MLB’s defense in the stolen documents story: “Did anyone prove the documents were stolen?”

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I noted the other day that hardly any national columnist types seemed to want to touch the story about how MLB knowingly purchased stolen documents. Well, one did. Or at least one former national columnist-turned-blogger. That’s right, Murray Chass did what no one else seems all that interested in doing and dug into the slime of that case and the allegations against MLB that arose from the Newsday story.

Chass spoke to MLB vice president and counsel Dan Halem, who said (1) MLB didn’t rely on the stolen documents in question; and (2) maybe they weren’t stolen, did you ever think of that?

“The police had multiple theories; we made a judgment on what we had. They haven’t proven that they were stolen. We operated on the theory that they weren’t stolen . . . Did anyone prove the documents were stolen? Did anyone prove we used stolen documents?”

That’s a subtle twist on old the “you can’t prove it!” defense, but it’s still a pretty damn weak defense.

The part about MLB not even using those documents is weak in that, if they were so useless, why did they even bother to buy them? It’s weak in that, regardless of whether or not they used them, they still engaged in slimy behavior (they didn’t put the Biogenesis employee who slept with an MLB investigator on the stand either. Does that make it OK?) It’s weak in that, if nothing bad happened, why did MLB fire the investigators involved right before the Newsday story came out? It’s weak in that, if a major league player were to float some “hey, those drugs didn’t really help me out” defense they wouldn’t be given the time of day, and rightfully so.

But it’s weak mostly in that, as my readers are so fond of telling me, this isn’t a court of law. No one, not even the Boca Raton police, seem to think it’s worth prosecuting the matter of those stolen documents and thus no one is trying to ascertain whether MLB or any of its employees is guilty of a crime, rendering the “you can’t prove it!” defense beside the point.

Rather, people are noting that MLB willingly got into bed with slime balls — literally and figuratively — paid them off for information that was of dubious provenance and crossed multiple ethical and (possibly) legal lines in order to nab one baseball player it wished to turn into The Face of PEDs. Then they went on a high-fiving victory lap of the talk shows and received all kinds of attaboys for cleaning up the game.

Can we prove that anyone broke the law? Maybe not. But we certainly don’t need much more to know that Major League Baseball’s investigation was pretty damn shady. And, given that a very large part of the steroids-in-baseball conversation involves people making moral judgments about players who may have cheated even if we can’t prove it, it matters.

Report: Orioles to name Brandon Hyde new manager

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Update (8:23 PM ET): MASN’s Roch Kubatko talked to new GM Mike Elias, who said there has been no offer made to Hyde for the position. Elias called the report “premature.”

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The Orioles are expected to name Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde as the new manager, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Nothing is official yet.

Hyde, 45, spent four seasons in the minors with the White Sox from 1997-2000, then played in the independent Western League in 2001 before calling it quits. He was a coach with the Marlins from 2010-12 and has been with the Cubs since 2013.

Other candidates for the Orioles’ open managerial position have included Pedro Grifol, Chip Hale, Mike Redmond, Mike Bell, and Manny Acta.

Hyde is taking over for Buck Showalter, who was at the helm of the Orioles from 2010-18. Last season, however, the Orioles finished 47-115, the worst record in team history. Hyde will be taking over a team that is rebuilding, so the expectations will be relatively low in his first couple of seasons.