Craig Calcaterra

Capitol

Major League Baseball opens a lobbying office in Washington

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Major League Baseball just announced that it has opened an office in Washington, D.C. It will basically be for lobbying, and will bring in-house some people that have done the lobbying for them from the outside all along.

The office will be led by Josh Alkin, who has been appointed Vice President, Government Relations. He will report to Dan Halem, MLB’s Chief Legal Officer. Alkin, however, is no newbie at this. At his law firm, Baker Hostetler, he has lobbied on behalf of the Commissioner’s Office for 15 years.  He will bring along an attorney named Lucy Calautti, also from of Baker Hostetler. Calautti has done this sort of work on behalf of MLB for equally as long. In addition, MLB has hired the Duberstein Group, which will provide counsel on government-related issues.

This is not some new area into which MLB is moving. Indeed, MLB and the other sports leagues have lobbied all along. MLB, in fact, used to lobby a heck of a lot more than it does now. According to OpenSecrets.org, MLB spent between $1.5-1.6 million on lobbying efforts in 1998-99. That figure has varied quite a bit from year-to-year, but has trended way down since 2007, to where, in 2015, they spent only $320,000. The decline is somewhat understandable given that baseball was often in siege mentality when labor issues were far more contentious and in the pre-drug testing days when league officials were routinely called before Congress. There has been peace and quiet in recent years, relatively speaking, reducing the need for a robust government relations effort.

It’s possible that the expansion and formalization of government relations work now means that MLB is concerned about new issues on the horizon. Cable TV? Labor relations and its treatment of minor leaguers? Something else? It’s also possible, however, that this is simply a function of a lawyer, Rob Manfred, taking over and reorganizing things in a manner which he feels is more efficient. Indeed, he wouldn’t be the first CEO to hire an outside lawyer away from his firm and bring him in-house to do the same job on a non-billable hour basis. It’s a pretty common thing, actually.

I’d normally say “we’ll see” at this point. But when it comes to the work of Washington lobbyists the fact is that we rarely ever see. That’s kind of the whole point.

Anthony Bosch’s sentence cut by 16 months thanks to his cooperation with the feds

AP Anthony Bosch
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MIAMI (AP) The former owner of a South Florida clinic at the center of a Major League Baseball steroids scandal that swept up New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez will get out of prison more than a year early because of his extensive cooperation with prosecutors, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles granted prosecutors’ request to cut Anthony Bosch’s four-year sentence by 16 months, or about a third off. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharad Motiani said Bosch, who ran the now-closed Biogenesis of America clinic in Coral Gables, revealed key evidence against at least four other people including a self-style chemist who supplied drugs made in his suburban garage and a sports agent who recruited players.

“He provided us with vital information that led to the prosecution of various defendants,” Motiani said at a hearing.

That included going through hundreds of pages of medical records involving baseball players, poring over text messages and emails and deciphering coded words used to describe banned performance-enhancing drugs and transactions involving them, Motiani said.

“If there was coded language that was used, he would tell us what that meant,” the prosecutor said.

Bosch, 52, is now likely to get out of prison later this year, according to Bureau of Prisons records. His attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said Bosch has been undergoing treatment for his own chronic drug abuse, attending counseling sessions with family members and even teaching high-school equivalency courses at a prison in Montgomery, Alabama.

“He’s made his time in prison meaningful and he’s been very active,” Ribero-Ayala said.

Bosch pleaded guilty in October 2014 to conspiracy to distribute testosterone, one of eight people convicted in the Biogenesis case. Evidence showed that Bosch falsely held himself out as a licensed medical doctor, accepting thousands of dollars a month to provide steroid injections to baseball players such as Rodriguez and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Fourteen players linked to Biogenesis were suspended by MLB, including a season-long suspension in 2014 imposed on Rodriguez. A-Rod initially denied taking banned substances supplied by Biogenesis but later admitted he did, apologizing to Yankee fans in a handwritten letter.

His lawyers say Bosch also provided key information about Rodriguez’s use of banned substances to MLB investigators. No players were charged with crimes.

Rodriguez resumed his Yankees career last year and reached several milestones, surpassing the 3,000-hit and 2000-RBI plateaus and becoming No. 4 in all-time home runs with 678.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

The Blue Jays want a new spring training facility

DUNEDIN, FL - MARCH 22:  Florida Auto Exchange Stadium during the game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tronto Blue Jays on March 22, 2014 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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The Blue Jays are one of the dwindling few baseball teams who do not train in a single-site, state-of-the-art spring training complex. Rather, they’ve been in Dunedin, Florida in the same couple of joints since their inception as a franchise: one ballpark, one training facility three miles away. The park is nice and cozy if you’re going to take in a ballgame once in a while. It’s comfortably and unassumingly plopped down in a mostly residential neighborhood. Parking is not as easy as some other places, but it’s close to a lot of other parks and places to see and things to do in the Tampa Bay area.

The Blue Jays, however, are not there to pass a random March afternoon or two every few years like I am. They have to train there every year and use it as their Florida base of operations year-round. As far as that goes. it’s outdated and way less useful than the new, modern and integrated training facilities most other teams have. And it’s something they want to change. Mark Shapiro says he wants the major league facility to be “a state-of-the-art, top-notch facility, but (also important is) where we train, where we rehabilitate, where we look at putting our players all year round.”

The club would like to stay in Dunedin and has presented the city with its requirements, but you know how this dance works by now: they’ll expect the city to pay for it, the city will balk for a bit, then there will be a number of proposals, each more club-friendly than the last. Eventually the Blue Jays will use those offers to leverage another city, perhaps in conjunction with another club looking for new digs too, like the Braves. At the end of this, the Jays will have a new place, paid for mostly by taxes, with the actual city in which it is located being a secondary concern.

All of which means that, if you like cozy little ballparks unassumingly plopped down in mostly residential neighborhoods, figure that you only have a few seasons left to catch a game in Dunedin.