Air tight investigations don’t rely on leaks. Such a tactic is more typically born of desperation, a word that seems charitable when describing Bud Selig’s dogged pursuit of the dozens of players allegedly linked to Biogenesis.
Commissioner Selig was probably hoping the Mitchell Report would purify the stains to his legacy caused by the rampant use of performance enhancing drugs during his tenure as commissioner. Instead, it only served to expose the malpractice that took place on a league-wide basis, especially in the commissioner’s office. Ever since then, Selig has become a PED zealot, taking every opportunity to appear strident in his efforts to clean up the game. Normally, his dedication would be laudable. Instead, it just seems like a transparent attempt to clean up his own reputation.
Biogenesis is Bud Selig’s last stand on PEDs. Not only does he have an opportunity to hand out one of the most expansive and punitive drug-related penalties in sports’ history, but a successful conclusion to the investigation would help settle the score with Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, two players whom Selig likely views as archenemies in his never ending fight for truth and justice. The Biogenesis scandal is more than just business; it’s personal. And, the outcome will likely influence the epitaphs of the figures involved.
So, how desperate is Major League Baseball to prove its case against the players linked to Biogenesis? For starters, it was willing to file a frivolous lawsuit against the clinic’s proprietor, Anthony Bosch, in the hopes of smoking him out. Now that the strategy has worked, MLB is prepared to abandon the lawsuit and indemnify Bosch against further litigation that his testimony might invite. Think about that for a moment. A sports league is willing to assume the legal fallout from the activities of a man they have accused of being a drug dealer. MLB has reportedly even promised, if needed, to go to bat for Bosch before federal investigators. Ironically, if MLB gets its way, about 20 players would face suspension, and Bosch would be left free to supply his “wellness solutions” to dozens more.
Another sign of baseball’s desperation is the leak that has thrust Biogenesis back into the headlines. If the sources cited by ESPN are from within the commissioner’s office, it seems reasonable to wonder just how confident MLB is in its case. Perhaps the leaks are designed to flush out further cooperation, particularly from among the accused. Or, it could represent a trial balloon used to gauge the union’s reaction. Regardless of the motivation, if MLB was really closing in hard on the alleged Biogenesis clients, they’d likely be tip toeing in pursuit, not blaring the sirens of mass media.
The main problem with Selig’s Biogenesis investigation is Bosch. He had no credibility when he wasn’t cooperating with MLB, and just as little now that he is. Although the joint drug program does permit suspensions without a failed drug test, the burden of proof is much higher without a smoking gun. How much higher? Presumably, the sworn statement of an admitted liar and accused felon doesn’t pass the threshold. Of course, Bosch could provide corroborating evidence, but even that is problematic. Unless the supporting proof is independent of Bosch’s lack of credibility, it’s hard to imagine an arbitrator giving it much weight. After all, most of the players involved have very strong corroborating evidence on their side in the form of a drug test with negative results.
Who knows how many of the alleged names on the Biogenesis client list are guilty of violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy? By all means, Bud Selig has the right to find out. However, if Bosch doesn’t have the goods, and Selig continues to pursue his claims regardless, the end will not come close to justifying the means. Baseball’s current economic success has been built upon mutual cooperation, but what took 20 years to build could be quickly torn asunder by an abuse of power. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. Although PEDs are an issue worthy of being addressed, there’s no room for vigilante justice, unless, of course, that is the legacy Bud Selig wants to leave behind. If so, the reputation most damaged by Biogenesis may not belong to Bosch, Arod, or Braun, but Selig himself.