It looks like the leak of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez’s names as having tested positive for steroids back in 2003 is going to have consequences after all. Just not for the players, or for the person who leaked the sealed information. Instead, EDITOR & PUBLISHER says that the MLB Players Union is focusing its wrath on NEW YORK TIMES reporter Michael S. Schmidt, who broke the story on Ortiz and Ramirez’s positive drug tests.
(Donald Fehr might be retiring, but he’s taking people down with him.)
Union head Donald Fehr issued a statement on Friday saying that Schmidt and the New York Times had broken the law by reporting the leaked information, and that the MLBPA intends “to take the appropriate legal steps to see that the court orders are enforced.” Which means that Schmidt might want to get a sitter for his cat, if the treatment of previous reporters breaking blockbuster baseball steroid stories is any indication.
After SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams broke the story about the BALCO investigation, they were rewarded with a meeting with President George W. Bush and an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” They also got to spend 18 months in jail for their troubles, as they were found to be in contempt of court after refusing to name the sources that leaked sealed information to them. It look lawsuits and Congressional intervention to get the court to release them.
So while Fehr’s assertion that reporting on sealed information is illegal is almost laughable, the danger is anything but funny for Schmidt. If Fehr is able to get authorities to look into who leaked the information (which is a crime), Schmidt could easy be subpoenaed and compelled to reveal his sources or face the same fate that Fainaru-Wada and Williams did.
The bottom line is that the MLBPA is clearly moving into bullying, threatening tactics in an attempt to scare future reporters off of pursuing further names from the 2003 testing. Which tells me that there must be some really big, shocking names on that list if they are so keen on blocking distribution of the list. Like it or not, this story is not going away any time soon.