Alex Rodriguez is always around us. It’s not so much because of Alex Rodriguez, but instead because of how the media will jump on his every word, or everything he does. The guy is like an “old penny” my friend Randy says, and he’s right. ARod's always there... somehow, somewhere, sometimes annoying, and rarely ever helpful… like an old penny, like an old "ARod"…it’s the same old story.
Let me be crystal clear. I am a fan of Alex Rodriguez and I’ll get heat for that until the day I die. No, it’s not for what he’s done in pinstripes, but it is…er, or was, for his ability to hit the ball harder and farther than anyone and to make one of the largest amounts of money that I have ever seen in a career. Sure, we can go tit-for-tat, but I don’t want to.
I liked watching Alex play and while I never considered him one of the smarter guys on the field, he was smart enough to negotiate contract with the Yankees that we all knew was ridiculous at the time. I do not blame any party for that, not Alex and not the Yankees. It was business. At the time, one could argue that the man was surely on his way to breaking the all-time home run record. The plan, according to my own theory, was to get Alex signed long term and one day bring the all-time home run crown back to the Bronx, where it belonged. Back then, looking at all the players available, Alex may have been the only one who could do that. All of that changed though… and with chaos surrounding this man and his reputation tarnished, there is no doubt now that Alex’s time has run out.
Now you wonder, “What the hell is he talking about?” I’ll tell you. It starts with the 1990's in baseball and ends with Biogenesis and the connection to Anthony Bosch. Sure, nothing is proven, but Al and 20 + have their names attached to that Biogenesis clinic and while there might not be hard evidence, somehow Major League Baseball will be sure this time that they will drop the hammer on these players to set the biggest example EVER of “stomping out drug use” in baseball. Why do you ask? Because Major League Baseball has ignored this problem since the 1990’s when PEDs were rampant.
Baseball was dying in the early 90’s and with players hitting home runs, baseball was slowly coming back. So, why not just turn a blind eye and let the fans come back, right? That, in my opinion was the MLB plan...ignore it. So, we DID come back to watch the long ball and we watched smaller ballplayers get huge and crank out home runs at an alarming rate. Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, etc.
They were all there and they all became baseball heroes. With that, baseball returned bigger than ever. Couple that with the greatest run ever by the most decorated franchise ever, the Yankees, winning 4 titles in 5 years and we hit an all-time high in America’s National Past time. "Perfect!", thought Major League executives…we’re back on top!
And now, after it was revealed that many players “may have” or “may not have” used PEDs, Major League Baseball almost seemed to me like they were caught red handed! Sure, there was no way to prove that MLB knew all these players were using, but observing it all and looking back now, my opinion is someone knew. So MLB decided to “enforce a system to crackdown on PEDs.”
They did... and for a bit, it worked, until big time players were dumb enough to still use and get caught. Manny Ramirez was caught twice and then ran off to Taiwan, his reputation forever tarnished. He was always lazy, but now he’s guilty and lazy.
Melky Cabrera was caught, and not only that, he admitted it and even had a phony website to try and cover his tracks. MLB handed out their “stiff” fines, and these players took the fines like candy, only to show up after the suspension was over to play again…almost like nothing happened. They were back at work and the suspension was like a halfway house or something. Don’t believe me? Well, answer me this then; How does Bartolo Colon get caught, admit to it , serve his 50 game suspension and then wind up as a chosen pitcher for the 2013 American League All-Star team? That's Bull! Yet, MLB will let it happen. I mean, doesn’t anyone see something wrong with that?
