Alex Rodriguez suspension, PEDs: Thomas Boswell’s take


(Associated Press)

In his weekly online chat, Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell was asked for his thoughts on Alex Rodriguez’s suspension and steroid scandal that has bubbled up again:

This is either a very short answer: “Good riddance to bad rubbish” or a very long one.

MLB certainly appears to have taken an ends-justifies-the-mean stance on their nail-him-to-the-wall hunt to get A-Rod. And debating those means is worth doing.

But pro sports is also a result-oriented world. And the results — for MLB — are extremely good. The sport, and Bud Selig have proven beyond any doubt that they will use their full powers to enforce and then defend their anti-PED rules. Remember, arbitrators have sided with baseball players MANY times. I’d say more often than not, especially on huge decisions, like the one that finally ended the ’94 Strike. An arbitrator let Ryan Braun beat the system on a chain-of-custody issue a year ago. So A-Rod was operating not in a court of law facing some felony charge but in a WORKPLACE dispute about whether he broke the rules that players and owners had collectively agree to. And he was doing it in a framework where you make your ultimate case to an arbitrator, not a jury. That’s the system. One that has been favorable to players and defended their rights many times.

In that context, all 12 other players that MLB suspended in the Biogenesis case ACCEPTED their penalties. They said, in effect, I did it and I’m taking my suspension. A-Rod was deemed to be the worst offender — worse than a dozen who didn’t even fight the final MLB decision. He had every resource of a man who’s made a vast fortune — and he’s used it.

And baseball still got a full-season suspension upheld by an arbitrator.

As every legal expert is now saying, it is extremely unusual for the courts to overtune an arbitrator’s decision in an industry where collective-bargaining rules and stanbdards obtain. I’d say A-Rod’s chances of getting any ultimate vindication are close to zero.

But he’s desperate. AND the Yankees still owe him $61-million, all guaranteed, for ’15-’16-and-’17. If he makes himself a big enough pain in the neck — and he’s been trying to set a world record for months — with the Steinbrenners just say, “Here is your money. We realse you. GO AWAY.” Then A-Rod has the cash, can say, “They railroaded me. I never did it” and might even get some time like the Marlins to sign him in ’15 (though I doubt it).

When you get caught, cash is a good friend. When you face a lifetime of accusations, it’s the best among bad cholices to be able to say, “I never admitted it.” And when you hate baseball, Selig and the Yankees as much as Rodriguez now does, anything you can do to embarass or anger them probably feels better than a sharp stick in the eye.

A-Rod has said: Selig “hates my guts….It’s about his legacy…(He wants to) put me on his mantel…That’s a hell of a trophy.”

That is correct. Shouldn’t baseball hate his guts for what he’s done AFTER he already admitted to PED use in ’01-’03 in texas? After he got the biggest contract in the game’s history? After he tried to make it to 800 homers by cheating — and cheating LONG after the game said THIS IS CHEATING.

Looks like Alex is ready to be stuffed and mounted.

It was an ugly hunt. Baseball probably shouldn’t be proud of its methods. But because they showed they’d use them this time perhaps they won’t need to do it again. Yes, more ends-justifying-means.

But the last few days have been good for baseball with far more long-term benefits outweighing short-term black eyes.

More on Alex Rodriguez:

Wise: A-Rod is addicted to fame

MLB witness outlines Rodriguez’s PED program

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Cindy Boren · January 13, 2014