The Biogenesis Sudoku game

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So, for a while there, I was kind of into Sudoku, you know, that math puzzle game. Someone told me it is good for the mind to actively work on puzzles. I played a lot of Words With Friends for a time. I have tried at various times to get into things like crossword puzzles, though I’m terrible at those.

These days, though, I occupy my mind by playing Candy Crush and trying to figure just how the heck this Alex Rodriguez-Biogenesis fiasco went down. I’m having more luck with Candy Crush.

The Biogenesis nightmare is a magnificent thought puzzle featuring slimy people from all walks of life. If you have a notebook handy, I’ll get you started and you can play along. We’ll use this spectacular primer from Newsday as our guide.

We begin with a man named Anthony Bosch; it seems like his friends call him Tony. Though he ran Biogenesis, he’s actually a minor character in this story. Bosch grew up in Miami and from a young age seemed determined to become a character in a Carl Hiaasen novel. His father was a physician and it seems that Tony was also interested in the health field. Well, he liked calling himself Dr. Tony. Aren’t we all doctors in a way?

Dr. Tony’s interests tended to revolve more around biochemistry than family medicine. He lived on the periphery, opened and closed several similarly themed businesses designed to keep people young through the power of, you know, drugs. He would sometimes call himself an “anti-aging doctor.”

At some point, Bosch opened up a version of his business with the sciency sounding name, “Biogenesis.” and began hooking up with athletes. You may wonder how athletes got involved with a character like Bosch. Well, as rich and famous as athletes are, there really aren’t many high-end performance enhancing drug stores they can go to for their designer enhancers. They would undoubtedly feel more comfortable in sort of a Nieman Marcus Steroid Store or at Gucci Growth Hormone, but such places don’t exist … certainly not after the U.S. government and American media made clear that they might actually want to punish people for using PEDs. So, athletes were stuck having to deal with shadowy and mildly competent street hustlers like Tony Bosch if they wanted to cheat chemically.

Bosch built up a pretty healthy client list with Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun as his biggest stars.

And it’s likely nobody would have gotten caught … except somebody always gets angry over money. And that’s where our game begins.

Player 1: Porter Fischer

Official media title: “Disgruntled former Biogenesis employee” or “Whistleblower.”

The Biogenesis scandal began in January 2013, when Porter Fischer leaked boxes of files from the clinic to a Miami newspaper called ‘The Miami New Times.” Why did Fischer do this? There have been various motivations ascribed. It seems unchallenged that Fischer felt that Bosch owed him $4,000 — perhaps an unpaid loan (the most prominent story seems to be that Fischer lent Bosch $4,000 with the expectation he’d get back $4,800, which is kind of like, you know, loan sharking), perhaps an investment he wanted returned, perhaps a dispute of some kind. The reasons vary by story, but oddly that number — $4,000 — seems consistent. It is the smallest money number you will hear

Point is: Fischer leaked the files to get revenge on Bosch. Everything else that happened was just a bonus.

Fischer, in his own telling of the story, has a different motivation. He said that he knew illegal activities going on and, being a vigilant citizen, he felt it was important that he notify federal authorities.

The people who lean toward the Fischer explanation tend to be the ones who call him “whistleblower.”

Once the thorough and fascinating New Times report came out, Fischer found himself a popular guy. He would tell police that everybody wanted those files — friends, enemies, everybody. He got the most interest from investigators working with Major League Baseball AND investigators who claimed to be working with Alex Rodriguez. You know, it’s worth pausing here and considering the word “investigators.” It sounds so official but, realistically, you don’t need a license or anything else to be an “investigator.”

I bring this up because the Major League Baseball cronies, in various stories, are called “investigators.” But the Alex Rodriguez investigators, in various stories, are called “cronies.” I’m not sure there’s a difference there.

Fischer would say the MLB investigators were particularly determined and he admitted to police that they gave him $5,000 in what Fischer described as a “down payment.” I’m not sure what this was a “down payment” for but he did say that that Major League Baseball vice president and deputy general council Steven Gonzalez offered him $125,000 for the files.

According to Newsday, this man willing to leak boxes of information over a $4,000 disagreement, turned down the $125,000 from Major League Baseball because “it wasn’t enough to start a new life.”

“The people running Major League Baseball,” Fischer would tell the New Times, “are the biggest scumbags on Earth.” But that wasn’t until AFTER he got robbed.

You know what this story needs now? A friend.

* * *

Player 2: Peter Carbone

Official media title: “Long Island friend.”

Peter Carbone, it seems, knew how to make friends. He was friends with Bosch, going back to their days at “Boca Body,” a whole other anti-aging clinic that Newsday says was run from a tanning salon in Coral Gables. He was also friends with Fischer. Pete also may have been friends with Alex Rodriguez, though that part seems a bit more suspect. I call him “Pete” because I’m sure we’d be friends too.

