Sunday, July 13, 2008

Maybe this will get Bowden fired

I've been out of town for the past few days, explaining the lack of recent posts. I wasn't really paying too much attention to the goings on of the sports world, other than the continuing Brett Favre drama. But now that I'm back at my desk at the Sun, I noticed this bombshell that may just get Jim Bowden canned once and for all.

Apparently the Nationals are part of an FBI probe on Latin American scouting and signings. Basically, the Nats may have illegally siphoned off money from a "prized prospect" who hasn't actually panned out so far.

I found the underworld of all these signings to be the most fascinating part of all this. I recommend reading this piece from Sports Illustrated, which details all the dirty dealings in the Dominican. To me, it sounds a lot like the world of street and AAU basketball that I encountered while covering Rucker Park. There are adults taking advantage of teenagers who happen to be good at sports.

A source familiar with the Wilder investigation explains that a major league team official, with a nice shirt and pressed pants and in a position of authority, will likely get little resistance from the largely poor and often undereducated player. In some cases the buscon who acts as the agent for the player and the team official agree on how much each of them will receive out of the player's bonus before the player signs the contract. The buscon, who often has a long relationship with the player, convinces the player -- usually around the age of a high school sophomore -- to turn over the money. In the wake of the Wilder investigation, teams are now directly depositing the bonus into a bank account opened on behalf of the player.

A lot of people only associate this funny business with AAU basketball and the wheelings and dealings that go on between agents and handlers. But as we've seen with Reggie Bush (football), all of these European club soccer academys that attempt to sign kids before they reach double digits age-wise, and now with baseball in the Dominican, all of these shady business happens in every sport around the entire world.

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