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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.'”

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.