– Former MLB OF Barry Bonds will remain free while he appeals his conviction for giving misleading testimony before a grand jury. A federal judge handed Bonds a sentence of 30 days of house arrest, two years of probation and 250 hours of community service on Friday, then delayed the sentence pending an appeal likely to take a year or more. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston also put on hold a $4K fine against Bonds for his obstruction of justice conviction arising from a grand jury appearance eight years ago. Prosecutors wanted the home run king to spend 15 months in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella argued that home confinement wasn’t punishment enough, “for a man with a 15,000 square foot house with all the advantages.” Bonds lives on an estate in Beverly Hills.
A jury convicted Bonds in April of purposely answering questions about steroids with rambling non sequiturs in an attempt to mislead a grand jury investigating sports doping in December 2003. Bonds’ trial jury failed to reach a verdict on three other charges accusing Bonds of lying when he denied taking performance-enhancing drugs and when he denied receiving injections from someone other than his doctor. Prosecutors in September dropped those deadlocked charges, giving up on another trial.
Bonds, Major League Baseball’s career leader with 762 home runs, now has 14 days to file his intention to appeal his conviction. Bonds is the highest-profile defendant, and the last, to come out of the government’s investigation of the steroids distribution ring built around the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, founded by Victor Conte. Besides the former National League MVP, 10 people were convicted of various charges. Six of them, including track star Marion Jones, were ensnared for lying to grand jurors, federal investigators or the court. Others, including Bonds’ personal trainer Greg Anderson, pleaded guilty to steroid distribution charges. Bonds was one of two former baseball superstars to stand trial in doping-related cases this year. The trial of pitcher Roger Clemens was halted after just two days in July because prosecutors used inadmissible evidence. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has set a new trial for April 17.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Reds have the Athletics’ LHP Gio Gonzalez, Padres’ RHP Mat Latos and Braves’ RHP Jair Jurrjens on their wish list of trade targets. The Reds are known to be desperate for a starting pitcher. Rosenthal notes that the Reds have talked to the Rays about RHP James Shields and RHP Wade Davis, but that Shields is “out of reach” and they want to shoot higher than Davis.
– Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that Tigers’ RHP Al Alburquerque (elbow) has undergone surgery to have a screw inserted into his pitching elbow to repair a non-displaced stress fracture. He’s expected to start throwing towards the end of spring training but won’t be ready to pitch for the Tigers until around the All-Star break. Alburquerque spent time on the DL this past season with inflammation in his elbow, but finished strong by now allowing a run in 15 second-half appearances. It’s a big blow to the Tigers’ bullpen, and could be why they signed RHP Octavio Dotel this winter.
– TMZ is reporting that Lakers’ G Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, has filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. TMZ says papers were filed on Friday. The two had not agreed to a prenup, so Vanessa is in for a big payday. It’ll be interesting to see how the divorce will affect his play.
– Celtics’ F Jeff Green (heart) appears likely to miss significant time, according to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. Washburn made the comment on Twitter Friday night, while Doc Rivers said “I’ll let you guess.” Stay tuned.
– The Heat have signed head coach Erik Spoelstra, 41, to a contract extension. Spoelstra is beginning his fourth season as coach and his 17th season with the team overall. In his first three seasons, Spoelstra has gone 148-98 in regular-season games, 18-15 in playoff games. A year ago, he led the Heat to a 58-24 mark and a 14-7 record in the post-season, where Miami lost the NBA finals to Dallas in six games.
– Cavaliers’ G Baron Davis, who was waived by the team, is expected to clear waivers on Friday night, making him a free agent. The Knicks are said to be interested, while Davis’ back injury may not be as severe as originally believed. Sources tell Chris Sheridan that Davis could be available to play within 2 weeks, not the 8-10 week timeframe originally discussed by his agent. Sheridan thinks there are a growing number of skeptics that believe that the severity of Davis’s injury is being fabricated in an attempt to scare off would-be bidders so that Davis can slip through the waivers process unclaimed, which would allow him to choose his next team. The Knicks have also reportedly expressed interest in G Michael Redd, F Troy Murphy and/or G DeShawn Stevenson as well.
– Sources are telling the NY Post that the Knicks are interested in F Travis Outlaw if he clears the amnesty waiver process. All teams under the salary cap would have first shot at Outlaw via a bidding process before the Knicks could make a claim. The Knicks are believed to be interested in adding another forward to the team. If he does end up in New York, he’ll come off the bench to begin the season.
– The Jazz have signed F Josh Howard, pending a physical. Howard will make significantly less than the $17M he made last season.
