ARod, Braun, Baseball & Bosch: Sounding Off on the Biogenesis Mess

To recap what has been the never-ending baseball story that has dominated the week: ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported that sources familiar with the investigation into the Miami-based Biogenesis clinic that Major League Baseball would move to suspend 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez, for PED-use. OTL also reported that MLB would try to suspend Rodriguez for 100 games. Not much more new information has come to light over the course of the last few days, true. However, we have had some time to think and marinate on the situation. The entire situation- largely based on unnamed sources being quoted, unseen “evidence”, and the immediate emotional response by millions of people on social media- is convoluted, at best, but let’s try and take a stab at some of the issues and questions raised by the latest (and if true, the largest in American sports) PED scandal to rock baseball:

 

After recent embarassments, the Commissioner and MLB better have everything in order. (Image: Andrew Weber, USA TODAY Sports)

Does MLB have enough evidence?

Let’s be honest: yes, MLB wants to clean up the game and try and gain back some credibility for the future of the game that was destroyed during the steroid era.

However, it also is probably fair to acknowledge that as an institution, the league has been embarrassed in a very public fashion regarding three high-profile cases related (if only peripherally) to PED-usage: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds/BALCO and, perhaps most infamous, the Ryan Braun chain-of-custody technical loophole that usurped a positive test. It isn’t public knowledge what the league actually has in its possession in terms of evidence: texts, receipts, emails, phone logs directly linking Biogenesis to a player, not just an associate of a player?-  but I think it would be fair to operate on the assumption that MLB is not prepared to undertake the largest league-led attack on PED use in American sports without adequate evidence. MLB has been embarrassed- very publicly, very badly- at least three, if not more, times previously.

Given the scope of the allegations; the number of players involved; the alleged “two-strike” approach: it would very much behoove MLB to have substantial evidence to corroborate the claims of Tony Bosch, not just his word- which can be very much in doubt in both in the eyes of an arbitration hearing and/or a court of law. Furthermore, the evidence better be as bullet-proof as possible. Let us not forget, Ryan Braun never contested the veracity of the failed sample within the cup, only the chain of custody of the cup itself- a technicality at best, especially since the cup was still sealed. MLB better have all its ducks in a row before going forward. In short: the league better have a smoking gun, or else should spare us the sham that it has the authority or power to actually punish users and make the sport as clean as possible.

 

Is there enough disincentive for players to not use PEDs?

Is the risk of using and getting caught get eradicated by the potential payoff of getting a contract based on inflated PED-induced results? MLB standard contracts do not include PED clauses, and do not become void upon a positive test (also the likely reason the Yankees will still be stuck with ARod’s contract even if a 100 game suspension holds). The players’ union would never approve such a clause- what if a clean player, not a star making a ton of money, had a false positive?

What if a $24 million/year guy had a false positive? That is a lot of dough to lose. If testing is inherently not perfect given that the makers of PEDs will likely always be one step ahead, how can MLB catch users before they sign mega-money deals? And if all money is guaranteed anyway, what is the point? What does the player lose, outside of a reputation? Zip. And a lot of money can make up for a tarnished reputation. Just take a look at Melky Cabrera- a positive test, a bogus website, and that offseason is rewarded with a guaranteed $16 million dollar deal. The reward is worth the risk, it appears.

Short of admitting to everything of which he is accused (and has already denied), ARod isn’t going to be staring down at 100 games away from baseball. (Image: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports)

 

Will Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun actually get 100 suspensions?

Of all things that are 100% clear, this is it: the players, and the union, will absolutely not take this lying down. Neither party is going to buy that this scenario warrants 100 games, the penalty for a second offense. In effect, the claims: 1) being involved with Biogenesis/using the substance and 2) lying to the league about the participation, are two halves of the same whole. One can’t lie about involvement without being involved, and vice versa. It’s the same offense. And again, according to all reports, there is no evidence (thus far) of any smoking gun or direct link to either Braun or ARod.

Short of Tony Bosch having receipts for money taken for injecting ARod in his home in Miami (which has been alleged to have happened), there does not appear (yet, anyway) to be a direct corroboration of Bosch’s claims. Further, if we want to get technical, this is really only a first offense for both- Braun’s test was dismissed as a consequence of the chain of custody issues, and ARod was never tested for anything other than a baseline test in the early 2000s as part of a broader investigation into PED use in MLB. Moreover, both of these tests were supposed to have been confidential, and were leaked, in a direct contradiction of the privacy meant to protect players who have tested false positive. (Again, Braun’s attorney never questioned the content of the sealed container and the positive result so much has where it was/who handled it, and ARod admitted to using PEDs during his Texas days.) Ergo, those instances never existed in the eyes of the rules of PED use. In the present absence of evidence, the stretch of the “second offense,” all boiling down to a he-said, he-said, it’s likely that if any (hotly contested by both the most powerful union in all of sports and the most expensive lawyers money can buy) suspension comes down, it will only be 50 games, in line with a first offense. With so much at stake for the players, and given the exhaustive investigation and appeals process, this will be dragging for a while.

