In the midst of the arbitration hearing last week, Rodriguez sued Major League Baseball, claiming it conspired to ruin him.
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined to comment for this story, citing the league’s confidentiality rules and a court-imposed gag order. But in the past, MLB officials have defended their aggressive strategy.
“Those who complain about our tactics are really upset about our effectiveness,” Courtney told The New York Times in July.
Money, power and muscle
Under Selig’s 20-year reign, baseball profits have soared from $1.2 billion to almost $8 billion a year. Critics argue that baseball’s previous see-no-evil approach to steroid use helped the game — and its owners — recover from labor strife that prompted a 1994-95 shutdown of the game. After the sport resumed play, steroid-fueled sluggers shattered home run records, bringing fans back to the ballpark.
The landscape shifted in 2007, with the release of the Mitchell Report, an investigation commissioned by Selig that detailed the game’s pervasive doping problem. In the aftermath, Selig created an investigations division and negotiated a new labor contract containing a tough drug-testing program. With the new PED testing regimen in place, Selig declared an end to the game’s steroid era, hoping to seal his legacy as the man who cleaned up baseball.
Then the Biogenesis scandal exploded. Selig and baseball faced a public relations mess after the Miami New Times ran a story earlier this year naming nearly 20 ballplayers who were allegedly Bosch’s clients at Biogenesis and a previous incarnation, Biokem. The commissioner dispatched his investigative team, headed by Dan Mullin, a 23-year veteran New York City cop, along with a brigade of investigators, to South Florida to show that baseball was on top of its latest PED problem.
Mullin, 55, faced a daunting challenge: Prove that players were taking banned substances even though they had not tested positive.
Without the legal power to force ballplayers to talk, MLB hatched a plan: In March, they filed a civil lawsuit against Bosch and his associates, saying they had interfered with baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program. That allowed them to pump the defendants under oath for information that would implicate the players.
As information was gathered, “sources close to baseball” selectively leaked various nuggets to the New York tabloids and ESPN.
When Bosch agreed to cooperate, he was dropped as a defendant.
Among others named as defendants was 29-year-old Marcelo Albir. Albir, who is on the Biogenesis client list, was a University of Miami ballplayer about eight years ago. More importantly, he roomed with Braun while they were UM teammates. In February 2012, Braun had had challenged a positive drug test and won.
MLB alleged in the suit, without providing further detail, that Albir was a conduit between Biogenesis, Braun and other players. They wanted him to talk. They left repeated messages containing threats of possible law enforcement involvement if he didn’t cooperate. They offered him money, visited his father’s business unannounced and, finally, used a ruse to get past the security gate at Albir’s Brickell Key apartment complex, pretending to be serving official legal papers.
“Major League Baseball’s tactics and threats of law enforcement involvement for its collateral purpose cannot be justified under any circumstances,” said John Lukacs Sr., Albir’s lawyer.