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.
Alex Rodriguez’s transition into retirement has featured a serious move into the business world. He has gone back to school, worked seriously on investments and has started his own corporation. Yes, he’s set for life after making more money than any baseball player in history, but even if his bank account wasn’t fat, you get the sense that he’d be OK given what we’ve seen of his work ethic and savvy in recent years.
He’s going to be getting another paycheck soon, though. For hosting a reality show featuring athletes who are not in as good a financial shape as A-Rod is:
Interesting. Hopefully, like so many other reality shows featuring the formerly rich and famous, this one is not exploitative. Not gonna hold my breath because that’s what that genre is all about, unfortunately, but here’s hoping A-Rod can help some folks with this.
Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is a Hall of Fame voter. In the past he has voted for players who used PEDs, but he’s never been totally happy with it, seeing the whole PED mess as a dilemma for voters.
On the one hand he doesn’t like voting for users and doesn’t like harming those who were clean by shifting votes away from them, but on the other hand, he doesn’t want to pretend history didn’t happen and that baseball hasn’t been filled with cheaters forever. What to do?
This year he decided to abstain altogether. A fair and noble act if one is as conflicted as Livingston happens to be. Except . . . he didn’t actually abstain:
Major league baseball will confer bronzed immortality on a few players Wednesday when the results of the national baseball writers’ balloting for the Hall of Fame will be announced.
I had a 2017 ballot. I returned it signed, but blank, with an explanatory note.
A blank ballot, signed and submitted, is not an abstention. It’s counted as a vote for no one. Each “no” vote increases the denominator in the calculation of whether or not a candidate has received 75% of the vote and has gained induction. An abstention, however, would not. So, in effect, Livingston has voted against all of the players on the ballot, both PED-tainted and clean, even though it appears that that was not his intention.
This is the second time in three years a Cleveland writer has had . . . issues with his Hall of Fame ballot. In the 2014-15 voting period, Paul Hoynes simply lost his ballot. Now Livingston misunderstood how to abstain.
I worry quite often that Ohio is gonna mess up a major election. I guess I’m just worrying about the wrong election.