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

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.