Their mistake was overestimating Major League Baseball's leaders' preference for restraint, their distaste for ugly public dramas.
Biogenesis, Tony Bosch, Tony's dad, a new character with store-bought pecs and a spray-on tan named Porter Fischer who currently can be found raging against MLB's duplicity, the ballplayers who became clients and their many puppy-dog retrievers, all of them, they never thought MLB – Bud Selig, Rob Manfred, the 15 full-time investigators on the job, many others – would get this dirty.
Banging on doors? Rolling up in smoke-windowed sedans? Throwing grease money around? Flipping witnesses? Bringing muscle?
These are the guys are from Park Avenue?
After a decade of polite earnestness, Selig has unleashed what one insider called the most comprehensive investigation of its sort in the history of sports. The cycling industry might disagree. Nevertheless, Selig has invested millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours into a scandal that could implicate some of the game's biggest names and reputations. If the feds and anti-drug agencies couldn't be bothered, if this was to lie in some hazy no-man's land, in the muck of cheaters and their suppliers, then Selig would go to the muck. OK, he'd order others into the muck.
The commissioner has his flaws. A decade ago he was being pounded for being a bystander as his sport was bursting into flames. Bound by the collective bargaining agreement and a somewhat disinclined players' union, along with a personal instinct that this performance-enhancing-drug thing couldn't be as bad as the alarmists suspected, the fight was slow in developing.
That's changed. And if the casual observer is somewhat surprised at Selig's sudden heavy-handedness, then imagine the astonishment for those who crept around Bosch's office in order to score another solid month or two of OPS. Imagine the dismay of the fine citizens who'd make their living buying, ferrying, selling and covering up the sales of illegal drugs, only to discover they weren't beyond MLB's reach.
Actually, you don't have to imagine.
Fischer, the former Biogenesis investor and employee who swiped Bosch's records and attempted to sell them in order to expose Bosch, told the Miami New Times, "The people running Major League Baseball are the biggest scumbags on earth, as far as I'm concerned."
MLB reached such heights by refusing to pay $1 million or more for the records Fischer allegedly was peddling. The league then withdrew its significantly smaller offers to Fischer when Bosch agreed to cooperate in its investigation. Selig's men had asked Fischer to sign an affidavit, and said they would pay him to do so, vouching for what he knew of the documents. Fischer would not have been a witness in the arbitration process. He would not have testified on any topic. He was merely an informant, one who had inappropriately obtained documents germane to MLB's case, one who frankly could not speak to the information held in those documents. He was just a guy in a bad spot who needed a buck, overplayed his hand, and now – according to the Miami New Times – is living in his mom's house, at 48.
Fischer told the Miami New Times this whole thing is about $4,000 Bosch owed him. So there's that.
The players MLB chases have as much to lose, if not more. Selig's compassion for the odd poor choice, for the misunderstandings, for what a positive test and a big, fat suspension would do for the game's bearing, well, that appears to have hardened. It appears now he'll go to most any length to protect the league (in some ways, from itself), its product, its reputation, and the clean players in it.
So, it pays informants. It twists some arms, you know, metaphorically. Maybe it threatens. Shouldn't it? Shouldn't there be some broad-shouldered, cold-eyed, square-heads out there advising the Bosch types that selling this stuff to professional ballplayers would be bad for business? Shouldn't the professional ballplayers who buy this stuff fear for their jobs? Like, forever?
We're tired of chasing the cheaters into strip malls. The baseline, 50-game suspension isn't deterrent enough. They keep going back to the strip malls. They refuse to honor the game with an honest effort. And so, yeah, if you're in the notebooks Bosch filled, the notebooks Fischer stole, the notebooks shopped for millions, maybe life should be uncomfortable.
On Thursday, the attorney for Alex Rodriguez, Francisco Cervelli and Yasmani Grandal, the attorney who also served Ryan Braun during the player's successful appeal two winters ago, told USA Today it was all so unjust.
"The conduct of Major League Baseball with the Tony Bosch investigation is despicable, unethical and potentially illegal," David Cornwell said.
He might be right.
But, then, it's a filthy business. No one can be trusted. It's a ruthless, ugly game that attracts only the worst kinds of people. So, everybody gets dirty. They just needed to give the boys from Park Avenue a little time to catch up.
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