15 years, effectively making PEDs acceptable.  Rarely does one hear a boo from the stands as all seems fine and dandy in San Francisco - and many other baseball corners. Yet,  deep down, true older fans, who have seen REAL baseball going back to the Mays and McCovey days in cold Candlestick Park, must look at themeselves in the mirror as current baseball fans are a part and parcel of, the degradation of the game -admit it or not.  Baseball today is about money, numbers -and, yes, drugs. Talent is no longer a given - one must guess whether a player is on PEDs or not, or not care - and, if the latter, is the case, what's the point ?

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COMING SOON!  How San Francisco Giants May Have Skated to Their First World Series Victories in 50 Years    MORE PED TALK SUBSCRIBE TO FUTURE UPDATES:


Wednesday, September 3, 2014


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KEN CAMINITI was  the original poster boy for steroids. A lifetime .272 hitter who averaged 15 homers a year from 1987 to 2001, would hit 40  and average .326 and win the MVP in 1996, admittedly with the help of   steroids. Caminiti  came  out against steroids in a book, shortly before his drug-related death in 2004
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Despite No New PED Indictments from MLB Testing, No End in Sight for PED Use  

Can we not agree  that players are still using performance-enhancing drugs, especially after seeing 20 last year, not by conventional baseball tests but through a leak at the Biogenesis labs where a disgruntled worker turned in his boss who , in turn , basically , was bought  off by major-league baseball in exchange for naming names of about 20 MLB players to whom he had provided PEDs? Now, for over two decades, players have injected, swallowed, rubbed or otherwise ingested various PEDs  in an effort to help with nagging injuries, help late-career slumping or just gain that edge after seeing more and more other players get away with  it - and even be encouraged to use such by their teams in some cases.

With the obvious continuing problem - yes , it is a serious problem - of PED use in baseball,  we wonder why no names have come out of any players-not a single one-who have been caught through MLB testing using PEDs this year, 2014 - or even last year, for that matter. 


The  only possible answer is that MLB drug testing is still in adequate and has not kept up with, supposedly, undetectable PEDs. Sure, former commissioner Selig can tell us that baseball has the most stringent testing in all sports but when not a single player is caught through  said testing one has to wonder if the tests are really adequate.Sure, Selig has increased the penalties from 50 to 80 games for the first offense and increased the second and third , too what good are the new penalties if the testing is inadequate so that nobody is even indicted.

Mark McGwire and Jose Conseco were the 'Bash Brothers' in Oakland.  They were taking advantage of steroids as early as the late '80s, which helped propel the Oakland Athletics to a 1989 World Series victory.  Steroids were still young and new to baseball - and legal for a time (McGwire didn't even hide  his bottle of Androsteen  from his locker shelf)  - but it wasn't until after Caminiti that , first, Conseco , then McGwire admitted to their use. McGwire would break the single season  home run record with 70 in 1998 at St.Louis with his old Oakland manager Tony LaRussa. McGwire and Conseco were   inspiration for cross-town rival, San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds taking up the 'sport' when he came to the Giants in 1993, later becoming the Homerun King of All time with 762 homeruns, eclipsing that of Hank Aaron and prevously Babe Ruth  

If any players were caught this year or even last we don't know about it. A new provision in the testing agreement is that players may appeal with legitimate excuses for positive test results, which favors players and could be another reason we're not seeing any players caught of late. The last time We saw players indicted through MLB testing was 2012. Remember when Balco's victor Conte called Melky Cabrera 'dumb or dumber'  for letting himself get caught.

We've watched Conte and Biogenesis' Tony Bosch explain in front of national audiences how easy it is to beat the current MLB testing for synthetic testosterone , for example.  Simply by taking the drugs at the right times In the correct amounts - we won't get too technical here and go into the 4:1 ratio - should allow players to ' 'do their thing'.  In Cabrera's case he likely took either too much or at the wrong time, or both.

Meanwhile, we're still seeing inflated performance numbers, more this year among pitchers and low ERAs. In the past, pitchers have not come under scrutiny as much as hitters and can get away with more. we may not be seeing the big home run numbers for obvious reasons. Hitters can better camouflage their 'usage' hitting for average rather then sporting Brady Anderson -like home run totals

Barry Bonds, before and after coming to San Francisco from Pittsburg. Unlike with some of the players today who don't show outward signs of 'enhancement'  with newer 'designer' durgs, Bonds showed significant changes in body shape and size. Even after Caminiti and Conseco had 'come out' Bonds would continue to lead
the San Francisco Giants uneven playing field for 14 years through 2007 (when he still hit 28 homers at age 42) before  he was finally 'taken down' by a couple of brave SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE writers who dared speak out against the beloved Bonds - beloved at least in San Francisco. 

