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The Biogenesis Sudoku game

May 13, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

AP Anthony Bosch AP

So, for a while there, I was kind of into Sudoku, you know, that math puzzle game. Someone told me it is good for the mind to actively work on puzzles. I played a lot of Words With Friends for a time. I have tried at various times to get into things like crossword puzzles, though I’m terrible at those.

These days, though, I occupy my mind by playing Candy Crush and trying to figure just how the heck this Alex Rodriguez-Biogenesis fiasco went down. I’m having more luck with Candy Crush.

The Biogenesis nightmare is a magnificent thought puzzle featuring slimy people from all walks of life. If you have a notebook handy, I’ll get you started and you can play along. We’ll use this spectacular primer from Newsday as our guide.

We begin with a man named Anthony Bosch; it seems like his friends call him Tony. Though he ran Biogenesis, he’s actually a minor character in this story. Bosch grew up in Miami and from a young age seemed determined to become a character in a Carl Hiaasen novel. His father was a physician and it seems that Tony was also interested in the health field. Well, he liked calling himself Dr. Tony. Aren’t we all doctors in a way?

Dr. Tony’s interests tended to revolve more around biochemistry than family medicine. He lived on the periphery, opened and closed several similarly themed businesses designed to keep people young through the power of, you know, drugs. He would sometimes call himself an “anti-aging doctor.”

At some point, Bosch opened up a version of his business with the sciency sounding name, “Biogenesis.” and began hooking up with athletes. You may wonder how athletes got involved with a character like Bosch. Well, as rich and famous as athletes are, there really aren’t many high-end performance enhancing drug stores they can go to for their designer enhancers. They would undoubtedly feel more comfortable in sort of a Nieman Marcus Steroid Store or at Gucci Growth Hormone, but such places don’t exist … certainly not after the U.S. government and American media made clear that they might actually want to punish people for using PEDs. So, athletes were stuck having to deal with shadowy and mildly competent street hustlers like Tony Bosch if they wanted to cheat chemically.

Bosch built up a pretty healthy client list with Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun as his biggest stars.

And it’s likely nobody would have gotten caught … except somebody always gets angry over money. And that’s where our game begins.

Player 1: Porter Fischer

Official media title: “Disgruntled former Biogenesis employee” or “Whistleblower.”

The Biogenesis scandal began in January 2013, when Porter Fischer leaked boxes of files from the clinic to a Miami newspaper called ‘The Miami New Times.” Why did Fischer do this? There have been various motivations ascribed. It seems unchallenged that Fischer felt that Bosch owed him $4,000 — perhaps an unpaid loan (the most prominent story seems to be that Fischer lent Bosch $4,000 with the expectation he’d get back $4,800, which is kind of like, you know, loan sharking), perhaps an investment he wanted returned, perhaps a dispute of some kind. The reasons vary by story, but oddly that number — $4,000 — seems consistent. It is the smallest money number you will hear

Point is: Fischer leaked the files to get revenge on Bosch. Everything else that happened was just a bonus.

Fischer, in his own telling of the story, has a different motivation. He said that he knew illegal activities going on and, being a vigilant citizen, he felt it was important that he notify federal authorities.

The people who lean toward the Fischer explanation tend to be the ones who call him “whistleblower.”

Once the thorough and fascinating New Times report came out, Fischer found himself a popular guy. He would tell police that everybody wanted those files — friends, enemies, everybody. He got the most interest from investigators working with Major League Baseball AND investigators who claimed to be working with Alex Rodriguez. You know, it’s worth pausing here and considering the word “investigators.” It sounds so official but, realistically, you don’t need a license or anything else to be an “investigator.”

I bring this up because the Major League Baseball cronies, in various stories, are called “investigators.” But the Alex Rodriguez investigators, in various stories, are called “cronies.” I’m not sure there’s a difference there.

Fischer would say the MLB investigators were particularly determined and he admitted to police that they gave him $5,000 in what Fischer described as a “down payment.” I’m not sure what this was a “down payment” for but he did say that that Major League Baseball vice president and deputy general council Steven Gonzalez offered him $125,000 for the files.

According to Newsday, this man willing to leak boxes of information over a $4,000 disagreement, turned down the $125,000 from Major League Baseball because “it wasn’t enough to start a new life.”

