Updated: MLB’s Very Bad Biogenesis Situation
Updated Post 11:45 PM
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports posted on this today and I wanted to add some additional information that has surfaced that is relevant to my original post:
The government is in. Despite the failings of federal officials in past high-profile cases that married athletes and PEDs, the Florida Department of Health has started an investigation into Anthony Bosch, operator of the Biogenesis clinic that allegedly provided drugs to players, the New Times reported.
One notable figure is Marcelo Albir, whose name appears multiple times on a Biogenesis document obtained by Yahoo! Sports that initially linked Braun with the clinic.
Albir is a former teammate of Braun’s at Miami who investigators believe played an important role in Braun’s relationship with Biogenesis. Ryan Braun said he paid Biogenesis clinic operator Anthony Bosch a consulting fee during his appeal. (Yahoo)
The document lists Albir’s name next to Braun and Cesar Carrillo, a pitcher who was Braun’s road roommate at Miami. Underneath is a notation: “RB 20-30K,” with an arrow pointing to Chris Lyons, one of Braun’s attorneys in his appeal. Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, said he paid Bosch a fee for consulting during his appeal for a positive testosterone test that was overturned in arbitration because of chain-of-custody issues.
He did not explain what comes next in the document: One line reads “[follow up with] Lyons, Marcelo, Carrillo, 3K, etc.” On the next line: “Total owed 23-33K + Marcelo Albir,” followed by Lyons’ name and cell phone number on the final line.
Original Post 8:00 AM
I was eating some gluten-free Rice Chex the other morning staring blankly at my milk carton and I saw the words “Homogenized, Pasteurized” and it got me thinking. Pasteurization, the practice whereby you heat and cool raw milk to kill dangerous microbes that might reproduce and create a gelatinous and explosive insurgency in your intestines, as discovered by Louis Pasteur. I remember one time I had some bad yogurt … it was “key lime” flavored and the thing about trying new yogurt flavors is you really want to be sure you know what it should taste like before you try it. I had no idea what “key lime” yogurt was supposed to taste like so it wasn’t until the 7th or 8th spoonful that I realized it probably isn’t supposed to taste like earthworms and bleach. It was a bad situation.
Anyway moving on, Pasteur also happens to be the progenitor of the theory of Biogenesis. Now when I see the word “Biogenesis” I automatically think the Genesis Project from Star Trek III, where they were able to convert a lifeless rock into a living breathing planet (kind of like the way they’re trying to convert Lucas Duda into an outfielder), but Pasteur defined it as generating life from other life forms. According to the theory you in fact cannot generate life from lifeless matter — which explains why Luis Castillo had such a hard time hitting balls out of the infield.
Biogenesis is also of course the name of the disgraced and shuttered PED distributor operating under the guise of an “anti-aging” clinic in southern Florida. Things didn’t work out that well for Biogenesis in Star Trek either as the planet imploded in a molten fireball within a matter of hours. Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis is currently the target of an MLB lawsuit. Makes you wonder what they were up to, whether they were on the verge of discovering the fountain of youth, or figuring out how to grow new oblique muscles from pork chops in Petri dishes, or clone body parts. I’d love to have a clone … I wouldn’t be very nice to him … probably keep him chained in the basement and feed him scraps and use him only when I need the garage cleaned or if my wife’s sisters are coming over.
Turns out this company had some pretty lucrative business clients, 90 of them were baseball players, many of them professionals. Some of the names have recently been leaked like green fluorescent goop dripping from a radioactive drum, A-Rod, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera. Like the spoiled yogurt, it’s a bad, potentially explosive, situation.
There was a quote, however, that struck me as peculiar as I was reading about all of this. It was by MLB Vice President Rob Manfred and appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on March 20th:
“Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor,”
The quote appears to fire a preemptive shot across the Union’s bow perhaps to diffuse any Union accusations that MLB is about to embark on a witch-hunt. Now I love a good witch-hunt as much as the next towns-person, but if you’re going to pass out torches and pitchforks it would behoove you to establish that there are in fact witches in your town right? So, my guess is MLB has indeed uncovered another wheelbarrow full of dirt in Biogenesis’ basement, only they haven’t, the Miami New Times has.
Here’s the thing. I know how much we all love Bud Selig, I mean he’s right up there with puppies and Santa Clause and cinnamon cannoli, but he’s been known to be somewhat dictatorial. I’m not sure if he’s actually royalty but he’s even earned the moniker “King” in some circles. The thing about Kings is, you don’t want to upset them because the can have your head chopped off. Even worse, they can threaten to suspend a player you just drafted on your fantasy team without just cause … because the player’s lawyer talked to someone named Bosch who happens to run a company called Biogenesis … that word again.
I know, you know, we all know Ryan Braun was guilty and should have served a suspension, but he didn’t and that probably doesn’t sit well with Bud Selig to this day.
We would all do well to recall, however, that Selig was the same commissioner who presided over the steroid era — a time when baseball was recovering from a damaging player strike. The increased offensive output put fannies in the seats and made a lot of money for a lot of people. Balls were flying out of parks at unprecedented rates, everyone was happy. But like many drug fantasies that start off with euphoria and cash, ours crashed in a big way as our collective moral conscience ended up staring at itself in a mirror wondering how it ended up broke in a seedy hotel room with a girl named Velvet. Morality caught up with our favorite pastime in the form of congressional inquiries culminating in the Mitchel report, which eventually produced a formal and stringent drug testing policy.
