Blog Entry

Bowden trading leather for snakeskin, DOC grays?

Posted on: February 23, 2009 12:50 pm

As another federal investigation gathers steam, the Washington Nationals and, apparently, the Cincinnati Reds -- and Major League Baseball by extension -- are sure to be embarassed by allegations now raining out of the sky regarding current Nationals General Manager and former Reds GM Jim Bowden.

Below are links to two stories detailing the alleged skimming of signing bonuses from players out of the Dominican Republic, one from CBS and one from Sports Illustrated.

When it comes to Jim Bowden, he's always been a slick fast talker of a GM. He was responsible for what I continue to contend could be the worst trade in Reds' history, bringing Ken Griffey, Jr., to the team in 2000 and essentially mortgaging the team's future while accomplishing virtually nothing in the process. Outside of that for me, there is no love lost in the Reds' camp for old Leatherpants, who earned the nickname for his penchant for wearing leather pants. He was the mastermind of such moves as firing Reds' manager Tony Perez 44 games into the 1993 season BY VOICEMAIL. He couldn't even face the guy straight up! And after going to the Nationals in 2004, he helped engineer a trade with the Reds in 2006 that is still talked about in Reds' circles because Nationals' pitcher Gary Majewski, a featured player in the trade, had received a cortisone shot just prior to being traded to the Reds. (After the Reds filed a grievance in 2007 and the trade was investigated, it was determined there was no wrongdoing on the part of Bowden or the Nationals.)

What disturbs me more is to see Jose Rijo's name mentioned in connection with this mess. Rijo is a special assistant for the Nationals, and he has now been linked to a prospect from the Dominican Republic who was older than originally reported during first contacts with the player. Rijo has always been one of my favorite Reds' players and one of my favorite players of all time, but now that could be tarnished.

I would think that many fellow Reds' fans feel the way I do -- it would serve Bowden right to have karma bite him in the butt if he has been involved with skimming signing bonuses. And, certainly, based on what is being reported, the activity goes beyond Bowden and whatever Rijo might have done. But to see Rijo being thrown on the heap with Bowden would be a hard pill for me to swallow. Right now, both are ducking media contacts, but I would venture to say that won't stop those media outlets from pursuing Bowden and Rijo like feral dogs on the scent of tempting prey.

So, it's obvious Bowden has traded those leather pants for snakeskin, and maybe some of the proverbial snake oil we often hear about. But, pending outcome of the investigation that is ongoing, will he be able to cozy up and play "Let's Make A Deal," or will he have to trade in the leather and snakeskin for DOC grays? Stay tuned to your nearest sports information source, sports fans, this one's not over and will likely be an underlying topic of conversation for the entire MLB season, with athletic, political and social dimensions, considering the number and quality of baseball prospects coming out of the Dominican Republic and what a shot at a professional baseball career can mean to so many of those recruits.


Since: Oct 12, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2009 6:32 pm

Bowden trading leather for snakeskin, DOC grays?

Great post, CutMe. A fresh, clean start would be nice. Unfortunately, even after the season starts, we're still going to have this fiasco and all the A-Rod and Barry Bonds nonsense and every other negative thing providing "background noise."

Here's to the 2009 Reds! May they find the groove they're searching for!

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2009 4:35 pm

Bowden trading leather for snakeskin, DOC grays?

Iggy, in terms of the character and judgment of the man, I agree! No huge surprise here. The Gary Majewski trade clearly demonstrates Bowden's character, the Ken Griffey trade, his judgment. Not much new to be too sad or surprised about.

Jose Rijo exemplifies one who loved the game and gave it his all. We loved him right back. Thanks, JB, for involving Jose! Don't suppose it took a shot of cortisone in either conscience, however. In the meantime we await the determination of guilt or innocence.

But what this latest incident means for the perception of the game hurts even more.

I imagine this kind of stuff has gone on for years and is common knowledge to the baseball insiders. "I imagine" because I'm not one of those insiders, just a fan. But with all negative PR baseball has had lately--high  profile congressional investigations (legislators deflecting their own image problems by focusing on the injected or ingested missteps of major leaguers). disputed steriodal records in the MLB books, a kiss-and-tell MLB book or two (we've had those before, too)--we just didn't need a fresh tale of corrupt baseball management. Again, not the first time, but one more time, and this one close to home for us Reds fans. Apparently if you can't manage a winning team, you can at least milk a losing one, and at the expense of talented but vulnerable prospects.

It taints baseball.

Given the history of the game, some would say this taints a tainted sport. Corked bats, spitters, Black Sox, and whites only leagues give them ample reason. Steroids, HGH, and Jim Bowden only continue the probe into the game, those who play it, and a culture that values winning more highly than treating people justly. Of course, it not just baseball culture that's the problem.

And that's where this story gets particularly uncomfortable. The Madoff Ponzi scheme investigation gives way to another tale of stock market chicanery. That comes on the heels of last year's market meltdown, the sub-prime collapse, home forclosure messes, and the erosion of confidence in our financial institutions. Its almost like our culture has a serious character crisis and baseball is only one small illustration.

That's why the national pasttime has been so therapeutic. Despite the mess out there, hope springs eternal. Play ball!

Guess we all need another Jackie Robinson or Josh Hamilton story about now.

I know I do.

Here's to the '09 Reds. [Please substitute the team of your choice!]

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or