Anthony Bosch

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

Joe Blanton signs with the Nationals

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Joe Blanton #55 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on June 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
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Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals have signed Joe Blanton to a one-year contract.

Surprised it took this long given that Blanton was excellent out of the pen for the Dodgers last year, posting a 2.48 ERA and 80/26 K/BB ratio over 80 innings. But even if it’s a late signing, it’s not a terrible one: Blanton will receive a $4 million salary and will have the chance to make an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. UPDATE: The salary structure is kind of odd. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports that Blanton will get only $1 million in 2017, plus some incentives, and will have $1 million deferred to 2018 and $2 million deferred to 2019.

And he got two weeks off work. Bonus!

Baseball doesn’t need gimmicks to draw in young fans. It just needs to be baseball.

MESA, AZ - MARCH 6: Chicago Cubs ball and bat bags are seen prior to the game between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds on March 6, 2015 at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. The Reds defeated the Cubs 5-2. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
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MESA, AZ — I didn’t set out to ask Robin Mitchell about pace of play, rules changes, how to best execute an intentional walk or how to turn kids into baseball fans. I was interviewing her about other stuff. She brought those topics up on her own.

“I heard them saying that they were not going to throw four pitches for intentional walks anymore,” Mitchell said. “I’d prefer that they throw the pitches because anything can happen. There can be wild pitches. And that’s the exciting part of baseball. That you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think we need to speed the game along.”

For most baseball fans such sentiments are tied up with a devotion to baseball purism, tradition or their distaste for change. But such is not the case for Mitchell. While the lifelong Chicago resident went to Cubs games as a child, baseball has not been a lifelong obsession. Rather, it’s something she has become reacquainted with via her two baseball-obsessed boys, Jake, 11, and Bennett, 9.

Mitchell and her boys live on the north side of Chicago and, over the past two years, her sons have developed a huge affinity for the Cubs, almost by osmosis. It was certainly a good time for it, as the Cubs have become winners, and Mitchell allows that since Jake and Bennett didn’t “have to suffer through some of the more challenging times,” their attraction to the game became easier. It’s clear to her, however, that they are not going to be fair weather fans.

“They love baseball,” she said, implying that it’s not just homerism for the current World Series champions at work. They love the sport itself and began to play it too. It’s not easy for Mitchell to say whether their playing led to their fandom or vice-versa. It all sort of happened at once, with each reinforcing the other.

I asked her what about baseball, specifically, appeals to them. What, at a time when Rob Manfred and everyone connected to the game is worried about the sport’s seeming inability to attract and hold on to young fans, keeps Mitchell’s sons engaged.

For them, it seems to be all about accessibility and engagement. Being in Chicago and living close to a park is important, as is having all of the games available on TV. Also important to them: appealing young stars.

“It helps that the Cubs have some really nice players who seem like really nice guys,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes we see them in the neighborhood even. Ben Zobrist. Anthony Rizzo. David Ross. Whenever we’ve seen them out or at an event they’re always kind and polite and give the boys encouraging words.”

But isn’t baseball . . . boring? And slow? Don’t kids like video games and kinetic action? Doesn’t a 19th century pastime with a sometimes turgid pace turn off 21st century kids?

“No, are you kidding?!” Mitchell said. “We don’t leave the game before it’s over. That’s what we do. It doesn’t matter what the score is. We love the pace of baseball. In the world of electronics, with everything moving really fast and being gimmicky, there’s something I think that my boys and I find appealing about baseball. I can share it with them and we all just slow down.”

As we talked, Jake and Bennett ran around a field just outside the Cubs clubhouse, playing catch and practicing rundowns with a couple of other boys they just met. Mitchell and I spoke for nearly a half hour. They played the whole time and looked like they wouldn’t stop unless or until their mother dragged them away.

We have spent a lot of time lately talking about how to fix baseball. I don’t know that anyone has made a compelling case that, despite the challenges the game faces, it is actually broken. Robin Mitchell doesn’t think it is. Neither do Jake and Bennett. While Rob Manfred and Joe Torre propose increasingly unorthodox methods for speeding things up, some pretty basic and longstanding factors are continuing to attract young fans:

  • The availability of games almost every day;
  • An exciting and successful local team;
  • The charisma of baseball’s biggest stars;
  • The ability for kids to play the game themselves and to emulate those stars on a little league field; and
  • The chance for parents to share their love of baseball with their children.

These are the factors which have always made up baseball’s appeal. Perhaps Major League Baseball should concentrate on ensuring that those factors, which are proven to draw in fans, persist and flourish. Perhaps they should concentrate less on chasing hypothetical fans via gimmicks aimed at fixing problems which are far-from-established.