Carbone’s role in this is somewhat baffling — everything gets so much fuzzier from here — but best I can tell Fischer claimed that Carbone offered to serve as some kind of middleman. At a different time, Fischer also claimed that Pete Carbone was the one who suggested leaking the files to get back at Bosch in the first place. What a good friend.

Again, best I can tell, Carbone’s offer was that he would take the files from Fischer and return them to Bosch in exchange for the money Bosch owed him. Why Fischer would turn down $125,000 from MLB and instead take $4,000 from the guy he hated enough to start this whole thing in the first place is only one of 17 million questions worth asking. It seems certain that Carbone may or may not have given Fischer money here.

Fischer also claimed that Carbone double-crossed him and instead sold the files to an associate of Alex Rodriguez. Or just gave him the files. There’s another Carbone friend, Oggi Velasquez, who may or may not have been …. well, let’s try not to get off-track here with friends who aren’t a direct part of the story.

Carbone, by his own admission, did give/sell those files to the A-Rod camp but at the same time he also told Major League Baseball that he had another friend who somehow had a zip drive of the files, someone who would “do a onetime deal.”

You know what this story needs? A tanning bed repairman.

* * *

Player 3: Gary L. Jones (The “L” stands for “Love”).

Official media title: “Tanning bed repairman.”

Jones’ official media title also could have been “counterfeiter” since he served two years for passing counterfeit bills. But that title isn’t nearly as much fun. Jones, it seems, did have the USB drives, and he was indeed happy to do a one-time deal. According to the Boca Raton police report, Jones sold MLB four USB drives filled with Biogenesis records for $100,000. It is unclear how Jones actually got these USB drives.

Jones would later sign a sworn affidavit claiming that MLB said it would have paid him a lot more than $100,000 if the documents had been originals. Hint hint! Jones later said he didn’t mean that; he had not read the affidavit before signing it.

This is only going to get better.

Jones, it turns out, was not only friends with Peter Carbone, he was also friends with Porter Fischer. Everybody’s friends here. It’s hard to deduce exactly what Fischer’s was doing at this point, but he seems to have realized that these boxes of files he somehow got out of the Biogenesis Clinic were kind of important. So he decided to take them out of the storage facility where he had them hidden and, instead, put them in the trunk of his rented Toyota Corolla. It is a well-known fact that one of the safest places you can hide valuable things is in the trunk of a Corolla.

Fischer was driving that Corolla to meet with investigators from the Department of Health — it seems Fischer wanted to show them the files to help them collar his old pal Tony Bosch on practicing medicine without a license — when he got a call from Gary L. Jones (the L stands for “listener”). Well, of course he did.

Here is my best effort to recap how that call went, based on Fischer’s recollections.

Fischer: Yo.

Jones: Yo.

Fischer: What’s happening?

Jones: You gotta come by?

Fischer: Kinda busy here, man.

Jones: No, seriously dude, it’s here.

Fischer: What’s there?

Jones: That new tanning spray I was telling you about.

Fischer: No way.

Jones: Seriously.

Fischer: This is the spray you’ve been developing, right?

Jones: Yeah. It’s my best work man. This stuff will seriously tan.

Fischer: I am looking awful white, man. Been indoors a lot lately. I haven’t been wanting to be seen, you know?

Jones: I know. Bosch don’t play. You owe it to yourself.

Fischer: I don’t know man. Got a pretty important meeting.

Jones: Pamper yourself, man. Nobody else will.

Fischer: All right. I’ll stop by.

So Fischer stopped on his way to meeting with the Department of Health to see this new spray that Jones had developed. None of this is made up. This was at the Boca Tanning Club.

You know what this story needs? Another Carbone.

* * *

Player 4: Anthony Carbone

Official Media Title: The younger brother.

Anthony Carbone is the younger brother of Peter AND the owner of the aforementioned Boca Tanning Club. The Carbones seem to be tanning moguls. Carbone’s role in this is unclear, but then, everything is unclear. Fischer parked his car and went inside Anthony Carbone’s tanning club. He said he was in the tanning booth for no more than 10 minutes. I guess he just wanted a light bronze for the Department of Health meeting.

When he came out — this will shock you — his car had been broken into, everything was stolen, including the Beretta .32 pistol he kept and, oh yeah, the Biogenesis files in the trunk. There was a spot of blood on the door.

So, now the Department of Health was ticked off and repeatedly told Major League Baseball, hey, back off, we are dealing with stolen documents here, there are a few illegalities going on, you’re going to get in a lot of trouble and so on. But MLB investigators, you know, were pretty determined.

Wait, before going on, you know what this story needs? A bumbling young petty thief with a comically overwrought name.

* * *

Player 5: Reginald St. Fleur

Official Media Title: Doer of odd jobs.

