Bonds still merits his day in court

by: AL BELLO, New York Mets third baseman David Wright is a rising star with his feet firmly on the ground, a Portland adman reports.

Not long ago, it was fashionable in the media to bash Barry Bonds.

Last week, as a federal grand jury failed to indict the San Francisco slugger for perjury or tax evasion, scribes and talk-show hosts took the opposite approach, saying enough is enough; leave the poor guy alone.

While it's true that the feds have bigger fish to fry - i.e., dealers instead of users - they should continue to push to ensure that 'Barr-oids' gets his day in court.

We're not talking about the court of public opinion. Bonds has earned a near-unanimous guilty verdict there, a la the oh-so-innocent O.J. Simpson.

I'm no legal expert, but I did read the book 'Game of Shadows.' The authors nailed down Bonds pretty well there. Is there some reason the government can't get it together and do the same?

• Those who care about the NBA in Seattle are panicking that the SuperSonics are gone. That will be true only if fans in the city don't support the team, or if the new owners can't maneuver a better lease and/or improvements to KeyArena.

By the way: Just because Oklahoma City proved a lively site for the Hornets last season doesn't mean it's a great NBA city. The newness of a franchise wears off after a while - especially if a team loses with regularity.

• Word is that a couple of potential buying groups have signed confidentiality contracts to view the books on the Trail Blazers and Rose Garden. With the Sonics sold for a reported $350 million - that's the team only - perhaps the price of the Blazers and Rose Garden is higher than we thought.

• Hearty congratulations to Portland officials for gaining the 2007 All-Star game. It's been about 20 years since the Blazers were promised the game, then had it taken back by NBA officials who decided - for a short time - to keep the gala in major markets. Former Blazer executive Wally Scales, who worked hard submitting the team's bid, is surely doing cartwheels over the game finally coming to the City of Roses. What's that you say? It's the National Lacrosse League All-Star game? Never mind.

• Representatives of Portland advertising agency Media Cabin got an up-close look at one of baseball's rising young stars, New York Mets third baseman David Wright, earlier this month.

One of Media Cabin's clients, Wilson Sporting Goods, has Wright as a principal endorser. Two days after Wright played for the National League in the All-Star Game, a day after appearing on 'The Late Show With David Letterman,' the 23-year-old stud was at Chicago's Wrigley Field shooting a private video session for Wilson's new Web site.

Media Cabin CEO John Heitkamper and photography director Ethan Shiels spent an hour with Wright and came away impressed.

'Even more so as a person than as a player,' says Heitkamper, 39. 'You can tell the guy came from a really good family. He was at the center of the (baseball) universe that week, and did not show it at all while working with us. What a well-grounded kid.'

Media Cabin's content will appear on beginning Aug. 1.

• Those who attended the July 9 Seattle Mariners-Detroit Tigers game - or watched or listened to the game on TV or radio - probably noticed a familiar voice.

It was 'Turn Back the Clock' day as the Mariners paid tribute to the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the city's first major-league team. The Pilots' radio broadcaster was none other than Bill Schonely, who later reached legendary status as the voice of the Trail Blazers.

Schonely worked two innings of public address and put in stints with the Mariners' TV and radio broadcasting crews. He reunited with several of the former players, along with bullpen coach Eddie O'Brien, who were honored before the game and sat in the owner's suite during the game. Former outfielder Tommy Davis and Schonely threw out the first pitch.

'The Mariners did a superb job of handling things,' says Schonely, 77, now broadcaster emeritus for the Blazers and living at Charbonneau. 'Their players wore retro jerseys, and the organization gave us replica hats and jerseys. They played our theme song during the game, and after the game (won 3-2 by Seattle), the scoreboard read, 'Pilots win! Pilots win!'

'I was absolutely flabbergasted when they asked Tommy and me to throw out the first pitch. It was terrific. I almost cried.'

• It's been a rough year on the ATP doubles circuit for Portland's Travis Parrott, whose world ranking has fallen from 38th to 57th over the last 12 months.

The former University of Portland standout teamed with Vincent Spadea to get to the third round of the French Open, but they lost a tough five-set match in the first round of Wimbledon. Pairing with Jordan Kerr, Parrott lost in the first round at Indianapolis last week.

'I've dropped my last eight super tiebreakers,' says the 6-1, 175-pound Parrott, who turns 26 on Aug. 16. 'I've been kind of streaky, and a lot of close matches haven't gone my way. If you win even 30 percent of those tiebreakers, it makes for a whole different year.'

Parrott and partner Jim Thomas are playing the ATP event in Los Angeles this week. Parrott will play Washington, D.C., the following week and the U.S. Open next month with to-be-determined partners.

In December, Parrott will hit his biggest winner. He is to wed former UP student Kristin DeVita in a ceremony in Portland.

'It's our offseason, and we'll have a nice long honeymoon in Hawaii,' Parrott says. 'I'm definitely looking forward to that.'

• Despite reports from Phoenix that Tommy John surgery is likely, Dallas Buck says he will put off a decision on his injured right elbow for now.

'I'm going to rehab it a little bit and see if it gets better,' says the former Oregon State standout, who was 13-3 with a 3.44 ERA and emerged as winning pitcher in the College World Series championship game against North Carolina despite throwing all season with a partially torn ligament in the elbow. 'Maybe a couple of weeks - I'm not sure. We still might do surgery, too. We'll get it right sooner or later.'

Buck, a third-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks who agreed to a signing bonus of $250,000 three weeks ago, returned to Oregon on Thursday after flying to Phoenix to have an MRI on the elbow. He says surgery or no surgery, it's unlikely he will pitch again this summer.

Perhaps for the only time in the next 15 years or so, Buck will have plenty of free time this summer.

'I've already gone camping a couple of times in central Oregon,' he says. 'It'll be good.'

• OSU's Darwin Barney is hitting .264 (14-for-53) and playing regularly in a utility spot for the U.S. national team, which is 20-2-1 on its tour as it prepares for the World University Championships in Havana, Cuba, Aug. 6 through Aug. 14.

The junior from Southridge High had his biggest day at the plate last Wednesday against Germany, going 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs in a 10-3 win at Athens, Ga. Barney has played all three outfield positions, third base and designated hitter and even pitched an inning of relief - just about everything but his natural spot at shortstop.

• After being promoted to the Double-A Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs of the Eastern League, ex-Oregon State center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was hitting .333 with six stolen bases after 12 games.

After a perfect inning of relief with Danville (Va.) in the rookie Appalachian League, former OSU pitcher Kevin Gunderson was moved up to Rome (Ga.) in the Class A South Atlantic League. Gunderson was a fifth-round pick by Atlanta.

Jonah Nickerson, a seventh-round pick by Detroit, was assigned to Oneonta (N.Y.) in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.

Another ex-Beaver, second baseman Chris Kunda, is off to a slow start at the plate with the Staten Island (N.Y.) Yankees in short-season A ball. Kunda was 6-for-34 (.176) in his first 10 games.

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