The trouble with liars, as the old line goes, is that they don’t have the decency to lie all the time. Somewhere in his parade of nonsense, paranoia and self-aggrandizement, it seems evident that Anthony Bosch told some truths about Alex Rodriguez and performance enhancing drugs. It just doesn’t seem practical for him to have made it all up. But to get to those truths, wherever they begin and end, you have to traverse a latrine of drivel, stupidity, delusion and a soul-crushing assault on the game of baseball.
The 60 Minutes report (Part I and Part II), in case you have not seen it yet, will make you dislike everyone more. Everyone. No matter how much you may dislike Alex Rodriguez, Tony Bosch, Bud Selig or Rob Manfred, it is guaranteed that by the end of this thing your opinions of them will have dropped substantially. You will like your dog less after seeing this thing.
Is it worth the trip?
Baseball decided: Yes. Absolutely it’s worth it. Why? Well, for an answer to that, you have to wait all the way to the end of the 60 Minutes report. * * *
The report begins with host Scott Pelley asking Tony Bosch what banned substances Alex Rodriguez used. Bosch was the founder and program director of Biogenesis, the Miami clinic that was listed as a weight-loss and rejuvenation center but was in fact selling performance-enhancing drugs to athletes. One of these athletes, it seems, was Alex Rodriguez.
Bosch responded that Rodriguez was using testosterone, insulin growth factor, human growth hormone and various other illegal drugs. An impressive list. Bosch, after explaining that Rodriguez was scared of needles, said he personally injected Rodriguez on more than one occasion. This reminded of Roger Clemens fear of needles -- these guys really should be less squeamish.
Our story begins. Bosch said that on July 30, 2010 -- five days before he hit his 600th home run -- Rodriguez met with him to ask for drugs. Lots of drugs. According to Bosch, Rodriguez wanted the good stuff, the stuff Manny Ramirez used in 2008 when his home runs went up from 20 to 37 (or as Pelley says, Ramirez met with Bosch and, “the next season he nearly doubled his home runs!”).
This will be a constant theme in the piece, by the way: This theme that drugs are magic and can turn hitters into superhumans. If 60 Minutes was doing a commercial for PEDs, they could have hardly done better. In fact, they would not be ALLOWED to run that as a commercial because they did not list off the side effects. I’m constantly reminded of Buck O’Neil’s lament: If baseball leaders want kids to not use these drugs, why do they keep going on and on about HOW WELL THEY WORK? As you will see, 60 Minutes goes to bizarre extremes to make Bosch sound like the world’s greatest scientist and his drugs into enchanted candy that can make all your dreams comes true.
Back to Bosch: He says that Rodriguez was pointed toward becoming the first and only member of the 800 home run club. We see papers that Bosch says are elaborate drug schedules for Rodriguez, schedules timed to the minute. Bosch talks about once giving Rodriguez a blood test at 8 p.m. in the bathroom stall of a night club -- the story never made clear exactly why he needed do to that.
“What were you thinking at that time?” Pelley asked.
“I’m not getting paid enough,” Bosch replied, an answer that could not more perfectly fit the man who gave it. Bosch admitted to being paid $12,000 a month.
Then we were introduced to testosterone troches, which Bosch charmingly called “Gummies.” These were testosterone pills, tiny ones, that you could put in your mouth before a game and would give you what Bosch called “more energy, more strength, more focus.” But somehow these also would be undetectable after the game.
Here, Pelley and 60 Minutes point out that on one date that corresponds with text messages, Rodriguez took these at least one of these gummies. The date was April 6, 2012. Opening Day. Pelley says that Rodriguez had a “great game.” He went two-for-three with two walks, two runs scored and hit a “412-foot double.” The stuff works! “
The combination,” Bosch said, “makes playing playing the game of baseball a lot easier.”
Yeah, well: The report doesn’t really mention that Rodriguez went one for his next 16, hit one home run in his first 13 games and hit just .272 with 18 home runs the whole season, probably the worst of his career up to that point.
In fact, the report doesn’t mention that since working with Bosch -- based on Bosch’s own recollection -- Rodriguez has hit .269/.356/.441 with 41 home runs in three seasons. His body has fallen apart. He has played in three playoff series and in those hit .111 and .125 and .111 again.
“I’m good at what I do,” Bosch said when asked why Rodriguez trusted him.
One other odd part of the report: Pelley for some reason thought Bosch should be feeling regret over what he did, as if he was talking to somebody who had dedicated his life to the honor and integrity of baseball. That was really strange. Pelley seemed on the surface to understand he was talking to a lying drunken drug dealer, but then he asks Bosch how he could do this to the game of baseball. How could you, Tony? You knew it was wrong. You knew it was hurting the game. How, Tony?
“I felt I had a responsibility to do it,” Bosch said. He said, yes, absolutely, if he had not been caught he would still be doing it.
Then, after saying Bosch had no criminal record other than parking tickets and a citation for practicing without a license (with apparently no concern for the countless crimes he was copping to on the show), 60 Minutes cleared the decks to let Anthony Bosch offer a little soliloquy about the game. “I love the game of baseball,” he says. “Unfortunately this is part of baseball. It’s always been part of the game.” Yes, he said “Unfortunately.”
