A-Rod's Latest Steroid Mess: What's True, What's False, and is Anyone Getting Blackmailed?
Trying to sort through the latest Alex Rodriguez-related mess--I'm not going to call it a scandal yet for reasons that will come up in a moment--is like trying to read the New York Review of Books on a crowded subway: it's hard to find one line that connects with the next.
The Times fired the first shot in an online report Thursday that appeared in the Friday print edition. All subsequent reports that I've read (including the Daily News, SI.com, etc.) took their lead from The Times story. The first piece to put the facts in place without jumping to conclusions was written by ESPN's razor-sharp T.J. Quentin and Mike Fish.
Sources familiar with MLB's investigation into a Miami-area clinic say MLB investigators have been told that Alex Rodriguez paid a former clinic employee to prevent the release of potentially damaging documents.
Those same sources say that while MLB investigators find the Rodriguez information credible, the investigators have no physical evidence to connect the New York Yankees' star to payments.
The New York Times reported Friday that MLB investigators had evidence that Rodriguez bought documents from a Biogenesis employee, but a source close to MLB's investigation said that was not correct.
That strikes me as being at the crux of the matter so far: The Times reported that MLB investigators had evidence that Rodriguez bought documents connecting him to the Biogenesis clinic, which was dealing in performance-enhancing drugs, but ESPN' s investigators say that a source close to the MLB investigation says this is not true.
Now, if is true then The Times and everyone who has reported the same facts is vindicated, but if it isn't true, and ESPN is right, then they're all wrong and--what?--we're all back to square one?
To try and follow some of these reports is to descend into a deep, dark pit of confusion. On Saturday, the Daily News reported that their sources--unidentified, natch--confirmed that "a business associate of Anthony Bosch, the owner of the now-defunct Biogeneis, made the documents available to MLB and players named in documents from the anti-aging clinic that were leaked to our sister paper the Miami New Times in January. Per the Daily News:
The sources said the associate used two South Florida businessmen to contact MLB officials and the players to see if they would be interested in bidding on the documents that included detailed information about the purchase of performance-enhancing drugs and possibly player signatures.
Wait, what? What kind of "businessman" works as an intermediary between the investigative unit and the players under investigation by that unit? The only kind of businessmen I know who would do that are the kind of guys who are usually known by police by other kinds of names. And why is MLB attempting to do business with such people? And did MLB do business with them?
One of these businessmen, according to the Daily News, said "I stay out of trouble as much as possible." Well, that's reassuring.
The question is did MLB bid for these documents against Rodriguez and other players? If so, what kind of dollars are we talking? And who won the bid? Apparently there were other bidders as well. As the Daily News says, "Media outlets were also reportedly approached about purchasing the documents ..." What media outlets are we talking about here? ESPN? Fox News? The Daily Show?
Did A-Rod outbid Bud Selig and MLB for the documents? And if he did, here's one juicy scenario, suggested, of course, by the Daily News, about what might happen: "Rumors have spread through the league and its players that A-Rod possesses a list of names and documents that he has either leaked to the media to deflect attention to himself or destroyed them before anyone can see them."
According to the source, Rodriguez "also knows all the players who are on the list." Are we talking possible extortion here, or maybe A-Rod figuring that if he goes down, he's going to take everyone else with him? The possibilities are fascinating.
I checked with my own source about those rumors and sources, and he told me that those rumors and sources all started with the Daily News.