MLB's Biogenesis Suspensions Could Be Put On Hold Until Start Of Next Season
MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner yesterday said that he "expects to meet" with MLB officials within a month to learn the results of the league's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic, and "hear what kind of discipline" MLB plans to impose, according to Madden, Thompson & Vinton of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Weiner said that union officials will "try to find common ground with the league on the length of the suspensions and how they will be publicized." He added that the union will "ask that suspensions not be announced until after the grievance hearings that are likely to take place." That could "create a timeline in which suspensions come late in this season and carry over into the next, or perhaps don’t even begin until next season." MLB's drug policy "calls for 50-game bans for violations of the drug policy and 100-game bans for second offenses, but Weiner confirmed that MLB was entitled to depart from those guidelines in the case of non-analytical positives -- guilt based on evidence other than laboratory tests of urine or blood samples" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17). Weiner added that he "hopes the union can engage the commissioner's office in discussions about penalties and appeal procedures 'within the next month' and that appeal hearings for suspended players could start 'as soon as September.'" A source said that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office "believes suspensions and appeals can be processed by the end of the season" (L.A. TIMES, 7/17). In Boston, Nick Cafardo notes there "will be only one arbitrator," Fredric Horowitz, hearing the Biogenesis cases, and if the 20-plus players who reportedly could be suspended by the league all "appeal their suspensions, this could become a long process." However, that "doesn’t mean suspensions won’t be leaked long before the appeal" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/17).
TAKE YOUR TIME: USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz reports Rangers RF Nelson Cruz, who has been linked with the Biogenesis clinic, yesterday "expressed satisfaction that the playoff races might not be affected by penalties." He said, "It would be important because there are some players involved in that (case) whose teams are in contention, and it could impact them." Padres SS Everth Cabrera, also linked to the clinic, said, "It does give you some more peace of mind" (USA TODAY, 7/17). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff notes it has been "widely presumed" each player suspended would "appeal the penalty." But Weiner yesterday "at least allowed for the possibility some players, seeing the case against them, could concede and negotiate an immediate sentence" (N.Y. POST, 7/17). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes of the Biogenesis case, "This serving of justice will be like nothing we have seen." There "are no rules and certainly no precedents." Nightengale: "Clearly, with no precedents in place, MLB will plan to establish its own bench marks for the next Biogenesis case." The penalties imposed now "will be crucial for the future, and the union certainly understands this case will have long-range implications" (USA TODAY, 7/17).
SPLIT INTERESTS: In Chicago, Phil Rogers notes Weiner in the past has "spoken out against the urge to 'prejudge' players" linked to Biogenesis and to reports players "could be given 100-game suspensions for a first offense." But there are "many players who want the Biogenesis cheaters punished strongly," and Weiner "represents their interests as well as those of players who face punishment." When asked if he is in a tough spot, Weiner said, "I'd say we have a challenge. There are some players whose initial reaction is 'Just throw the book at them, I don't care about these guys.' We have to explain to all players what rights those players have. We have an obligation to enforce those rights, and we will. At the same time, we have a drug agreement to enforce, and we will." Rogers notes Weiner and his staff will "get the best deals they can for the players tied to Biogenesis." But he has "been as sincere as Selig in working to educate players on the risks that go with taking PEDs and the desire to have an even playing field for all players" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/17). Phillies P Cliff Lee said of impending suspensions from the Biogenesis case, "This is just proving that the system works. ... Guys are getting caught. You're not getting away with it anymore. It's not like it's a lingering issue." He added, "I hope anyone that does steroids or anything like that, and they're cheating the game, I hope they get caught and I hope they get suspended. That's the way it should be" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/17).
DRUG ISSUES: Selig yesterday skirted around discussing the Biogenesis matter in any great detail during his meeting with the Baseball Writers Association of America. But he did use the forum as another opportunity to outline the sport's strides in drug testing over the past decade. Selig, in referring to a difficult hearing on Capitol Hill in March '05, said, "We must be doing OK. I haven't heard from anybody in Washington in eight and a half years" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). Selig recently said baseball is "cleaner than it has ever been," but also said the players implicated in the Biogenesis investigation face a "day of reckoning." In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom asked, "Do you need a 'day of reckoning' if your sport is cleaner than it has ever been?" MLB "looks desperate as it relies on flimsy legal standing." If you "want to make the game cleaner than it has ever been, then place greater responsibility on a greater number of people to clean it up" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/16).
A BLIGHT ON THE GAME: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes if fans "give up following baseball this summer in the wake of suspensions," that is "their right." Biogenesis "marks a dreadful blight on the game's integrity, and baseball is to be commended for its irrepressible vigilance." It "can't be fun gathering just enough evidence to put some of the game's greatest stars out of sight, and into disgrace." There is "just something about the game itself, an old and familiar lure that proves triumphant in the end." Jenkins writes there was "no dark cloud over baseball" at last night's All-Star Game in N.Y., "because pure competition had arrived, and here came Mariano Rivera out of the American League bullpen in the bottom of the eighth inning ... and time stopped" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/17).