Today, VICTOR Conte continues to use the number '50% ' when describing possible drug usage in baseball and, really , there's no reason to doubt him. Nothing has changed as far as the testing methods by MLB. The only changes may be in the types of drugs players are now using, namely the "designer" PEDs such as synthetic testosterone, with which , according to Cone and others, MLB's testing has not kept a pace. And, no longer do we necessarily see obvious telltale signs of the previously bulked up players with the newer drugs.

Today, they may not be called steroids any longer but PEDs are probably as rampant in baseball as steroids ever were.  Baseball attendance continues to thrive with a new generation having grown up seeing their favorite players benefitting from the drugs - and only knowing the one way, but ,no doubt, knowing its wrong.
Now it's not just one or two players like McGwire and Sosa but dozens still playing the game. Instead of being out of baseball, indicted users like Cabrera and Cruz - to pick on only two of many- continue to play the game, likely still on something. Not only are they getting away with continued use but their new teams and fans love it.
Likely for this reason , Selig and MLB -seeing the turnstiles rolling with big numbers - simply paid lip service  to the PED issue, extending the penalties but not the problem of the weak drug testing. they're content with the numbers, the baseball union is happy and life goes on.

Teams, particularly the San Francisci Giants with 23 indicted players over the years , have now been thriving off PEDs - or whatever you want to call them now - for two decades and there's no indication things will change. it's getting to the point a team may not be able to acquire players WITHOUT some PED history.  The biggest culprits in all this were not the early users like Camaniti, Canseco and even McGwire - who even left his bottle of Androsteen on his locker shelf for anyone to see- but MLB, team owners and fans who , instead of coming out strongly and doing something about the problem in its infancy have let it get out of hand. who knows if and when the PED problem -yes, it is a big problem - will be corrected.

So, you say the baseball situation is symbolic or symptomatic of the rest od society. that may be true but if anything was pure and free of scandal it WAS baseball )aside from the 1919 black sox scandal) . You've heard 'America, baseball and apple pie.' that's what it WAS and what it should be, not just for us old-school fans who remember a time when we didn't have to try to figure out who was cheating and who was not. Kids and adults are missing perhaps the last pure sport and experience in America and it's a shame . Sure, the Giants and other teams may, purportedly, 'sell out' (double meaning here?) to folks as much or more interested in having an expensive picnic and other extraneous experiences  at the new stadia - no longer ball parks - than watching
A REAL ball game. And, that may be part of the problem too - owners so intent on filling seats they'll do about anything and much of the crowd ends up doing about anything EXCEPT getting involved in the game, whether it be taking selfies, texting,eating or drinking $10 hot dogs and beers.


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Red_and_blue_2 FLASHING GOOD

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Does Vogelsong Continue to Increase Velocity at Age 38?


 (see above FANGRAPHS chart)

Usually when pitchers get older, their velocity and performance suffers. Not so with one RYAN VOGELSONG. Defying all laws of gravity and age, Vogelsong only gets faster and better - even at age 38 ,  an age when most pitchers have retired. But, it's nothing new for the Giants  to have seen many players putting up unlikely numbers at advanced ages. Think Marco Scutaro, Aubrey Huff, Pat Burell and, of course, Barry Bonds, to name a few.

Ten years ago a 28-year-old Ryan Vogelsong was a   5.50 ERA pitcher toiling for Pittsburg. Unable to make it in the States, he went to Japan for a few years where things only improved slightly against lesser competition (4.17 ERA). 

Like so many other castoffs who come to the Giants out of nowhere to put up unlikely numbers, Vogelsong gives the majors another shot in 2011 and suddenly, at age 33, has a career year, posting a 2.71 ERA.
While things dropped off a bit in 2012, Vogelsong was still key in helping the giants to a World Series victory.

Since 2012, the 38-year old Vogelsong has raised his pitching velocity each year, while improving his strikeouts -nearly a strikeout per inning in some games like the one against Washington Aug 13 where he beat young phenom  Stephen Strasburg and put up seven strikeouts in seven innings while giving up but one run to the hard-hitting Nationals.  In so doing, Vogelsong has rivaled ace madison Bumgarner in velocity and strikeouts, matching Bumgarner's 94 mph range  on multiple occasions.  The above chart speaks for itself.  'Splain that one Lucy? 

It seems like when the going gets tough for the Giants, Vogelsong and company almost magically put the Giants back on track as he did recently in that big game against Washington, just after Bumgarner returned to old form two nights earlier against Houston with a shutout. 
Don't be surprised to see Vogelsong and the Giants continue to get better through the dog days as other teams slide - and see the unlikely Giants , perhaps,inexplicably, slide into playoffs against much better teams. 

