Patrick Clark, last seen around these parts getting praise for his terrific piece about baseball in the Dominican Republic (it was in Triple Canopy, the web magazine co-run by CSTB referrer and friend-of-the-program Sam Frank), has started a blog on the subject of international baseball. This is a good thing, and even better considering the (rumored) bombshell — which Clark tells me comes from someone he “trust[s] very much and [who] travels in the right circles” — that leads off his first post. Those who follow baseball won’t be surprised to see kleptocratic execu-goof Jim Bowden (above) in the mix.

I heard quite a rumor through the grapevine the other day, to wit that Jim Bowden and front-office types in other organizations may have made up Dominican prospects, signed them, and pocketed the bonuses.

That is, as I understand the rumor, they would have filed scouting reports on boys who did not exist so that they could embezzle cash from their employers. So long as the bonuses they assigned to these fictional prospects were small enough, they could simply stash the imaginary prospects in their Dominican academies and let the fictional players wash out after a couple of years…

The bonus-skimming scandal is not the simple victimization story that it is sometimes portrayed as, and it is bigger and more complicated than we understand…The Esmailyn González affair makes a useful example: the most telling aspect of that story is not that the boy and his advisor lied about the prospect™s name and birth date, but that when the Nationals inked the player for $1.4 million, they reportedly doubled González™ next highest offer. To speculate, if González (now known as Carlos Lugo) did not receive the entire $1.4 million (minus his advisor™s take), has he been ripped off? I think it™s more accurate to say that he™s been used to rip off the Nationals.

There’s more, and it’s worth reading; Clark has followed up on the story and will hopefully be chasing it as much and as hard as his day-job allows. After all my philoso-waxing about the difference between blogs and non-blogs and blog prose and non-blog prose earlier today, this is a nice reminder that blog posts can still serve a news (rather than musing-oriented, philoso-literary) purpose even when they don’t meet the probative/sourcing standards of print journalism. Yeah, it’s irritating when Murray Chass beats on about Mike Piazza’s (alleged) backne, but that’s mostly because Chass just seems to be curmudgeoning, rather than trying to move a story forward. In the right context, and with the right intentions, a rumor is worth reporting even if — as is the case with Clark’s revelation — it’s coming from a single, anonymous source. Especially if an enterprising journalist with some real resources at his or her disposal can follow up on it and bring some truth to light. If what Clark heard is true, this is a big story. We just have to hope it actually becomes one.