 

Ryan Braun is among the 20 playerse that MLB is seeking to suspend, according to an OTL report linking him with Biogenesis. (Image: Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports)

Will Alex Rodriguez ever play in pinstripes again?

I genuinely do not know. Not only is there no PED clause in a standard MLB contract, reports have indicated that there is no such clause, nor reference to, any PED usage or penalties in ARod’s deal. In all likelihood, the Yankees are stuck with the contract, barring a mutually-agreed upon buyout. (Again, why would ARod agree? He is guaranteed the money, and $100 million dollars is a lot of money, regardless of the booing he will surely get. He can’t be sent to the minors without his consent because of his service time, and he has a no-trade, and who would want him? He holds all the cards, folks.)

However, it is no surprise that ARod has fallen out of favor- with fans; with GM Brian Cashman, who had some strong shots at ARod to the media this weekend; and even with owner Hal Steinbrenner, who said that the organization was “disappointed” in Rodriguez. (It is still unclear as to whether or not the Yankees knew about the OTL report, as the comments were made the day before the news broke, and if the comments of both the GM and owner were related to the imminent OTL report.) The only relief the Yankees could get is a $15 million “refund” should ARod not play this season. Regardless of my personal feelings on the subject, I find it hard to fathom how he plays in the Bronx again, but I also don’t know how he doesn’t/where he goes/how they make him go away, either. I think we are past the point of, “I am sorry.” ARod had his second chance; most thoughtful fans realize that his recent decline is the result of breaking down and advanced age, and that no person could ever live up to the contract he was given, let alone at the age he signed it/amount of money/expectations associated with it. That is not his fault. However, if the reports are true, and Rodriguez is connected to Biogenesis- he has no kick coming. The nail in his coffin will be of his own doing, and he has no right to expect any sort of sympathy, empathy, or forgiveness from baseball fans, not just Yankees fans, who he duped (twice)- again, if he is guilty.

 

We all the love game of baseball… but do you care about the PED issue anymore? (Image: Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports)

As a baseball fan, do you even care about the PED storyline anymore?

I’ve put my thoughts down about the PED issue here. My central premise remains the same: I don’t know if sports, not just baseball, can ever be truly clean, as much as I would hope them to be. As baseball became an important interest for me, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were in the throes of hitting a combined 125 home runs over the course of the season. I grew up as a baseball fan in an era were PEDs were all over the game, and the league chose to look the other way (ironic, no?) in order to restore the game after the season-ending strike in 1994 that cost the league a World Series. I would like the game to be clean, but I don’t see how.

I am sure more players are using than those 20 whom MLB will try to suspend- it’s just that testing hasn’t caught up to whatever drugs they are using. I want to add, “yet”, but I don’t know if that will happen, either. Until MLB actually has bite to the punishments- losing money? Banned from the game?- players will continue to use in an effort to get even one big check. As a fan to the league, don’t talk to me about how tough you are on performance-enhancing drugs until there are actual punishments for players, where they really feel the sting enough to realize not to use PEDs again. Without actual teeth to the rules, they’re just words, and make the game no cleaner. Spare me the dog and pony show. Either toughen up the sanctions, or stop pretending to care. Just don’t assume fans aren’t going to see right through the sham of policies and procedures (up until the news the other night) meant to clean up the game. Baseball fans are smarter than that. If you’re going to do something about PEDs, MLB, then actually do it.

 

But that’s just me- maybe I’m too much of an altruist. Maybe I am naïve enough to think that a clean game is a possibility. Maybe I just would like the guys performing these incredible feats- the long home run, the huge home run numbers, the 100+ mph fastball- to be achieved by a sheer force of strength and talent that I cannot possess and upon which I can only marvel. For me, more than anything, this whole mess isn’t a “black eye” to me, it’s just sad. It just takes away from a sport that I love above any other, and one that is beginning to be a punchline.

 

What about you, baseball fans? What is your take on this mess? Do you care? Do you have an opinion? Sound off below and tell us here at Yanks Go Yard what you think about the Biogenesis mess.

