Facebook Inc (FB), BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY): How Being Social Can Cost A Baseball Season

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) have been heavily involved in the baseball Biogenesis scandal that this week resulted in 13 suspensions to go along with the rest-of-the-season ban for Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun.

The Florida lab that apparently supplied various performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to a number of athletes has been under heavy fire and legal scrutiny, and now just an affiliation with the company has brought down the curtain on 14 players’ seasons.

Only one, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, is able to appeal his ban, which he has done with arbitrator Frederic Horowitz.

Facebook Inc (FB), BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY)Ah, the Joys of Being Social with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)!

The story goes that the players who have been swept up in the Biogenesis scandal were nailed by some damning circumstantial evidence since there was no record of any of the players failing any drug tests for known PEDs. Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reported that an “electronic trail” of various Facebook posts and BlackBerry Messenger chat transcripts were followed and traced back to these players and their involvement with the Biogenesis lab, which had apparently engineered some PEDs that  could not be detected by current testing methods adopted by Major League Baseball.

Commissioner Bud Selig was able to provide  this evidence to each of the players and their representatives, and was able to convince 12 of them to accept 50-game suspensions without the possibility of appeal. Braun could have appealed but decided to take his suspension now and end his 2013 season since the Brewers are having to take to hard liquor to finish this dreadful season.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, has appealed his 211-game suspension, and will continue playing  until his appeal is decided upon, which may not come until after this season is over. The Yankees, somehow, are still in some kind of playoff chase at this point, which likely explains why Rodriguez is appealing. It makes more sense for him than for Braun.

As these are their own form of legal proceedings, we do not know what Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) posts or BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) Messenger chat messages tipped off the MLB investigators to the connection with Biogenesis, but apparently there were enough dots to connect that MLB had several people working full-time on this investigation, finding connections  in social media with the lab and the players and tracing back histories and comments – perhaps even phrases or keywords – to track the information so that MLB could make its case to the players.

The Genesis of Biogenesis

This “electronic trail” that was generated through Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) messages and posts certainly opened up a new avenue to catch cheaters, according to Daivd Prouty, chief counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the players’ union. “It both complicates things and adds a layer of proof that certainly wasn’t available many years ago.”

Players like Jhonny Peralta and others were drawn into the budding scandal when the Miami New Times alternative  newspaper wrote an expose about Biogenesis and its connections to prominent professional athletes and PEDs. The story broke in January, and it didn’t take long before MLB started snooping around.

And without any positive drug tests on record – Braun had one positive test in 2012 overturned on a technicality – the league had to come up with more unconventional means to gather “positive” results from the players who were implicated. Maybe MLB took a chance that these players were ego-centric enough to tout their performance, at the same time willing to forward word-of-mouth guidance to friends and teammates in the game for ways to improve their  future contracts by  jacking up better stats.

Whatever it was, being social just cost these players the rest of this season. And for some of them, perhaps theire careers. Should Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Thorsten Heins be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the contributions of their companies to the integrity of baseball?

While there may be a case, the roles these companies played can certainly not be ignored  by fund managers invested in these companies, like Leon Cooperman and Jim Simons. But for those players who really don’t quite understand the power of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), allow Ellen DeGeneres to provide evidence in the video clip below.