New Book Gives MLB More Image Problems

This hasn’t been an especially good year for MLB, despite the surprise performances of some teams like the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. The sport’s endured among other things a silly feud between its Commissioner and arguably its best player (Mike Trout) over whether he’s doing enough to support their marketing efforts. Ugly racist tweets from players have surfaced multiple times, in each case the players apologizing for actions done in their younger days and seeking forgiveness for their bigoted expressions. 

One of the best rookies in either league, the Braves’ Ronald Acuna, has twice been targeted by Miami Marlins’ pitchers after he hit home runs leading off three straight games. The first time nearly triggered a brawl in Atlanta, and the second led to multiple ejections. Then former manager Dusty Baker unloaded on MLB in a lengthy interview carried in The Atlantic, accusing executives of everything from interference to disparate treatment of Black and Latino veterans.

But now comes a bombshell that doesn’t just represent one or two incidents by players. The new book “Baseball Cop: The Dark Side of America’s National Pastime” (Hachette) by longtime former cop and later member of the sports’ investigative corps Eddie Dominguez doesn’t just cite the misdeeds of players in terms of steroid abuse. It indicts the entire system including current Commissioner Rob Manfred and past Commissioner Bud Selig, while implicating management and team owners for a variety of other sins, most notably exploiting young Latino ballplayers.

Dominguez was a cop for well over 20 years when approached by the Red Sox to become part of their security team.

After holding that position he later joined MLB’s drug investigation unit, working with them for almost six years before it was disbanded. Dominguez argues that the unit’s attempts at cleaning up the sport were compromised by both the Players Union and Manfred, who he says desperately wanted to succeed Selig, and was more interested in just getting rid of Alex Rodriguez than in seeing the sport truly cleaned up.

Dominguez also claims if he and others in the drug investigative unit had been allowed to utilize their DEA and FBI connections to go after suppliers they really could have made a dent in steroid use. In addition he offers names, dates and specific people involved in widespread corruption in Latin and Central America, with scouts stealing bonus money from players, street agents forging ages onto birth certificates and a host of other equally dirty tricks.

However the accusation that’s drawing the most attention is Dominguez accusing the Red Sox’s David Ortiz of having extremely close ties to a gambler for a lengthy period of time while he was part of the team’s security force, something Ortiz has denied. This has drawn so much attention MLB responded to it last week, saying, “Major League Baseball actively cooperated with a law enforcement investigation into the illegal gambling operation that took these alleged bets. Ed Dominguez reported to his superiors at MLB that that investigation, which led to multiple arrests in 2008, did not implicate any players.”

Interesting that this accusation seems to be the one baseball feels most strongly about responding to rather than charges regarding manipulation of contracts for underage Latino players and widespread steroid use being ignored not only by players and managers, but general managers and owners. 

As someone who’s beaten pancreatic cancer and testified in court against major drug dealers who’ve threatened his life, it’s doubtful Eddie Dominguez is too concerned about MLB trying to tarnish his reputation. But if even half of what he claims he either saw or heard about is true, the notion that improved drug testing has cleaned up MLB is at best a joke.

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