I was first contacted by my source -- though this website, believe it or not -- about what became this Sports Illustrated article co-written with Lance Williams at the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) back in December 2012. It was published online August 13, 2014, (today) and will run in the magazine the week of August 18. Between then and now, a lot happened.
While I could probably write a book based just on this experience alone, some things will remain unsaid (for now). Not in regards to Lance or the CIR. They were great. In fact, without them this story would've never been known. They deserve the credit for this piece, and to a lesser extent, so does Sports Illustrated for publishing it.
When I first received the info surrounding this story, all signs pointed to Jeff Locke (the Pirates pitcher) fixing games with Kris Barr (the gambler). I had the text messages from my source's cell phone - which MLB investigators purchased, and then it seemed, hid in a drawer back at the league's HQ in New York - and could pinpoint the game(s) in question. The odds matched exactly to what fixers would likely do if indeed the games were rigged as claimed. I uncovered further info relating to both Locke and Barr, and went to MLB with what I had put together.
Unsurprisingly, MLB stonewalled me. Oh, PR there was happy to talk to me, but when I contacted the investigative unit, it became an endless string of cancelled meetings and unanswered emails despite promises otherwise. That's when I decided to find a partner for this investigation.
No one - I repeat - no one would join this project. I won't name names, but I went to several big, well-known sports media outlets plus a few small ones with what I had and not a single one would pick this up and run with it. Then, thanks to a suggestion, I went to Lance at the CIR. Lance co-wrote the book Game of Shadows about Barry Bonds and BALCO. He loved the idea of this project, went to the CIR heads, and they all agreed to work on this story along with me.
Lance did most of the heavy lifting. I was more of an apprentice to he as the mentor, but over time and with a little luck, we put together the story that ultimately was published. Which brings me to another point: not everyone was willing to run this piece. Again, I won't name names, but other sports media outlets balked at the idea of publishing what we had for reasons that will go unmentioned here (find me some time and buy me a drink and I'll give you the dirty details).
And while many have already been bashing Kris Barr for what he did, to me the biggest aspect to this story is what MLB did. There are numerous questioned to be raised with MLB and its Department of Investigations. Most important is why did they not go to the FBI with this information given it is solely the Bureau's jurisdiction to investigate the federal crime of Sports Bribery a.k.a. game fixing? (I attempted to contact the FBI more than once to find out what they knew in relation to this and never received a response). MLB should've handed this off to the Bureau and awaited the results. Instead a private business somehow got police to do their dirty work for them (and to hide the reports on what they did). This should be frightening not just to sports fans - because all of the major leagues possess such "Security Departments" - but to everyone because a private business and/or security force cannot legally do what MLB did. Yet, that didn't stop them.
There's more here than meets the eye. Hopefully, over time, we will all learn more about it. But suffice it to say, it took a lot to get this story investigated and published, and there's more on the table here that needs to be addressed. Will any one else pick up the ball and run with it?