Whether it’s via settlement or via arbitration, by the end of the day there is no escaping the fact that MLB is gonna knock Alex Rodriguez absolutely senseless. Maybe it effectively ends his career. It certainly will cost him tens of millions. No one this side of Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe has ever been blasted to the stone age like A-Rod is gonna be.
But it’s probably worth remembering that the only reason MLB is getting this opportunity is because its testing couldn’t catch A-Rod in the first place.
Really: if MLB’s drug testing program had caught Rodriguez with the Biogenesis drugs in his system, he would’ve gotten a 50-game suspension. Maybe two years ago, maybe last year. Either way, he would have already served his time and been done with it. There wouldn’t have been a broader investigation into his activities and there wouldn’t have been the chance for him to make 50 bad decisions since it started, which I am assuming has happened. Instead, he would’ve gotten the Bartolo Colon/Melky Cabrera treatment and would probably be playing games for the Yankees next week.
But it didn’t go down that way. Colon and Cabrera had the bad luck — which now looks like very good luck — to have been caught on days when the Biogenesis testosterone was in their system. A-Rod did not. That’s all that makes them different here. It’s what made them subject to the collectively-bargained 50-game sanctions and what put A-Rod into this odd world where MLB, with union approval, can go off-books in the discipline department and drop its bunker-buster on him.
That doesn’t change anything, really. And it isn’t some indictment of MLB or its drug testing system. Drug testing will never be perfect. You can’t test guys every day so some people are gonna fall through the cracks. And as such, arguments that these circumstances somehow render A-Rod’s punishment unfair will almost certainly fail given where we are and will definitely fall on deaf ears in the court of public opinion.
But it is probably worth remembering that, as we give Major League Baseball our “attaboys” for getting tough on Rodriguez, that it was only given the chance to due to the vagaries and randomness of random drug testing to begin with. If the pee-collection schedule worked out differently in the past year, we’d be having a very different conversation about A-Rod and drugs and stuff.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.