It many ways it is sort of fitting that the Bud Selig victory tour in Major League Baseball’s fight to permanently place a scarlet letter on Alex Rodriguez began on CBS’ TV’s news magazine show “60 Minutes”. Selig is a flawed commissioner who heads up a flawed business and “60 Minutes” has some very real credibility problems. “60 Minutes” October 27, 2013 report on the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya which killed four people was which riddled with inaccuracies, so much so that CBS “suspended” the report’s news reader and narrator Lara Logan and the piece’s producer.
Selig and his cohorts at Major League Baseball got their side of the story out. CBS, of course, is a major financial backer of professional and college sports in the United States with investments of billions of dollars in the National Football League and the “March Madness” of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Men’s College Basketball Tournament and other college sports on CBS’s cable TV sports network and on Showtime.
Major League Baseball’s appearance on “60 Minutes” may have been a salve for baseball fans who take the game far, far too seriously but it also underscored a number of very unlikable qualities about the business of baseball.
It’s a dirty business.
Major League Baseball’s security staff seemingly had no idea that Alex Rodriguez and a number of players were going to the Biogenesis of America health clinic of Coral Gables, Florida was being frequented by Major League Baseball players.
An alternative weekly newspaper, the Miami New Times, printed a [piece on January 22, 2013, the Miami New Times which broke open the story. The paper obtained documents from former Biogenesis employee Porter Fisher which linked three players, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colón and Yasmani Grandal, to the clinic. The article went on to report that Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Nelson Cruz could be tied to the clinic.
Chuck Strouse of the Miami New Times told Selig’s associates who wanted the documents to go away. He wasn’t polite either about telling baseball to take a hike.
“Sorry, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. We won’t hand over records that detail the inner workings of Biogenesis, the controversial Coral Gables anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied prohibited drugs to six professional baseball players, including Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
“The reasons are manifold. History plays a role in our decision. So do journalistic ethics and the fact that we have already posted dozens of records on our website. Finally, there is a hitherto-unreported Florida Department of Health criminal probe into clinic director Anthony Bosch.”
Strouse left no doubt what he thought of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball in a scathing piece.
“One of our most significant motivations for denying baseball is right here in the tropics. His name is Jeffrey Loria, and he owns the Miami Marlins, who start regular-season play in just a few weeks. A March 1 story in the Atlantic called the pudgy art collector’s stewardship of our baseball team, which has twice won the World Series, “the biggest ongoing scam in professional sports.” The magazine’s article describes, as New Times has in the past, how Loria hornswoggled $515 million in public backing for the stadium and parking facilities, then delivered a losing season and sold off all his best players.
“The magazine blamed Selig: “If Marlins fans want results, they should send a few representatives to Commissioner Bud Selig’s office in New York. There’s a clause in Selig’s contract mandating that he act in ‘the best interests of baseball.’ Right now that would mean stepping in to prevent owners like Loria from using a big-league team as a front for squeezing money from taxpayers.”
“So this is the guy who wants our records?”
Strouse is hardly a satisfied customer.
Nor should anybody who contributes a nickel to Major League Baseball whether it is through buying a ticket to a game or paying money for basic extended cable where Major League Baseball has a big cash cow through national and regional sports networks. There is also the incredible amount of case subsidies and tax breaks, tax incentives that have been given to MLB owners by elected officials in building stadiums. Under the right set of circumstances an owner can pull 92 percent of the stadium revenues out of the building leaving the local municipality with just eight percent to pay down enormous debts. That has forced municipalities to look elsewhere for funding, raising property taxes, selling off a municipal hospital, hiking sales taxes, car rental taxes, restaurant and hotel sales tax to pay for buildings.
Major League Baseball went into the gutter to get Alex Rodriguez. And Alex Rodriguez should fight back despite the establishment baseball writers telling him to take his medicine and accept the suspension without a fight.
Major League Baseball somehow flipped Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch and he apparently sung like a canary to Selig and his choir after saying last June he had nothing to say.
Did money change hands? Allegedly someone paid someone for something. That should come out in court.
Of course there probably are reasons for the establishment writers, the good ol’ boys who are the guardians of baseball’s perceived perception to rush to the aid of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball. Some of them may be facing the end of their baseball writing careers because of severe cutbacks at newspapers and Selig and his cronies could offer them a landing spot to continue their careers at the industry’s website.
