The MLB-Biogenesis lawsuit sends a pretty chilling message

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Set aside the fact that it worked. Set aside the fact that the players who were punished got (or will be getting) what they deserved. Just ask yourself if you feel good about the fact that the lawsuit between Major League Baseball and the Biogenesis defendants enabled them to get all kinds of telecom data that people would not, in the ordinary course, be able to get:

Facebook friends. Transcripts of BlackBerry instant messages. Records of texts. Major League Baseball investigators used an arsenal of high-tech tools to collect the evidence that persuaded a dozen players to accept 50-game suspensions this week for their ties to the Biogenesis clinic … Records from Florida’s Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County that were examined by The Associated Press showed subpoenas were issued to Federal Express, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, UPS and MetroPCS. At least some of those companies complied and turned over data to the probe, one of the people said.

That’s well and good until you remember that from the moment Bosch agreed to side with Major League Baseball the lawsuit was essentially playacting. A gamed suit with both adversaries on the same side, working toward the same end, not in an actual adversarial posture to one another. They were nonetheless allowed to use the court system as a means to get at private citizens’ telecom records.

This isn’t necessarily on MLB — they had a plan and carried it out with all of the tools at their disposal — but it’s a disgrace for the court system and the telecom companies who complied with these subpoenas without a fight. The courts should be far more wary of these kinds of scams. Telecom companies should be far more protective of their customers’ records. Once they are subpoenaed they have a right to march into that court and say why they shouldn’t comply. It seems like they had ample reason to do so here but it appears as though they did not.

You may like the ends of the Biogenesis investigation, but there’s no escaping that the means were pretty damn slimy.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.