New Times Says No to MLB

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.

"We're going after Tony Bosch," says a source from the State Department of Health. "He's the target."

Two sources, who declined to be named, confirmed that investigators have begun interviewing witnesses and reviewing records to build a case against Bosch. They will try to prove that the troubled businessman, who hung a Belize medical degree on his wall but has no license to practice medicine in Florida, violated Chapter 456 of the State Statutes, which requires a license for medical professionals.

See also:
- Special Report: Tony Bosch and Biogenesis - MLB Steroid Scandal
- A Miami Clinic Supplies Drugs to Sports' Biggest Names
- MLB Steroid Scandal: What's Next for New Times

This, of course, isn't what Major League Vice Presidents Pat Courtney and Rob Manfred were seeking when they visited New Times last month. They hoped for direct access to Bosch's notebooks and other records that an unnamed source provided New Times at the beginning of a three-month investigation. Manfred said he hoped to establish a "chain of custody" with the documents to persuade an arbitrator to suspend or otherwise discipline players named in the January 31 New Times story about Bosch, "The Steroid Source."

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? Isn't he the same commissioner who in 2002 approved the complicated deal that gave Loria the Marlins, betrayed the City of Montreal, and caused Loria's partners to accuse the artful merchant of racketeering? (The charges were later rejected by an arbitrator but continue to roil baseball fans.)

Of course, if only Loria's misdeeds were at issue, we still might give Selig the records. But he represents an organization with a long history of getting things wrong. It started with Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox player and son of a sharecropper who was unjustly banned from baseball for fixing the 1919 World Series. The guy who probably had more to do with that deal, White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, walked free after the scandal and even had the White Sox stadium dedicated in his name.

Then there is the horrible, racist history we'd like to think ended when Jackie Robinson was signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 but continued with white-trash owners like the Minnesota Twins' Calvin Griffith ("Black people don't go to the ball games, but they'll fill up a wrestling ring") and Marge Schott (who admired Adolf Hitler, used the N-word, and compared African-Americans to monkeys).

And finally there is the case of Mark McGwire, who admitted to using steroids throughout the 1990s before setting the record with 70 home runs in a season in 1998. Reporters spotted drugs in his locker and wrote about it, but the league allowed him to keep playing. He continues to be involved in baseball, currently as a hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Who was the commissioner of baseball during this morass? The same one who wants our records: Selig.

Then there is the question of ethics. A month ago, I opposed both the newspaper's lawyer and the article's author, Tim Elfrink, and wanted to give the records to baseball. I hoped to see A-Roid and the others punished and believed walking the ethical line was the only way to make that action happen. But then I began pondering the precedents that would set. First, we would be handing over the product of our reporting to a for-profit group with a seamy past. What if baseball improperly used our work? What if it decided to punish some players and not others?

Second, we would be sending the wrong message to future anonymous sources who might want to give us records. Our source for this article fears for his safety. How could we subject him to greater risk by losing control of the information he had provided?

"Handing over the records makes you a tool of Major League Baseball," comments Charles Davis, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. "And you are scaring people in the future who might be thinking of calling you."

We have given baseball and anyone else interested in the scandal everything important. Dozens of pages of Bosch's records have been posted at miaminewtimes.com. Only thing is, we have blacked out names of those who weren't demonstrably involved in any kind of malfeasance. If a lawyer, developer, or my barber wants to use testosterone, human growth hormone, or some other performance enhancer, that's his or her right. They're fundamentally different from athletes, who promise not to use these drugs and are role models for millions of kids.

So now it's up to baseball and Florida's health investigators. Bosch's patient records not only list the names of players like the Washington Nationals' Gio Gonzalez and the Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz but also indicate Bosch regularly sold controlled substances that require a prescription, including human growth hormones, anabolic steroids, and testosterone.

Investigators will also look into whether Bosch illegally compounded drugs. State law prohibits anyone but a licensed pharmacist or doctor from combining prescription medications. Clinic records and Bosch's personal notebooks suggest Bosch might have combined testosterone and other drugs for some of his clients.

The investigators plan to review their database of 'scripts to find any doctors who prescribed medicine later sold at Biogenesis. Those doctors could also face state charges.

Bosch could face separate felony charges for practicing medicine without a license and for illegally compounding drugs. Other doctors too could face civil or criminal penalties.

Anthony Bosch's attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, says she "is not aware of any pending investigation" and declined to comment further.

Managing editor Tim Elfrink contributed to this report.

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15 comments
Roger782
Roger782

I too am from the midwest and I too don't agree with what Selig has done, but this is a extremely poorly reasoned piece of writing.  You enumerate the many things that baseball has done wrong over the years, such as poorly evaluating and dealing with an event over 100 years ago (the Black Sox scandal) and racial issues.  But racial issues in particular were hardly unique to baseball, plagued all facets of American society in those years that you detail, and continue to do so!  So you criticize the sport that helped the process of tearing down racial boundaries by being one of the most important, large organizations to integrate at an extremely early, pre-Civil Rights movement date for having racist people involved.  Right.  Then you seem to implicate Bud Selig in those issues?  Your article reads like you're blaming Selig for American racism and gambling scandals.  Right...

