Major League Baseball has shown misplaced priorities once again in the battle against steroids users. The problem, dating back to the 2005 Congressional hearings where MLB was forced to admit there was a problem, is that the appearance of doing something about the steroid problem in baseball has always been more important than actually doing something. The theory, I suppose, is that by going after steroid users, other potential users are warned that they will be caught. In reality, the warning is this: “Don’t get caught.”
The process MLB used exemplifies its wrongheaded approach in attempting to suspend the players associated with the Biogenesis Clinic. For months, baseball has spent who knows how much money on investigations and legal fees with the goal of what, exactly? Not to obtain as much information about PED usage, means of obtaining PEDs, and ideas to prevent usage. No, the goal was to go after suspensions. Suspensions show the PED policy is working. Players having positive drug tests show the policy works. When players get around the policy, MLB looks bad. It makes people question how effective the policy and program are, but by going after suspensions for players who apparently were beating the tests, it reinforces the programs currently in place. The goal of getting suspensions on the players linked to Biogenesis is not likely to prevent future steroid use, but it will make MLB's policy look like it is working.
MLB's actions in this investigation have been, to use a word sometimes used to describe Anthony Bosch, sleazy. First, they tried to obtain Miami New Times’ source material. No harm, no foul on that front. Then, they demanded that each player speak with MLB investigators. This might seem innocuous, but the fact they had to know they would not get any useful information from the players and the action that follows raises questions as to its motives in speaking to the players.
The scheming dropped to a new low when it filed its lawsuit against Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch. Baseball did not appear to have a rock solid case against the defendants, but with its vast resources, it didn’t need one. They just needed to stay in the case and keep the pressure on Bosch, the defendant with no income, until his own mounting legal fees would cause him to strike a deal. Now we have a deal.
Bosch, the defendant in this case, receives indemnification, personal security, recommendations for leniency to prosecutors, and there are rumors compensation is involved. A reminder: Bosch is the defendant. So what does MLB get? The plaintiff in the case for tortuous interference, where one would usually get money damages for all of the suffering endured, receives only sworn testimony. Receiving only testimony, yet providing much to Bosch, shows Baseball’s intentions. All it ever wanted was the testimony, and it used its vast wealth and resources to get it.
Now, MLB wants to punish these first-time offenders with the second-time offender punishment, claiming that lying to investigators is another offense. Baseball wants to punish the players for telling MLB to prove its allegations when they had little to no information to go on. This makes no sense, and coupled with the fact they knew exactly what the players would say when asked, this double suspension seems little more than a bargaining chip to be removed on appeal.
I have no idea what will happen on appeal. The appeal is entirely dependent on how reliable MLB can make Anthony Bosch, how well he can corroborate the written records, and how convincingly he can tie players directly to him. It is a tough road for MLB. Despite my strong disagreement with the underhanded way baseball has obtained the information, I do agree with their decision to issue suspensions once they had it. Written records and verbal testimony from the person providing PEDs probably does warrant a suspension. It’s just too bad the process MLB used to obtain the information is loaded with sleaze, and the result seems little more than a public relations move to protect the PED program and policy currently in place.