Reginald St. Fleur was a 20-year-old guy who did various odd jobs for Anthony Carbone and Gary L. Jones. What does he have to do with any of this? Well, remember that blood smear on the door handle of the Corolla? Funny thing about that: The DNA matched St. Fleur’s. His trial for burglary is upcoming.

So, hmm, what do you think happened here? Boca Raton police seemed to think — crazy as it may sound — that Carbone and Jones may have been involved in this robbery. Newsday quoted an audio recording of the interview between the Boca Raton police and St. Fleur … there’s one particularly wonderful paragraph.

“I know that you don’t have an interest in this. It’s the whole Major League Baseball thing where people are stealing from each other, trying to make money, sell thing. And I don’t think you would do it without somebody asking you to do it.”

Anthony Carbone paid for St. Fleur’s attorney and, according to that attorney, “might have stepped up and given the bond.” Carbone though insists he had absolutely, positively nothing to do with the burglary. What? Him?

Here’s how he insisted to Newsday:

“I feel pretty confident that — whatever — I didn’t do anything. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty.”

Yes. Whatever happened to that.

Fischer would say that after the robbery, Major League Baseball no longer seemed interested in him. Funny how that works. The Florida Department of Health, he said, gave Bosch a citation, fined him, and stopped their investigation. According to the police report, Gary L. Jones (the L. stands for “lucky”) met again with MLB investigators about three weeks after the break-in and, amazingly, had new Biogenesis files to sell. Where did he get those from? This batch went for $25,000. Maybe.

* * *

You know what this story needs? Nothing else. Major League Baseball attorney Daniel Halem reportedly offered a theory to police that Fischer and Jones made up the whole robbery in order to get more money, which makes as much sense as anything else. Fischer told the police that it was possible that Major League Baseball arranged the robbery, which makes as much sense as anything else. The Department of Health claimed that it warned Major League Baseball not to buy those stolen files, which makes as much sense as anything else.

Major League Baseball in addition to all this also pressured Tony Bosch to play ball … which makes as much sense as anything else.

When this sham of a sham inside a sham ended, Major League Baseball agreed to have the commissioner of baseball Bud Selig and the leading candidate to for next commissioner Rob Manfred appear on 60 Minutes to talk about how they nailed Alex Rodriguez. It was an extraordinary display of corruption and payoffs and the smarmy people who show up when there’s money to be had and what happens when people get blood in their eyes. Major League Baseball was going to get Alex Rodriguez. They just were.

And why? Well, yeah, what about Alex Rodriguez, the player who started it all?

* * *

Player 6: Alex Rodriguez

Official Media Title: “A-Rod” or “Disgraced star” or “Once thought of as a Hall of Famer.”

Alex Rodriguez used various drugs without a prescription in an attempt to play baseball better.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Red Sox 9, Angels 4: David Ortiz commanded center stage at Fenway Park for the first time since 2016, becoming the 10th player in franchise history to have his number retired. The club hung his jersey number between those of Wade Boggs and Jackie Robinson and invited the slugger to toss out the ceremonial first pitch, which landed just a few feet wide of the plate:

Following the ceremony, the Red Sox capped their tribute with a decisive 9-4 win over the visiting Angels, powered by 6 1/3 innings of four-run ball from Rick Porcello and a two-RBI performance from Sandy Leon. They remain tied with the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Nationals 6, Reds 5 (10 innings): Bryce Harper came through in the clutch on Friday, walking off on a two-out single in the 10th after Brian Goodwin tied the game with a home run in the seventh inning. It was the first lead the Nats held all night after the Reds’ offense erupted with a four-run inning to start the game, and, thankfully, the only one they needed to preserve a nine-game advantage in the NL East.

Yankees 2, Rangers 1 (10 innings): Everyone was a winner on Friday — well, except for the Rangers. The Yankees clung to first place with an airtight performance from Masahiro Tanaka, who matched Yu Darvish inning-for-inning and finished the night with just three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts. The offense did the rest, saving their first run for the ninth inning on Brett Gardner‘s one-out home run and securing the win with Ronald Torreyes‘ walk-off hit in the 10th.

If it feels like it’s been a while since the Yankees won a game via walk-off, that’s because they haven’t done it since April:

Marlins 2, Cubs 0: Giancarlo Stanton won’t get a chance to defend his Home Run Derby title for a few more weeks, but he got plenty of practice against the Cubs this weekend. He fueled the Marlins’ shutout with a 458-foot blast, putting the club on the board in the third inning and lending some support to Jose Urena‘s fifth win of the season.