“The people running Major League Baseball,” Fischer would tell the New Times, “are the biggest scumbags on Earth.” But that wasn’t until AFTER he got robbed.

You know what this story needs now? A friend.

* * *

Player 2: Peter Carbone

Official media title: “Long Island friend.”

Peter Carbone, it seems, knew how to make friends. He was friends with Bosch, going back to their days at “Boca Body,” a whole other anti-aging clinic that Newsday says was run from a tanning salon in Coral Gables. He was also friends with Fischer. Pete also may have been friends with Alex Rodriguez, though that part seems a bit more suspect. I call him “Pete” because I’m sure we’d be friends too.

Carbone’s role in this is somewhat baffling — everything gets so much fuzzier from here — but best I can tell Fischer claimed that Carbone offered to serve as some kind of middleman. At a different time, Fischer also claimed that Pete Carbone was the one who suggested leaking the files to get back at Bosch in the first place. What a good friend.

Again, best I can tell, Carbone’s offer was that he would take the files from Fischer and return them to Bosch in exchange for the money Bosch owed him. Why Fischer would turn down $125,000 from MLB and instead take $4,000 from the guy he hated enough to start this whole thing in the first place is only one of 17 million questions worth asking. It seems certain that Carbone may or may not have given Fischer money here.

Fischer also claimed that Carbone double-crossed him and instead sold the files to an associate of Alex Rodriguez. Or just gave him the files. There’s another Carbone friend, Oggi Velasquez, who may or may not have been …. well, let’s try not to get off-track here with friends who aren’t a direct part of the story.

Carbone, by his own admission, did give/sell those files to the A-Rod camp but at the same time he also told Major League Baseball that he had another friend who somehow had a zip drive of the files, someone who would “do a onetime deal.”

You know what this story needs? A tanning bed repairman.

* * *

Player 3: Gary L. Jones (The “L” stands for “Love”).

Official media title: “Tanning bed repairman.”

Jones’ official media title also could have been “counterfeiter” since he served two years for passing counterfeit bills. But that title isn’t nearly as much fun. Jones, it seems, did have the USB drives, and he was indeed happy to do a one-time deal. According to the Boca Raton police report, Jones sold MLB four USB drives filled with Biogenesis records for $100,000. It is unclear how Jones actually got these USB drives.

Jones would later sign a sworn affidavit claiming that MLB said it would have paid him a lot more than $100,000 if the documents had been originals. Hint hint! Jones later said he didn’t mean that; he had not read the affidavit before signing it.

This is only going to get better.

Jones, it turns out, was not only friends with Peter Carbone, he was also friends with Porter Fischer. Everybody’s friends here. It’s hard to deduce exactly what Fischer’s was doing at this point, but he seems to have realized that these boxes of files he somehow got out of the Biogenesis Clinic were kind of important. So he decided to take them out of the storage facility where he had them hidden and, instead, put them in the trunk of his rented Toyota Corolla. It is a well-known fact that one of the safest places you can hide valuable things is in the trunk of a Corolla.

Fischer was driving that Corolla to meet with investigators from the Department of Health — it seems Fischer wanted to show them the files to help them collar his old pal Tony Bosch on practicing medicine without a license — when he got a call from Gary L. Jones (the L stands for “listener”). Well, of course he did.

Here is my best effort to recap how that call went, based on Fischer’s recollections.

Fischer: Yo.

Jones: Yo.

Fischer: What’s happening?

Jones: You gotta come by?

Fischer: Kinda busy here, man.

Jones: No, seriously dude, it’s here.

Fischer: What’s there?

Jones: That new tanning spray I was telling you about.

Fischer: No way.

Jones: Seriously.

Fischer: This is the spray you’ve been developing, right?

Jones: Yeah. It’s my best work man. This stuff will seriously tan.

Fischer: I am looking awful white, man. Been indoors a lot lately. I haven’t been wanting to be seen, you know?

Jones: I know. Bosch don’t play. You owe it to yourself.

Fischer: I don’t know man. Got a pretty important meeting.

Jones: Pamper yourself, man. Nobody else will.

Fischer: All right. I’ll stop by.

So Fischer stopped on his way to meeting with the Department of Health to see this new spray that Jones had developed. None of this is made up. This was at the Boca Tanning Club.

