* 25 days until the Feb 23, 2024, spring training season opener with KC
* 59 days until the Mar 28, 2024, regular season opener against the Cubs
No birthdays, Rangers signings or Rangers history linked to Jan 25. Today there is just the anniversary of one unhappy modern piece of general baseball history.
January 29, 2013
The Miami New Times Breaks the Biogenesis Scandal
On Jan 29, 2015, the Miami New Times ran the first of its many articles on several ML baseball players and other athletes who received PEDs through a recently closed clinic in Coral Gables, FL -- Biogenesis of America, a/k/a Biogenesis Laboratories.
Biogenesis was a health clinic that was first registered in March 2012, but which had apparently operated for at least a few years prior to that date in Coral Gables, purportedly specializing in weight loss and hormone replacement therapy. It was run by Tony Bosch. Biogenesis' income seems to have been based in substantial part on lucrative arrangements to provide controlled or illegal PED substances to professional athletes and others, such as trainers and club pro's who needed to be fit. In 2012, Biogenesis clients Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colón and Yasmani Grandal tested positive for PEDs under improved testing procedures, but were not linked by MLB or the media at the time to Biogenesis. Those suspensions, however, led to the other Biogenesis baseball clients renigging on their financial arrangements with the clinic and avoiding it. Most of the clinic's employees quit in the Fall of 2012 when they were not paid, and the clinic finally shut down in Dec 2012.
That might have been the end of the story, had not an employee, Porter Fischer, who was stiffed on a $4K "investment" in the clinic, decided to get revenge. Fischer was a promoter and sales rep for the business who had at least some inkling of the MLB connections. It was Fischer who sorted through the records and made the connections of different identities, aliases and code names used for certain clients, and who is believed to have essentially put the story of the operation together and grouped the documents.
Having obtained the prepared documents from Fischer, investigative reporter Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times broke the initial story and then, being the sole person other than Fischer and Bosch with the records, strung out daily feature-length detailed pieces on the more prominent ML players for maximum dramatic effect. With the mainstream news, the sports media, MLB and law enforcement all clamoring for the records, which the newspaper refused to surrender at the time, and with the celebrity players and Bosch initially denying the allegations, and the surreptitious nature of the operation and disclosure, the initial newspaper stories were widely read and quoted. Then, with the MLB and law enforcement investigations, governmental inquiries and the various confessions, the newspaper's stories remained hot media items at least through Aug, with periodic reprises thereafter. Elfrink's original stories, which included details likely prepared by Fischer, had to be withdrawn by the newspaper in July. Although the player identifications and some transactions proved to be generally correct, the timeline originally published was not, and the stories on at least Gio Gonzales and Danny Valencia proved to be erroneous. Nevertheless, Elfrink parlayed the media sensation into a position as an investigative-reporting editor for the NY Post, and got a couple of books out of it.
Per Fischer, the number of athletes linked to Biogenesis extended far beyond what was ever reported. "In just the four years that I know, it's got to be well over a hundred, easy," he told ESPN's Outside the Lines. "It's almost scary to think about how many people have gone through [the clinic] and how long he's gotten away with this." Fischer told ESPN that he knew of athletes from the NBA, boxing, tennis, and MMA who were involved.
The MLB was the only sports organization to take the allegations seriously. The MLB purchased the records and then sued Bosch and five "business partners", including a nephew of A-Rod, alleging that the six had "actively participated in a scheme ... to solicit or induce Major League players to purchase or obtain" PEDs. In May, Bosch agreed to cooperate with the MLB for its dropping him from the lawsuit. As MLB prepared its punishments, the US Attorney's Office in Miami opened a federal probe of Biogenesis, and Bosch eventually pleaded guilty under a plea arrangement to one count of illegal distribution of testosterone only.
On Jul 22, MLB suspended Ryan Braun for the remainder of the 2013 season (65 games and the postseason). Braun lost $3.25MM as a result, but did not appeal the suspension. ESPN reported that Braun decided to "strike a deal" with MLB after being presented with the evidence against him. Braun had previously tested positive for testosterone in December 2011, but maintained his innocence and ultimately avoided suspension for that violation on a technicality that his test sample had been improperly handled.
On Aug 5, 2013, A-Rod was suspended through the 2014 season (211 games at the time of the decision), but was allowed to play in 2013 pending his appeal. An arbitrator later upheld the suspension, but did not impose the suspension on top of the time that A-Rod played pending his appeal, technically reducing the period of the suspension to 162 games, representing the entire 2014 regular season and postseason. The MLB stated in a press release that the length of A-Rod's suspension was the result of "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years" and "for his attempts to cover up those violations and obstruct a league investigation". For his part, A-Rod turned the proceedings into a media circus. In the latter part of the regular 2013 season, while the suspension was on appeal, A-Rod filed a lawsuit against Commissioner Bud Selig and other MLB officials, accusing them of engaging in a "witch hunt" against him. After keeping relatively quiet during the postseason, as soon as the WS ended, A-Rod resumed accusations in the media, both personally and through his lawyers, targeting future Commissioner Rob Manfred, who, they claimed, "persistently attacks Alex's character with baseless, cowardly allegations". Manfred replied that "Mr. Rodriguez's use of PEDs was longer and more pervasive than any other player, and when this process is complete, the facts will prove that it is Mr. Rodriguez and his representatives who have engaged in ongoing, gross misconduct." On Nov 20, A-Rod stormed out of the arbitration hearings, calling the whole process "abusive". After Fredric Horowitz issued his ruling on Jan 11, 2014, effectively reducing the suspension from 211 games to 162, Rodriguez immediately filed a lawsuit in federal court in NYC against both the MLB and MLBPA seeking to have the suspension overturned. Then, on Feb 7, he dropped his lawsuits and accepted the decision.
Nelson Cruz was the only player involved in Biogenesis and suspended, who was then playing for the Rangers. Cruz had been an All-Star that season, as had Everth Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Cruz, Cabrera and Peralta, along with 9 other ML and MiL players connected to Biogenesis agreed to 50-game suspensions without the right to appeal -- Antonio Bastardo, Francisco Cervelli, Fautino de los Santos, Sergio Escalona, Fernando Martinez, Jesus Montero, Jordan Norberto, Cesar Puello, and Jordany Valdespin.
In addition to those 13 players, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal each had previously been suspended in 2012 and had already served 50-game suspensions for their involvement with Biogenesis. Two players mentioned and publicized in the Biogenesis documents and media reports, Gio González and Danny Valencia, were cleared by MLB.
Lance Pugmire, What spurred MLB investigation? Disgruntled employee (LA Times 2013)
Biogenesis scandal (Wikipedia)
The Biogenesis PEDs scandal explained (The Guardian 2013)
Ryan Braun suspended rest of year (ESPN 2013)
Alex Rodriguez (BR Bullpen)