Sympathy For A Scapegoat
In life choices have to be made. People face decisions that can make an impact on so many people whether the impact is for good or for bad. When making a decision a person can tend to not think of those who will be effected by what he or she will do. In sports the choices are made all the time, not all are seen as good moves, whether it is a star player being traded or a player leaving on his own to go to another team, owners wanting new arenas for their teams which results in the raising of ticket prices; more than ever the world of sports and the world of business financials are synced together. In the world of sports controversy can create cash. The fall of a major superstar can create attraction simply based off the wonder of whether or not the star can make a comeback. No one had a clue when Kobe Bryant was going to return from his torn Achilles injury but you probably could have made a bet that opening night was going to be sold out in anticipation that he would be there in action.
No professional sport over the past decade and a half has had more controversy than Major League Baseball. It seemed like from the late 1990’s until now there was always a scandal happening and the scandal was focused on one thing and one thing only, Performance Enhancing Drugs. This year baseball was back in the headlines with the Biogenesis scandal. Early last year Major League Baseball investigated Anthony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic in Florida for allegedly providing major league players with performance enhancing drugs. The main culprits were New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez, and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. Along with them twelve other players were supposedly involved in the scandal. In the end the scandal that was Biogenesis delivered a black eye to game of baseball that MLB thought had gone away years ago. Ryan Braun accepted a deal with MLB that involved him being suspended for 65 games with no pay. Twelve players including Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz were all suspended 50 games without pay but the suspension allowed the players to play in the postseason had their respective teams made the playoffs. Alex Rodriguez received the worst of all with a suspension that not only was slated keep him from playing for the rest of the 2013 season BUT all of next season as well (He ended up appealing his suspension and playing the rest of the season as the appeal went on). The suspensions were brutal. The scandal was the worse thing for baseball since the Pete Rose gambling controversy. Major League Baseball is doing all it can to put the steroid era behind but the era doesn’t seem to want to take its foot off the gas. Is what MLB doing purely for the love of the game? or is this bigger than cleaning up the game?
If you cheat and are caught then you deserve to be punished. No matter the circumstances it is a protocol that pretty much everyone can agree on. What you did was try and get ahead of everyone else. You thought that you could get an edge by sneaking around and finding a loop hole that only you knew of. When you are caught you deserve all the punishment that comes, but is there ever a time where you feel that maybe what happened to the alleged cheater is a bit to much? That those who are out to catch the cheater might have taken it a bit too far? In Alex Rodriguez’s case this could be very true.
This past weekend Alex Rodriguez learned that he would be suspended for the entire upcoming 2014 MLB season following the ruling of his appeal by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. The suspension includes the postseason if the New York Yankees make it. The ruling came after Horowitz heard a testimony from Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis, and evidence that included numerous text messages between A-Rod and Bosch, and maybe most importantly the testimony that Rodriguez did not give. Alex Rodriguez had the chance to testify and defend himself that all that he is being accused of is wrong. but he chose not to which did not help his case and now he is missing the whole season because of it.
This is not really about Alex Rodriguez, but more about Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig. For twenty-two years Bud Selig watched over baseball and depending on what you believe, watched the steroid era happen and did nothing until there was pressure to do something. For the most part it is hard for you to find a person who does not think Barry Bonds was on steroids. Has Bonds ever failed a drug test? No but neither did Mark McGwire. McGwire only came out because he was coming back into baseball as a hitting coach for the St.Louis Cardinals. The 2003 Mitchell report only included Barry Bonds and till this day Bonds has not admitted to using steroids. In 2009 Sports Illustrated reported that in 2003 MLB conducted a survey to see if players were using steroids and 104 players turned out to test positive for performance enhancing drugs. The players were never punished because MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the players association came to an agreement that this was just a simple survey to determine if should change its drug policy. In 2004 the government was investigating 10 MLB players in connection to the BALCO scandal. During the investigation the government seized test results from a lab in California that MLB was using. The results were supposed to stay confidential but somehow were leaked. The SI report only named Rodriguez and the two drugs he tested positive for. A list later leaked that included players such as David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but not only was the list not ever confirmed, but the list only named seven players. The only player confirmed on a list of 104 was Rodriguez which led to him admitting to using Ped’s.