You know what this story needs? Another Carbone.

* * *

Player 4: Anthony Carbone

Official Media Title: The younger brother.

Anthony Carbone is the younger brother of Peter AND the owner of the aforementioned Boca Tanning Club. The Carbones seem to be tanning moguls. Carbone’s role in this is unclear, but then, everything is unclear. Fischer parked his car and went inside Anthony Carbone’s tanning club. He said he was in the tanning booth for no more than 10 minutes. I guess he just wanted a light bronze for the Department of Health meeting.

When he came out — this will shock you — his car had been broken into, everything was stolen, including the Beretta .32 pistol he kept and, oh yeah, the Biogenesis files in the trunk. There was a spot of blood on the door.

So, now the Department of Health was ticked off and repeatedly told Major League Baseball, hey, back off, we are dealing with stolen documents here, there are a few illegalities going on, you’re going to get in a lot of trouble and so on. But MLB investigators, you know, were pretty determined.

Wait, before going on, you know what this story needs? A bumbling young petty thief with a comically overwrought name.

* * *

Player 5: Reginald St. Fleur

Official Media Title: Doer of odd jobs.

Reginald St. Fleur was a 20-year-old guy who did various odd jobs for Anthony Carbone and Gary L. Jones. What does he have to do with any of this? Well, remember that blood smear on the door handle of the Corolla? Funny thing about that: The DNA matched St. Fleur’s. His trial for burglary is upcoming.

So, hmm, what do you think happened here? Boca Raton police seemed to think — crazy as it may sound — that Carbone and Jones may have been involved in this robbery. Newsday quoted an audio recording of the interview between the Boca Raton police and St. Fleur … there’s one particularly wonderful paragraph.

“I know that you don’t have an interest in this. It’s the whole Major League Baseball thing where people are stealing from each other, trying to make money, sell thing. And I don’t think you would do it without somebody asking you to do it.”

Anthony Carbone paid for St. Fleur’s attorney and, according to that attorney, “might have stepped up and given the bond.” Carbone though insists he had absolutely, positively nothing to do with the burglary. What? Him?

Here’s how he insisted to Newsday:

“I feel pretty confident that — whatever — I didn’t do anything. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty.”

Yes. Whatever happened to that.

Fischer would say that after the robbery, Major League Baseball no longer seemed interested in him. Funny how that works. The Florida Department of Health, he said, gave Bosch a citation, fined him, and stopped their investigation. According to the police report, Gary L. Jones (the L. stands for “lucky”) met again with MLB investigators about three weeks after the break-in and, amazingly, had new Biogenesis files to sell. Where did he get those from? This batch went for $25,000. Maybe.

* * *

You know what this story needs? Nothing else. Major League Baseball attorney Daniel Halem reportedly offered a theory to police that Fischer and Jones made up the whole robbery in order to get more money, which makes as much sense as anything else. Fischer told the police that it was possible that Major League Baseball arranged the robbery, which makes as much sense as anything else. The Department of Health claimed that it warned Major League Baseball not to buy those stolen files, which makes as much sense as anything else.

Major League Baseball in addition to all this also pressured Tony Bosch to play ball … which makes as much sense as anything else.

When this sham of a sham inside a sham ended, Major League Baseball agreed to have the commissioner of baseball Bud Selig and the leading candidate to for next commissioner Rob Manfred appear on 60 Minutes to talk about how they nailed Alex Rodriguez. It was an extraordinary display of corruption and payoffs and the smarmy people who show up when there’s money to be had and what happens when people get blood in their eyes. Major League Baseball was going to get Alex Rodriguez. They just were.

And why? Well, yeah, what about Alex Rodriguez, the player who started it all?

* * *

Player 6: Alex Rodriguez

Official Media Title: “A-Rod” or “Disgraced star” or “Once thought of as a Hall of Famer.”

Alex Rodriguez used various drugs without a prescription in an attempt to play baseball better.

  1. pjmitch - May 13, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Oddly enough, this was worth the read.

    • mgflolox - May 13, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      Posnanski is ALWAYS worth reading.

  2. sictransitchris - May 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    This is fantastic.

  3. ezthinking - May 13, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    So sad for MLB. If you’re going to cheat, at least get a cheater to show you how to do it.

