Who is Anthony Bosch?

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In the wake of ESPN’s Tuesday night report about Major League Baseball’s investigation and potential suspension of as many as two dozen players linked to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, the spotlight has shone on one man more than any other: Anthony Bosch, the owner of the Biogenesis of America clinic and now the man who is reportedly prepared to turn over everything he knows about his famous clients to Major League Baseball.

But who is Anthony Bosch? What do we know about him?

Not much. We know he was born in Miami and grew up in comfortable circumstances. His father, Pedro Bosch, has been a successful physician for nearly 40 years. He has had multiple marriages and multiple failed businesses, with Biogenesis being the last.

Biogenesis was an “anti-aging” clinic that, superficially anyway, was like many in Florida. It was just across U.S. 1 from the University of Miami, housed in what was once a motel. Like other anti-aging clinics, it was a quasi-medical establishment which offered its mostly wealthy clients assistance in weight loss, physical fitness, and in some cases psychological services. Better living through therapy and chemistry. Such clinics are not licensed or regulated by the State of Florida.

The “quasi” part of that comes from the fact that Bosch is not a physician. His only known degree was obtained in 2009 from the Central America Health Sciences University in Belize, which he claimed to be a medical degree and displayed it on his office wall. According to the Miami New Times he wore a lab coat with “Dr. Tony Bosch” on it and gave the impression to many that he was, in fact, a doctor.

He did something else only doctors are allowed to do: as the New York Times reported in February, Bosch would obtain prescription drugs for his patients, including human growth hormone. His methods of doing so is unknown and are subject to an investigation by the Florida Department of Health and referrals to the Miami State Attorney’s office and the Florida Attorney General’s office. The New York Times report on Biogenesis in February described Bosch’s clinic as disheveled and disorganized. A former business partner of Bosch’s was surprised that Bosch was alleged to have worked with high-profile athletes, saying “I don’t know how the guy can tie his shoes, let alone have A-Rod as a client.”

But his business records, obtained by the Miami New Times suggest that he did indeed supply performance enhancing drugs to many ballplayers, A-Rod included. Most of the drug distributions were reported to have been made through intermediaries rather than to the ballplayers themselves. One of the alleged intermediaries was an employee of player agents the Levinson brothers. In the case of Alex Rodriguez, however, Bosch is alleged to have actually injected the player personally, doing so at Rodriguez’s home. All involved have denied the allegations.

Bosch himself denied any allegation that he supplied performance enhancing drugs to players, telling ESPN in April that such allegations are lies:

“I have been accused, tried and convicted in the media. And so I think have been falsely accused throughout the media … I am a nutritionist. I don’t know anything about performance-enhancing drugs.”

But that has all changed now. Major League Baseball sued Bosch in March, alleging that he tortiously interfered with baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement, damaging the game. On Thursday morning it was reported that, some time after that suit was filed, Bosch approached Alex Rodriguez in an effort to obtain his financial assistance in the face of the lawsuit and other investigations into his activities. Rodriguez is reported to have denied any assistance to Bosch.

Now, Bosch and Major League Baseball are reported to have come to an agreement in which the lawsuit will be dismissed against him, he will provide testimony and documents to Major League Baseball in furtherance of its investigation into Biogenesis-connected ballplayers and will indemnify him for any legal repercussions occasioned by his cooperation. While the baseball officials have not yet spoken to Bosch, it is reasonable to assume that the league’s cooperation with Bosch is based on him providing information which would implicate ballplayers in the use of performance enhancing drugs.

The Braves are not just a baseball team. They’re a real estate company too.

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I’ve taken the Braves to task quite a bit in this space lately. This post and then, later, this post got a lot of attention, both from Braves fans who agree and nod their head and those who disagree and think I’m an overly cynical bad fan or whatever.

I don’t think I’m a bad fan or that I’m cynical. I just look at the facts on the ground and draw conclusions from them. The overarching fact that seems to matter here — separate and apart from any individual move or non-move the Braves front office makes — is that the Braves, as an organization, have interests other than winning baseball games and those interests, in turn, cannot help but impact the Braves’ approach to winning baseball games.

Interests like real estate. As the Cobb Business Journal reported yesterday, the Braves are involved in a complex bond transaction, the details of which bore me, but the upshot of which is that the Braves are building office towers:

The Development Authority of Cobb County signed off on a necessary step for the Braves to get the loan on Tuesday . . . Jonathan Smith, deputy general counsel for the Braves, said at Tuesday’s meeting that the project will span about four acres owned by the Braves. About half the land is being leased by Thyssenkrupp for the R&D tower, which the German conglomerate will own.

The other half will house the office building, which the Braves are building and will own, according to Smith. Half the office building is being leased to Thyssenkrupp, Smith said, and the other half is being leased to other companies, though no tenants have been announced yet.

This is all part of the Battery complex which surrounds SunTrust Park and in which the Braves — through a vehicle called Braves Development Company — have a substantial interest. When you appreciate the magnitude of that development and the sort of revenue the Braves are realizing from it now and will realize in the future, it’s hard not to conclude that the Braves did not get SunTrust Park built for them simply or even primarily to become a more competitive baseball team. They got it built for them so that they can become a real estate development company that happens to have a baseball team as one of its many components.

And don’t think that that the relationship between the development and the ball club is some weak and attenuated thing. Check out the Braves’ org chart, as set forth on MLB.com, with my highlight added:

Whatever the legal relationship is between Braves Development Company and the baseball team, both entities answer to Terry McGuirk, apparently on equal footing based on the titles of the people who run them. As such, when McGuirk says, as he did last week, that he “couldn’t be more optimistic” about the Atlanta Braves, it makes one wonder if he means the baseball team or the overall venture, only one part of which is concerned with baseball. Indeed, one of his answers to the question about why all the increased revenues aren’t being plowed into the team was “it costs a lot to build this edifice.” That answer was likely more literal than most people understood.

Sure, the Braves want to win — I truly believe them when they say they want to — but achieving that desire is far less critical to the Braves, financially speaking, than it would be if they did not have office towers to build, own and lease out with favorable tax treatment and other governmental assistance. The hit from missing the playoffs, for example, is a drop in the bucket compared to what it might’ve been back when they played in Turner Field or Fulton County Stadium. At the same time, money that is realized by the Braves, their real estate ventures, or both, can be used in any number of ways. Maybe the baseball team is the priority sometimes. Maybe it’s not.

Observing that does not make one cynical. The Braves are a baseball team with real estate interests. Or maybe they’re a real estate company with baseball interests. The proper way to characterize that depends on a lot of stuff about their financials and their priorities the Braves are likely unwilling to share with us, but it’s a simple fact that they have priorities that have little if anything to do with baseball. It’s fair game, then, to question the organization’s priorities when scrutinizing the baseball decisions they make.