We get it. MLB wants to throw the book at Alex Rodriguez and has tried to do that in the form of a 211-game suspension for the aging slugger, detailed here by Yahoo Sports' Ronald Blum. The sides are currently involved in arbitration after Rodriguez invoked his right to fight the suspension.
While MLB and its commissioner, Bud Selig, may want to drive A-Rod from the sport, the drama that continues to surround A-Rod is hurting the sport. Both sides are unhappy, but both sides need to meet somewhere in the middle to resolve this. An agreement that both sides will ultimately be unhappy with would be best for all parties involved just so both sides and the sport of baseball can move forward.
Handing A-Rod a 211-game suspension when reigning 2011 MVP Ryan Braun was given only a 65-game suspension is going to be hard to justify. USA Today's Erik Brady has the recap of Braun's suspension. Was Rodriguez's behavior more than three times worse than Braun's? It's hard to explain, even with A-Rod's history.
The 13 other players found guilty in the Biogenisis scandal were given 50-game suspensions to serve at the end of last season. A player like Jhonny Peralta already served his suspension, played in the postseason last year and just recently signed a four-year deal worth $53 million, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Meanwhile A-Rod continues to cause drama for the sport, storming out of the arbitration hearing, according to Wallace Matthews at ESPN New York, and going out into the media to state his case. Even if A-Rod is lying and doing this for show, it looks very bad for baseball. The last thing that baseball needs to do is turn A-Rod into a martyr.
Baseball needs to sit down with A-Rod's attorneys again in private.
MLB needs to offer a reduced suspension, say something in the range of 80 to 100 games for next season with the understanding that A-Rod needs to admit his guilt, has to agree to increased random drug testing and has to make a sizable charitable donation to a mutually agreed upon charity. It hurts, but it would be reasonable.
Attorneys for both sides can negotiate what further penalties for A-Rod might look like if he tests positive again. Lifetime suspension or the 211-game suspension kicking in would seem justified. Baseball could put provisions in against his contract as well.
If the 38-year-old A-Rod is thrown a lifeline that allows him to continue to play next season—even if it is for only half of the season—he would likely take it.
A-Rod is trying to accumulate stats, and playing is the only way that he can do that. Losing a full year at the age of 38 sounds like a bad idea.
Braun has shown that a player can offer a vigorous denial and then hide behind a statement proclaiming his guilt. As much as A-Rod might fight it, it is probably his best option.
The New York Yankees are bystanders here, but they would probably like to know A-Rod's availability for next season and beyond. As much as they would like to be out from underneath the remaining $86 million on A-Rod's contract, it is more likely that the team and the player need to call a truce in order to put this behind them.
The time is right for a settlement.
Baseball needs to end the A-Rod drama and move forward.