I can hear it now, the predictable refrain from the agents and the union officials, the spin doctors and the handlers.
“Tony Bosch is not credible,” they will say. “If baseball suspends players based on his sworn statement, we will vigorously appeal.”
These things never are as simple as they sound, never get resolved as quickly as one might expect.
Indeed, the battle between baseball and the players who allegedly received performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis is far from over.
Baseball achieved a significant breakthrough by reaching agreement with Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch to cooperate with its investigation into his now-defunct Miami-area clinic.
The development, reported Tuesday night by ESPN, could help the sport secure corroborating evidence for records obtained by its investigators, records that name about 20 players, including baseball’s most wanted, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.
Braun tested positive, looked guilty as all heck — and mounted a strong enough legal challenge to get a 50-game suspension overturned in arbitration.
The US government fared no better in legal cases against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. So, forgive me for holding off trying to figure out whether A-Rod will get a 50- or 100-game suspension, how it would affect his future with the Yankees, etc.
Baseball has been “seeking” suspensions of Rodriguez, Braun and others for months. Bosch certainly is a critical piece to the sport’s puzzle. But he is not a licensed physician, his anti-aging clinic is out of business and he previously told ESPN, “I don’t know anything about performance-enhancing drugs.”
His credibility is about on par with that of Roger Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, who became the government’s chief witness against the pitcher.
Which is to say, his credibility is in doubt.
The alleged users, of course, are not necessarily beacons of integrity themselves — many, in fact, may be liars of the highest order. But the question is whether baseball can prove that A-Rod, Braun, et al, indeed purchased PEDs from Biogenesis.
Slips of paper listing their names, a sworn affidavit from Bosch admitting that they were customers — heck, I’m not a lawyer, but I’d take my chances tearing baseball’s case apart.
And that assumes baseball’s “deal” with Bosch is legally proper, a point that already is being questioned.
ESPN, citing sources, reported: “In exchange for Bosch's full cooperation . . . Major League Baseball will drop the lawsuit it filed against Bosch in March, indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation, provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that might bring charges against him.”
Said one player agent, “The amount of money paid to Bosch will become a critical issue. Federal courts have held that whether or not the testimony is truthful, the amount of money paid is a factor that must be considered in determining the credibility of the witness. Did the total amount paid to the witness have any influence on the testimony?”
Oh, I can hear others on the players’ side now:
“Bosch agreed to cooperate with baseball only to save his own rear. He’s broke. He’s talking in order to get baseball to drop its lawsuit against him. He needs the various forms of protection that baseball offered him, according to ESPN.
“What does baseball have? Nothing.”
Baseball needs proof. And while the sport is fighting the good fight, pursuing this matter to the fullest, I seriously doubt that Tony Bosch’s word will be good enough.