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.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.