Skip to content

When it comes to drugs, Major League Baseball has learned nothing from the past, wishes to learn nothing in the future

Jun 4, 2013, 11:04 PM EDT

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

I don’t know what Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez or Nelson Cruz or any of the other players thus far implicated in the Biogenesis mess has done. I don’t know what they’ve taken. I don’t know what they’ve said beyond their curt, lawyerly public statements. I don’t know if they’ve lied. But I know this much: any action Major League Baseball takes against them based on the cooperation of Anthony Bosch is equivalent to erecting a building on a rotten foundation. But of course, baseball has done this before, so it’s not all that surprising that they’ll attempt to do it again.

The lever Major League Baseball is using to get Bosch’s cooperation is a specious lawsuit.  I wrote about it at length when it was filed against Bosch back in March. The lawsuit is a transparent attempt to obtain documents as opposed to vindicate legal rights.Baseball has suffered no cognizable injury at law from Biogenesis. It has not been harmed financially nor has it had its reputation legally harmed in any way by this little clinic.

What it has done, however, is put the fear of God into the sleazy clinic owner at the center of it all. Bosch already faces professional ruination due to an investigation by the State of Florida. The MLB lawsuit, even if it never reached a conclusion, could mean financial ruination for him as well. He had no friends in the world and nowhere to turn. That is, until Bud Selig offered him a lifeline. “Sing for me, Tony, and your problems will largely disappear,” Bud is telling him.

And don’t think they won’t. This was Major League Baseball’s m.o. during the Mitchell Report. Drug dealers — actual felons, had they had the book thrown at them as they should have — got off with a slap on the wrist or nothing at all because Major League Baseball and, in the case of the Mitchell Report, a former United States Senator, went to bat for them with the government. In exchange they got dirt a-plenty. I presume the same arrangement is being constructed for Mr. Bosch as well.

Except the return baseball got for its past deals was pretty paltry, all things considered. Brian McNamee and Kirk Radomski sang for the Mitchell Report investigators. And the result was a partial list of PED users. The lowest hanging fruit. The stupid guys who wrote personal checks for illegal drugs and used dealers who were well known among Major League Baseball officials. While this all made for a big splash in late 2007, as time has gone on we have learned that the Mitchell Report barely scratched the surface of the problem. PED use remained widespread, other, smarter drug dealers continued to ply their trade. And the end game of the entire exercise — the criminal prosecutions of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens — ended in abject failure.

It didn’t have to be that way. Major League Baseball was hell-bent on hanging a few big-name players out to dry. Major League Baseball decided that the most interesting and important thing about steroids in baseball was who used and who didn’t as opposed to what steroids meant, how they damaged the game and how they damaged its users.  It did that rather than asking the real questions about PEDs. The ones that would make a difference. Questions about PED habits. Players’ introduction to PEDs. Questions about their actual impact. Questions about the culture of drugs in baseball that could, hopefully, provide answers about how to stop it.

But these questions were never answered, never asked. Indeed, Major League Baseball has evinced a profound lack of curiosity about such topics.  A lack of curiosity that mirrored the blinkered approach to the matter the press and the game took in the 1990s. To the extent we know the answers to any of these questions the information is piecemeal and, without the imprimatur of Major League Baseball, unofficial, unacknowledged and not at all rigorously researched.

Baseball is doing this again. Getting into bed with a drug dealer who, allegedly, provided PEDs to dozens and possibly scores of players. Using his likely unreliable and clearly self-serving words to nab a few big names rather than to understand and address the problem they have in front of them. If Bud Selig cared a wit about what actually went on with Biogenesis he’d ignore Bosch completely, work with the union to get players on board with spilling their guts in exchange for amnesty or reduced discipline and end the process with a far more thorough accounting of what went on than they can ever expect from a cornered man looking to save his neck.

But then again, Major League Baseball has never seemed too interested in what actually went on with any of this in any thorough way. The Mitchell Report was certainly not meant to answer any questions. It was meant to stop them. To put a bookend on the p.r. disaster that Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco uncorked in 2002. To put a bookend on the steroids era itself, really, and to allow fans, the press and the government to pretend that steroids use was limited to a certain unfortunate time and to certain unsavory group of people. Baseball is doing it again. It’s going to nip Biogenesis in the bud, hang a few big names out to dry and declare victory.

If, in fact, it actually achieves victory. Because the union is not going to simply sit back if Major League Baseball is going to attempt to level double-dip penalties against some of its highest profile players without a drug test or even a single reliable witness. Yes, “just cause” is a basis for discipline under the Joint Drug Agreement. But the words of a pressured, compromised and disgraced phony physician/criminal isn’t the stuff of “just cause” in most adversarial proceedings, baseball arbitrations included.

But no matter the outcome of all of that, in a few years, when the players who would cheat have learned all the lessons from Major League Baseball’s myopic approach to things, they’ll just deal with smarter dealers. Guys less susceptible to Major League Baseball’s squeeze play. And Baseball will have nothing other than an empty P.R. victory to show for itself. Nothing, because it never demonstrated a lick of curiosity about the problem itself beyond how it played in the papers.

