If Alex Rodriguez had an off-field reputation like Joe Mauer, would he be suspended for such a draconian amount of time? There’s a sense of, “because it’s A-Rod” surrounding the 211 game suspension that Major League Baseball has handed down on him that it begs the question of whether it would have happened in a similar way if it was someone else.
This is the equivalent of the Rockefeller Drug Law in its undue and selective harshness. As many times as he’s been “caught,” A-Rod technically didn’t get caught by MLB prior to this and is being treated as if he did. He admitted his use, lied about his use, made a fool of baseball, embarrassed the Yankees and has repeatedly flouted any attempts to clean up the game, but the genesis of this suspension is to punish him and use him as an example. Essentially they’re saying to other, lesser players, “We’ll do this to the biggest names in the game, so we’ll definitely do it to you as well. Lay off the drugs.” It’s also a message to the fans, media, politicians and everyone else that MLB is “serious” about a cleanup even if it’s mostly for appearances.
A-Rod’s somewhat like a criminal mastermind to whom nothing would stick and the circle has closed in on him through design that MLB eventually “got” him by careful manipulation of the system to achieve that end. It was either talk and agree to a plea deal or get the toughest punishment MLB can muster and still get through the legal process without an overturn and extended period of time in court. MLB can use semantics such as “best interest of the game” and reference A-Rod stonewalling, lying, vacillating and refusing to cooperate to justify the eventual decision to toss the book at him, but they still have to look in the mirror and share a large segment of the blame for PED use.
If Bud Selig played ignorant to steroids from the time he became commissioner to the day he was humiliated and looked like a doddering figurehead in front of congress, it’s in the same semantics-laden ballpark as A-Rod’s logical defense. I’m hard-pressed to believe the Selig is anything more than a rubber stamp commissioner and just as clueless as to the actual goings on in the game even though he’s spearheading the “get tough” attitude on a culture whose proliferation he turned a blind eye to and even went so far as to tacitly encourage it until it no longer suited him and his bosses—the owners.
The argument could be made that Ryan Braun has been far more damaging to the game’s reputation than A-Rod. It was Braun who behaved as the innocent victim when A-Rod acted like A-Rod. Yet it’s Braun who gets the light sentence due to a plea agreement and A-Rod who’s refusing to back down and getting suspended for an entire season-plus.
211 games is a ridiculously long sentence and if there is still room for an agreement while winding through the appeals process, A-Rod should request something akin to a yearlong suspension that would put him out from now through next year’s All-Star break. He’d be eligible to return in July, get half his 2014 salary and the episode would be over. Regardless of any agreement or legal fight, A-Rod’s next few days as a Yankee are likely to another sordid chapter in the shotgun marriage that hit the rocks midway through and stayed there.
As much of a problem as A-Rod has been, his acts don’t warrant a suspension four times as long as most others are getting. The biggest star with the largest salary gets the worst punishment and had A-Rod acted like a classy professional throughout his career and not an ongoing freakshow, the penalties might have been more in line with the misdeeds. It’s only because it’s A-Rod that the penalties are so crushing and he should fight them because as much as he’s brought it on himself, he doesn’t deserve this devastating a penalty for doing something that a vast number of athletes have been doing under wink-and-nod approval from the game itself.
2 thoughts on “A-Rod’s Reputation Contributed To The Harshness Of His Penalty”
I think that if MLB could prove that A-Rod encouraged and promoted Biogenesis, as he is alleged to have done, then the penalty is not harsh enough and MLB wimped out on it’s chance to discourage PEDs and a culture which promotes them.
Braun is slimy alright, but he was out for his own self preservation, he isn’t alleged to have invited other players to a shady clinic to get around the testing. They also allegedly have records of A-Rod using Peds from this clinic as far back as 2009 on top of the allegation he attempted to purchase the records and bribe the staff there. It goes way beyond what they have on the others- and none of it would’ve come out if Melky didn’t get caught.
So I see no problem in giving a stiffer penalty to the guy who acted like a dealer then those who were merely users. Now the problem will be proving it.
I see your point. But 211 games when A-Rod is 38 and probably doesn’t have many more games than that in him? And to lose $31 million? A-Rod’s right to appeal and I think that MLB issued such a massive suspension because: A) it could possibly get rid of A-Rod permanently; B) it shows how tough they’re trying to be; and C) they know a penalty that onerous is almost definitely going to be reduced to something more tenable like 140 games. Players will still try and beat the tests. It might be a small deterrent, but there will still be a percentage of players who listen to the “Psst, buddy…” from the shadows and buy into the idea that a PED is undetectable.