July 28, 2007

Odds, ends

I haven't been keeping up the blog too much lately. If I were a Hemingway character, I'd probably say it's because the blog gets in the way of my drinking. Still haven't managed to track down a bottle of Pernod (does anyone sell it anymore?), but a few things that I've been thinking about while I've looked:

BILLY MARTIN, THE LAWYER for Michael Vick, said something astounding but also quite telling on Thursday, as he stood on the steps of a federal courthouse after his client had pled not guilty to federal dogfighting charges: "Today, you all heard or saw Michael Vick take his first step toward proving his innocence." As we all know, defendants needn't prove their innocence -- it's up to prosecutors to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and if they fail to meet that burden, the accused go free. But I suspect that in federal courtrooms, where prosecutors have something like a 95 percent conviction rate, offer multiple count indictments (Vick faces two felony charges, but prosecutors have already announced that there may be a superceding indictment) that incline juries to find the defendant guilty of something. I suspect that smart defense attorneys recognize that whatever the legal texts say, the burden is on the defense to offer a counter narrative and evidence that proves innocence, rather than just undermine key points of a prosecutor's case. I have no particular brief for Michael Vick --I am tremendously fond of dogs (a good friend has two lovely pit bulls -- treat them with love and affection, and they're loving and affectionate animals), and horrified by his alleged conduct. But I find it even more horrifying that we may have evolved a system of justice in which prosecutors need merely suggest reasonable doubt that a defendant is not innocent, while the accused bears the burden of proof.

TO HONOR THE NEW SIMPSONS MOVIE, ESPN tonight showed the top ten "D'OH" moments in sports, in which athletes unaccountably did something stupid that cost their teams games. Nothing wrong with that, except that the top blunder was not an athlete's, but a fans, the hapless Steve Bartman. In 2003, he did something very human, something that everyone standing near him was doing -- reach for a foul ball. He happened to touch it. For this he earned infamy. Here's what I wrote back then, and time has not changed my opinion.

WATCHING THE GIANTS PLAY THE MARLINS on ESPN now. I've always sort of liked Barry Bonds -- or rather, hated him, which in sports, as in religion, is the same thing. Let me explain. When Bonds came up, he played for the hated rivals of the Philadelphia Phillies -- the Pittsburgh Pirates. I was still enough of a Phillies partisan at the time that I despised the hustling, good players on the other teams. Bonds fell into that category. Like a Pete Rose or a Willie Stargell or an Andre Dawson, when he came to the plate, he could do damage. Now that I'm somewhat less of a Phillies fan, and something less of a baseball fan, I don't have those passions. I look at Bonds and see a tremendous ballplayer. It's pretty horrible that rather than celebrate what will probably be his last season, baseball has chosen to be ashamed of it.

More next week, unless I track down that Pernod. (Just kidding)

Posted by Ideofact at July 28, 2007 01:37 AM