Report: MLBPA investigating possible role of agents in Biogenesis scandal

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Thought we were done talking about Biogenesis? Nope, not yet.

According to T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com, the Major League Baseball Players Association is currently conducting an investigation into the role some agents might have played in Biogenesis. If you have followed this story, the subjects of the investigation shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The MLB Players Association, which certifies player agents, retained veteran Washington attorney Robert Muse to run the investigation several months ago, the sources said, and he and his staff are expected to issue a report within the next few weeks.

According to sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the two primary subjects of the investigation have been the ACES agency out of Brooklyn, run by longtime agents Seth and Sam Levinson, and CAA in Los Angeles, where agent Nez Balelo represents Ryan Braun. Braun, who plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, accepted a 65-game suspension for PED use last year.

If the agents are found to have been complicit or to have violated their duties, they could face decertification, although the MLPBA’s agent regulations also allow for lesser penalties.

As Quinn notes, 10 out of the 25 major and minor league players with Biogenesis ties were clients of ACES. ACES was previously investigated after Melky Cabrera was suspended for testosterone in 2012 and tried to create a fake website to explain his positive test. The man behind that scheme was Juan Carlos Nunez, an employee at ACES. Seth and Sam Levinson were eventually cleared of any wrong-doing. However, this new investigation aims to see if the Levinsons had any knowledge of Nunez’s ties to Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch or his work in setting up the fake website for Cabrera.

If Muse’s name rings a bell, well, it should. He has worked as committee counsel on a number of high-profile investigations, including Watergate and Hurricane Katrina.

Seth Levinson issued the following statement exclusively to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish earlier this evening:

“Biogenesis has been thoroughly investigated and there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on our part. In August of last year, Michael Weiner, the Executive Director of the MLBPA put it best, when he said that “despite all of the new evidence none of it linked Sam or Seth (or their assistants) in any way to the use of PEDs.” We prefer not to revisit the past.

As a reminder, all of the players involved in Biogenesis were interviewed and to a man, said that we knew nothing and had nothing to do with the mistakes they made. Michael Weiner stated that “from our perspective, there is no evidence Sam and Seth have been involved in anything directly. No one said “Sam and Seth set me up. Sam and Seth knew what was going on.’ Michael Weiner added that all of the players who accepted their suspensions ‘were all tied to Nunez.'”

Derek Jeter: no longer the media’s darling

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There was a time, not too long ago, where the baseball press practically gave Derek Jeter awards for providing them no information whatsoever. As a player, he turned not answering questions into an art form. To the point where, eventually, the press just stopped asking him substantive questions almost entirely.

Unlike a lot of players who shut out the media, Jeter did it rather politely, so he did not get that passive aggressive treatment — or, occasionally, the aggressive-aggressive treatment — the press often gives uncommunicative players. To the contrary. He was positively lauded for his lack of communication. Lionized, even.

Take this column from Jeff Peralman at CNN.com from 2014, under the headline “Derek Jeter: Baseball’s Humble Hero”:

Throughout the first 18 seasons of his career, Jeter has often been labeled “dull” by the media. His answers to questions are unimaginative and full of cliché baseball nothingness blather. In hindsight, however, such lameness is almost to be admired. We live in an era where too many athletes feel as if they need to draw attention to themselves — for confidence, for commercials. If you’re not tweeting trash talk, you’re texting trash talk. Or making bold promises. Or demanding money or respect . . . he’s a guy who merely wanted to be a guy.

How about this from the New York Times around the time of his retirement:

Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability — or, if you must, dignified comportment — has extended especially to the spoken word . . . he has played his best defense in front of his locker: catching every controversial question thrown to him and tossing it aside as if it were a scuffed ball unsuitable for play.

In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term — he is the only Yankees shortstop a generation of fans has known — inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him — and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even. His batting average and fielding percentage aside, this kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., entered the New York meat grinder two decades ago and came out the other end looking as sharp as Joe DiMaggio’s suit.

This opinion of Jeter was pervasive throughout his career, but especially pronounced at its end of it. Jeter was deified by the press for saying nothing to the press. Praised for making the media’s job harder by the media itself. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

Times, however, have changed.

Some minor grumbling about Jeter’s non-answers to media questions began soon after he took over as Marlins co-owner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post wrote a column about it all back in October, saying Jeter’s “Crash Davis Rules of Media Relations don’t apply anymore.” Not too many people echoed that at the time, probably because it came in the wake of a pretty boring introductory press conference and the stakes were pretty low. I did wonder at the time, though, if the media was waiting to turn on Jeter once he actually started making moves in his new role.

I think we can now say the answer to that is yes.

In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, a lot of baseball writers had a lot of questions for Derek Jeter. Jeter, however, decided that he didn’t even need to show up here at the Winter Meetings to answer them, despite the fact that he lives just a couple of hours away.

On Monday morning Buster Olney of ESPN made conspicuous note of it:

Later in the day Jeter deigned to talk to the media via a conference call. As usual, he said mostly nothing, but unlike 1997, 2007 or 2014 (a) he got testy about it; and (b) the press made a note of it:

They likewise noted when he passed the buck to someone below him on the org chart:

Last night I think a dam broke, and I don’t think Jeter will ever be able to sweet non-talk his way out criticism again. It all happened at a football game:

To sum up:

  • Jeter is now bad for not talking to the press;
  • Jeter is not lauded for his composure anymore; and
  • Jeter is being called out as a poor leader who does not face the music.

What a difference a few years and a change of role makes.

All of which, one would think, would make me at least a little happy. I mean, I’ll totally own up to rolling my eyes at the kid glove treatment Jeter got back when he played. About how his attributes, however great, were elevated even above their actual greatness and how his faults were, perversely, spun into attributes. You’d expect that, in light of that, I’d be sorta pleased that the tables have turned.

I’m not happy, though. Indeed, I have something approaching sympathy for Captian Jeets.

Why? Because, while I’d like to see him face the press, defend his moves as owner and explain his vision to Marlins fans everywhere, I know that he cannot. I know that he has no good answers to any of the questions he might be asked because the real answer to all of them is “hey, we need to make money for the ownership group and everything flows from that” and that’s not an answer he’s prepared to give.

Have some sympathy for Derek Jeter. He’s really in a tough, tough spot. Even if he put himself into it.