    The cheating in this investigation didn’t hold up a year. It took nearly 20 years for Henry Hill to confess his dealings in “Goodfellas.”

  4. kidpresentable - May 13, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    The one good thing about the Biogenesis scandal is that once A-Rod’s suspension is over, we can go back to pretending that guys don’t use PEDs like we did during the post-Mitchell Report, pre-Biogenesis golden age.

  5. nbjays - May 13, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Player 6: Alex Rodriguez

    Official Media Title: “A-Rod” or “Disgraced star” or “Once thought of as a Hall of Famer.”

    Craig, you forgot “History’s Greatest Monster”™

    Great read, though. I think you should purchase the movie rights to this fiasco.

    • anotheryx - May 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      The length of the piece should tipped you off that it’s not Craig.

      • nbjays - May 13, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        My bad. I’m just so used to Craig beating the Biogenesis Scandal drum that I automatically assumed it was him and that he was just channeling his inner Posnanski.

      • bluesoxbaseball - May 13, 2014 at 3:42 PM

        The typos should have given it away.

  6. chip56 - May 13, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    If I wanted to defend MLB (which I do not) I would say that it’s very hard to get people to cooperate with you when they have no compelling reason to do so. As a result you have to take short cuts and make deals with shady people.

    There have been some arguments that MLB shouldn’t have gotten into bed with Bosch, that, in the end – if they were more interested in getting steroids out of the game they wouldn’t do anything to help him no matter how many players he could roll on and, while there’s merit to that line of reasoning, there’s also the thought that by making such a public spectacle of Rodriguez, Braun and the others, MLB showed the rest of the league the lengths they are willing to go to when it comes to penalizing players for PED use. I equate it to a pitcher getting beaten by guys leaning over the plate deciding to drill a hitter just to show other hitters that he’s willing to come inside and so you better not lean over the plate.

    What MLB needs to do now is accept whatever punishment is handed down and move on. Hopefully, by making an example of Rodriguez and Braun they create a scenario whereby these tactics are never needed again.

    Either way, I’m sick of the PED apologists vilifying the league and the PED regulators vilifying the players. More to the point, I’m sick of both sides’ unwillingness to see that there’s a middle ground.

    • bellweather22 - May 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “middle ground”. Players who use should get suspended & have their careers looked at suspiciously, particularly when assessing HOF cases (as now happens). Also, MLB doesn’t exactly have clean hands in this case, or in the case of steroids in general since they looked the other way until no longer convenient & apparently dealt with serious douchebags in the Biogenesis case. So, if the middle ground is that neither side is innocent, I’m with you on that.

      • chip56 - May 13, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        Correct, neither side is innocent nor is either side the devil.

        This is the middle ground that it seems many in the media are unwilling to accept. What Alex Rodriguez did was wrong and he deserved to be suspended and, apparently based on what MLB proved he did, he deserved to be suspended for the season (since none of us know what that evidence is we will have to accept that as fact). That does not make him the most evil person on the planet.

        And what MLB did to gather that information about Alex was wrong too and whatever punishment they’re forced to serve they should serve. But that also doesn’t make MLB some sort of McCarthy era cabal that is out to ruin reputations of stars and will stop at nothing to do so, as some bloggers have suggested.

        In both cases, MLB and the player took calculated risks to do what they felt they needed to do. In both cases they used poor judgement and in both cases the stigma of that judgement will and should stick with them for a while.

    • jbutry - May 13, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      What happens between competitors on the field is much different from a corporation engaging in illegal activity with criminals to discipline one of its employees. I don’t want to make unsubstantiated assertions, but let’s not excuse the allegations against the MLB because we don’t like PED users.

      • chip56 - May 13, 2014 at 4:54 PM

        I’m not excusing anyone. Both sides acted poorly.

        That said, by taking illegal performance enhancing drugs sold to him by a drug dealer Alex did engage in illegal activity with criminals. MLB, for lack of a more delicate way of phrasing this, has no interest in the drug dealer because he’s outside their prevue. If he can help them with catching someone who is breaking league rules, then MLB will work out a deal with him.

        We’ve all seen a cop show at some point in our lives and know that cops and lawyers make deals with bad guys all the time to get other bad guys. The homicide cop will give the drug dealer a pass if he helps him get the murderer because the homicide cop, by definition, doesn’t care as much about the drug dealing as he does the murder. MLB doesn’t care as much about the drug dealer as they do the drug user.

