(Image: AP/Morry Gash)
Following ESPN’s report that Tony Bosch will cooperate to help MLB suspend up to 20 players, JSOnline published an editorial that badly missed the point. Headlined “Has Ryan Braun let down his fans?”, the sanctimony was laid on so thick you could almost choke on it. The focus of the editorial was that Braun needs to come clean about his steroid use if he hasn’t been truthful up to this point.
Of course he should, but the issues raised by ESPN’s sources go beyond whether or not some athletes cheated. Indeed, the most serious implication is that MLB intimidated Bosch into cooperating with them, and that he only agreed to do so because he believes MLB will help him avoid prosecution. ESPN’s report contains the following description of Bosch’s agreement to cooperate with MLB:
In exchange for Bosch's full cooperation, sources said, Major League Baseball will drop the lawsuit it filed against Bosch in March, indemnify him for any liability arising from his cooperation, provide personal security for him and even put in a good word with any law enforcement agency that might bring charges against him. Sources said negotiations over the agreement, which lasted several weeks, stalled over the last point, as Bosch wanted the strongest assurances he could get that MLB would help mitigate any prosecution.
Why would Bosch believe that MLB has the power to mitigate any prosecution? That’s a much more urgent question than whether or not Ryan Braun let down his fans. If only there was some local journalistic institution that could get to the bottom of it…
Journalists typically take their responsibility to be watchdogs and hold powerful entities accountable seriously. “Speak truth to power” is a phrase often associated with the practice of meaningful journalism. Yet this is how the JSOnline editorial board describes its feelings on MLB:
Some years ago, we thought that MLB was slow to recognize the corrosive damage of steroids on the game. More recently, MLB has taken smart and tough steps to rid the game of the scourge of drugs. Investigating Braun and other players, including megastar Alex Rodriguez, is proof of that.
Not exactly giving voice to the voiceless there. The ESPN story describes Bosch as “nearly broke” and says avoiding a costly legal battle with MLB is likely one of his motives for cooperating with them. But apparently JSOnline is cool with this kind of thuggish behavior as long as MLB is doing it under the guise of ridding the game of drugs.
Commissioner Bud Selig lives and works in Milwaukee. He eats lunch at Gilles Frozen Custard most days. One would think his hometown newspaper wouldn’t have much trouble getting Selig to comment on why Bosch believes MLB can influence law enforcement agencies. They might also ask why Selig thinks it’s appropriate to threaten some nearly broke guy with a lawsuit – particularly when Bosch has never been accused of doing anything that harmed anyone. At worst, Bosch helped a group of consenting adults improve athletic performance in a manner that most baseball fans consider unethical.
The view of JSOnline’s editorial board is that Braun shouldn’t let his fans down. My view is JSOnline shouldn’t let its readers down by failing to hold the MLB commissioner accountable for tactics that border on blackmail.