Latest Posts
  1. Dodgers announce Vin Scully will return for 2015 season

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT

    vin scully getty Getty Images

    Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times passes along the fantastic news that Vin Scully will return to the Dodgers’ broadcast booth for the 2015 season. It will be his 65th season calling Dodgers baseball.

  2. Jon Lester scratched Wednesday amid trade speculation

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT

    jon lester getty Getty Images

    Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote Tuesday afternoon that “sentiment among competing executives is unanimous” that the Red Sox will trade left-hander Jon Lester before Thursday’s July 31 deadline. And this news will only add to that thought.

  3. Video: Jose Abreu slugs MLB-leading 31st home run

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:21 PM EDT

    jose abreu getty Getty Images

    Watch as White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu slugs a two-run seventh-inning shot off new Tigers reliever Joakim Soria on Tuesday night at Comerica Park in Detroit …

  4. Rays are “talking and willing” to trade ace lefty David Price; Cardinals and Dodgers interested

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT

    david price getty Getty Images

    CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman heard from a Rays-connected source Tuesday that the Rays are “talking and willing” to trade ace left-hander David Price and the Cardinals and Dodgers are known to have interest.

  5. Cubs shift setup man Neil Ramirez from Triple-A Iowa to the major league disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    neil ramirez getty Getty Images

    The Cubs made the curious decision to option reliever Neil Ramirez to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday despite his 0.96 ERA in 28 innings, but that option has now been voided and Ramirez has been transferred to the 15-day major league disabled list with a sore triceps.

  6. Michael Pineda ready for rehab assignment

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT

    michael pineda getty Getty Images

    MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that right-hander Michael Pineda threw a successful simulated game on Tuesday afternoon in front of manager Joe Girardi and has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week.

  7. Phillies wanted Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias from Dodgers for Cole Hamels

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    cole hamels getty Getty Images

    FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reported Monday that the Phillies have made ace left-hander Cole Hamels available ahead of Thursday’s July 31 trade deadline, but the asking price on him is apparently sky-high.

  8. Padres activate Everth Cabrera from the disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    everth cabrera getty Getty Images

    Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera is back with the Padres for Tuesday’s series-opener against the Cardinals after missing nearly four weeks with a left hamstring strain.

  9. Matt Cain is going to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

    No ballplayer wants to fly to Birmingham, Alabama during the season for a very, very good reason.

  10. Rockies activate Justin Morneau from the disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Rockies AP

    A strained neck put Justin Morneau’s comeback season on hold, but the Rockies have activated the first baseman from the disabled list for tonight’s game against the Cubs.

  11. The Nationals and Orioles dispute over TV money is about to explode

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:58 PM EDT

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

    And Bud Selig’s years-long effort to manage a quiet resolution of it is apparently a failure.

  12. Red Sox have a fallback plan for Wednesday’s start in case Jon Lester is traded

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    World Series - St Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

    Maybe this happens all the time and we just don’t hear about it, but Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted just now that the team has Brandon Workman lined up to start Wednesday’s game in case scheduled starter Jon Lester is traded before then.

  13. Foot injury knocks Marlon Byrd out of the Phillies’ lineup

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    Marlon Byrd Marlon Byrd

    In what could throw a wrench into the Phillies’ plans to trade Marlon Byrd before Thursday’s deadline, the 36-year-old outfielder is out of tonight’s lineup after fouling a ball off his foot yesterday.

  14. “Caucasians” t-shirts are hot sellers on Canadian Indian reservations

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Caucasians

    But . . . I was told Wahoo outrage was nothing but liberal white guilt . . .

  15. Pirates looking into “mental component” of Pedro Alvarez’s throwing problems

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    Pedro Alvarez AP AP

    Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s throwing issues have gotten so bad–including an MLB-leading 21 of his 23 errors on throws–that Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the team is starting to look into “the mental component to find the root of the problem.”

  16. HBT Daily: the Sox are shopping Lester . . . and Lackey too?

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    The Sox are in last place and are going nowhere. Time to deal starters?

  17. Watch Clayton Kershaw play William Tell with Jimmy Kimmel

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw

    He’s a braver man than I am. By that I mean Kershaw for going on Kimmel’s show.

  18. Gerrit Cole throws five shutout innings in rehab start

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT

    Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole

    On the disabled list with a strained lat muscle, Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole tossed five shutout innings Monday in a minor-league rehab start at Triple-A.

  19. Once healthy, Brandon Morrow will likely rejoin the Blue Jays as a reliever

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Brandon Morrow Brandon Morrow

    Brandon Morrow was one of the league’s best starters in 2012, but he’s been an injured mess since then, including a current disabled list stint for a torn tendon in his right index finger.

Featured video

Red Sox shopping Lester and Lackey
Top 10 MLB Player Searches