Get ready for the resurrection of Anthony Bosch’s character

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When the Biogenesis story hit back in January, one of the primary narratives that emerged from it among the baseball commentariat was that A-Rod, Ryan Braun and others were awful for, among many other reasons, getting in bed with a shady weasel like Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis. And words were not spared on just how sleazy Bosch was supposed to be. Here are some phrases describing him from Mike Lupica’s February 6 column:

  • “a two-bit South Florida scammer and drug pusher named Anthony Bosch”
  • “a guy you now imagine is a couple of steps away from working out of his garage”
  • “a lawyer with an 800 number he sees in a late-night television commercial”
  • “a ‘medical’ consultant”
  • “a known drug dealer like Anthony Bosch”
  • “a small-time ‘biochemist’ named Anthony Bosch”
  • “Bosch the ‘biochemist'”
  • “a PED pusher like Anthony Bosch”

Note the scare quotes and the utter disdain for Bosch dripping off of every word. The guy is clearly a slime in Lupica’s eyes. But then note this passage toward the end:

There is only one way for Major League Baseball and for the rest of us to get the answers we need on Bosch the “biochemist” and Braun and A-Rod and all the other misunderstood ballplayers who have made the PED version of the Dean’s List, known as Bosch’s List: Get everybody in front of a grand jury and make them tell their stories under oath, not to their PR men. Make them all explain why they were associating with a PED pusher like Anthony Bosch in the first place.

But now, today, Lupica is far less dismissive of Bosch’s word and, apparently, no longer thinks that the “only way” for Major League Baseball to learn about Biogenesis is to hear from the players in a law enforcement setting. To the contrary, he sees Bosch’s own words — as spilled to Major League Baseball in a decidedly non-legal setting — as potentially sufficient basis for suspending A-Rod for 100 games, voiding his contract and ending his career (a prospect Lupica is positively giddy about):

If Anthony Bosch, the anti-aging king of South Florida and alleged distributor of baseball drugs, really is about to flip and really is about to cooperate fully with Major League Baseball, then Bosch becomes the worst nightmare for all of the players whose names appeared in his books. It means all those named in the original Miami New Times article about Bosch and all his baseball friends. There have been other guys who flipped in the past in stories like these. Never the guy dealing the drugs. Never the kingpin.

Now he’s not some sleazy, two-bit hustler working out of his garage. He’s a kingpin! The center of a vast drug empire whose cooperation would be invaluable and unprecedented.* Yes, Lupica does still have a poor opinion of Bosch — he calls him a “two-bit scammer” and says Bosch “looks more like some loser on Collins Ave. trying to give you a tip on the third race at Hialeah” — but he nonetheless identifies him as the man whose word — and his word alone — can and should form the basis of unprecedented and maximal discipline against scores of major leaguers.

And more importantly, nowhere does Lupica acknowledge that maybe — just maybe — said discipline should not rest on just the words of Anthony Bosch. He is not a bit skeptical of a case built on that foundation. Not a bit skeptical of Major League Baseball’s motives here. He does not acknowledge that Major League Baseball is not law enforcement and cannot be presumed to have law enforcement’s fact-finding, justice-doing motives. Indeed, in using Bosch to build its case against A-Rod and Braun MLB is far closer to Ryan Braun’s alleged legal consultations with Bosch than it is to cops talking to an informant. And Lupica considered the notion of Braun consulting with Bosch to be preposterous. It’s not so preposterous now, apparently. It’s the first step on the march to justice and comeuppance for some players Lupica hates.

Watch that pattern unfold all over the place in the coming days. The rehabilitation of Anthony Bosch. The guy who everyone and his brother considered a sleazeball back in January, but who now is the man whose word and his word alone is supposed to form the basis of a righteous case against the ballplayers. Watch as very few are critical of Major League Baseball’s case against those ballplayers because, it seems, Anthony Bosch is to be trusted for some reason.

*Note: it would not be unprecedented, as PED dealers Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee previously cooperated with MLB

Must-Click Link: Do the players even care about money anymore?

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Yesterday I wrote about how the union has come to find itself in the extraordinarily weak position it’s in. The upshot: their leadership and their membership, happily wealthy by virtue of gains realized in the 1970s-1990s, has chosen to focus on small, day-to-day, quality of life issues rather than big-picture financial issues. As a result, ownership has cleaned their clock in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. If the union is to ever get back the considerable amount of ground it has lost over the past 15 years, it’ll require a ton of hard work and perhaps drastic measures.

A few hours later, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan dropped an absolute must-read that expands on that topic. Through weeks of interviews with league officials, agents and players, he explains why the free agent market is as bad as it is for players right now and why so many of them and so many fans seem not to understand just how bad a spot the players are in, business wise.

Passan keys on the media’s credulousness regarding teams’ stated rationales for not spending in free agency. About how, with even a little bit of scrutiny, the “[Team] wants to get below the luxury tax” argument makes no sense. About how the claim that this is a weak free agent class, however true that may be, does not explain why so few players are being signed.  About how so few teams seem interested in actually competing and how fans, somehow, seem totally OK with it.

Passan makes a compelling argument, backed by multiple sources, that, even if there is a lot of money flowing around, the fundamental financial model of the game is broken. The young players are the most valuable but are paid pennies while players with 6-10 years service time are the least valuable yet are the ones, theoretically anyway, positioned to make the most money. The owners have figured it out. The union has dropped the ball as it has worried about, well, whatever the heck it is worried about. The killer passage on all of this is damning in this regard:

During the negotiations leading to the 2016 basic agreement that governs baseball, officials at MLB left bargaining stupefied almost on a daily basis. Something had changed at the MLBPA, and the league couldn’t help but beam at its good fortune: The core principle that for decades guided the union no longer seemed a priority.

“It was like they didn’t care about money anymore,” one league official said.

Personally, I don’t believe that they don’t care about money anymore. I think the union has simply dropped the ball on educating its membership about the business structure of the game and the stakes involved with any given rule in the CBA. I think that they either so not understand the financial implications of that to which they have agreed or are indifferent to them because they do not understand their scope and long term impact.

It’s a union’s job to educate its membership about the big issues that may escape any one member’s notice — like the long term effects of a decision about the luxury tax or amateur and international salary caps — and convince them that it’s worth fighting for. Does the MLBPA do that? Does it even try? If it hasn’t tried for the past couple of cycles and it suddenly starts to now, will there be a player civil war, with some not caring to jeopardize their short term well-being for the long term gain of the players who follow them?

If you care at all about the business and financial aspects of the game, Passan’s article is essential.