Your issue is that baseball has many problems, and does a bad job of fixing them.  Fine.  You've correctly identified this.  Baseball and Selig did a remarkably poor job of handing steroid issues in the '90s and '00s (p.s. why are you taking cheap shots at McGwire?  He's a hitting coach for crying out loud, not a team doctor or even a player.  You can't BAN a player from the sport for breaking a rule that wasn't a rule back then.  Maybe if you did some research you'd find out that McGwire, though he used steroids to gain an unfair advantage, did not violate MLB policy.)  By denying baseball access to those findings, you're refusing to help baseball get better at fixing them.  You've correctly identified a problem, but, for whatever reason, seem to just like having something to whine about, or feel powerful about, and not be progressive and help fix issues.  It's a lot easier to stand back as a bystander and do nothing, attacking those who want to make progress.  It's a lot harder to be part of that progress.  I challenge you people at the New Times to do so.

AirDrago23
AirDrago23

I'm from the Midwest and I just wanted to say keep up the good work guys! Great stuff standing up for what you believe and sticking to your guns when this bully comes calling. 

awats
awats

Well done and glad you made the decision you did.  From someone in the Tampa/St. Pete area who is frankly tired of hearing regularly from Selig and his office how miserable our stadium is, combined with threats to move the team if they don't get a new stadium (at the tax payers' expense).  I'm hoping we can fix things here and not lose the team, however Selig and MLB are not in the business of working with fans or cities.

steve
steve

mark mcgwire hit 70 home runs... in 1998.. sweet reporting

changethepadres
changethepadres

Kudos on standing up to Bud Selig.  Unfortunately, the Marlins franchise isn't the only recent example of a franchise getting the screws from Bud Selig. MLB allowed the Padres old ownership group -- John Moores and Jeff Moorad -- to place a clause in the Padres' new television contract that resulted in $200 million in up-front money going into the pockets of the previous ownership group as they were able to include this $200 million into the purchase price of the club.  The result: the Padres still have outstanding debt obligations on a stadium that Padres executives (at the time of the proposition vote in 1998) promised would allow the team to sign marquee players, and John Moores walks away from a deal in which the team sells for $720 million more than it did when he purchased it in 1994.

baw5720
baw5720

The funny thing is that this article is now being linked to by several national sports websites.  Now the whole US can see what an idiot Chuck Strouse is.

Nice professional response, Chuck.  You continue to embarass yourself and the MNT.  And to bring in Loria/Marlins as a reason not to disclose the docs is simply moronic.

wijjy
wijjy

Yeah, keep miking this story no one cares about. Some investigative journalism: a source sent you documents.  

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

     So by denying the illegally obtained documents because MLB is a business The Miami New Times is claiming some sort of moral high ground?  That is exactly what your article says.

Tony Castaneira
Tony Castaneira

So by denying the illegally obtained documents because MLB is a business The Miami New Times is claiming some sort of moral high ground? That is exactly what your article says.

Juan Tanamera
Juan Tanamera

Bud Selig is a big part of the "problem" to begin with.

chucks3
chucks3

@Roger782 Glad you have faith in baseball. I wish I had similar faith they would right their wrongs. I believe baseball will get the answers it seeks. But I think a change in leadership is critically necessary if anything is to actually be done. Owners have gotten a free ride for too long. Journalistic ethics play into our decision as well. You fail to address this in your otherwise well thought out response, which is too bad. Thanks for taking the time.

theblackening82
theblackening82

@baw5720 Actually the mentioning of the way Selig has handled the Loria situation is spot on. Bud Selig thinks it's okay to arbitrarily pick and choose which travesties he can rail against, but the truth of the matter is it is BEYOND hypocritical for him to go after those named in the Biogenesis scandal while allowing Loria to get off scot free while continuing to destroy the Marlins, and I for one am glad that someone who has the power to take a stand is finally doing so!

chucks3
chucks3

@baw5720 Hey, babe, i put my name on this....what is yours? 


Roger782
Roger782

Definitely.  I apologize for my initial internet rage, that wasn't really necessary!  Bud Selig must go.  You're spot on with that.  And there must be an ownership change, or some change on how that's all negotiated.  Essentially, there needs to be precautions in place to make sure Loria and others like him never take ownership of a team ever again.  I completely missed the whole "second page" thing, embarrassingly, when I wrote out my response.  I think journalistic ethics are a completely valid point to cite here, and you're in the right.  There needs to be a change, and while I might think it would be useful for some cooperation with MLB, I think you all have done a good job exposing the story in the first place.  Kudos to you on that, and thanks for the response that was far nicer than it could've been.  

 
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