Alex Rodriguez is not going to his room quietly. There is no failed drug test, as was the case with Ryan Braun, and while there may be enough evidence to suggest a waiver deal for Edward Snowden, the fact is that the Players Association and Rodriguez’s lawyers are going after the boundaries of Bud Selig’s authority, are going to drag Anthony Bosch and his honesty through a shredder and splatter A-Rod all over the Yankees and baseball before this is laid to rest, possibly in September or maybe even closer to Thanksgiving, until the next and last hurrah.
One thing players I heard from Monday said is that the PED storyline has changed dramatically. It’s no longer simply about drug tests and how to beat them; I remember a WADA official telling me that visine could mask amphetamines. It’s no longer about how fast certain substances get out of your body.
The A-Rod and Biogenesis cases were about investigations, not test results. “Baseball must have really done a thorough job, since all the other players agreed to the 50 game suspensions without positive tests,” said one agent last night. It signaled that Major League Baseball is going out looking for other Bosches, other agents who lead their players in the direction of chemists and chemical brokers. It is looking for similar companies in Arizona and California, Rhode Island or Yeehaw Junction, and players had better think about what else MLB can uncover.
A-Rod:“It was a hard day today, that’s for sure, a long day. It’s been crazy. …It was good for me to get the first one behind me.''#Yankees.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 6, 2013
Arbitrators and lawyers will decide if this is a vendetta against Rodriguez, who led whom where and whether or not due process was sufficiently followed. Nelson Cruz didn’t kill anyone and throw his body into a ditch. Jhonny Peralta didn’t punch a cop, then get drafted. Sometimes it seems as if the general public cares more for baseball records than human lives, but now that all this has been aired out and the A-Rod saga remains the headline above Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, it will stain the game.
But it will also cause players and the media to ask, “would the Yankees have won the 2009 world series without steroids?” Or “Would the Rangers have won the 2010 ALDS over Tampa Bay without juice?”
The answers are “probably.” But if someone questions the integrity of results—far more important than a Henry Aaron-Barry Bonds discussion and lecture—then there is a puncture wound in the game, and if it takes MLB/CSI to insure that doesn’t happen, then it’s worth the monetary cost. We all believe in rights, civil rights, due process, but Bud Selig clearly knows that the most important right for any fan is the right to know the outcome was legitimate. As Bart Giamatti always said, there cannot be games without rules, and there cannot be a real game without a legitimate outcome.
It will be a horrible drain on the sport if A-Rod is baseball’s primary story the rest of the season. For all the Yankees have accomplished with all their injuries and sideshows, if they were to make it into the play-in game and, for the sake of argument, beat the Cleveland Indians to go further into the playoffs, it will simply cause the paying and watching customers to further ask what is legitimate, and what is not.
Biogenesis whistleblower Porter Fischer told ESPN’s J.T. Quinn that athletes from several other sports—the NBA, NCAA, etc. —had been Biogenesis clients, but Major League Baseball is the only sport that cared to pursue its leads. That is worth noting and respecting. So is the fact that the men who make their living playing baseball want stricter penalties for users of PEDs.
Unfortunately, until this is behind him, Bud Selig knows he has endured the embarrassment and the oil slicks to insure that there are no doubts about the winners in his sport. If he succeeds, his will be a legacy like no other commissioner before him.