The ritualistic rage at Alex Rodriguez feels less like justice than a public stoning, and it’s Exhibit A that the moral crusade against performance enhancement is as unhealthy as the thing it purports to correct. Whatever Rodriguez’s transgressions, is he really so much more culpable than any number of the people he played with or for, including baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who makes his living off the sweat of other men’s bodies and whose apparent idea of justice is to use the threat of a lifetime ban as a publicity tactic?
A-Rod is either deserving of a lifetime ban or he’s not. He may very well have done everything he is accused of, but what we have here isn’t a genuine assessment of his offenses but rather a squeeze play by Selig, an attempt to pressure A-Rod into forgoing his due process. Whatever the evidence against Rodriguez in the Biogenesis affair — and it may be significant — the commissioner is unmistakably less interested in a fitting penalty than he is in shutting up A-Rod — and at the same time bolstering his own weak reputation on PEDs.
Insight on the Nationals and all the latest news from Post reporters Adam Kilgore and James Wagner.
Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, now playing for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, vowed to keep fighting to play in the majors. Rodriguez is facing a lifetime ban in a performance-enhancing drug scandal.
Selig and A-Rod’s attorneys are discussing a “settlement” according to reports. A settlement? The word is an apt description of how this commissioner operates: What’s most important to him is not the health of players but the health of revenues. Last year Selig bragged on the “Mike & Mike” radio show, “I said to the owners, ‘Look, guys, in the end you can judge me by asset values. Because in the end, that is really the sum total of everything we do.’ ”
A-Rod is the perfect defendant for a show trial. He is despised alike by spittle-flecked hecklers behind the plate who scream at him for not hitting in the clutch and by solemn self-appointed keepers of the emerald chessboard’s sanctity for admitting four years ago to PED use during a three-year stretch with Texas from 2001 to 2003. He’s an incurably self-conscious phony who incredibly still insists he’s “a role model,” an awkwardly hapless stumbler who is always getting caught, whether frequenting a shady clinic or letting Cameron Diaz feed him popcorn on camera like Cleopatra taking grapes from a love slave. He is a tone-deaf egotist who never understood the deep resentment he engendered by being baseball’s highest paid player and then not producing astronomic numbers. The reaction to him by fans and critics has always been excessive to the point of disturbing. My friend Joe Posnanski wrote maybe the truest thing ever about A-Rod and his audience: He gives them “guilt-free hate.”
But none of that is reason to ban him for life. It’s one thing to scorn and ridicule him and another to align him with the Chicago Black Sox. We can’t know what the evidence against A-Rod is because the commissioner hasn’t produced it. The armchair judge searches in vain through A-Rod’s career for the whopping numbers that suggest he committed some grave act of distortion at the plate, the smoking gun statistics that he got some kind of unnatural power boost from steroids.