What price victory for baseball?

After laying out the sordid details of how Anthony Bosch and his associates supplied Alex Rodriguez and peddled steroids to high school kids, Mark Trouville, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's office in Miami, took off his glasses Tuesday afternoon in a federal courthouse and looked right at the TV cameras.

"Bosch is not a licensed professional," he said with obvious contempt. "He is not a doctor. He's a drug dealer."

Bosch is the "drug dealer" whom Major League Baseball worked with to bring down Rodriguez and 12 other big league players, who a year ago Tuesday were suspended by MLB in connection with the Biogenesis investigation.

He's the "drug dealer" whom commissioner Bud Selig and chief operating officer Rob Manfred could have kept at arm's length if MLB had simply allowed its own investigative unit and the DEA to do their job.

MLB succeeded in ridding itself of Rodriguez, and claimed its biggest victory yet in its war against PEDs, but not without a few self-inflicted wounds.

It had the spectacle of Rodriguez being suspended. He then appealed and played out the remainder of last season (and had his suspension ultimately reduced from 211 to 162 games).

It was left to defend what many consider dubious tactics used to seal that victory. Baseball authorized payments of tens of thousands of dollars to Bosch and others, hired bodyguards and lawyers for him, and cut deals designed to cushion him from the full force of the law.

In fact, the cleaner direction was the one laid out by the Mitchell report, which recommended that baseball work with law-enforcement agencies, and the course baseball's since-discredited Department of Investigations (DOI) sought to undertake, before its efforts were undermined from within.

The sight of Bosch in handcuffs Tuesday afternoon suggests that while it may have had to wait for its desired outcome, MLB could have charted a different course that would have prevented dissolving its investigative team, mitigated the spectacle of the Rodriguez suspension and left Selig's legacy a little cleaner.

"Operation Strikeout," as the DEA dubbed its investigation, was launched months before the January 2013 publication of a Miami New Times article that caused MLB to ratchet up the pressure on its own DOI, a branch of MLB formed after the 2007 Mitchell report urged the creation of an independent unit to investigate player wrongdoing.

The Mitchell report recommended that the DOI work hand-in-hand with law enforcement agencies, which is what the DOI set out to do in September 2012, when it made its case to the DEA of why the agency should become involved. That was the genesis of "Operation Strikeout," with a source telling ESPN.com that the DOI supplied its federal counterparts with targets, confidential sources, and critical information on how the drugs were being distributed.

In essence, baseball gave the feds a road map to take down Bosch, whom the DOI had known about since he supplied Manny Ramirez with the female fertility drug that led to his suspension in 2009 (despite the fact MLB had prevented the DOI from interviewing Ramirez at the time, the source said).

"The DOI knew everything," the source said, "and they just laid it all out on the table. They brought in experts in the field that were their sources, who explained exactly how it all worked."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...