Protesting Alex Rodriguez's Potential Lifetime Ban from MLB

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2013

Even though Major League Baseball got Ryan Braun, the biggest shoe to drop in the whole Biogenesis situation will be what happens with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that MLB is looking to suspend Rodriguez for at least 100 games due to his "role with Biogenesis, alleged lies about past performance-enhancing drug use and possible interference in the investigation."

The report also says that, unlike Braun, who negotiated his 65-game suspension without pay for the rest of 2013, Rodriguez has no intention of trying to strike a deal with MLB to lessen his punishment. 

However, the ideal scenario for MLB—and for the Yankees, who don't want to pay Rodriguez anymore—would be a lifetime ban that Jim Axelrod of CBS New York reports could happen. That same report also cites a source as saying Rodriguez is looking to negotiate a deal. 

All of this is to say your guess is as good as mine when it comes to A-Rod's future. Rodriguez may be returning at some point this season, or he may end up sitting out until a punishment is handed down and take action after that. 

But let's just say that the lifetime ban is what MLB really pushes for. What does that accomplish? Does MLB think that will change anything? Here are my objections to a potential lifetime ban for Rodriguez as a result of the Biogenesis-Anthony Bosch scandal. 


The witch-hunt effect

This whole ordeal with Rodriguez and Braun front and center has felt like nothing more than a cheap witch hunt by Major League Baseball with the hopes of sending a message. 

Certainly, some are going to say that's the whole point. If you can strike fear into everyone else by having them look at what happened to these two superstars, maybe it will deter others from using PEDs.

However, Major League Baseball is backing itself into a corner in future dealings with anyone and everyone who has ever used/will use/be accused of using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. 

Remember, despite Braun failing a test in 2011 that was overturned on a technicality, MLB hasn't been able to suspend either player for a positive drug test. 

MLB is getting information from Anthony Bosch, the Biogenesis founder at the center of the Miami New Times report back in January, and using it as leverage against Braun and, subsequently, anyone else who may get suspended. 

But you can't stop someone from playing a sport and earning a living, especially when you have a long list of players who have failed their own test in the past. 

Melky Cabrera is a perfect example. Playing for San Francisco last year, Cabrera was suspended for 50 games in August after having elevated levels of testosterone. OK, he failed a test. He sat down and returned when eligible (though the Giants didn't want him back for the playoffs). 

But that's not where things stopped. The New York Daily News reported that Cabrera and his representatives created a fake website with a fake product to try to explain why his testosterone levels may have been high. 

At the end of the day, what did Major League Baseball do about that? Nothing. Cabrera signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason and has played all season. 

Is that not as bad as, if not worse than, Rodriguez saying nothing to Major League Baseball about Bosch, steroids or performance-enhancing drugs? 

Simply singling out Rodriguez and Braun in this whole thing, when you have a player trying to avoid a suspension by creating a fake website yet receiving no added punishment, only proves how much of a witch hunt this is. 

And what does it say about Major League Baseball that it is so adamant in banishing players for taking a substance that they may believe helps them play better—and by extension, helps their teams win—yet says nothing about players who get stopped for a DUI?

Miguel Cabrera, the most revered hitter in baseball today, was arrested for a DUI in February 2011. He got behind the wheel of a car drunk, went out on the road and could have seriously injured himself and someone else (or worse). 

What did Major League Baseball do to Cabrera? Nothing. 

Cabrera is hardly the only player who has made the news for a DUI. It happened to Yovani Gallardo in April, Shin-Soo Choo in May 2011 and many others over the years. 

Major League Baseball isn't fighting to stop that, even though the potential ramifications of a DUI are much, much worse than someone using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. 


Holding up in the court of law

One of the least talked-about aspects of the Rodriguez scenario is how it will hold up if/when he files an appeal for a suspension. That would certainly put the onus on MLB to negotiate some kind of deal with Rodriguez to accept a penalty. 

And lest you think Rodriguez isn't aware of this, T.J. Quinn from ESPN tweeted that even with MLB trying to kick him out for life, it will be difficult to win an arbitration case. 

Again, that's where the whole thing falls apart. Sending a message sounds nice in theory, but there are collectively bargained rules and regulations that have to be followed.

Unless MLB has hit the mother lode with Bosch regarding information on Rodriguez, which may be possible since Quinn noted that there is more evidence on A-Rod than Braun, any suspension is going to have to be negotiated.

Don't dismiss the fact that, even though he agreed to a suspension, Braun has battled injuries all year, played for a last place team and will return at full strength in 2014. Why wouldn't he take a suspension now, gather himself over the next seven months and start fresh for a team and city that will embrace him the first time he hits a game-winning home run?

Meanwhile, Rodriguez won't benefit from a suspension. He is going to be vilified no matter what. All he can do is play as long as his body will allow.


What does it accomplish?

I have said and written that I don't lose my mind about steroids or PED use in baseball because I don't think it does much to help you with this particular sport.

These drugs help you with brute strength, but baseball is a game that is built around a unique set of skills that don't really apply to what these drugs do. Studies have been done showing that there is no definitive way to say you get an advantage by using these drugs. 

However, I also know that the majority of fans and media don't feel the same way I do. So, let me ask the question I keep coming back to: What does a lifetime ban of Rodriguez, who can see the finish line on his career and has already collected a truckload of money in the process, accomplish?

It is the same question that I am asking about Braun. What kind of message is being sent when Braun still gets to collect more than $100 million on his contract and doesn't have to play for a terrible team the rest of this season?

Don't talk to me about reputation either, because the second Braun's positive test was announced, his reputation was gone. Rodriguez has never had a good reputation in baseball, though New York didn't seem to have a problem with him lighting up Minnesota, Los Angeles and Philadelphia en route to a World Series in 2009. 

So what is being accomplished? Rodriguez is still going to walk away from MLB with more than $300 million in salary, a World Series and three MVP awards. Braun is still going to have his $100 million contract, an MVP award and a long career ahead of him. 

Banning Rodriguez would accomplish nothing because he can pass it off as retirement, which wouldn't be such a bad thing considering all these injuries he's dealt with over the last 12 months.


If you want to talk Rodriguez possibly being suspended, or anything else baseball related, feel free to hit me up on Twitter. 



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