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The State of Florida is now investigating Biogenesis, but it probably won’t matter for baseball

Mar 13, 2013, 2:29 PM EDT

Ryan Braun AP AP

Yesterday’s quite amusing editorial in which the Miami New Times stated its refusal to hand over its documents to Major League Baseball was notable for more than its fuzzy reasoning. It was notable because it revealed for the first time that the Florida Department of Health has opened up an investigation into the lab and its operator, Dr. Anthony Bosch.

Since that came out a number of heavy hitters including Buster Olney, Jeff Passan and others have noted that this could be the game-changer Major League Baseball needed. The argument: the government has subpoena power where MLB does not and that if there is to be a real investigation into what Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and everyone else implicated did, subpoena power is what’s needed.

Which is true. But I think it would be a bad idea for anyone to hold their breath until the perp walks get going, the hearings convene and the bombshells get dropped.

The Florida Department of Health is the agency in question. No one at the Florida Department of Health is going to get a promotion for getting Ryan Braun suspended. More to the point, no one at the Florida Department of Health is going to be able to get its budget increased to accommodate the sort of nasty litigation and administrative fights it would have on its hands if it tried to bring in a parade of baseball players in some sort of proxy investigation for the benefit of Major League Baseball.  Even if some gunslinger at the Florida Department of Health was inclined to turn this into a baseball investigation, said gunslinger need only look at how poorly that all worked out for the grandstanding federal investigators and lawyers who went after baseball players in the past. Both in the p.r. department and the career advancement department, using government resources to do Major League Baseball’s job for it have been pretty ugly for them.

If you’re sitting in the Florida Department of Health, you’re sitting in a state where so-called anti-aging clinics like Biogenesis are on practically every corner and are patronized by a lot of older folks who vote.  Even if you want to do the noble thing and get rid of apparent shysters like Anthony Bosch, you don’t want to set precedents in which the public will come to expect you to subpoena patients and, ultimately, make it so they are disciplined at their places of work. Oh, and some local officials and others who care about tax revenus may want to have a word about you getting super zealous about closing down money making businesses unique to the state.

I spent most of my time in private practice, but I did spend most of a year in state government, counseling agencies like the Florida Department of Health and learning from lawyers who did that for far longer than I did. While it’s possible that they do things differently in Florida than Ohio, the smart money is on the Florida Department of Health investigating with a primary aim of permanently shuttering Biogenesis, punishing Anthony Bosch for administrative and, potentially, criminal violations and making sure Bosch is ridden out of the state on a rail.  If, in the meeting planning the investigation, someone said “when do we subpoena the patients and share the product of our investigation with their employer,” that person would probably be politely sent out for coffee and then marginalized going forward.

I understand the enthusiasm on the part of Major League Baseball and, it seems, on the part of some baseball writers to see the Florida Department of Health go after Ryan Bruan, A-Rod and everyone else, but really dudes, that’s not its job. And if it thought it was its job, any citizen of Florida should ask its government why in the hell believes such a thing.

  1. Kevin S. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    You forgot to mention what happened the last time Florida politicians tripped over themselves to accommodate Major League Baseball.

    • Old Gator - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:25 PM

      Do tell, do tell (munch, munch, munch).

      • jwbiii - Mar 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM

        And now the Dolphins are trying it.

  2. heyblueyoustink - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    All of this from the same agency that saw a tsunami of prescription pain killers fly out of their state like flocks of millions of birds heading north for the summer, and failed, and to a point continue to fail, to stop the flow to the rest of the country.

    Not that i’m a resident of Florida, but if I were, I would hope they’d focus on more important things.

    • jm91rs - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      You just put it best. There are far more important things to worry about. Sadly many of those won’t get your name in the media quite like investing MLB will.

      • Old Gator - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        I’d like to get upset about that, but I’m feeling no pain at the moment.

      • Old Gator - Mar 13, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        They must have flown out on the same planes that carried his cronies at Citizen’s on their “fact finding” junkets.

    • indaburg - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Practicing medicine without a license, as Mr. Bosch is accused of doing, is a serious crime. As a resident of Florida and a health care provider, I have no problem with him being investigated for that charge. As for anything else, MLB can do its own dirty work.

      As for the tsunami of prescriptions of controlled substances that flow out of Florida, ask Gov. Scott.

  3. jm91rs - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    A lot of government agencies seem to have no problem over-stepping. It’s pretty clear that just because it’s not their job doesn’t mean they won’t do it. We’re always asking why our governments (national, state, local) believe they need to do half the things they do.

    I’m predicting a lot of tax payer money wasted, a lot of stories about where the case stands, a lot of leaks of information and a whole lot of nothing in the end. Bosch’s head will be served up and that’s about all that will come of this.

  4. DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    “Florida Department of Health investigating with a primary aim of permanently shuttering Biogenesis, punishing Anthony Bosch for administrative and, potentially, criminal violations and making sure Bosch is ridden out of the state on a rail.”

    Wouldn’t an investigation of Bosch look at his prescription records? And if it turns out he did write bogus prescriptions, wouldn’t the name of the patient come to light? Or would that violate some sort of HIPPA? Just asking – I have no clue how such an investigation would work

    • kingfolderol - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      I’ve worked in health care for about 10 years and was closely involved in HIPAA within my prior organization for about two years. I’m not a lawyer, but there are ways to investigate fraud and abuse cases without sacrificing patient confidentiality.

  5. kingfolderol - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    I take issue with the way some of these stories- including Passan’s – are written. He correctly reports that Mr. Bosch and Biogenesis is being investigated but then implies that it’s going to lead to some kind of closure with Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, etc. Something missing from these stories is the fact that – as Craig alludes to above – it is very difficult to prosecute users of steroids based on the way the laws are written.

  6. buffalomafia - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    When are these sports reporters going to put this steroid/hgh story to rest?

  7. BigBeachBall - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Whenever any “supplemental therapy” business is investigated from here on out…. Then its probably not good for one sport… Most likely… Yea.

  8. shawndc04 - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Craig: I agree with you up to a point about the particular agency in question. However it is also possible that an aspiring Florida Attorney General or Deputy, in collusion with the poohbahs at MLB, might seek to ramp up the investigation. Never underestimate the calling of publicity and the possibility of higher office. That said, I hope that you are correct.

    • raysfan1 - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      Goodness knows politicians are expert at wasting money, and the AG is a politician. However. He is also not an idiot. The AG knows exactly what happened in the Bonds and Clemens cases. The AG to enhance his chances at his next election has to win the high profile cases. The AG’s office will not go after A-Rod or Braun unless it is a slam dunk case, and something more than mere use of a prescription medication without a prescription.

      • Nancy Nally - Mar 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        I’m sure Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi probably wouldn’t appreciate being referred to as “he”.

      • raysfan1 - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:12 AM

        My apologies to Ms. Bondi for my error based on my no longer being a resident of FL and thus not actually knowing who the AG currently is and not caring enough to look it up.

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