The Biogenesis investigation turns into a Dirty Harry movie

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We read the story of a former Biogenesis employee the other day. Porter Fischer, the man who blew the whistle to the Miami New Times allowed that paper to tell his story and it was one full of intrigue. MLB investigators are intimidating him, he says. Tony Bosch is the devil. People are following him and breaking into his car and all of that. It’s good reading!

Today Tim Brown of Yahoo! looks at that story and concludes from it that Major League Baseball has taken the gloves off. They’ve gone to the mattresses. They’ve done every cliche from every mob and/or crime drama you’ve ever seen. Because this time it’s personal!

Their mistake was overestimating Major League Baseball’s leaders’ preference for restraint, their distaste for ugly public dramas.

Biogenesis, Tony Bosch, Tony’s dad, a new character with store-bought pecs and a spray-on tan namedPorter Fischer who currently can be found raging against MLB’s duplicity, the ballplayers who became clients and their many puppy-dog retrievers, all of them, they never thought MLB – Bud Selig, Rob Manfred, the 15 full-time investigators on the job, many others – would get this dirty.

Banging on doors? Rolling up in smoke-windowed sedans? Throwing grease money around? Flipping witnesses? Bringing muscle?

These are the guys are from Park Avenue?

The article itself suggests no small amount of satisfaction on Brown’s part at Major League Baseball appearing to get tough on PED guys. All of the back-slapping Brown is getting this afternoon from other writers on Twitter suggests that he is not alone in enjoying watching MLB get down and dirty and in the muck and all of that. It’s the same sort of satisfaction people take at movies in which cops play by their own rules and become criminals’ worst nightmares.

But what I’m not seeing a bit of is anyone questioning whether this Fischer guy is actually the most accurate narrator on the planet. And if he isn’t, doesn’t that totally change the story about how MLB is actually proceeding?

Possibility #1: Fischer is a b.s.-artist who, at the very least, is spinning normal investigative conduct into high drama. Personally, that’s my take on it, as everything he says in the Miami New Times story has that whiff of phoniness to it.  I’m not suggesting that anything he says is technically not true. No reason at all to question the basic facts of what he provides. But the way he puts it — the high drama, the intrigue, the danger and the conduct of everyone who is not him — just doesn’t pass the smell test. I feel like he’s a guy who interprets every event in the most dramatic and sinister fashion and I feel like he’s someone who gets some degree of satisfaction from placing himself in the middle of that drama.

A guy like that would be inclined to characterize visits from MLB investigators as something far more sinister than they really were. He’d be inclined to exaggerate offers from said investigators and A-Rod’s representatives to play up his importance in the narrative. He’d also be inclined to exaggerate take-it-or-leave-it offers into threats. He’d be inclined to turn his personal enemies like Tony Bosch into sinister arch enemies who have the ability to unleash evil. Go back and read his comments in that Miami New Times report and tell me he doesn’t strike you as that kind of fabulist. If that’s the case — and again, it’s my own personal opinion on that — Brown is probably not on the most solid ground using this guy’s story as evidence of MLB dramatically changing the nature of its investigatory tactics.

To be clear: I have no doubt MLB is vigorously investigating the Biogenesis stuff. I have no doubt that they are pouring considerable resources into it. I just think that characterizing it as some sort of Dirty Harry-style ruthless mission to take down the cheaters with extreme prejudice and at any cost is a case of a desired narrative obscuring what is, in all likelihood, a methodical and businesslike investigation led by lawyers and investigators whose goal is to impress an arbitrator, not win the girl, clean up the streets and show that hardass Captain of theirs that sometimes you gotta break the rules.

Possibility #2: Everything Fischer says is true in both fact and in tone and both he and Brown are right that MLB is engaging in behavior that is “despicable, unethical and potentially illegal.” Words, by the way, A-Rod’s attorney David Cornwell uses and which Brown notes could accurately describe the situation. If that’s the case, why is this something anyone should approve of? Why is one allegedly despicable act — PED use — properly fought by despicable acts in return? If that is the case — and again, this is what Fischer and, by extension, Brown says is going on — why is MLB not to be condemned instead of praised?

But like I said above: I seriously doubt MLB is cracking skulls. I think they may be happy to have that impression out there because maybe that’s useful for the sake of deterrence, but I think it’s just an impression. I find it fascinating how eager people seem to be to eat it up and I think it reveals just how much some folks think of the overall story of PEDs in baseball as a drama pitting good against evil as opposed to anything resembling real life.