        In this case, they went to bed with the dog and woke up with fleas…but they also got what they wanted.

  7. Bob Loblaw - May 13, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    “Alex Rodriguez used various drugs without a prescription in an attempt to play baseball better.”

    Best line you will read all week. Remember that when you are banging your head against the wall complaining that these guys are doing it all for the money that this is a guy who already had banked hundreds of millions of dollars and yet he continued to do PEDs. Why? Well, to attempt to play baseball better, that’s why.

    • chip56 - May 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      There have been plenty of players who have done (or been accused of doing) PEDs who didn’t need to:

      Alex
      Bonds
      Clemens
      Braun
      Pettitte

      The motivation isn’t at issue, whether it’s to play baseball better to bank more money, to garner more records or to prolong a career – the use of performance enhancing drugs is not allowed in baseball. Players who violate that rule should be punished. That there are players who have no financial motivation to enhance themselves, yet still do it for a competitive edge doesn’t make them heroes. It makes them stupid.

      And, for what it’s worth, if the reports are true – that Alex was using as far back as his Rangers days, it did help him bank more money in the form of his second contract with the Yankees.

  8. seeinred87 - May 13, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Great read. Loved the ending

  9. jbutry - May 13, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Thank god someone finally distilled this story down a little bit, I can’t possibly follow this drama on a day to day basis. I do have one bone to pick about the writing though:

    “It seems certain that Carbone may or may not have given Fischer money here.”

    Not a very good writing device here. It seems certain that it may or may not rain tomorrow. It seems certain that I may or may not win the lottery. See what I mean? If there are fifty/fifty odds then of course it is certain that it is one or the other. There are other ways to make this point.

    • clemente2 - May 13, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      I think you missed the giggling this sentence structure was intended to elicit.

  10. disgracedfury - May 13, 2014 at 7:33 PM

    You forgot Bud Selig who in movies is the guy in the shadow’s smoking a cigarette and the one who created A-Rod.Bud Selig created Bonds and like Frankenstein’s monster killed his creation.

    • bellweather22 - May 14, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      I know Selig is a convenient punching bag. He’s a guy who manages to always do the wrong thing and then shell out the “what me?” sad eyes look when it comes back to bite him. (While pocketing his 8 figure check). But, there is a big difference between passive neglect & actively creating something. Yes, Selig and MLB looked the other way on steroids in the 80s and 90s… note that Selig wasn’t commissioner at the beginning of the steroids era, unless you think it suddenly happened upon us in 1997….. but Selig didn’t start Balco, Biogenesis or any other anti-aging clinic, nor did he actively encourage players to sign up with these slime bags or smuggle their stash in from another country. Selig is guilty of ignoring a problem for far too long, which one could reasonably say was not doing his job. Quite possibly (even likely) he ignored it because it was making the owners money, especially in the post strike years. But, he didn’t create anything. The players had to actively seek out PEDs, purchase them, and do so secretly for the steroids era to have happened.

  11. mgflolox - May 13, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    If you were ever to find a copy of “The Bill James Baseball Book 1990″ and read his summary of the Dowd report linking Pete Rose to betting on baseball, you would see some amazing similarities to this story. I swear, this kind of stuff would make a great movie in a “Get Shorty” kind of way. Maybe we can group source a screenplay.

    • bellweather22 - May 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      Rose is another good example. Like ARod, Rose was doing something highly against the rules…. even more so than steroid use…. and he continued to lie about it for many years. Hell, he may still be lying about it, that’s who he is. So, baseball felt the need to root both of them out of the game, and were willing to do some borderline stuff to do so. I don’t blame baseball for either situation, I blame ARod and Rose for willfully breaking the rules & consistently lying about it. BTW: This is 2014. PED rules have been clear for some time now (and in Rose’s case, gambling rules had been clear since 1920). So, it’s not like ARod has the excuse that “it wasn’t really against the rules at the time & everyone was doing it”, that some trot out for bad PED behavior in the steroid era. But, baseball certainly didn’t end up with clean hands in either case. You play with pigs and you end up, at least, a little dirty.

  12. thailer35 - May 14, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    I couldn’t help but think of that movie “Burn After Reading” the whole time I was reading this.

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