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Thoughts from Day 2 of Bonds' trial

SAN FRANCISCO -- Three quick thoughts after Day 2 of the perjury trial of former Giants outfielder Barry Bonds:

1. The defense had the better start. It was a victory for style over substance as Allen Ruby, one of Bonds' defense attorneys, proved better than prosecutor Matt Parrella in opening statements. This was despite the fact that Parrella had much more to work with. Parrella laid out how the BALCO investigation came to be, and he showed a picture of Bonds with his former trainer Greg Anderson and BALCO president Victor Conte, both of whom have pled guilty to distributing steroids. He listed all the witnesses -- Kimberly Bell, Steve Hoskins, etc.-- who are expected to testify that they have first-hand knowledge that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs. He put Bonds' words from his grand jury testimony on a screen and went one-by-one on why each was a lie. It was convincing stuff. But Parrella's delivery was stiff, and when the folksier Ruby stepped to the podium, his relaxed demeanor was welcome and he delivered some good zingers. At one point, he used Parrella's words against him. Parrella earlier referred to Bonds, Conte and Anderson as the "Three Musketeers" and to that Ruby said: "In a case supposedly about words, the government uses words so carelessly." It was one of many winning lines from Ruby.

2. Jeff Novitzky was convincing, so far. The government's first witness was Novitzky, the former IRS and now FDA agent who has been the public face of the government's crusade against the use of PEDs in sports. It is important to remember that the jurors aren't like most sports fans, and therefore will know little to nothing about Novitzky. What they saw Tuesday in several hours of testimony was a composed witness who laid out how the BALCO investigation started, emphasizing that Bonds was not the initial target nor a tangential one until after he appeared before the grand jury and allegedly lied. Novitzky's composure made up for some bubbling by prosecutor Jeff Nedrow, who struggled to phrase his questions properly. Overall, Novitzky was a believable witness and that was an early score for prosecutors.

3. Allen Ruby needs to earn his money tomorrow. Ruby got only partially into his cross-examination of Novitzky and based on that small sample the results were mixed. He was able to shake him up a bit on why he couldn't remember the length of some meetings, and he laid foundation that will help the defense sully another witness, Steve Hoskins, but Ruby did little to impeach Novitzky personally. We didn't yet hear about talk of a book deal or other matters that have previously been used against Novitzky, nor did Ruby get specific with the allegation that Novitzky was after Bonds from the beginning. That is likely to come tomorrow, a key day for the defense. Ruby needs to knock Novitzky out of rhythm more than he did on Tuesday.

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