Monday, August 4, 2008

SmileyGate Probe Focused on Nationals, Few Others

T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada of have the latest in the alleged Dominican Republic bonus-skimming scandal, in which Nationals GM Jim Bowden and special assistant Jose Rijo have been implicated.

The headline is that MLB's own investigation has turned up some dirt on Yankees and Red Sox scouts, which no doubt means that media attention to the scandal will increase.

But further down in the story we learn that the FBI's investigation has not (yet, at least) focused on any other teams than the Nationals and the White Sox, whose scouting director was caught trying to carry $40k in cash through customs in Miami. And according to the story:
"One source briefed on MLB investigators' findings said he believed 'less than a half-dozen' teams would be implicated, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Nationals and White Sox."
Of course, as I've commented before, this story is being reported with almost entirely unnamed sources, and at least some of the coverage has had a real anti-MLB bias that raised questions at least in my mind about the objectivity of the reporting.

But certainly there's smoke here, if not fire. And knowing that the FBI is focused just on two teams and MLB's investigation on just a couple more really focuses the heat on Bowden and the Nationals.

It seems as if we might not need to wait much longer for the next phase of this story to play out, as MLB investigators are preparing a report.
"Things are coming to a head," one source familiar with MLB's investigation said.


Anonymous said...

I hope this ends up taking down Jim when he is found quilty. Knowing the Feds, they wouldnt have released this info if they didnt have concrete evidence. Then we will all get our wish, a new GM.

Steven said...

I'm with you, brother (or sister). Don't forget to buy a t-shirt on your way out :)

Hendo said...

Be careful. Be very careful.

If Bowden and Rijo turn out to be innocent, Bowden goes from goat to martyr. That helps no one. The last three presidential elections offer instructive and cautionary examples.

Demand transparency, absolutely, but keep an open mind until there is at least, as they say, a preponderance of evidence.

Steven said...

No question. At this point, we don't know anything, and as I've said before I have no desire to see this kind of think come Bowden's way. For the sake of the mostly dirt poor kids in the DR who were being stolen from (it was the kids who were being ripped off more than the teams, no matter what ESPN says), I hope this whole thing is an isolated occurrence. I have my doubts, but I'm not rooting for this story by any stretch.

The one thing Bowden has done that raises suspicion is that he initially denied that he was questioned as a suspect, and it's become clear that he was. When there's a scandal brewing, and the subject's first public statements turn out to be false, well, it's suspicious. That's all I'm saying.

Hendo said...

There I can agree. Sleazy evasiveness will only hurt Bowden, and justifiably so. And is perfectly in character for him.

If you choose to exploit that angle, I'll be nodding in vehement agreement.

Steven said...

I wrote about that at the time. You can check out one of those posts here if you're interested:

There were like 3-4 posts that day as the stories broke, but that post basically hit the main points.

Hendo said...

Great post, that, and it exactly captures my thinking. Apologies for not taking it into account before.

ckstevenson said...

Bowden may have been directed to deny it by the Feds, so they could continue to build a case (using his info? that he gave for immunity???) against others involved.

Any Nationals involvement in this is horrible for the franchise. It makes us look bad domestically, and even worse in the DR if we were skimming or using people who skimmed off the top.

Steven said...

Really? He may have been told to deny it in the press by the FBI? Seems unlikely, unless Bowden had cut a deal and become an active informant.

I mean, that's just from reading crime novels. What do I know. But that would be quite a fascinating level of cloak and dagger.

Hendo said...

Seen this yet?

I suspect that soon, the Yanks won't be alone in taking action.