“But this cuts to the heart of fair play,” Pelley said, still appealing to, well, I’m not sure what.
“Fair play?” Bosch said. “If everybody’s on it, isn’t that fair play?”
Thus endeth Part I of the report.
* * *
Part II of the report was, if possible, even more depressing than Part I. Now, we get Tony Bosch talking about how Rodriguez’s associates -- they were called associates throughout the piece -- offered to send Bosch to Colombia to hide away for a while, threatened to kill him and also sent him $50,000 in bribes. The Colombia thing was of particular note. “They said ‘I think you should leave town, we’ll get you a plane ticket to Colombia, you stay there until this blows over,’” Bosch said. “They offered me, I forget the number $25,000, $20,000 a month, and said ‘I’ll give you another $150,000.”
Then, Scott Pelley added this rather unbelievable line:
“Bosch said he was suspicious and turned down the offer.”
Um ... what? Suspicious of what? Suspicious of their motives? Suspicious that they wouldn’t pay the full amount? Suspicious of what kind of home he could get in Colombia? What? The obvious takeaway, I guess, is that he was suspicious that they would have him taken care of down in Colombia. Tony Bosch obviously thinks he’s living in the second half of “Goodfellas,” with danger lurking around every corner.
Is it true? Was Alex Rodriguez hanging out with Miami gangsters who would solve his problems by offing the guy he paid $12,000 a month to give him drugs that were not helping his performance? Or is Tony Bosch a delusional nutjob who somewhere along the way lost his grip of reality and started seeing threats in the words spelled out by his Alpha Bits cereal? Or both?
Fortunately, Major League Baseball’s Rob Manfred brought some integrity to the proceedings. He said that he ordered that baseball pay $125,000 for Biogenesis documents from someone that identified himself as “Bobby.” It’s an honorable name. But, if you fear that there might be some questions about documents from someone named “Bobby,” Manfred made it very clear that extraordinary efforts were made to authenticate these documents. A lot more effort, you would assume, than spent finding Bobby’s last name.
Then, they sued Bosch and his brother in order to pressure him into participating in the MLB investigation. That too worked -- well, the combination of pressure and then paying for Bosch to have bodyguards protect him from “associates” and to pay for his defense against any criminal investigation worked.
“There were the drug things on one side,” Commissioner Bud Selig said of Rodriguez, “and then all the things that he did to impede our investigation.” Yes, when you have an investigation that is so principled and above-board, you certainly cannot have anyone trying to impede it.
Pelley had questions. How could they know Bosch was telling the truth when MLB was paying so much to get him to testify? Manfred had two answers for this. For one thing, Bosch brought along lot of corroborating evidence, which is a reasonable answer.
But listen to the other one:
“Mr. Bosch’s credibility on this issue, whatever his motivations, whatever we did for him, was established by his willingness to come in, raise his right hand and testify,” Manfred said. Yes. He actually said that. Tony Bosch’s credibility -- already set by 60 Minutes at whatever level you put lying, drunken drug dealers -- is established because he raised his right hand.
But wait. There’s more.
“The credibility of any witness,” Manfred continues, “is determined by ... looking the individual in the eye, listening to the story he tells and lining it up with other evidence.”
Oh. They looked into his eyes.
The report at some point shows A-Rod in his pitiful and wretched, “Did you do anything wrong? ... No,” question-and-answer lie-fest on WFAN, and maybe people got a chance to look into his eyes during that pathetic session but at this point there was only turning away.
Baseball is a great game. It is a great game when we are little and we try to hit giant whiffle balls with plastic bats. It is a great game when we play ball with other kids in the neighborhood, right-field off-limits because you don’t have enough people to put an outfielder there. It is a great game when we put on a real uniform for the first time -- with those great baseball stirrup socks and spikes and gloves that still smell like new leather-- and when we swing a bat and connect so well that the hands don’t even feel vibration.
And it’s a great game when we are watching the best in the world play, when watching Miguel Cabrera unleash on a pitch, when watching Clayton Kershaw hit the corner with a fastball, when watching Andrelton Simmons go into the hole and backhand a ground ball or watching Mike Trout run in the outfield. It’s always been a great game, even if there has always been ugliness surrounding it.
At the end of the 60 Minutes report, all is ugliness. A-Rod is guilty and lying, surely, Anthony Bosch seems a first-class lowlife, Rob Manfred comes across as Old Man Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and the only winner in the whole mess -- THE ONLY WINNER -- seems to be the drugs themselves, which apparently work miracles and, if used right, are undetectable.
So what point of all this again?
Scott Pelley ends the report like so: “And Bud Selig has announced his retirement from the game. Part of his legacy is the establishment of the toughest anti-doping rules in all of American pro sports.”
There it is. Bud Selig, who has been commissioner over the worst drug scandal to ever hit American sports, who presided over a game that ten years ago DID NOT TEST for drugs, got 60 Minutes to put that line at the end. Part of his legacy is this glorious chapter of buying papers from Bobby, threatening and paying off Boesch and nailing Alex Rodriguez.
The report ended and only then, if you watch the Internet videos, do you get the biggest lesson of all. You get to see who sponsored the report.