MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

Police report: Major League Baseball knowingly bought stolen documents

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The Boca Raton police say that Major League Baseball ignored repeated warnings that the records they sought in the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis investigation had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them. They did it anyway. And that even though no MLB investigators were ultimately charged in the theft, there is “evidence of involvement” by MLB investigators in the theft of the documents. All of this is detailed in the police report obtained by Newsday and published last night.

We’ve known the broad strokes of all of this for some time: Former Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer had a fallout with Anthony Bosch. Fischer then obtained the documents which fueled the original Biogenesis news in the Miami New Times and upon which Major League Baseball relied to get evidence against Alex Rodriguez. However, Fischer stopped cooperating with MLB before they could get the documents from him. Then the documents were stolen from Fischer. Then Major League Baseball got the documents from someone else.

That someone else is a man named Gary Jones, who sold MLB the documents. Jones’ good friend is a man named Reginald St. Fleur, who was ultimately arrested for the break-in of Fischer’s car. You don’t have to be a genius to see what happened here: MLB knew the documents it was buying from Jones were the same ones stolen from Fischer. Sure, Major League Baseball has repeatedly denied that, but the Boca Raton police don’t buy that at all:

Major League Baseball ignored repeated warnings that records they sought in the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis scandal had been stolen and that they were not to purchase them, according to Florida investigators and an April police report obtained by Newsday . . . Det. Terrence Payne wrote in his report that there was also “evidence of involvement” by “several MLB investigators” and three other men — two brothers from Long Island and a felon whom MLB paid $125,000 in exchange for the stolen records.

MLB continues as of Friday to deny any knowledge that the documents they purchased were stolen. This despite the fact that (a) they recently fired the investigators involved in all of this; and (b) despite being warned by police beforehand that the documents were stolen:

Sandra Boonenberg, a spokeswoman for the Boca Raton Police Department, stated unequivocally that a Florida investigator “warned MLB not to purchase the documents” and that the investigator told their detective about that conversation “before the documents were purchased” by MLB.

I have no doubt that sportswriters, fans and various major league players will come forward and claim that they don’t care about any of this and that it was worth getting Alex Rodriguez at any cost. The irony of this, of course, is that in doing so they are essentially endorsing criminal conduct by Major League Baseball employees as a means punishing A-Rod for crossing an ethical line.

Personally: I find a guy possibly getting away with taking some testosterone and HGH against company rules to be less of a problem than a felony. Maybe that’s just me being a crazy, cheater-loving apologist again. Maybe that’s just me being a contrarian and looking for any excuse to lay into sportswriters and other people who disagree with me on this stuff.

But maybe it’s also possible that MLB was the worse actor than A-Rod here and their pursuit of him was literally criminally overzealous. Maybe, rather than arguing, as so many have, that Bud Selig’s suspension of Alex Rodriguez was a vindication of MLB’s anti-drug policies, it should be acknowledged that it was pretty disgraceful.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.