 

Topics: New York Yankees

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  • banpeds

    Word travels fast… all the clean players and now managers know whats coming and are speaking out. Every team has players talking about it now. They are raising issues none of us have even thought about .

    By Martin Fennelly | Tampa Tribune Staff
    Published: June 7, 2013
    ST. PETERSBURG – A storm is coming. You wouldn’t have known it Friday, as the Rays and Orioles gathered at Tropicana Field — or in the 14 other ballparks where series are being played this weekend.

    But the storm is coming. It’s going to be a whopper.

    The Biogenesis PED scandal is about to bust open. Major League Baseball has turned seedy dude Tony Bosch. He’s going to inform. Bud Selig will be lighting cigars with 100-game suspensions. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and others look like goners. It’ll be the biggest drug bust in baseball history. The game’s lawyers have issued subpoenas for phone records. Gosh, couldn’t they just call the NSA and get them?

    A storm is coming. It will be historic.

    “It’s going to have some kind of connection to the Black Sox scandal,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s going to resound that way.”

    Good.

    There’s no way this game should allow a second generation of steroids cowboys. The last one, the days of Bonds and McGwire and Clemens and Palmeiro, tainted an entire era.

    It’s true that there are a lot of you yawning right about now. Who cares about steroids anymore?

    Well, we should care.

    One of baseball’s darkest days is on its way. And it should be.

    “It’s no one in here, no one on this team,” Rays all-purpose man Kelly Johnson said. “But it’s good if it happens. It’s only a matter of time before we make this completely clean. We’re not there yet, but this will be another step. But it’s going to be such a weird and unprecedented deal.”

    The storm is coming. And when it is over, A-Rod will look like a bigger snake than he is now, which is saying something, and Braun will look like the rascal in chief, having denied PED use again and again. He’ll be Lance Armstrong without the bicycle.

    “This is going to be a bit of a mess between baseball and the union,” said Rays outfielder Sam Fuld. He’s right. Baseball is risking labor peace in becoming a PED avenger, going after past users who’ve mostly beaten the testing system.

    Who cares?

    The sense I get is that the time has come, that there are actually ballplayers who are clean, lots of them, and they’re tired of holding their noses as the union defends some of these cheaters.

    “I think we’re all happy that they’re continuing to weed out some cheaters, eliminate the cheating,” Fuld said.

    There’s a storm coming, a big one.

    It didn’t have to be that way. If only Selig and baseball owners and players had been even remotely interested in cracking down on steroids, before McGwire and Sosa bashed their way through the summer of love in 1998, or Bonds, with a hat size equal to Mr. Potato Head, rode into the records books. We wouldn’t be in this current mess.

    “I do believe this is probably going to be the last mega-storm to hit us,” Maddon said. “I think after this, and if the punishments are harsh enough, no one is going to want to go down that path again.”

    I’m not sure that 100-game suspensions will be enough. Melky Cabrera was suspended last season. He then signed for two years and $16 million with Toronto. These losers just keep on winning.

    It’s about integrity and right from wrong. It’s about swinging a real hammer. We stood by and watched the last steroids generation soil the game, even if it didn’t put a dent in attendance. We don’t need two steroids generations.

    Maddon made a great point, Rays-wise.

    “It matters because the level playing field is what permits the Rays to be consistent contenders,” he said.

    The logic: The rich teams go after the big numbers guys, whether the numbers are drug-inflated or not, which drives up the prices on even the clean guys, who the Rays already can’t afford.

    “With PEDs part of the game, it totally prevents us from being able to win consistently,” Maddon said.

    Plus, it’s cheating. And it’s time to stop it.

    Enjoy the games, but know this well:

    A storm is coming.

    I’ll ask Arod one question, if you didnt do anything why would you need all these attorneys? Seems Braun and Arod may choose to go it alone IMO… Stange bed partners those 2 will make… If I was Braun I would’ve told his attorneys keep Arod away from us please…
    with phone records, texts and emails he exchanged with players that are believed to establish extensive relationships with those players involved. MLB is establishing its case with a combination of the Biogenesis documents they acquired over the past few months, testimony from Bosch and other associates, partners, employees, the materials Bosch has provided, and the cooperation of minor league players trying to reduce their suspensions.

    Tony B and his business partners/associates are saying they will appear as witnesses if a player challenges a suspension through arbitration and the information they have provided. Don’t forget the pictures. .