Rays 15, Orioles 5: According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Orioles have allowed a cumulative 160 runs over their last 20 games. They took their sixth double-digit defeat in that span on Friday, handing the Rays a 10-run lead after Tampa Bay engineered three separate innings of 4+ runs. To say that Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter is concerned about his rotation is an understatement. Via MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli:

Got to pitch better. It is what it is. The help’s going to come from within,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We got to get back in step and create some rhythm for the offense, and even the defense gets out of step when the game’s being played so choppy and not very crisp. I really don’t like hanging it around one phase of it, but it starts if we could just string some good starts together. You can get into some type of rhythm.

Twins 5, Indians 0: The Twins entered a pivotal series this weekend as they attempt to unseat the Indians from first place, and Friday’s 5-0 shutout saw them pull within two games of the division lead. Adalberto Mejia strung five scoreless innings together, flummoxing the Indians at the plate with two hits, five walks and four strikeouts en route to his second win of the year. Not only was it the first win Mejia recorded since the Twins’ doubleheader last month, but it was the first time the southpaw managed to log more than 100 pitches in any major league start to date.

Braves 5, Brewers 4: Just call Dansby Swanson the next time you need a save. The Braves’ shortstop was instrumental in the team’s nail-biting finish on Friday evening, executing a run-saving fielder’s choice to catch Eric Thames off the third base bag in the ninth inning and helping right-hander Arodys Vizcaino secure his first save of the year with a diving stop to end the game.

Athletics 3, White Sox 0: The A’s finally brought their four-game skid to a halt, coasting to their second shutout of the season on five solid innings from right-hander Jharel Cotton. Cotton exited in the sixth inning with a blister on his pitching hand, but the bullpen kept things rolling against the White Sox with four scoreless frames. Khris Davis and Matt Joyce took care of things at the plate, muscling two home runs to give the A’s the edge they needed to lock down their 32nd win of the year.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Jameson Taillon and Adam Wainwright were locked into a pitcher’s duel during the Cardinals’ home opener, holding their respective opponents to just two runs apiece over the first four innings. After Taillon’s exit in the sixth inning, the Cardinals jumped on reliever Daniel Hudson with a tie-breaking home run from Paul DeJong, but couldn’t quite close the door after the Pirates rebounded with a David Freese RBI single in the eighth inning. John Jaso smacked a game-winning home run in the ninth, securing the win and breaking the Bucs’ seven-game losing streak at Busch Stadium to boot.

Royals 5, Blue Jays 4: The Blue Jays appeared to be on the verge of a much-needed win on Friday, but some late-game struggles from the bullpen quickly unraveled eight innings of hard work. With two outs in the ninth inning, Alcides Escobar cut the Jays’ lead in half with an RBI single, followed by another from Alex Gordon and a game-winning two-run double off the bat of Whit Merrifield — the first walk-off of his major league career.

Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1: Don’t look now, but the Phillies are… well, still in the last place. A 6-1 win is still worth celebrating, however, as they turned in an impressive four-run spread in the ninth inning to hand Mark Leiter his first win of the year. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, now sit 2.5 games behind the division-leading Dodgers after squandering another quality start from left-hander Patrick Corbin.

Padres 1, Tigers 0: The Padres have won all but one home opener this season, and Friday’s 1-0 shutout was no exception. They continued their dominant streak with their fourth shutout of the year, backed by six innings of two-hit ball from right-hander Luis Perdomo. Despite Perdomo’s season-high five walks, not a single runner was able to advance past second base, gifting the Padres with a win after Austin Hedges doubled home the winning run in the second inning.

Mariners 13, Astros 3: Felix Hernandez may not look like the King the Mariners crowned back in 2010, but he certainly got the royal treatment upon his return from the disabled list on Friday night. The offense put up a sparkling 13 runs behind Hernandez’s six-inning, six-strikeout effort, topped by a trifecta of home runs from Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel and Kyle Seager. The double-digit finish extended the Mariners’ win streak to six games, giving Seattle hope that they’ll stick above .500 for more than a couple of days.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: The Dodgers steamrolled the Rockies to their eighth consecutive win on Friday, extending Alex Wood‘s record to 8-0 with 6 1/3 innings of a three-hitter. The Rockies struck early on an RBI double from Tom Murphy in the second, but found themselves unable to move a runner past first base in any subsequent inning. With the win, the Dodgers are now 14-1 in their last 15 contests, good for the best record in the majors, though they’ll need more than a couple of wins to completely shake the Rockies and Diamondbacks from contention.

Mets 11, Giants 4: The Giants took one step forward and two steps back this week, earning their 10th loss in 11 games after the Mets turned out an 11-run win on Friday. Ty Blach imploded after three innings with a career-high 11 hits and seven runs and failed to strike out a single batter. Club manager Bruce Bochy didn’t let his players off the hook, either, and told reporters that he wouldn’t excuse the team’s poor performance despite their early-morning arrival from Atlanta prior to the game. “Sure, we landed early in the morning, but it’s not the first time this has happened,” Bochy said. “You deal with it.”