Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

MLB Is Playing Legal Whac-A-Mole In The Biogenesis Case

Illustration for article titled MLB Is Playing Legal Whac-A-Mole In The Biogenesis Case

Major League Baseball is not the government. Bud Selig is not a senator, Joe Torre is not a district attorney, and the Phillie Phanatic has sworn no oath to uphold principles of any kind. And judging from the news today about MLB's plans to sue Biogenesis (the clinic which, according to the Miami New Times, supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez and others, and consulted with Ryan Braun), MLB is supremely upset about all that.*


Here's Michael S. Schmidt in The New York Times:

The suit will seek to recoup money from its targets — including the clinic’s owner and a person who worked for two prominent baseball agents — and baseball officials also hope it will produce cooperation with their investigation into the clinic’s activities. ...

But to make a doping case against players who have not tested positive, the investigators need documentary evidence or witness testimony. And because the investigators do not have law enforcement privileges, like subpoena power, they have had little leverage in trying to build cases against players that would lead to suspensions.

So now baseball is trying a new tactic. A lawsuit, if allowed to proceed, would give the sport the ability to subpoena records from the clinic, which is now closed, and compel depositions. Some of the information uncovered could then conceivably be used by baseball to justify disciplinary actions against players.


MLB's plan, then, is to make a specious claim about steroids' financial impact on the game in hopes of uncovering records it wants for an entirely different purpose. (Can you imagine the attorney tasked with claiming steroids hurt baseball's finances? What kind of hourly rate does one charge to ensure a straight face on that whopper?) This was evidently the league's backup plan, after the New Times refused to turn the records over.

Well. We can understand the inspiration for the league's quest for vengeance. Rodriguez and Braun both probably lied to baseball about their drug use, and neither has ever served a drug suspension, despite all the synthetic boar hormones they've undoubtedly pumped themselves full of. But MLB has drug testing. And it has an "investigations unit." It has a whole process, to which players agree, to catch supposed cheaters. When that process fails, it is no one's fault but MLB's. If the league doesn't like the results it gets, it should change the process.

But the proper way to change that process is not by asking for help from a friendly judge. At least, it shouldn't be. MLB had it so much easier when Jeff Novitzky was involved. Maybe he needs a new investigative target?

*Correction: This story originally stated that the New Times's story alleged Bosch supplied steroids to Braun; it didn't.


Baseball Said to Be Suing People Linked to Florida Clinic [NYT]

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