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The San Francisco Giants never fail to amaze. Yes, they've got one of the better records in baseball with some of the lowest batting averages. But don't be surprised if it even gets better. 

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What was and normally would be a mediocre pitching staff has suddenly  become world beaters. Over -the -hill guys or normally under-achievers are suddenly going into their 'win at all costs' . When the going gets tough the Giants go on drugs. Of course, that's our opinion, but we've seen empiracal stats and have good reason to believe patterns we see before our eyes. Not to say everyone on the Giants is using performance enhancing drugs but, let's face it, Mr Selig, they haven't gone away and the Giants have always been leaders in that field  now going back over a decade when the Brian Sabean and company became imfatuated with Barry Bonds sudden turnaround they haven't looked back at his 'secret*' ever since - and continue to get away with it.  So much so, that they even brought Barry back as a coach in spring training this year - to the dismay of more than a few non-Giant  baseball people like Keith Obermann - to rub off some more on the players just like he did back in the days of Aurillia, Williams, Santiago. Hint, hint. Wink, wink.

Most teams would have long ago dumped an overweight, underachieving Pablo Sandoval or an aging Ryan Vogelsong - a pitcher with a sub-90 fastball they got cheap.  For almost two months Sandoval couldn't buy a homerun or reach the Mendoza line, yet the Giants kept playing him. Hmm. Then, suddenly last week, Sandoval stopped striking out and magically(?) raised his average almost 100 points with three homeruns and it doesn't look like he's going to stop in the near future as he propels the Giants past better teams and towards another World Series(?). Remember when the Giants acquired Marcos Sccutaro midseason, 2012, with a .260 average at Colorado , only to see him magically go on a tear as soon as he joined Cabrera, Sandoval  and company, raising his average almost 100 points while cutting his strikeouts in half. It's de ja vu again with Sandoval... and maybe someone else next week.  Giants Vogelsong got an earlier start this year , dropping his 5.00 ERA to below 2.00  for his last five starts, while, interestingly ,raising his velocity from the high 80s to the low 90s! This for a 37 year old pitcher who hadn't hit the 90s consistently since the end of 2012 and the World Series; when most pitchers were getting weary late in the year, Vogelsong was getting stronger and faster - and this year he's doing it even earlier in the year (see above graph).

You see, telltale signs of  PED usage are sudden drop in strikeouts for hitters and better velocity for pitchers. 
We've seen this many times in the past with the Giants, particularly late in the season when various players would become World Beaters.  In 2010 it was Burrell, Huff and the late season acquistion Cody Ross, who largely propelled the Giants  in October - this unlikely happenstance from over the hill players who remarkably and ,coincidentally,  all had career years in their late thirties. Oh, and don't forget Andre Torres, who also had a career year at 33 , and Jose Guillen, who did just enough damage for the Giants before getting kicked off the team after a second drug infraction (he was caught receiving drugs in the mail) There were others , too , with Guillen and Guillermo Moto actually getting caught and suspended for drug use.

In 2012, Melky Cabrera did enough damage for the Giants before HE got suspended  there wasn't a need for many others, but Marco Scutaro came along out of the blue to, remarkably, raise his .260 average to near .350 , where it stayed the rest of the season. On top of that Scutaro cut his strikeouts down to a miniscule number.  Then, of course, there was Sandoval, at it again with his late season heroics, with his three homer game against Detroit in the playoffs andseven October homers matching his entire year's output.  Interestingly , the three Giant 'heroes'   were all Venezuelan brethren.Even Barry Zito - perhaps the worst free acquisiton ever  in baseball -- somehow managed to become a consistent playoff and World Series winner for two weeks along with Vogelsong and others'  late-season mysterious surge.

So this year, for now anyway, it's Vogelsong and Sandoval.  Forget Scutaro. Hicks at second base  already has more homers than Scutaro ever did (8) and if he doesn't work out somebody else will fill the slack.It always happens for the giants .  These new designer drugs are easy to go and off and, besides, it's probably better for different players to be hot at different times lest it looks suspicious.  But the end of 2010 and 2012 were downright suspicious how the Giants suddenly came on with no name players becoming unlikely stars... Burrell, Huff, Ross, Renteria, Guillen, Uribe, Torrez, Blanco,Arias . Among the pitchers,    'washed up' Santiago Casilla and Tim Lincecum suddenly got their fastballs back for not one but two years.  And they they're still at IT, whatever you want to interpret as 'it.'



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Vogelsong, Sandoval Latest of Unlikely Giants 'Sudden Surgers'

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