What the hell is Major League Baseball doing here?
Teaming up with "nutritionist" Tony Bosch in a swing-for-the-fences attempt to confirm that more than 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, received performance-enhancing substances from the Biogenesis clinic in Miami was already a questionable decision by MLB.
Bosch has previously shown himself to be a liar, telling ESPN's Pedro Gomez that he's "done nothing wrong" and didn't "know anything about performance-enhancing drugs." He claimed he had "nothing to hide," yet later refused to comment on any of Gomez's questions.
However, as the walls began to close in on him and legal bills piled up, Bosch apparently realized that he had indeed done something wrong and had plenty to hide.
But if someone was willing to give him money to pay those bills, South Florida's most infamous "biochemist" would either revealed all he knew or keep quiet, depending on who his benefactor was.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, Bosch first went to Rodriguez with his hands out, looking for help to pay his legal bills — or buy his silence. As could be expected, Rodriguez turned down the request for money, believed to be for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This is obviously speculation, but if Bosch really had something on Rodriguez, would the New York Yankees third baseman have obliged his plea for financial help? Was it a better idea not to go anywhere near Bosch, regardless of what he might have? Or did A-Rod and his advisers simply not trust Bosch to keep such an arrangement secret?
The Daily News previously reported that Rodriguez purchased documents from the Biogenesis clinic, presumably to keep potentially incriminating evidence away from the authorities and MLB.
But how did the Daily News learn of this information? Who were their sources? Were any of them associated with Bosch? If those people would leak such a story to the media at that point, how could they be trusted to keep another sort of arrangement to themselves?
If someone who allegedly truly has something to hide wants nothing to do with Bosch, why should MLB have any interest whatsoever in making an arrangement with him?
With apparently nowhere else to turn after reportedly being spurned by A-Rod, Bosch then went to MLB and pledged his cooperation. Oh, but baseball had to pay his legal bills, protect him from any possible civil suits, vouch for him with law enforcement and provide him with personal security.
Let's also consider that MLB entered this agreement without fully knowing what sort of information Bosch has to offer. ESPN's report that baseball was seeking to suspend the players associated with Biogenesis included the following paragraph:
Sources did not say what other materials, such as receipts and phone records, Bosch might provide, but said he has pledged to provide anything in his possession that could help MLB build cases against the players. Sources said MLB officials were not sure how many players might end up being pulled into the scandal; the 20 or so they know of have been identified through paperwork, but Bosch is expected to provide more.
We don't know what documents or other evidence MLB has. But apparently, the belief is that Bosch's sworn testimony will validate the authenticity of whatever records are in baseball's possession and that he can confirm interactions with the players accused of obtaining PEDs from Biogenesis.
Yet it's still a considerable risk MLB is taking by partnering with Bosch.
What if he really has nothing more than names, prescription regimens and dollar figures in notebooks, such as those revealed in the Miami New Times report that originally broke this story? Would that sort of case hold up against whatever defense the players union would surely mount?
According to the Daily News report, MLB decided to pair up with Bosch because of fears that another accused player might offer the payment that Rodriguez refused. For a star like A-Rod or Braun, perhaps that was just too unseemly an arrangement to make.
But as Biz of Baseball's Maury Brown speculated, a lesser-known star — one whose fledgling career could be in jeopardy — might be willing to do whatever it takes to accommodate Bosch.
Brown actually theorized that such a player might be willing to testify on MLB's behalf to avoid a 50- or 100-game suspension. Yet maybe someone with his baseball career at stake would have come up with whatever money Bosch was seeking.
That's the leap in judgment that MLB was willing to take. This is apparently how desperate the sport is to catch a number of players — many of whom could be superstar talents — who might be taking PEDs and breaking the rules of the game.
Bosch is a sleazeball who kneeled before baseball hoping for mercy. But MLB has decided it's worth associating with someone whose credibility is highly questionable. With his help, baseball intends to make a big, bold statement its fans, analysts, executives and players that it wants to keep the game clean.
Yet this also seems like a desperate reach, perhaps one last attempt by commissioner Bud Selig to cement his legacy as baseball's greatest leader before he retires following the 2014 season.
Look, I understand if you're already tired about reading baseball's latest PED scandal, the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, Bosch the "biochemist" and possible steroid use by Rodriguez, Braun and others. I certainly didn't think I would be writing anything more on the story than what I contributed to The Outside Corner's roundtable discussion.
But MLB is willing to make proverbial deals with the devil, when the sport is willing to associate with people like Bosch, it's worth asking just what Selig and baseball's fellow administrators are thinking. Because this could backfire in a big, embarrassing, soul-crushing way.