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Original Issue

Ahead in the Count?

A coach's verdict could be good news for Bonds

FOR MANY baseballfans—and perhaps the teams that have shied away from signing him—it is aforegone conclusion that Barry Bonds lied when he told a grand jury in December2003 that he never took steroids or human growth hormone. But if last week'sverdict in the trial of BALCO customer and track coach Trevor Graham is anyindication, proving Bonds's guilt when he goes on trial won't be easy. In orderto convict Bonds of perjury, the government has to prove that the home run kingnot only fibbed, but also that he did so knowingly and that the lies could haveimpacted a criminal investigation. Graham, who was convicted on one of threecounts of lying to federal agents, walked out of court last Thursday with ahung jury on the other two counts, partly because not every juror was convincedthat Graham's lie affected the BALCO case. In an interview conducted in 2004,Graham, who is to be sentenced on Sept. 5 and will likely receive no more thansix months, told agents that he had never met admitted performance-enhancingdrug dealer Angel Heredia in person. But during the trial, prosecutorsdisplayed a picture of Graham and Heredia together in 1996.

A slam dunk forthe prosecution, right? Wrong. Jury foreman Frank Stapleton, 59, said that itwas hard to view Graham's falsehood as important when Heredia was nevercharged. Stapleton also questioned the merit of the case against Graham ingeneral. "The government was bound and determined to make an example ofthis defendant," he said. "I hope this verdict satisfies the JusticeDepartment's lust for blood."

When Bonds'strial begins this fall, his lawyers will no doubt argue that their client islikewise being unfairly singled out—particularly since BALCO founder VictorConte, and trainer Greg Anderson, the man who allegedly supplied Bonds withperformance enhancers, have already been convicted of steroid distribution.Stapleton said that he came away from the trial with the feeling that BALCOinvestigators Jeff Novitzky and Erwin Rogers were "out to get" Graham,leaving him with doubts about some of the agents' statements. Bonds couldn'thave said it better himself.

Go Figure

Tickets sold in 90 minutes to the Chargers-Saints game at London's WembleyStadium on Oct. 26.

$100 million
Amount Gary Payton said he would accept to get a sex-change operation and playin the WNBA, on Best Damn Sports Show Period.

The Indians' team batting average.

The 1976 Angels' average, the lowest by an AL squad in a nonstrike year in theDH era.

Hits by Florida's Cody Ross in May.

Homers by Ross in May.

Years since neither UCLA nor Arizona played for the NCAA softball championship;both schools were knocked out of the women's College World Series lastSaturday.

The Literary Life

Jose Canseco

WRITERS HAVE long been entranced by boxing, what JoyceCarol Oates once called "America's tragic theater." So entranced thatmany have gone from writing about it to slipping on a pair of gloves andentering the squared circle. Hemingway taught—or at least tried to teach—EzraPound to box. George Plimpton fought Archie Moore. Norman Mailer gave lightheavyweight champ Jose Torres writing lessons in exchange for boxing lessons.And now Jose Canseco, author of two steroid exposés, will become the latestscribe to climb into the ring. He recently issued a challenge: $5,000 to anycomer, and he got a taker in Vai Sikahema (right).

The retired NFL return man is now a Philadelphiasportscaster. At 5'9" and 190 pounds, Sikahema, 45, will be at a distinctsize disadvantage against the 6'4", 240-ish Canseco, but Sikahema hasexperience on his side. A former Golden Gloves boxer, he decisioned a localdeejay in a bout in January on the undercard of a Danny Bonaduce fight. Andjudging by his NFL TD celebration—in which he shadowboxed the goalpost—he hasno problem roughing up an immobile object. His fight against the 43-year-oldCanseco (who's hoping the purse will help him get out of debt) will take placeat a minor league baseball stadium in Atlantic City on July 12. The prebouthype was to begin on Tuesday with a press conference at a Philly Chryslerdealership.

Sikahema isn't the only one eager to fight Canseco."I figured, What the heck, I'll pound his face for five G's," formerBruins enforcer Lyndon Byers told the Boston Herald. But the 6'1"200-pounder was passed over. "[Canseco] makes me puke," Byers said."The guy single-handedly ruined baseball, now he won't even fight someonehis own size."



ON DECK BONDS will follow Graham (top, with Marion Jones in 1999) into court.



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