Don’t get me wrong, the players shoulder a hefty portion of the blame for this PED mess, but what we sometimes fail to consider as fans is that for more than two decades a PED arms race has been going on not just in the majors, but at all levels of the minor leagues. For many players using was the only chance they had at breaking in, even if it meant bouncing back and forth as a utility guy or a bullpen arm. It was the only way they might make enough money to set themselves up somewhere having dropped out of college to pursue their dream. For others using was the only way to maintain a competitive edge against other users. For every major leaguer who dabbled in PED’s there were countless more in the minors who we never heard about, who went on to sell insurance in Topeka or run their Dad’s hardware store in Sioux Falls until they went to see their doctor about a headache that wouldn’t go away and got some bad news.
Selig is no longer the laissez-faire monarch presiding over a booming baseball economy fueled by home run derbies and PED’s. He has taken the high road, claiming it was always the Player’s Union that stood in the way of testing, that the Union bullied our good owners into unwittingly pocketing billions in profits. Yes, the owners were the good guys, making truck loads of money and trying to get drug testing into Collective Bargaining negotiations that probably went something like this:
MLB Rep: “So, we’d like to institute mandatory drug testing, how does counsel for the Player’s Association respond to item IIIb. page 72?”
Union Rep: “Sounds fair, why n… “ a creepy guy with dark sunglasses in a black suit who no one remembers inviting leans over and whispers something into the Union Rep’s ear.
Union Rep: “Er, on second thought no we are categorically opposed to drug testing, peeing in a cup is gross, no one wants that, ew.”
MLB Rep: “Duly noted, moving on.”
Ok, so it probably didn’t happen exactly like that, but how many readers here think MLB made a serious attempt to curb PED use prior to congress becoming involved? If there is one thing we know about Baseball Owners, they don’t usually turn down money, or things that make money, or things that look like money.
So there’s an element of profound hypocrisy here when you listen to Ownership and Bud Selig carrying on as if they are the pious guardians of all that is morally good and wholesome in the world.
Enter Ryan Braun, golden child, circa 2007. Braun is playing for the Brewers … hmm, now what is it about the Brewers and Bud Selig that I’m forgetting?? Oh yes, Selig’s family owns the Brewers. Selig loves Braun because Braun comes up and rockets to superstardom by means of his powerful bat and his ring-tailed lemur eyes. Braun, who bears some resemblance to a cleaned-up Tarzan, is making lots of money for the Brewers, and he’s a good guy, someone we can all like. He’s even friends with Aaron Rogers. He even looks like Aaron Rogers. The Brewers sign him to a lucrative long-term contract and Braun becomes the face of the franchise. Selig contemplates introducing Ryan to his niece Bethunia, everything is wonderful in the world. Then, just as the Brewers are gearing up for the playoffs in 2011, some urine from a cup that Braun peed into is found to have more testosterone than Bruce Banner with a stubbed toe. Bad situation.
What made it worse was that the courier’s delay transporting Braun’s urine violated standard industry protocol (not to mention raising chain of possession concerns) because he kept it in a little party fridge in his “den” over the weekend where he could have had his buddies come over and take turns staring at it for all we know.
“Dude, I’ve got RYAN BRAUN’S urine in my fridge.”
“No, I’m serious.”
“I’m coming over.”
Anyway, it was ruled that the integrity of the sample could have been compromised and the test’s positive results were invalided, even though it was virtually undeniable that the “triple sealed” sample did in fact test positive. MLB’s protocol for the handling of urine samples were not up to industry standards, as hard as that may be to believe. As Lupica said in the NY Daily News, Braun was acquitted, not exonerated. The penalty was overturned by an arbiter (who has since been banished to Bogeyland). Wonder if they had to draw straws deciding who had to break the news to Mr. Selig?
Now this kid (one of the 90 names) Cesar Carrillo, a minor leaguer, gets hammered with a 100 game suspension (50 for knowing Anthony Bosch and 50 more for “lying about it”) because he was not on his team’s 40 man roster and thus was not protected by the union. Also of interest is the fact that he knew Braun at the University of Miami and that the second 50 game suspension was really for “failing to cooperate.” Subsequent comments by MLB stress that those who fail to cooperate will be suspended (per the new CBA by-laws) and that those who do cooperate may be granted immunity. Meanwhile MLB continues questioning friends and family of Ryan Braun trying to build a case. In addition, MLB requested that the Miami New Times, the paper that broke this latest PED scandal, share their Biogenesis records with the Commissioner’s office.
Chuck Strouse responded on behalf of the New Times with the following:
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.
It gets even better:
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?
MLB went on to issue a 1000 game suspension to Chuck Stouse before realizing he does not play for MLB.
Think the union might have something to say about all this? Think MLB would have thought twice about starting this little PED war were it not for the 5 years they have left on their current CBA? Think maybe Selig has overstepped his authority? Was Braun really dumb enough to dabble in illegal substances again after what he went through in 2012, or does this predate those results? Think this may stink a little of a personal vendetta against a Mr. Ryan Braun? If it smells like bad yogurt and it tastes like bad yogurt, well …
One thing I do know. This isn’t going to end any time soon, and like that funny feeling you get after eating too many chimichangas, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, especially when the union pushes back … and they will.
Very bad situation.
About the Author: Matthew Balasis
I’ve been a Met fan since August 1969 when a fire resulted in the Red Cross placing my family on the 6th floor of a building in Willets Point. I could see Shea from our balcony and I knew something big was going on. I followed them through the dark years and the resurgence of the 80’s only (sadly) to miss the fall of 86 because I was in Boot Camp. I've been serving penance ever since in Minnesota where I'm an SLP. I've written a lot about the Mets in an effort to share with my kids (and anyone else who might listen), a sporting tradition that made much of my childhood worthwhile. Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBalasis
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