Astros take their third bite at the apple in response to Assistant GM Brandon Taubman’s comments

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Last night Sports Illustrated reported that, following the Houston Astros’ Game 6 victory over the Yankees on Saturday night, Astros Assistant General Manager Brandon Taubman shouted at a group of three female reporters, “Thank god we got [Roberto] Osuna! I’m so [expletive] glad we got Osuna!” Taubman reportedly repeated the phrase half a dozen times. The Sports Illustrated report was later corroborated by no less than four reporters apart from the Sports Illustrated reporter who were in the clubhouse and witnessed the incident.

The comments and their context strongly suggested that Taubman was, at best, making light of the criticism the Astros received for trading for Osuna following his domestic violence suspension resulting from very serious domestic violence charges lodged against him in 2018. To some it smacked of Taubman taking something of a victory lap over the Astros’ controversial — and poorly handled — acquisition of Osuna and came off as extraordinarily insensitive and abjectly tone deaf.

The Astros originally declined comment before the report was published. Late last night, after the story went live and once it became apparent that it cast Taubman in a bad light, they issued an angry and defensive statement, calling the Sports Illustrated article “misleading and completely irresponsible.” Again, despite the fact that the report was corroborated by multiple eyewitnesses. The team’s statement was itself then subjected to intense criticism today.

The Astros are now taking their third bite at the apple, releasing the following statements:

It’s worth noting that nowhere here do the Astros apologize or even reference last night’s statement which, in essence, called Sports Illustrated reporter Stephanie Apstein a liar. A statement which they no doubt would’ve let be the last word if it hadn’t been met with such pushback. Which suggests that the above statements — of the “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” non-apology apology variety — are more about damage control than sincerity.

It’s also worth noting that Taubman’s comment takes the oh-so-common tack of referencing the fact that he is a “husband and a father,” which is irrelevant given that at issue were his acts and words, not his identity. We are not what we believe ourselves to be in our heart of hearts. We are what we do. We are how we treat one another. That’s all that matters. Attempts to deflect from that basic fact of humanity are, just that, deflections. And patronizing ones at that. Taubman’s statement would’ve been way better if it had stopped after the second sentence.

As for owner Jim Crane’s statement, it continues the Astros’ tack of wanting to have it both ways. There is no rule that says they could not have traded for Roberto Osuna. What made the whole episode unseemly, however, is how they claimed to have a “zero tolerance” policy against domestic violence and claimed not to be breaking it when they clearly did so because, hey, Osuna was cheaply had. Which means that they actually have a “some tolerance” policy — as do a lot of teams — but they wanted to act like they were better than that and deflect criticism from those who took issue. Here again, Crane wants it both ways by using what should be a straight apology for one of his top employees’ boorish behavior as an opportunity to once again claim that they are better than they truly are when it comes to domestic violence.

If you don’t have to care about an issue and you, in fact, don’t care, well, fine. You may catch hell from people for that stance, but you can do what you want. If, however, you want credit for being on top of an issue, do the work to earn it. If you fall short of your or society’s expectations, apologize and try to do better. What you cannot do is fail and then try to use your failure as a means of turning the tables on those who criticize you while claiming that, actually, you’re really really good on the topic.

Major League Baseball has also weighed in:

“Domestic violence is extraordinarily serious and everyone in baseball must use care to not engage in any behavior — whether intentional or not — that could be construed as minimizing the egregiousness of an act of domestic violence.  We became aware of this incident through the Sports Illustrated article.  The Astros have disputed Sports Illustrated’s characterization of the incident.  MLB will interview those involved before commenting further.”

The comment came out at almost the exact same time the Astros’ comments were released, which suggests to me that they were coordinated. Which, hey, they’re all trying to end the conversation about this before the first pitch of tonight’s Game 1. I will not hold my breath for anything to come of MLB’s “interviews” of those involved.

As for the Astros, here is some free advice: “I. Am. Sorry. I. Was. Wrong. I. Should. Not. Have. Done/Said. That.”

Apologies are easy. We’re taught how to do them when we’re two years-old. Only when we start thinking we’re better than everyone do we start qualifying them to the skies to the point where they lose all meaning