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.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 5, Brewers 3: An absolute dagger of a loss for the Brewers. Chicago took a 2-0 lead early and Milwaukee fought back to take a 3-2 lead in the eighth. In the ninth Ian Happ reached on a grounder on which he should have been out — no error was called, Jeremy Jeffress just couldn’t get to the bag in time — and then Javier Baez tied things up singling Happ in with two outs. In the 10th, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer on a high fastball that probably didn’t do everything Oliver Drake wanted it to do. Wade Davis got the final five outs of the game, in the ninth and tenth, striking out four Brewers. Chicago is now four and a half games ahead of the Brewers in the Central. Milwaukee will have to win the final three games of this series to have any shot at the division. They do remain only one back in the Wild Card, however, because Colorado keeps losing.

Dodgers 5, Phillies 4: Philly took a 4-2 lead thanks to rookie sensations Nick Williams and Rhys Hoskins, but old men Curtis Granderson and Andre Ethier — still alive! who knew?! — homered in the six than seventh innings, respectively, to tie it up. The Dodgers’ own rookie sensation Cody Bellinger drove in the eventual winning run with a groundout in the seventh. With that win the Dodgers clinch at least a tie for the NL West title. They can pop champagne corks with either a win tonight or a Dbacks loss. Bad news though: Justin Turner got a bruised thumb when he was hit by a pitch from Mark Leiter Jr. in the first. X-rays were negative and he’s day-to-day, but that kind of thing can linger.

Indians 4, Angels 1: Francisco Lindor hit a three-run homer in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie and the Indians win yet again. That’s 27 of 28 now. They’re only a game behind the Dodgers for the best record in baseball which, as we’ve noted recently, matters now that home field in the World Series is determined by non-stupid means.

Orioles 3, Rays 1: Gabriel Ynoa — who, apropos of nothing, has one of the more satisfying last names to both read and pronounce in all of baseball — tossed eight innings of five-hit, one-run ball. Manny Machado hit a two-run homer and Trey Mancini knocked in a run, both coming in the first innings, for all of Baltimore’s scoring. Tampa Bay threatened in the ninth. It wasn’t anywhere near as good a threat as the one Kim Jong Un issued to Trump yesterday — really, all politics aside, that thing reads fantastically — so the O’s were able to extinguish the fire.

Royals 1, Blue Jays 0: Jason Vargas and four relievers allowed two hits and no runs to beat J.A. Happ and three relievers who allowed eight hits and one run. Melky Cabrera‘s third inning RBI single was the game’s only scoring. Can you imagine what any pitcher from before, say, 1980, must think about a 1-0 game featuring a two-hit shutout that required nine pitchers?

Twins 12, Tigers 1: The Twins had been on a mini-skid before last night, but the Tigers pitching staff will always cure what ails ya. Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco had three hits each and four different Twins batters knocked in two runs. The Twins now have a two and a half game lead for the second Wild Card with ten days left in the season.

Cardinals 8, Reds 5: Scott Schebler hit two homers for the Reds but it was not enough to overcome the Cards. Dexter Fowler had three hits and drove in two. He was 7-for-13 with two home runs and six RBI in the three-game series, swept by St. Louis. The Cards, who were swept by the Cubs last weekend, are still alive for the Wild Card, though, sitting a game and a half back of Colorado and a half game back of Milwaukee.

Braves 3, Nationals 2: R.A. Dickey allowed two runs over eight innings to pick up his 10th win on the year. After the game he said, “I’d be lying to say I didn’t have some emotions about it. This could be my last start ever at a home venue.” So there’s a decent chance he retires after the season. Part of me hopes he doesn’t — knuckleballers can and should pitch forever and he does have a team option the Braves are likely to pick up for 2018 — but he’s got kids and stuff and it’d be totally understandable if he decided he was done.

White Sox 3, Astros 1: White Sox starter Carson Fulmer lasted one third of an inning before leaving with a blister so seven relievers covered the rest of the game, allowing only one run to the best offense in baseball. Dallas Keuchel walked in one run and allowed another to score on a double play to earn the loss. Tim Anderson hit an insurance home run in the eighth.

Rangers 4, Mariners 2: Cole Hamels allowed only one run over eight innings pitched and was backed by Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo homers and a Carlos Gomez two-run double. The Mariners have been part of the Wild Card conversation for much of the season but now they’re closer to last place in the AL West (4.5 games) than they are to the second Wild Card (5 games).

Padres 3, Rockies 0: Clayton Richard, fresh off of his two-year contract extension, tamed the Rockies, shutting them out for seven and a third, scattering seven hits. Christian Villanueva homered and drove in two. The Rockies have dropped four straight and have the Brewers and Cards breathing down their necks for the second Wild Card.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.