Others just hate Alex Rodriguez and this is their way of getting back at him.
One question not brought up by the good ol’ boys? Was Alex Rodriguez targeted because of money? His skills are declining and he still has more than one hundred million dollars coming to him in a multiyear contract. Was Alex Rodriguez signaled out? Is it true a Yankee executive is due a bonus as the whispers fly around if somehow Alex Rodriguez’s contract disappeared?
There are a number of problems that Major League Baseball has with the whole Biogenesis case and these problems need to be addressed. Major League Baseball paid for stolen documents that it used against Alex Rodriguez. Major League Baseball threatened to sue Tony Bosch, to get him to cooperate with its investigation. And Major League Baseball may have played the part of a big bully forcing the other players to take their medicine.
There is also the question of the Major League Baseball Players Association seemingly rolling over and playing dead while MLB was resorting to gutter tactics.
Only after the “60 Minutes” report did the Players Association spring to life issuing a statement.
“It is unfortunate that Major League Baseball apparently lacks faith in the integrity and finality of the arbitrator’s decision and our Joint Drug Agreement, such that it could not resist the temptation to publicly pile-on against Alex Rodriguez. It is equally troubling that the MLB-appointed Panel Arbitrator will himself be appearing in the “60 Minutes” segment, and that Tony Bosch, MLB’s principal witness, is appearing on the program with MLB’s blessing.
“MLB’s post-decision rush to the media is inconsistent with our collectively-bargained arbitration process, in general, as well as the confidentiality and credibility of the Joint Drug Agreement, in particular. After learning of tonight’s “60 Minutes” segment, Players have expressed anger over, among other things, MLB’s inability to let the result of yesterday’s decision speak for itself. As a result, the Players Association is considering all legal options available to remedy any breaches committed by MLB.
“Throughout this process the Players Association has repeatedly shown it is committed to an effective drug program that is strong and fair. And as we indicated in our statement yesterday, although we do not agree with the arbitrator’s decision, we respect the process and will act accordingly. We believe the other involved parties should do the same.”
Rodriguez is suing both Major League Baseball and the Players Association.
There is another question no one is raising. How many Latin players have been suspended by MLB in the past two years in portion to other groups?
Twelve of the 13 Biogenesis clients are Hispanic with Ryan Braun the only non-Hispanic in the group. The suspended list from 2009 forward should have raised some eyebrows. Why are so many Hispanic players on the list?
The names are Eliézer Alfonzo, J. C. Romero, Manny Ramirez, Edinson Volquez, Manny Ramirez, Eliézer Alfonzo, Guillermo Mota, Freddy Galvis, Marlon Byrd, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, Francisco Cervelli, Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada and Troy Patton. Patton got caught with amphetamines.
Tejada is a rather interesting case as he was caught lying to Congress in one of Congress’s forays into drug usage in baseball.
Tejada was charged with lying to Congress about performance enhancing drug usage in Major League Baseball on February 9, 2009. Two days later he pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to Congress in 2005. He could have gone to prison for a year, he could have been denied a Visa or nothing could have happened. Almost nothing happened as he got one year probation. That leads to the question, if Congress doesn’t care about a baseball player lying to them, why should fans? Why should the media? Owners don’t care. Tejada has been employed since pleading guilty to lying to Congress and Biogenesis players have signed 2014 contracts.
The minor leaguers suspended are predominately Hispanic as well.
Selig, Bosch and “60 Minutes” deserve each other. Alex Rodriguez needs to go to court and expose the underbelly of Major League Baseball.
Evan Weiner can be reached at [email protected] . His e-book, “The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition” is available (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/365489 ) and his e-books, America’s Passion: How a Coal Miner’s Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century, (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/americas-passion-how-coal/id595575002?mt=11 ), From Peach Baskets to Dance Halls and the Not-so-Stern NBA (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/from-peach-baskets-to-dance/id636914196?mt=11 ) and the reissue of the 2005 book, The Business and Politics of Sports (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/business-and-politics-of-sports-evan-weiner/1101715508?ean=2940044505094 ) and reissue of the 2010 e-book The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/business-politics-sports-selection/id771331977?mt=11 ) are available from e-book distributors globally.
2014 e-book, sports business 2010-14
The e-books are available from e-book distributors globally.