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Chasing A-Rod

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The pages are a place to dream big, but even here a meaner reality nips at his heels. Next to one business plan, Bosch listed personal problems to deal with: IRS, child support (which he was always behind on), smoking, finances in general. Indeed, most of the notebooks are about money he’s owed. They’re a running debt ledger, like a bookie might keep. There are lists of hundreds of names, each with a number next to it, the amount owed.

MLB was only interested in a small part of what Bosch had written. One page caught investigators’ attention. At the bottom of one lined page from 2012 is written the name “A-Rod.” Under it is the alleged protocol, which included what Bosch said were code words for HGH and other banned substances. But as tantalizing as that was, it didn’t mean anything. Maybe Bosch was listing Rodriguez the way he listed a yacht and a plane—things he’d like to have.

Without Bosch (who through a lawyer declined to comment for this article) to explain and authenticate the notebooks, they were useless against Rodriguez. Of course, if A-Rod could get Bosch to refute the charges, Major League Baseball’s case would disappear. So it was a race. The problem was that Bosch had disappeared.

By August, baseball had reached an agreement with thirteen other ballplayers whose names were linked to Biogenesis. They accepted suspensions of 50 to 65 games. But Selig had imposed a 211-game suspension on Rodriguez, claiming that he’d used the drugs for longer than the other players and also that he’d worked to “obstruct and frustrate” their investigation, though it wasn’t specified how. The suspension might end his career. And it would also be expensive. If he didn’t play, he’d potentially lose more than $30 million next season.

So, with little to lose, A-Rod chose to fight, assembling a squad of big-name lawyers. For lead litigator he chose Joe Tacopina, a fierce cross-­examiner who, as a college hockey player, had spent a lot of minutes in the penalty box. Tacopina et al. went to war, filing suit against MLB in October, accusing it of a “witch hunt.” For good measure, they sued a Yankees doctor for allegedly trying to ruin A-Rod’s playing career, accusing him of medical malpractice and lack of informed consent. Rodriguez replaced the restrained Sitrick with Berk Communications, a small shop founded by Ron Berkowitz, who’d come up through the celebrity and high-end-restaurant circuits but had a crucial advantage: Berk actually liked A-Rod. And then, as the last element of his dream team, Rodriguez signed up Andy O’Connell of Guidepost Solutions, which had helped clear the sexual-assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn by exposing the questionable background of his accuser.

O’Connell’s first task was to get to Bosch before MLB. Before he’d disappeared, Bosch seemed to be on Rodriguez’s side. He had released a statement through his lawyer denying that he’d given any banned substances to MLB players. If he’d sign an affidavit to that effect, it was game over.

Since his character is part of the story, Rodriguez wanted me to talk to a character witness, and his choice was an odd one: Cynthia, his ex-wife. “You’re going to love her. She’s an amazing lady. I love her to pieces,” he said, “and she’s one of my best friends.”

Cynthia met me in a café in Coconut Grove and then a second time in the elegant though hardly ostentatious home she designed on Biscayne Bay. She’s not just toned but muscular, an attractive, petite blonde with smooth skin and piercing eyes and two bright diamond earrings. She met Rodriguez when he was 21 and she was 22. She wasn’t a sports fan. He told her he played baseball. “That’s great, but what do you really do?” she’d said. Cynthia is a traditional girl from a close-knit, religious family who lived a few blocks from her parents for a time—and she was a college graduate, which impressed Rodriguez. She’d earned a master’s degree in psychology and had practiced as a therapist.

She had every reason in the world to dislike Rodriguez. He’d humiliated her in the press; there were reports of Madonna and Rodriguez together shortly after the birth of their second child. But five years later—they divorced in 2008—she simply said, “I was disappointed.” She still esteems him. In the aftermath of the separation, he was generous and thoughtful. “He really made sure that everything was taken care of,” she told me. “It was a very nurturing process.” For her, that wasn’t an exception. “I saw something in him that I still see in him, and what I see is still very good.”


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