Congratulations Major League Baseball. You've made a sympathetic figure out of Alex Rodriguez.
On Monday, MLB announced the 37-year-old third baseman would be suspended for the entirety of the 2013 and 2014 seasons, which would equal out to 211 games. Here's the full statement from MLB.com:
Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason and the entire 2014 Championship Season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Under the terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Rodriguez's suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline.
Bryan Hoch and Joey Nowak of MLB.com reported Rodriguez would appeal the ban and be eligible to play for the New York Yankees until a final decision of the appeal is reached.
The Yankees' public relations department posted a photo of the team's lineup on Twitter, which featured A-Rod batting fourth and playing third.
Tonight's NYY Lineup at Chicago-AL. First pitch at 8:10 ET. pic.twitter.com/oILITK6sVm— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) August 5, 2013
This whole Biogenesis scandal reeks of MLB saving face and Bud Selig trying to pad his resume. The commissioner is set on retiring after the 2014 season. Now is the time to start building the legacy, which up to his point has been filled with more negative than positive aspects. You've got the steroid era, the 1994 strike, the 2002 All-Star Game and the death of the Montreal Expos.
After turning a blind eye to steroids for so long, Selig now wants to look tough on performance-enhancing drugs. He's making an example of a player who has supplanted Barry Bonds as the face of steroids in baseball.
This is not to say that Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, etc. haven't used performance-enhancing drugs. More than likely they have, given Biogenesis' records. The issue comes in when you consider the league is suspending players not because of positive drug tests, but rather the testimony of Tony Bosch, who is an admitted drug dealer. Bosch only helped out the league after Rodriguez refused to buy his silence.
That's about all fans know about what MLB has against the players. Sports Illustrated's Joe Sheehan summed up how ridiculous the situation is.
The league is instead using Article XII of the Joint Drug Agreement, which says "players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law" (h/t Adam Berry of MLB.com).
It's extremely hypocritical for the league to utilize Article XII on players, while completely ignoring everything that has happened off the field.
Sheehan did a great job of pointing out how the strike of 1994 was much more detrimental on the game, in terms of the public relations hit and money that was lost without games to play. And the man who had the largest part in that strike happening was Selig. How was Selig punished? He get his job as acting commissioner and was named the permanent commissioner in 1998.
Then you have owners like Jeffrey Loria who extort new ballparks out of cities. They demand hundreds of millions of dollars from local governments to fund a new stadium or they're taking their team elsewhere.
It's also perfectly OK for Loria to kill baseball in Montreal. In fact, he's going to be rewarded by getting a new team and a spanking new ballpark that will make him untold millions, while giving next to nothing back to the fans and little revenue back to the city of Miami.
Forget your personal opinions of Rodriguez the person. He's admittedly extremely loathsome and out of touch with fans. That's gonna happen when you have made $300 million throughout your career. That doesn't give MLB the right to bring down the hammer on him, largely on the evidence of a drug dealer.