Lester Munson, ESPN’s legal analyst, is a humdinger.
He was so monumentally and repeatedly wrong in analyzing the Barry Bonds case that people were embarrassed for him. He was wildly incorrect about evidentiary rulings. And he wasn’t merely mistaken about them. He was so awfully mistaken about them that it was clear to anyone who understood the issues that, the moment he wrote what he wrote, his take was simply incoherent. When Barry Bonds got off on three of the four charges against him, he called it a “triumph for the prosecution” — who he called “brilliant” despite their monumental screwups — and said Bonds went 0 for 4. Which makes me wonder if he knows less about baseball or the law. In the wake of his crazy ramblings about that case multiple legal experts weighed in on him and concluded that he was off his rocker. Indeed, he probably transcended wrongness at some point and went straight into Wonderland.
So it’s no surprise that when a new steroids case is in the news, Munson is going to crank up the crazy machine again. He has a Q&A over at ESPN about Biogenesis. One of the topics he handles is Major League Baseball’s gambit of (a) suing Anthony Bosch for tortious interference; and (b) leveraging that lawsuit into his cooperation in the league’s investigation. He starts out thusly:
MLB filed a lawsuit against Bosch. Legal experts, including me, scoffed at the MLB action. The lawsuit was based on a legal theory known as “tortious interference” or wrongful obstruction of MLB’s efforts to rid baseball of steroids. Tortious interference is a legal theory of last resort. When you are stuck without a winning legal theory, you rely on the theory of tortious interference. It is rarely successful …
So far so good. But then:
Filing the tortious interference lawsuit demonstrated that MLB commissioner Bud Selig was committed to the elimination of PEDs in baseball. Stung by the embarrassing loss in the arbitration over the suspension of Ryan Braun, MLB could easily have ignored the Biogenesis issues and watched as the story slowly died. They could have enjoyed their record attendance and profits instead of taking action and prolonging the steroid era. Instead of taking an easier path, Selig pursued Bosch. The success of MLB’s lawyers in forcing Bosch into a cooperation agreement is nothing less than astonishing. It is a tribute to Selig and to the lawyers that they have succeeded in what appeared to be a hopeless situation.
And here I thought the whole problem with steroids in baseball is players getting desired results through shady means. I never realized that we should be paying “tribute” to them if it all worked out for them.
Pokes at Munson aside, why is the most reasonable assumption here that MLB’s legal strategy — which really should not have created leverage considering how ill-fated it was — is the reason Bosch is cooperating? Do we really know enough right now to know for sure that his cooperation is because he was worried about that lawsuit? Or is it possible that MLB has offered him other things that induced it, rendering them less tribute-worthy? If Munson grants that the lawsuit was weak sauce, why is he not at all skeptical of the current arrangement? I mean, just this morning we learned that Bosch was looking to cash in prior to his getting in bed with MLB.
This is the real issue with Anthony Bosch. Why is he willing to change his story now? Was it the alleged brilliance of MLB in pursuing a misguided legal gambit, or is he simply being an opportunist?
You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.
There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:
I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.
There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.
The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.
In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.
The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.
As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:
An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”
Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.
Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.