The Fix Is In
- Updated: March 21, 2010
Volume III, Issue 5: A Publication For Your Reading Enjoyment
Major League Baseball knocked one out of the park with its recent selection of Sandy Alderson to head a reform movement in baseball in the Dominican Republic. Alderson headed a task force appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig to study problems affecting baseball here, including widespread allegations of age and identity fraud, skimming of bonus money paid to players, and the use of steroids among prospects.
Alderson delivered a report on his findings and will serve as a special consultant to Major League Baseball to implement those findings. “Major League Baseball faces significant issues [in the Dominican Republic],” Alderson said when his appointment was announced. “But all of them can be resolved favorably through the cooperative efforts of the Office of the Commissioner, the major league clubs, and the government and the people of the Dominican Republic.”
Among some of the proposals Alderson reportedly is considering is the use of fingerprinting to help prevent age and identity fraud. In an August DRSEA INFORMER, I made the suggestion that Major League Baseball start a fingerprinting program for boys in an effort to combat age and identity fraud among young prospects in the Dominican Republic. As part of the Alderson reform proposal, Major League Baseball is also said to be considering starting its own youth baseball league in the Dominican Republic as an alternative to the current system that is corrupted by buscónes, the “agents” who find young prospects and sign them to teams, often taking hefty portions of the prospects’ signing bonuses in return.
Signing Alderson as a consultant is a great move by baseball. Alderson has a solid record as a baseball executive, having worked for Major League Baseball and several of its teams; he has a reputation as a “fixer,” able to come in and swiftly identify problems and create solutions.
He still has a difficult task ahead of him. Baseball people here tell me that while there is great respect for Alderson in the Dominican Republic, he would be making a huge mistake to think reform will work without the cooperation and consent of the Dominican government and baseball officials; something he apparently understands.
“Baseball depends on the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Republic depends on baseball,” one government official told me. “There must be joint agreement on reform or it won’t work here.”
In an apparently related development, Major League Baseball fired Ronaldo Peralta, head of its Latin American operations, just days after announcing Alderson’s hiring. Peralta had worked in the Santo Domingo office since it opened in 2000.
I had met Peralta several times; a nice guy, but rumors of his demise have been circulating for months after his leadership and judgement were called into question. A year ago, Peralta hired his brother-in-law, Jose Antonion Frias, to investigate age and identity fraud among Dominican baseball prospects. Frias was fired after accusations he took bribes to falsify information in his investigations.
Insiders say Alderson exacted Peralta’s firing as a clear message that he means to change the way things have been operating in the Dominican Republic.