Just like with the SI report the Biogenesis was based off a report that came from a former employer who then told the goods to a Miami newspaper. MLB decided to investigate Biogenesis by having Anthony Bosch be sued this way he can testify in court, but instead of going that route he decided to cooperate with MLB who in turned paid $125,000 dollars for evidence such as text messages between Rodriguez and Bosch from a guy named “Bobby”. Along with the payment MLB is paying for security to be around Bosch and all his legal fees as part of the agreement so that in return he testifies against Rodriguez. During Rodriguez’s appeal commissioner Selig decided not to testify and Rodriguez stormed out. During this whole process Rodriguez has felt that MLB is after him, and that they have nothing on him to present.
““The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review. ” – Alex Rodriguez statement after learning of his suspension.
This was the first paragraph of Rodriguez’s statement following the news of his suspension. Of course he is going to say something like this and defend himself to the fullest, but is this simply just a defense? We know that MLB is the place for guaranteed contracts unlike other pro sports. A-Rod was the first to command a $300 million dollar contract. He is the guy who opted out of his contact to receive a 10 year $300 million dollar deal. He is the inspiration behind guys like Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, and maybe soon Clayton Kershaw receiving contracts worth up to $300 million. He is also the guy that everyone assumed would be the next great home run hitter. He was supposed to not only break Barry Bonds record of 762 career home runs, but become the first man to hit 800, and most importantly the man to do it cleanly. We know he has admitted to using PEDS while with the Texas Rangers, but that was based off a leaked survey that was never supposed to come out. This is whole entirely different situation.
At some point everyone who has watched this drag on his just hoped for A-Rod to simply give up and go away. Not many have ever put to to thought of what if there is something we do not know. The players who all took their suspensions due to the Biogenesis scandal were told of the evidence that MLB had and decided that it was a fight they could not win.
Except Alex Rodriguez.
He said MLB was bluffing, that they did not have evidence that could withstand in court. He walked out on his arbitration hearing after commissioner Selig declined to testify. Major League Baseball’s drug policy states that players who fail drug test for the first time are suspended for fifty games, after that a second offense is 100 games, and a third is a lifetime ban from the game. If this is the case then why is Alex Rodriguez being suspended for 162 games when he has never failed a drug test? What is so vastly different between what Rodriguez is alleged to have done and what the players who did accept the suspensions have done that has caused such a different attack by Major League Baseball. One has to wonder if MLB would pay $125,000 dollars for evidence on Nelson Cruz from a guy named Bobby. His name is Bobby. No last name because MLB never got his last name.
Hustlers Hustle. They see an opportunity when they have one, and go get it. Bud Selig is entering his final year as commissioner. In an era that is tainted by cheating commissioner Selig has never been able to purely catch one of the biggest stars cheating red handed and make him his poster child for what will happen if you try to cheat the game.We only know McGwire cheated because he wanted back in baseball and knew he would have to answer questions. We will never know if Barry Bonds truly ever used performance enhancing drugs. If not for the SI report we would never know if Rodriguez truly ever did either. So if you are a retiring commissioner what better way to go out then with a extreme dagger that shows that you stepped and took down the steroid era. You will be remembered for so many great things, but everyone will remember that you did not let this steroid era just breeze on by without action. With taking down Rodriguez you have your poster boy. You have your guy that you can show the world and say ” This is what happens when you cheat. Do you want to be like this guy?” If this is what Selig wanted then paying $125,000 for information from a guy named Bobby was the only way to go. It was the only way to show the world what happens when you cheat, and think you can get away with it quicker than Ricky Henderson stolen base.
Then you have to wonder what if Alex Rodriguez is right? What if the evidence that MLB has on him is actually flawed and cannot prove that he used steroids. It’s a fight you have to continue to fight if you’re Rodriguez, but if this is just a fight he’s doing knowing that what MLB has on him is legit then he should give up. At the end of the day we might truly never know who is telling the truth in all of this, but for now Rodriguez can plan as many vacations as he wants to for the rest of 2014 while commissioner Selig rides out into the retirement sunset. He may never play another game again, and for a guy who has won three league MVP awards, a world series championship, multiple all-star team selections and gold gloves it’s a sad possible ending for a guy who was slated to be the greatest of all time.