    It also appears MLB will not have to wait for players to exhaust due process before announcing suspensions, per baseball’s revised Drug Agreement. Usually when a player fails a test for PEDS, the suspension is only announced when a player accepts the punishment or his appeal is denied in arbitration, meaning it could be months between the failed test and any public announcement. In almost all these BioGen cases involving non analytical association/use of PEDS by players, MLB is allowed to announce the suspensions immediately per the revised Joint Drug agreement and before the player decides whether he will appeal and the appeal process is complete.

    It appears that every player involved and being suspended could be all announced at the same time.

    Not every player appears to be lawyering up either, which says they know what is coming. It’s also being reported that Union attorneys have been present at all interviews with Tony B, associates and other witnesses the past few weeks. MLB has to got be feeling that it has the evidence they need to be allowing Union attorneys to be present at this point, with the hope that the Union Folks advise their players to cooperate or tell them its not looking good for you guys. The union is also telling its players to keep quite also.

    IMO players will be faced with a few decisions, depending on how extensive their involvement or use was. They are not going to be given a lot of time to make a decision or the opportunity to discuss their case in much detail, unless they admit and agree to no appeal. I’m sure they will get to see the most damaging information MLB has acquired on them to help them make their decisions. So if a players feels they did nothing wrong they should tell MLB to take a hike and I’ll see you in arbitration.

    1. The opportunity to agree and cooperate and possible immunity from any suspension if they do so.

    2. Admit involvement and Agree not to appeal and accept suspensions of 10-100 games depending on previous involvement with PEDS or lying.

    3. Appeal though arbitration.

    Taking any of this into the Court system at this point is not an option for either side per the MLB Players Agreement. It is one reason MLB did not include the MLPA in its tortious interference lawsuit it filed against BioGen, Tony B and others, which yesterday was allowed to continue and gave validity to MLB’s lawsuit. The Arbitration process also does not require the same level or burdens of proof as the legal system. Its more like civil cases in which its determined what is most likely to have occurred. Players who are suspended could eventually file lawsuits but The courts have been historically hesitant to interfere with decisions rendered by jointly approved arbitrators per existing labor agreements.

    I’m hearing suspensions could start coming as soon as late next week, although I believe it will be more like 2-4 weeks. MLB appears to want this done before the All Star break and also wants Teams to know where they stand well before the trade deadline so they can figure out what to do. MLB and the Teams definitely don’t want it interfering with the trade deadline and they also don’t want the 10-50 game variety suspensions (majority of players involved) lingering into next year.

    IMO MLB wants to try and stay away from the 100 game ones or permanent suspensions and IMO do not think there will be many and odds are those players will be the ones that might be appealing also. I think it’s also possible that if they all accept 50 games then they will all be done, including Arod and Braun. I believe MLB wants PEDS gone and its not about individual vendettas, although that’s how the media tends to portray it.

    If I was the players involved and they did do what they are being accused of and if the proof exists, I would stand as one, accept thier suspensions, apologize, serve there suspensions and get back to playing this year. Most players would have 30/40 or so games left this year after serving their suspensions. They could also stand with a group of players jointly, who are not involved and they all, along with MLB and the Union could stand as one saying they are all doing everyhting to rid the Game of PEDS. That would be one way put this latest ugly mess of PEDS use behind everyone and truly would demonstrate what is good for the game and in its bests interests by everyone involved. IMO, If guys like Braun and AROD try to fight on, their legacy will be one of dragging the entire mess on longer instead of doing the right thing. Not only will they have to deal with those who did cooperate and accept, but the fans and all the clean players in the game.
    Some recent news on the Peds Story. It’s interesting how Arod’s and Bruan’s Attorney has spoken out and how MLB publicly responded Last night. Seems they have the goods on the whole Braun cover story of his attorney using Tony B as a consultant (“At the conclusion of this investigation we hope that there will be a full airing of what we have learned about what Mr. Cornwell and his clients have done”). I doubt Cornwell has any idea how much evidence MLB has and who has said what. He’s assuming the public and fans will buy the whole line that Tony B is a sc..bag. If so, why did he and Bruan come up as using Tony B as a consultant- makes no sense.

    Suspensions are coming real soon… my best guess is still before the All Star Game. Almost any story out there is getting the legalities wrong on who can appeal, how they can appeal, the JDA agreement, etc.. This is not Court, its arbitration and it will be near impossible for this to end up in court. All anything MLB needs to punish these players if they are involved, is a preponderance of Evidence or Most likely to have occurred. The players can have all the lawyers they want, but its not court.

