Lester Munson, ESPN’s legal analyst, is a humdinger.
He was so monumentally and repeatedly wrong in analyzing the Barry Bonds case that people were embarrassed for him. He was wildly incorrect about evidentiary rulings. And he wasn’t merely mistaken about them. He was so awfully mistaken about them that it was clear to anyone who understood the issues that, the moment he wrote what he wrote, his take was simply incoherent. When Barry Bonds got off on three of the four charges against him, he called it a “triumph for the prosecution” — who he called “brilliant” despite their monumental screwups — and said Bonds went 0 for 4. Which makes me wonder if he knows less about baseball or the law. In the wake of his crazy ramblings about that case multiple legal experts weighed in on him and concluded that he was off his rocker. Indeed, he probably transcended wrongness at some point and went straight into Wonderland.
So it’s no surprise that when a new steroids case is in the news, Munson is going to crank up the crazy machine again. He has a Q&A over at ESPN about Biogenesis. One of the topics he handles is Major League Baseball’s gambit of (a) suing Anthony Bosch for tortious interference; and (b) leveraging that lawsuit into his cooperation in the league’s investigation. He starts out thusly:
MLB filed a lawsuit against Bosch. Legal experts, including me, scoffed at the MLB action. The lawsuit was based on a legal theory known as “tortious interference” or wrongful obstruction of MLB’s efforts to rid baseball of steroids. Tortious interference is a legal theory of last resort. When you are stuck without a winning legal theory, you rely on the theory of tortious interference. It is rarely successful …
So far so good. But then:
Filing the tortious interference lawsuit demonstrated that MLB commissioner Bud Selig was committed to the elimination of PEDs in baseball. Stung by the embarrassing loss in the arbitration over the suspension of Ryan Braun, MLB could easily have ignored the Biogenesis issues and watched as the story slowly died. They could have enjoyed their record attendance and profits instead of taking action and prolonging the steroid era. Instead of taking an easier path, Selig pursued Bosch. The success of MLB’s lawyers in forcing Bosch into a cooperation agreement is nothing less than astonishing. It is a tribute to Selig and to the lawyers that they have succeeded in what appeared to be a hopeless situation.
And here I thought the whole problem with steroids in baseball is players getting desired results through shady means. I never realized that we should be paying “tribute” to them if it all worked out for them.
Pokes at Munson aside, why is the most reasonable assumption here that MLB’s legal strategy — which really should not have created leverage considering how ill-fated it was — is the reason Bosch is cooperating? Do we really know enough right now to know for sure that his cooperation is because he was worried about that lawsuit? Or is it possible that MLB has offered him other things that induced it, rendering them less tribute-worthy? If Munson grants that the lawsuit was weak sauce, why is he not at all skeptical of the current arrangement? I mean, just this morning we learned that Bosch was looking to cash in prior to his getting in bed with MLB.
This is the real issue with Anthony Bosch. Why is he willing to change his story now? Was it the alleged brilliance of MLB in pursuing a misguided legal gambit, or is he simply being an opportunist?