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Buster Olney on M&M: Ryan Braun could become ‘Lance Armstrong of baseball’ if proven to have used PEDs

06.05.13 at 2:25 pm ET
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Buster Olney

ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the recent break that Biogenesis of America owner Tony Bosch has reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to talk about allegedly sold performance enhancing drugs to prominent players in the league.

Olney said that one smart thing MLB did to convince Bosch to talk about his sales was file a civil suit against him back in March. The suit gave MLB the leverage it needed due to other legal and financial issues surrounding Bosch.

“In general the reaction in the legal world was that it was a frivolous lawsuit,” Olney said. “Well, you know what — I totally thought at the time was it was a brilliant move because what that enabled them to do was start to — if they got the go-ahead to go forward with the case it allowed them to come in and depose people and put pressure and now they file a lawsuit against Bosch and Bosch has to pay a lawyer and according to the reporting done by [ESPN reporters] Pedro [Gomez] and T.J. [Quinn], Bosch is under some financial strain because he has got some other pending legal issues as well.

“I don’t know if Major League Baseball is paying him, but that is certainly one thing they could do if they choose to and say, ‘Look, we want to have all of the information possible, you’ve got some legal issues, we will give you a consultant fee.’ I don’t think that is outside the realm of possibility. So he may be looking for relief from legal issues, he may be looking for literal financial relief and he could be getting it from Major League Baseball.”

Major names in baseball such as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera were named as potential players to be suspended for being connected to Bosch’s sale of performance enhancing drugs. Olney pointed out that of the more than a dozen players who are tied to Biogenesis, Braun could have the worst fallout from the report.

“If he gets suspended, if this is proven, to me, he becomes the Lance Armstrong of baseball,” Olney said. “Because we have heard a lot of players, we heard about players that have used performance-enhancing drugs and we have heard a lot about players that have used performance-enhancing drugs and denied it, but the way that he went after the collector if in fact he did use, that was unconscionable. He was trying to ruin this person — take down his reputation if in fact he did this. I think he has got a lot more at stake than just a mere suspension because of how he handled that day when he won his appeal and he came out aggressively and talked about suspicions with the collector.

“You go back and watch that press conference he did in February 2012 when he won his appeal and it makes you sick to your stomach thinking, you know what? If he knew all along he was using it and he said that stuff, it was appalling.”

While a connection with Bosch’s clinic and performance enhancing drugs will tarnish the reputation of a player like Braun, Olney said this investigation is a good moment for MLB.

“I know some people that I work with have said this is a black eye for baseball,” Olney said. “Personally, I think it is a good moment for baseball because it shows how vigilant and diligent and aggressive they are being. I think we are going to see in the players’ reaction which I am hearing privately from guys — they want cheaters to go down. The change in the culture from 10-15 years ago is dramatic. You have guys now and after Ryan Braun got off and won his appeal, they wanted him to go down. They want him to go down now. I think that in general, that is sort of where the sport is on this. They are trying to deal with a problem and this is a sign that they are dealing with it and that they can.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On what comes next in the investigation: “The big question now is going to be what other corroborating information can Tony Bosch provide for Major League Baseball to go along with his word. And you do also wonder whether or not there are going to potentially be other people who will now fall like dominoes because Tony Bosch goes — ‘OK, yeah, I’ll go along with it, too.’ So let’s say Tony Bosch injected Player X in his apartment or in a hotel room before a game and his attendant John Doe was there maybe that person comes in. That’s the whole question now. Whether or not they can get enough information to back what he is going to tell them in his testimony.”

On the timeline of this investigation: “Well, I think it depends on the nature of the information that they get from Bosch. If all they have is testimony, I think it could be a lengthy process. They are going to have develop other information. On the other hand, if he walks in with a treasure trove and sits down and says, ‘Here’s all of my information. And oh, yeah, here’s Ryan Braun’s phone number. And here are the text messages from him. And here is Alex Rodriguez’s and here are the text messages from him. And can describe the inside of Alex Rodriguez’s house and I can tell you exactly what dates and the security — you know all of those things. If they can do that then I think immediately they could then turn to their player interviews and call in a Ryan Braun and call in an Alex Rodriguez and say this is the information we have, dispute it or not. Then if they do issue suspensions then of course it goes into the appeals process. Really we are probably looking at weeks or months before we get an actual resolution in this whole issue. The speed of it totally depends on the type of information he gives them.

On Melky Cabrera’s name being linked to Bosch: “I think that Melky Cabrera’s case more than any other I think answers the question, ‘Does crime pay in baseball?’ Are you kidding? Absolutely. He got $6 million in salary last year with the Giants, he lost 50 games of that because of his suspension, he signed a two-year $16 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays this past offseason. Even if he gets a 100-game suspension, he is going to walk away from this period with $15.8 million dollars. I think that is part of the reason why the culture of the players is changing so much and you’re hearing more and more and more of players saying, ‘You know what? We have got to eliminate that incentive.’ Because it is clear now that there is a lot of incentive to cheat.”

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