– The Mavericks have waived G Andy Rautins five days after he was acquired in a three-team trade that sent F Tyson Chandler to the Knicks. Rautins was a second-round pick out of Syracuse by the Knicks in 2010.
– Police said Friday that they’ve charged former NHL player and coach Mike Milbury with assaulting a 12-year-old peewee hockey player who was jawing with his son. Brookline police Capt. Tom Keaveney said Milbury, an assistant coach on his son’s team, allegedly grabbed, threatened and shook the opposing player as the teams were shooting around following a December 9 game at a Boston-area rink. The boy wasn’t hurt, Keaveney said. Keaveney said police learned about the alleged assault from a parent who wasn’t there, but heard about it afterward. He said officers interviewed witnesses, including the alleged victim, before bringing charges. Milbury, 59, will be summoned to court to face misdemeanour charges including assault and battery on a 12-year-old, threats to commit a crime and disorderly conduct, he said. Keaveney said police have video evidence of the alleged attack. But Milbury denied an assault “of any kind,” in a statement from his lawyer, saying:
“This message is being released on behalf of Mike Milbury regarding the events reported today. Mike Milbury denies any allegations that there was an assault of any kind. He simply intervened in an altercation between his son and an opposing player. No one was struck, no one was injured and no one was threatened.”
– The Devils have retired former D Scott Niedermayer’s No. 27 jersey on Friday night. Niedermayer, drafted by New Jersey with their 1st-round pick and third overall in 1991, helped the team to win three Stanley Cups. He joins two other defencemen — Ken Daneyko (No. 3) and Scott Stevens (No. 4) — as the only players in the team’s 30-year history to hold such an honour. In 13 seasons with the Devils, Niedermayer collected 101 goals and 364 assists, posting career bests of 14 goals twice in 1998 and his final year in New Jersey in 2004, the same year he won the Norris Trophy.
“I didn’t even know where New Jersey was. I had no idea what I was getting into. I actually had a green and red Devils’ jersey when I was a kid and I remember watching one playoff run (1987) where I really got caught up in the excitement. I also knew some of the players. But when I got drafted, I was totally young and green. It was a whole new world to me.”
“When I was first drafted and came to New Jersey, they were in my first dressing room. I got the chance to watch and learn from those veteran defencemen. I got to room with both of them at one point. I had very little pressure or expectations and because I played with those guys, it made it a lot easier. They were both great teammates and friends. I was never afraid to go onto the ice with them. It’s a great honour for me to join those guys, for sure.”
“When I got the call from Lou that they were doing this, I was honoured. It really meant a lot to me. The time I spent here was amazing. We were able to win championships. It brings back so many of the memories. It’s hitting home now. I’m seeing so many familiar faces. I’m sure the emotions are going to start to flow. It’s a great honour. Joining this organization was great. It was better than any of my wildest dreams.”
“I was still young enough at the time that I really didn’t appreciate it. I was just out there, having a good time and we were fortunate to win a championship that early in my career. Everyone loves scoring a goal. Winning that first championship was amazing. We truly believed in ourselves. Skating always allowed me to have some success. It would sometimes get me into trouble, but it would also get me out of trouble. My skating was my strength and it helped me in all areas of the game. I took advantage of it when I could.”
“I open the gate for my kids to get on the ice and I pick up the pucks after practice. I’m helping my sons’ teams, coaching a little, and I enjoy that. It’s one of the reasons why I decided to retire was to be with my sons. I definitely miss the game, but I enjoy doing what I do now.”
– The Panthers are reportedly interested in Coyotes’ F Kyle Turris. Interest in Turris has picked up steam yet again, and a trade could happen at any time. It’s believed that Turris doesn’t want to play in Phoenix, but the team isn’t expected to trade him unless they get a return package to their liking. Turris didn’t make his season debut until December 1 due to a contract holdout (he signed a 2-year/$2.8M contract) when he was still an RFA.
– Flyers’ F Matt Read (upper body injury) suffered a concussion in November. Read was forced to miss three games.
– Speaking to The Celebrity Cafe, former WWE Women’s Champion Chyna says she has not retired from the professional wrestling industry. Chyna said:
“In the wrestling world, as long as people keep me in their hearts, then I will never truly be retired from wrestling. If the opportunity arose to step back in the squared circle, I think I have one more match in me.”
– WWE developmental wrestler Seth Rollins will be traveling with the main WWE roster during the post-holiday live events beginning December 26 so producers and management can evaluate him firsthand. Company officials have also given thought in recent weeks to calling Rollins up to the main roster permanently.