Dirty Harry

The Biogenesis investigation turns into a Dirty Harry movie

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We read the story of a former Biogenesis employee the other day. Porter Fischer, the man who blew the whistle to the Miami New Times allowed that paper to tell his story and it was one full of intrigue. MLB investigators are intimidating him, he says. Tony Bosch is the devil. People are following him and breaking into his car and all of that. It’s good reading!

Today Tim Brown of Yahoo! looks at that story and concludes from it that Major League Baseball has taken the gloves off. They’ve gone to the mattresses. They’ve done every cliche from every mob and/or crime drama you’ve ever seen. Because this time it’s personal!

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 namedPorter 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?

The article itself suggests no small amount of satisfaction on Brown’s part at Major League Baseball appearing to get tough on PED guys. All of the back-slapping Brown is getting this afternoon from other writers on Twitter suggests that he is not alone in enjoying watching MLB get down and dirty and in the muck and all of that. It’s the same sort of satisfaction people take at movies in which cops play by their own rules and become criminals’ worst nightmares.

But what I’m not seeing a bit of is anyone questioning whether this Fischer guy is actually the most accurate narrator on the planet. And if he isn’t, doesn’t that totally change the story about how MLB is actually proceeding?

Possibility #1: Fischer is a b.s.-artist who, at the very least, is spinning normal investigative conduct into high drama. Personally, that’s my take on it, as everything he says in the Miami New Times story has that whiff of phoniness to it.  I’m not suggesting that anything he says is technically not true. No reason at all to question the basic facts of what he provides. But the way he puts it — the high drama, the intrigue, the danger and the conduct of everyone who is not him — just doesn’t pass the smell test. I feel like he’s a guy who interprets every event in the most dramatic and sinister fashion and I feel like he’s someone who gets some degree of satisfaction from placing himself in the middle of that drama.

A guy like that would be inclined to characterize visits from MLB investigators as something far more sinister than they really were. He’d be inclined to exaggerate offers from said investigators and A-Rod’s representatives to play up his importance in the narrative. He’d also be inclined to exaggerate take-it-or-leave-it offers into threats. He’d be inclined to turn his personal enemies like Tony Bosch into sinister arch enemies who have the ability to unleash evil. Go back and read his comments in that Miami New Times report and tell me he doesn’t strike you as that kind of fabulist. If that’s the case — and again, it’s my own personal opinion on that — Brown is probably not on the most solid ground using this guy’s story as evidence of MLB dramatically changing the nature of its investigatory tactics.

To be clear: I have no doubt MLB is vigorously investigating the Biogenesis stuff. I have no doubt that they are pouring considerable resources into it. I just think that characterizing it as some sort of Dirty Harry-style ruthless mission to take down the cheaters with extreme prejudice and at any cost is a case of a desired narrative obscuring what is, in all likelihood, a methodical and businesslike investigation led by lawyers and investigators whose goal is to impress an arbitrator, not win the girl, clean up the streets and show that hardass Captain of theirs that sometimes you gotta break the rules.

Possibility #2: Everything Fischer says is true in both fact and in tone and both he and Brown are right that MLB is engaging in behavior that is “despicable, unethical and potentially illegal.” Words, by the way, A-Rod’s attorney David Cornwell uses and which Brown notes could accurately describe the situation. If that’s the case, why is this something anyone should approve of? Why is one allegedly despicable act — PED use — properly fought by despicable acts in return? If that is the case — and again, this is what Fischer and, by extension, Brown says is going on — why is MLB not to be condemned instead of praised?

But like I said above: I seriously doubt MLB is cracking skulls. I think they may be happy to have that impression out there because maybe that’s useful for the sake of deterrence, but I think it’s just an impression. I find it fascinating how eager people seem to be to eat it up and I think it reveals just how much some folks think of the overall story of PEDs in baseball as a drama pitting good against evil as opposed to anything resembling real life.

Video: Gerrit Cole cranks out a three-run home run

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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Pirates starter Gerrit Cole helped his own cause during Thursday afternoon’s 8-3 victory over the Diamondbacks. The right-hander erased a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the second inning, cranking out a three-run home run to left-center field off of lefty Patrick Corbin.

