The circus was in San Francisco today – the media circus, that is, as Barry Bonds arrived at a federal courthouse to be arraigned on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, and plead not guilty to the charges. As reported by The AP:
Arriving at court earlier with his wife, Liz, and attorney Cristina Arguedas, Bonds stepped from a black sport-utility vehicle and waded through a crush of television cameras, reporters and onlookers as they entered the Phillip Burton Federal Building. Wearing a dark blue suit and tie, he went through the metal detectors and waved to the crowd before stepping into the courthouse elevator and heading to the 19th floor for the hearing.
The event has attracted a small army of the media as well as a festive crowd of Bonds detractors and supporters. In other words, it’s a spectacle somewhat reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson case.
Much has been made of the case – some of it erroneously – which is why a solid primer on the Bonds case is in order. Today, Mark Fainaru-Wada and T. J. Quinn of ESPN provide a solid question and answer column on Bonds. As they outline, the reports in the media of Bonds possibly being sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison is overblown:
Whatever the case, however, Bonds is looking at a maximum of 30 months, not 30 years. Sentencing guidelines allow for 30 years, but that would apply to Bonds only if he had a long criminal history, which he does not.
What will be interesting is to see if Bonds is under contract in 2008 after surpassing Henry Aaron as the all-time home run king last year, only to not be offered an extension by the San Francisco Giants. There has been considerable speculation that no team would be willing to place Bonds under contract with his legal case still outstanding.
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Word is arriving, however, that the Oakland Athletics have interest in signing Bonds. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:
"There is no doubt in my mind that Oakland will sign Bonds," one major-league executive said Thursday as the winter meetings wound down. "I'd be shocked if it didn't happen."
Two other teams also have expressed interest in Bonds, an industry source said. Bonds is most likely a fit for an American League club, so that he could serve as a designated hitter. The A's, though, apparently have told Bonds that if he signs with them, he would appear in left field with some frequency. The home run king would be splitting DH duties with Jack Cust.
"I'm speaking with American League clubs as well as National League clubs," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said Thursday.
As further reported, apparently, the A’s have been in discussions on finalizing a deal last month, before the perjury and obstruction of justice charges. As to how to finagle a deal where the player in question could be in a courtroom, or worse, in jail, it seems that according to several agents and front office execs, that issue could be dealt with in the deal, “and would and it would be null and void in the event of a conviction during the life of the contract.”
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also an author for Baseball Prospectus, Basketball Prospectus and is an available writer for other media outlets.
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