Fred Grimm

Fred Grimm: MLB lavished love and money on its favorite fink

Such a precious image: Anthony Bosch, South Florida’s most infamous steroid peddler, living the Miami high life before slouching off to serve his federal prison sentence — hitting strip clubs, expensive restaurants, running up prodigious hotel bills.

With Major League Baseball picking up the tab.

MLB lavished Bosch with love and millions because, as baseball officials asserted in a letter to the U.S. attorney last year, he “not only provided invaluable assistance to it in enabling the successful suspensions of 14 players, but also has assisted in sending an important message to the millions of young athletes who emulate their heroes and therefore feel pressure to use PEDs [performance enhancing drugs] in pursuit of their athletic dreams.”

Of course, this same fake doc had happily supplied local high school kids with his illegal performance-enhancing concoctions from Biogenesis, his Coral Gables “anti-aging” clinic. But what really mattered was that Bosch agreed to rat out his clients as long as MLB paid his bills. Best of all, he provided the records and testimony that implicated Yankees star Alex Rodriguez.

An indication of how much Bosch’s cooperation was worth to MLB surfaced last week in a story by my colleague Jay Weaver, writing about the case of a local high school baseball coach implicated in Bosch’s PED-peddling scheme.

We knew that MLB spent more than $4 million on lawyers, bodyguards and public relations for their star witness but defense attorney Frank Quintero filed assertions in the federal court case against disgraced baseball coach Lazaro “Lazer” Collazo that MLB money had been diverted to support Bosch’s exotic lifestyle before the feds carted him off to the pokey. I was particularly impressed by the $19,000 bill Bosch, AKA “Doctor T,” ran up at the Biltmore Hotel. Talk about an enhanced performance.

Perhaps because prosecutors worried a jury would find Bosch too sleazy to believe, Collazo, who coached at both the college and high school levels, got off with a misdemeanor plea deal. He was sentenced to two years of probation Monday.

Despite baseball’s love letter, Bosch was sentenced in February to a not-very-lenient four years. U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles was not moved by all Bosch had done to get 14 baseball players suspended for a few months. “To my dismay, so much of the focus has been on Major League Baseball,” the judge said at the sentencing. “Very little attention has been focused on the minor victims and the defendant’s conduct.”

Yet, without the MLB player scandal, Bosch would likely still be in business, pumping PEDs into kids and filling older patients with testosterone, growth hormones and other dubious drugs with no proven effect on aging but with possibly dangerous side effects.

Anti-aging joints operate unfettered in South Florida, ignored by law enforcement and state regulators. “They’ve popped up all over the place,” said Bernd Wollschlaeger, former president of the Dade County Medical Association.

Give MLB credit for one thing. Baseball’s well-paid rat showed us the kind of low-down characters lurking in what Wollschlaeger called the “dark corner of medicine.”