Saturday, July 12, 2008

New York Times on Bowden-Rijo Investigation

Michael Schmidt of The New York Times has a story on the web edition on the alleged Bowden-Rijo bonus-skimming scandal that repeats the report that Bowden is being investigated as a suspect and that contradicts Bowden's characterization that he was not questioned as a suspect.
Washington Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden and his special assistant Jose Rijo are two of the people federal authorities are investigating, the lawyer said.
The Times seems to have a different source than the original story, which identified their sources as MLB officials. The NYT story identifies their source as "a lawyer with knowledge of the inquiry." (I suppose the MLB official could also be a lawyer, but to me it reads as someone else.)

The NYT piece also has several direct quotes from the source that give some interesting details on the scam:

“As the process continues, it is going to be much larger and is going to involve other teams, several general managers and other scouting directors, and players are going to have to meet with agents,” the lawyer said.

“What some of these scouts would do was overvalue a player and tell a team that a player is worth say $600,000 and then tell the player ‘I will give you this money and sign you but you have to give me a certain percent back,’ ” the lawyer said.

The lawyer added, “There will be a question as to whether the general managers turned a blind eye and accepted” the practice.

Completely reading the tea leaves here, I have a couple observations:
  • Additional sources add credibility to the story, and having the NYT confirm it adds a lot. The NYT certainly gets their share of stories wrong (coughJudith Millercough), but with two ESPN reporters who Brian at NFA says have a good track record, Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn, and now NYT confirming the story, it's more worrying.
  • Regardless of whether Bowden is involved or not, there's a dispute about the nature of his questioning. We now have the NYT and a apparently a separate source confirming ESPN's report that Bowden is indeed a suspect. Someone isn't telling the truth.
  • I would be curious to know more about these sources. I've written about how many enemies Bowden's made in baseball, so it's not not hard to imagine someone with an axe to grind leaking something embarrassing to JimBo. But if the Times' attorney is on the FBI side or someone on the DR side, that would add some credibility to me.


Mike said...

Thanks for linking this story.

bdrube said...

The most distressing thing about this story is how it tarnishes one of the few organizational successes of the past two seasons, that being the emergence of the DSL-1 Nats into that league's version of the '27 Yankees.


Nationals Fan said...

Indeed. The more I think about this, the more I think Bowden really, really needs some kind of full, clear, public exoneration. MLB needs to come out at some point and say that either the leaks were wrong or the Nationals were totally cleared. It's not enough if it happened but Bowden didn't know about it. If anything happened on his watch or if there's any cloud at all left over the team, he needs to go, just to clear the air. He doesn't bring enough to the table to live with it otherwise.