It’s Cole’s second career home run. The other one came on September 7, 2014 off of Cubs pitcher Blake Parker.

Since Cole came into the league in 2013, he is one of only 22 pitchers (min. 100 plate appearances) with above-average production at the plate, going by FanGraphs’ wRC+ stat.

As for the pitching, Cole went five innings in a no-decision against the D-Backs, yielding an unearned run on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts. On the year, he’s 5-3 with a 2.53 ERA and a 44/16 K/BB ratio in 53 1/3 innings.

Rougned Odor’s suspension reduced to seven games

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 23: Rougned Odor #12 of the Texas Rangers fields a ground ball hit by C.J. Cron #24 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  in the fifth inning at Global Life Park on May 23, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
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Major League Baseball has reduced Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor‘s eight-game suspension by one game to seven, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports. Odor will begin serving the suspension on Friday, and the Rangers are expected to call up infielder Jurickson Profar from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Odor, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.

Odor landed a right cross on the face of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista in a series finale between the two teams on May 15. Bautista, who had been hit in the ribs by a Matt Bush fastball, slid in late and hard to Odor in an attempt to break up a ground ball double play attempt. Odor didn’t take kindly to Bautista’s slide. After Odor swung at Bautista, the benches emptied.

Bautista had his appeal hearing on Thursday morning. A decision on his case, a one-game suspension, isn’t expected to be made for another day or two.

Profar, 23, has hit .284/.356/.426 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 189 plate appearances at Round Rock this season.

Braves’ Hector Olivera suspended 82 games for domestic violence

Atlanta Braves' Hector Olivera heads to first base after hitting a double in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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Major League Baseball just announced that Braves outfielder Hector Olivera has been suspended through August 1, 2016 for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. The suspension is retroactive to April 30, making this an 82 game suspension. Olivera has been on paid leave since his arrest and will be required to return salary earned during that time.

Olivera was arrested early on April 13 after assaulting a woman at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia while the Braves were in town for a series against the Washington Nationals. The victim told police that she had been assaulted by Olivera. Police say the victim had bruises and was transported to a hospital. Olivera was at the hotel and taken into police custody.

Olivera had played in five games before the incident and was slated to be the Braves’ regular left fielder this season. There is little if any reason to believe he’ll feature in the Braves future for long after his suspension is served. Atlanta reportedly tried to trade him after his arrest, but there were understandably no takers. Olivera is in the second year of a six-year, $62.5 million contract.

Commissioner Manfred said in a statement today that, in addition to his suspension, “Mr. Olivera has also agreed to make a significant charitable contribution to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence.”

Report: Chase Utley’s family received death threats from Mets fans after controversial slide

DENVER, CO - APRIL 22:  Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up onthe on deck circle as he prepares to take an at bat against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 22, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Dodgers 7-5. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Even before Chase Utley broke former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada‘s leg with a slide during the playoffs last year, the second baseman was persona non grata in New York. Utley, playing for the rival Phillies, made the right field corner his — literally — with his performance at Citi Field. He was booed during his introduction at Yankee Stadium before the 2009 All-Star Game, prompting him to say audibly, “Boo? F— you.”

The slide put New York’s hatred of Utley into overdrive. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports that after Utley broke Tejada’s leg, his family received death threats from angry Mets fans. In order to protect himself and his family, Utley didn’t stay at the team hotel after Game 2 of the NLDS.

His teammate, Clayton Kershaw, wasn’t happy with the way Utley was treated. He said, “Chase was playing the game the way he’s always played. Obviously you never want anybody to get hurt. The game being in the playoffs, and all that stuff, magnified everything. But there’s been a whole lot of slides a lot worse than that over the course of baseball [history] . . . Some of the stuff he had to go through, it wasn’t fair.”

The Mets host the Dodgers for a three-game series beginning on Friday. As McCullough notes, the two clubs didn’t get into any retaliation business when they played each other in Los Angeles earlier this month.