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Is Bonds going after Schilling?

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  August 14, 2007 05:50 PM

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Is Barry Bonds getting ready to take on Curt Schilling?

The Oakland Tribune's web site, InsideBayArea.com, reported today that Bonds hired Bay Area attorneys Todd Schneider and John Burris to defend him against false statements about his alleged steroid use and tax evasion made by private citizens.

According to Burris, Bonds does not intend to go after media publications, rather the Giants slugger wants to stop those who might think they know something from telling a false story.

"Barry is basically saying that he has been kicked around a lot and he is tired of being kicked around," Burris told the paper. "Our issue is really about statements that are made that are attributed to him that are not true. Particularly, statements that someone might say he made about the use of steroids or tax evasion."

According to a report in today's San Jose Mercury News, Bonds began seeking civil rights representation three weeks ago after Schilling criticized him in an interview with HBO's Bob Costas.

"This is directed at Schilling more than anybody," said criminal defense attorney Michael Rains, who is representing Bonds in a grand jury investigation stemming from the BALCO case.

"Schilling said some things that were inappropriate and potentially defamatory. I know it was upsetting to Barry. We talked about the issue and I know he was talking to some civil lawyers to put people on notice that he has someone defending him." ...

"While pursuing Hank Aaron's home run record, Barry felt that it was more prudent to remain silent," the release stated. "Now that the record has been broken, Burris and Schneider will evaluate any and all statements attributed to him that are false. His attorneys are particularly concerned about individuals profiting from his accomplishments by attributing statements and/or conversations to him that never occurred."

Schilling, in a May 8 appearance on sports radio WEEI’s "Dennis and Callahan" show, was asked if baseball fans should hold their noses while watching Bonds’s pursuit of Aaron’s home run record.

“Oh yeah. I would think so. I mean, he admitted that he used steroids,” Schilling said. “I mean, there’s no gray area. He admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes, and cheating on the game, so I think the reaction around the league, the game, being what it is, in the case of what people think. Hank Aaron not being there. The commissioner [Bud Selig] trying to figure out where to be. It’s sad."

Schilling later apologized for those comments in an entry on his blog, 38Pitches.com.

Schilling also told Costas that Bonds's refusal to sue the authors of "Game of Shadows" was tantamount to admitting that the reporting in the book was accurate.

"If I wrote a book about Bob Costas and in that book I wrote about Bob Costas's girlfriend being on the road, and Bob Costas giving that girlfriend card show money and I outlined your daily steroid regimen, I've got to believe your first line of defense is to sue my [butt] off," Schilling said.

Bonds responded at the time that "my day will come."

But his day may not come in the courtroom, according to the Mercury News:

Despite the threats and two-page statement, some legal experts said the move is more stunt than substance.

``It's not likely to have any legal weight,'' said Stephen Barnett, professor emeritus at the Boalt Law School at the University of California-Berkeley. ``For one thing, the statement has to be false. And since Bonds is a public figure, that statement would have to be knowingly or recklessly false.''

Barnett said that Bonds would have to prove in court that a statement made by someone is false which could result in a trial about his steroid use, a situation Bonds might not want to endure.

Information from the Oakland Tribune and the San Jose Mercury News was used in this report.

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