That brings me to the past 24 to 48 hours. It’s been reported that Ryan Braun is not cooperating with MLB investigators on his matter with Biogenesis, read HERE. ARod will meet with MLB today to answer questions, read HERE. There is also wide speculation that both of them, and the 20 others on the Biogenesis “list”, will be suspended for 100 games each because of the connection with Biogenesis. I ask 1 question here… How does that make sense? How does someone like Melky Cabrera, who tried to hide his trail on a phony website and admit to using only get a 50 game suspension and these guys get 100 with basically no evidence except for a piece of paper with their name on it? It doesn’t make sense. (Brilliant take by Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk HERE.) The point is, at the end of the day, while some of the blame needs to be handed to the players who were stupid enough to use, much of the blame has to go toward Major League Baseball, who is now in a pickle so big, it HAS to do something, ANYTHING to show that this time they are really, REALLY serious. More serious than the last time they were serious about cracking down. Bottom line, it won’t matter if ARod and Braun and the others are innocent OR guilty, MLB will do what they can with their high priced lawyers to sway this their way because if they don’t, baseball will crumble once again and for Bud Selig who is near the end of his career as Comissioner… well, he won’t go out as the guy who did nothing. His ego won’t allow it. So, he’ll do this, he'll hand down the “law of MLB” hard… this time it’s real… and this will definitely show MLB is doing something. But in the end, this will be drawn out.
There will be long appeals and players continuing to lawyer up and it will become a circus once again and at some point, much like the Roger Clemens trial, the fans and the media will get tired of it, forget about it and then, most likely it will fade away. It’s a dog-and-pony show and we all know it… the fines, the suspensions… they don’t work.
Now, you can say I’m laying a lot of responsibility on MLB. I am, but you get this, right? My opinion is simply that baseball didn’t do enough, they’ve never done enough and now they have to really and truly do something! It's my opinion of course, you can have your own, no problem.
Alex Rodriguez is not guilty in the Biogenesis scandal. Neither is Ryan Braun, Francisco Cervelli or the others… YET. But they have been accused and that’s how our justice system works. Sure, they could be guilty, but we just don’t know that yet. I do know this. Selling newspapers happens when ARod’s name is attached to it and every media outlet is doing it You get clicks when ARod is attached on the Internet. You don’t when Bartolo Colon’s name’s in the headline… that’s just a fact. There’s that name again… ARod… like an old penny, he’s always there.
I hate this new world of PEDs. It sucks. And so, I have a message to MLB again, the same message I’ve had for a year now here on Bleeding Yankee Blue… shame these guys… SHAME THEM. Fines don’t work for millionaires… embarrassment does. You want to humiliate a player? Tell them they aren’t a role model. You want to get through the player’s thick skulls? Tell them they get caught 1 time, they are banned for life.
I suggested a simple Public Service Announcement, paid for by the player caught, and hosted by the player caught (and admitted, that’s another conversation because it gets muddy.) I'll use Bartolo Colon as the example, after all, he's admitted guilt, read HERE.
(Below is the statement I would force failed testers to use as a new policy suggested by BYB)
“My name is Bartolo Colon, I pitch for the Oakland Athletics, but I tested positive for drugs and cheated. I am now suspended for 50 games. What I did was wrong. Don’t be like me. I am not a role model. A role model works hard to achieve their goals.”
Play that 30 second spot on every sporting event for a few weeks. Hand out an automatic 100 game suspension, erase their stats for the entire season they used in... make them pay. Sure, the Player’s Union will protect their players, but if they were really, really serious about fighting PED use in baseball, They'd cooperate with MLB and they'd do the unthinkable, they’d actually help fight this.
MLB will ignore me, the Player's Union will to, because they've got it all figured out. They want the revenue and no scandal surrounding the sport. They have their layers and layers of people that are just happy to have a job in the organization and they’ll do what Bud tells them to do. But there is no doubt this Shaming idea has to be put in place because nothing, NOTHING else works.
And ARod… yeah, I know he does these things to himself, the shirtless trick in Central Park, the “alleged”conversation with Anthony Bosch during the playoffs last year, read HERE, but I’m going to say something unusual… I feel bad for this guy. Think about it... How would you handle being a punching bag on a daily basis? You’d want to scream. Sure, he’s done a lot of this to himself, but the media is killing him daily for every little thing he does. Sooner or later it feeds off itself and it just ain’t fair after a while.
Bottom line it's time for a much harder and aggressive track if baseball really and truly wants to fix this, or... well... this will just continue to go on and on and show up every 5 to 7 years... like an old penny.