Bonds appeals to erase felony conviction

753830.jpg

Bonds appeals to erase felony conviction

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Barry Bonds has asked a federal appeals court to toss out his felony obstruction conviction, arguing it was based on his rambling -- but truthful -- answer to a grand jury question about whether his trainer ever provided him with an injectable substance. Responding to the jury, the Major League Baseball's career home runs leader replied that he was a "celebrity child," rather than answering the question directly. Bonds' father was Bobby Bonds, a 13-year major league veteran and three-time All Star. A jury decided after a roughly three-week trial last year that the answer represented an obstruction of justice. The jury deadlocked on three other charges alleging Bonds lied to a grand jury when he denied knowing taking performance-enhancing drugs. Prosecutors dismissed those counts, bringing an anticlimactic end to their eight-year pursuit of Bonds. Bonds attorneys filed a 60-page legal brief filed Thursday with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His counsel stressed that federal investigators whiffed on proving the heart of their case against the slugger, which was that he lied when he denied in 2003 grand jury testimony that he took performance-enhancing drugs to boost his career. Federal prosecutors revised their indictment several times and delayed trial for a year while appealing an important evidentiary decision to the 9th Circuit. "This case arose out of the federal government's efforts to combat steroid use in sports," Bonds' appellate attorney Dennis Riordan wrote. "That crusade, while admirable in its underlying purpose, has been pursued with an intensity at times bordering on zealotry." Riordan also argued that Bonds answered the question earlier in his grand jury appearance when he said that only his doctor injected him with anything. "Any competent English speaker would understand Mr. Bonds's initial statement as answering the question in the negative," Riordan wrote. "Mr. Bonds was no more guilty of obstruction than he would have been if, having answered one prosecutorial question, he chatted with grand jurors about the weather while the prosecutor was formulating his next one." Riordan further argued that the prosecutors questioning Bonds before the grand jury had a "legal obligation to clarify unresponsive testimony." Riordan contends the prosecutors should have repeated the question until Bonds answered directly. Federal prosecutors are expected to file their opposition later this month. The federal appeals court has no deadline to decide the case. Prosecutors are expected to argue that Bonds' "celebrity child" answer was calculated to evade the steroids question and mislead the grand jury. Bonds was sentenced to 30 days house arrest and two years of probation. That sentence was suspended pending the appeal.

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

The Blackhawks went 9-1 in February and did so in emphatic fashion.

The Blackhawks outscored their opponents 44-24 in the month and scored four goals or more in each of the nine wins. The only loss came after the team's bye week, a 3-1 loss at home to Edmonton seven days after winning 5-1 in Edmonton.

A big reason for the Blackhawks' recent surge is because of the production of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews scored seven goals and had 11 assists in February and was named the league's second star of the week this week. Patrick Kane had nine goals and seven assists.

Scott Darling went 3-0 in his starts and gave up just four goals in those games. Corey Crawford went 6-1 with a 2.71 goals against average.

Despite the Blackhawks' success in February, the Minnesota Wild still lead the division. The Blackhawks beat the Wild twice in February, but the Wild went 7-2 in the rest of February, including tonight's 5-4 overtime win against the LA Kings to sit three points ahead of the Blackhawks and still with two games in hand.

Watch the video above to see Pat Boyle break down these Blackhawks numbers.

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

The preseason has finished and it's officially a match week for the Chicago Fire.

The Fire, which travel to Columbus on Saturday for the season opener, returned from preseason training in Florida on Sunday and began the team's first full day back in Chicago with the team's annual kickoff luncheon on Monday. The team's players, coaches and staff interact with fans and the media ahead of the upcoming season.

Two players, UNC-Charlotte products Brandt Bronico and Matej Dekovic, were introduced to the audience a couple hours before the club announced the two 2017 draft picks had signed contracts. Bronico, a central midfielder drafted in the third round, and Dekovic, a center back/left back taken in the fourth round, both signed one-year deals with club options for the following three years.

Dekovic could add some much needed depth in central defense, but is a logical candidate to go out on loan to USL affiliate Tulsa. Dekovic, 23, is Croatian and counts as an international player even though he played three years collegiately with the 49ers. The Fire have nine international players on the roster with eight slots for them. The Fire could trade for an international slot, but if Dekovic goes out on loan he won't count against that number. Coach Veljko Paunovic was asked about potential outgoing loans, but didn't give specifics other than to say they have "made some decisions" and "are still working on that."

Bronico and Dekovic don't figure to play major roles this season, but there could still be more moves ahead. The lone trialist in the final week of the Fire's training camp, former Columbus Crew defender Chad Barson, was not retained. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said Ryan Taylor will be the latest right back to join the Fire on trial. Taylor, 32, made 55 English Premier League appearances with Wigan Athletic from 2005-2009 and 61 more with Newcastle United from 2009-2015. This season he has made 12 appearances for Port Vale in England's third tier, the most recent of which on Jan. 20 when he scored a penalty kick.

[RELATED: Fire players downplay importance of undefeated preseason record]

"Ryan Taylor will join us this week," Rodriguez said. "He's a very experienced player, he plays a lot of different positions, which we like. We like that versatility. We love the attitude that he's expressed towards coming on trial, which is not easy for an accomplished player. We'll look at him this week, maybe look at him for two weeks. I don't know how long it will take, but he is an option for us."

The Englishman would also take up an international slot.

A potentially bigger move is the one Rodriguez hinted at regarding a third designated player. Currently, David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic are the Fire's two DPs, meaning one more DP spot is available.

"We have the latitude, we have the cap space, the budget space and the resources within MLS and within our ownership to add another DP," Rodriguez said. "We've looked at a few players. Two of the players that we had on our list, we didn't make offers for so I want to be clear the two players we were tracking, one signed in Mexico with a big club in Mexico and one went to China for big money so they're off our list.

"There are still two players that we're tracking. I think as we get deeper into the start of the season, even though the first window is open, it's tougher. I would say we would likely look at the summer, or, as we did last year, forego the summer and concentrate on January. I still think it's hard to integrate players midseason."