    I think that Selig will use the Best Interest of Baseball powers in conjunction with the JDA and that act alone will be very important as this plays out. It appears that Arod and Braun will be interviewed shortly and possibly the last ones to be interviewed. They will be showing up not knowing what any other players or witness have said in terms of corroborating all the evidence and witness statements. The guy Porter Fisher was first reported on in March as being involved and he has been one of many who has been cooperating for some time.

    It is amazing to me just how many in the media or even fans are trying to protect these players. They speak without knowing 10% of what is known or the facts that have been reported. They speak as if PEDS is not a problem. The Stuff is illegal in this county last I knew without a prescription. Bosch and his cronies may not be the most upstanding people, but what does it make the players and their advisors who have dealt with them. One cannot say all these people and witness’s are all lying and cannot be trusted when you have so many players involved with them. IMO opinion very few players will be appealing, probably only AROD and Braun if they are suspended. I can see both of them not appealing also in return for only 50 games.

    If anyone is interested in what other players that may be involved, look for who Aces player agency represents. At last count there is about 10 names already part of this investigation represented by them. A former employee of theirs has ties to Tony Bosch and BioGen also and is talking with MLB. MLB has a parallel investigation going on regarding that firm and thier involvement with PEDS knowingly or unknowingly. Former catcher Paul Lo Duca claims ACES set up a meeting for him to purchase PEDs in his playing days.

    Quick Hits: Biogenesis, Boldt, Astros, Ramirez
    By Jeff Todd [June 19, 2013 at 9:44pm CST]
    With today’s news that MLB could be looking to fast-track suspensions relating to the Biogenesis PED scandal, it is worth reading USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale’s look ahead at the arbitration process that will have a major role in how things play out. As previous arbitrator Shyam Das explained to Nightengale, newly-minted arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will be entering “somewhat uncharted waters” as he assesses whether the evidence warrants whatever suspensions are ultimately leveled. You may also be interested in reading this interesting account (from Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times) of how whistleblower Porter Fischer blew the lid on the Biogenesis clinic.

    Bob Nightengale and Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY Sports 8:52 a.m. EDT June 20, 2013
    Alex Rodriguez’s attorney says MLB’s investigation of the Biogenesis scandal is “unethical.”

    David Cornwell, the attorney who represents New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez in Major League Baseball’s investigation of the Biogenesis clinic, accused baseball officials of unethical behavior Wednesday, prompting MLB to levy its own condemnation.

    Cornwell, who also represents catchers Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees and Yasmani Grandal of the San Diego Padres in the investigation, told USA TODAY Sports that the information gathered by paying Biogenesis director Tony Bosch and associates is “irreparably tainted.”

    “The conduct of Major League Baseball with the Tony Bosch investigation,” Cornwell said, “is despicable, unethical and potentially illegal. Paying for evidence. Offering to pay for evidence. Intimidating witnesses.

    “One thing we know: that evidence is unreliable. They have tainted the evidence beyond the point that you can rely on it, from their own conduct. And it’s because of this hysterical reaction to the concept [that players procured performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch's anti-aging clinic].

    “It’s absurd.”

    MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said he welcomes the opportunity to unveil their findings. The league is preparing for what could be a protracted battle should it attempt to suspend players linked to Biogenesis.

    “At the conclusion of this investigation we hope that there will be a full airing of what we have learned about what Mr. Cornwell and his clients have done,” Manfred told USA TODAY Sports, “so that the public can decide who has behaved despicably, unethically and illegally.”
    Major League Baseball has dismissed another defendant from the lawsuit it filed against Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch and his associates. MLB lawyers filed papers in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court last Friday dismissing Marcelo Albir, a former University of Miami baseball player, from the tortious interference lawsuit filed in March.

    Albir was teammate of Ryan Bruans at U of Miami, along with Carrillo. It’s not a stretch to assume he cooperated and gave MLB what he knew about the distribution of PEDS to MLB players.

    It appears MLB has also gathered more evidence than it feels it needs for any player appeal, outside of what Tony B and his partners are still providing. Him and his partners appear to have been verifying all MLB knew and had collected and its all checking out. They may not even use Tony B or BioGen employees if any arbitration hearing were to take place and not because player attorneys, some in the press and others think they have no credibility. 80% of criminal cases are solved and convicted by less than pristine witnesses providing testimony or evidence. Its all a matter of whether it can be corroborated or reasonably believed.

    Out of all of them IMO, If AROD did anything this time, he should be banned. He’s an admitted known user and liar already. It also seems his rehab is going great and this mess aside, he may be back right after the All Star break.