NEW YORK — While still complicated, some clarity was reached on the Biogenesis scandal after commissioner Bud Selig and union officials Michael Weiner and David Prouty addressed the topic as best they could for the Baseball Writers of America on Tuesday without violating confidentiality issues.
The biggest bullet point was the 2013 season will likely not be one in which players connected with the scandal will serve suspensions. There appears to be a long chain of events that must occur, from a suspension to be handed down by Selig, to the appeal process, and then the decision of an arbiter, who has up to 25 days to make a ruling.
There will be only one arbitrator (Fredric Horowitz) hearing the cases. If all 20-plus players appeal their suspensions, this could become a long process.
It doesn’t mean suspensions won’t be leaked long before the appeal. And the leaking of information has been the source of much consternation from the players’ side.
The other bit of information clarified exactly what Selig can do. That info came from Prouty, the general counsel and the likely successor to Weiner, who is in a wheelchair and fighting brain cancer.
Prouty said the under the PED addendum to the CBA, the 50-game, 100-game, and lifetime bans apply only to players who have tested positive, but there’s also a provision that allows Selig to hand out discipline for other offenses involving PEDs.
However, the document does not specify lengths of suspensions. How long they will be will be up to Selig, and if the union feels they are excessive, they will appeal.
Weiner indicated that it won’t be until next month before the union and Major League Baseball have serious talks on this matter. But so far, Weiner indicated, “It’s been a struggle. Sometimes [MLB has] been forthcoming, sometimes we wish [MLB would] be more forthcoming.
“In terms of what they’ve learned, we have had to fight them every step of the way. It’s been a struggle. Even if we get an agreement, there will probably be more struggles along the way.”
Weiner reiterated Prouty’s interpretation of the agreement that there’s a possibility players could get “five to 500 games.”
Selig seemed more forthcoming Monday on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” indicating he already knew which players were facing suspensions.
The big names allegedly involved are the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Texas’s Nelson Cruz, and Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta. Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano has been mentioned as well, and Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera has been linked, but he has also served a 50-game suspension for a positive test.
Selig has referred to his investigators as “aggressive” on a few occasions. He also indicated that the calendar is a non-issue, that “when the investigation is over, that will be the right time.”
“The only thing I can say about the investigation is that it’s thorough, it’s comprehensive, and it’s aggressive” Selig said. “When they’re done with the investigation, that will be the time, no matter what time of the season it is. We have to do what we have to do.”
Selig and Weiner agreed that players have called for even tougher punishments. Selig and MLB seem to feel this might be the last major rodeo for PED users and that from here on out, you won’t see major scandals like this one.
We’ll see, but MLB feels good about its enhanced testing and ability to detect testosterone, and year-round blood testing for HGH is also a big factor.
Weiner, whose symptoms have graduated greatly over the past few weeks to numbness in his right side, still managed a sense of humor when he spoke of Selig’s appearance on Letterman.
“I understand Bud was on Letterman last night and all the suspensions have been meted out,” Weiner joked. “It would not be wrong to say we’ve been dealing with the commissioner’s office daily.
“When all the interviews are done, we will meet with the commissioner’s office and try to work this out. That’s going to include whether names are going to be announced.”
Obviously, there is no precedent for this situation. Selig will dole out the punishments he feels are appropriate and the union will appeal and bring out the major credibility issues that exist with Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch, who may have to testify in some 20 appeal hearings.
“They have to prove all those cases,” Weiner said.
Horowitz will be a busy man, which is why Weiner feels “I could see hearings as soon as September,” unless somebody fires him. Weiner was referring to MLB firing Shyam Das, who ruled favorably for Braun in his appeal of a positive drug test, ruling the collection had been compromised.
Weiner last week came down on those who have leaked information about the cases before they are heard. Weiner had to send out a second release because media accused Weiner of accusing MLB of the leaks.
“Nobody is more unhappy about the leaks than me,” Selig said. “I know this. The leaks do not come from us. There’s nothing I can do about it because it’s not coming from us.”
Weiner has been a profile in courage, but continues to fight for the rights of players. He’s on an experimental drug which his doctor hopes will help his plight.
Asked how he’s approaching his life right now, he said, “I get up in the morning and I feel I’m going to live each day as it comes. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t take the next morning for granted.
“I look for beauty, meaning and joy. If I find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.