Regardless of how the battle between Alex Rodriguez and Bud Selig ends, the rest of baseball will take note of the result.
The superstar third baseman has come under heat recently for his involvement with Biogenesis, a company that has links to providing performance-enhancing drugs to professional baseball players.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Rodriguez is among the group of about 15 players expecting to be suspended due to evidence found by the league.
However, the New York Yankees player is also expected to get worse punishment than his peers. According to Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk, he could receive a lifetime ban for additional issues:
The league, according to the source, believes that it has “compelling evidence” of significant malfeasance on Rodriguez’s part, including use of performance enhancing drugs, steering other players who sought to take PEDs to the Biogenesis clinic and his attempts to obtain and possibly destroy evidence from the Biogenesis clinic.
Even if Rodriguez is not banned for life, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the suspension will almost certainly be severe:
As a result, A-Rod is finally ready to consider a settlement, according to T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com. The player had reportedly been presented with MLB's evidence in the case to help him make a decision.
In reality, a settlement would be much better for Selig and the rest of the league than a full ban. At this point, it seems like the commissioner is willing to make an example out of him just for being difficult instead of simply not following the rules of the league.
Regardless of how you feel about the situation, it is important to follow due process. If everyone else involved in this incident is likely to receive a 50-game suspension, as Quinn reported, it seems a little over the top to completely kick Rodriguez out of baseball.
Instead of sending a message that the league is strict on drug use, it would say that it is willing to pick and choose who to go after.
However, the biggest thing that this would do is help out the teams enabling this to happen. There is no question that the Yankees would love to get out of their massive contract with Rodriguez, and a ban from the league would allow that to happen.
Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter is one person who believes that New York should not be able to get the salary relief from this situation, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN.
He is absolutely right, because then any organization can simply look the other way when it comes to the use of performance-enhancing drugs without facing consequences. Their players can perform well on the field and then simply go away when caught.
In reality, a team could even supply struggling players with supplements in this no-lose situation.
This would not be fair for the player, regardless of if he cheated or not, and it would not be fair to the other teams in the league that are trying to do the right thing.
On the other hand, the suspension must be strict. Players who have been caught using these drugs over the past couple of years have not really suffered at all.
Melky Cabrera failed a drug test during the best year of his career and then proceeded to sign a two-year, $16 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Bartolo Colon also got a new deal after being suspended and came back to be an All-Star this year.
Meanwhile, Sherman reports that these players will not be suspended this time around due to time already served.
These are two athletes who clearly benefited from illegal practices and they are still in the league as though nothing happened. It is obvious that these cases do nothing to discourage players in the future from cheating to get ahead.
Even Ryan Braun's situation does not represent a worst-case scenario for players. He was suspended for the rest of the season by the league, but this was a lost season for the Milwaukee Brewers anyway.
Basically, the outfielder loses a couple of months of games that mean nothing, and he comes back next season with his same large contract.
The key for these suspensions should be to improve the future. Everyone will be watching to see how these cases turn out, as they will affect how PEDs are used going forward.
Too light of a punishment on the players and they will continue using, while too harsh of a punishment will provide incentive for the teams to let people go. People will also know that an unbalanced penalty for Rodriguez would just be for show, and it would not be a realistic consequence for everyone using.
Selig has to find the right middle ground for how to handle this situation. The only certainty is that whatever he does, it will not go unnoticed.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.