Is Major League Baseball going to show us what it has on Alex Rodriguez? I feel like it has to at some point, don’t you?
Maybe not if they settle. If A-Rod and is legal team agree to take some harsh discipline and part of that is an agreement that MLB keep what it has on him confidential, I’m OK with that. Because at least at that point the person most directly affected by MLB’s act — A-Rod himself — has implicitly agreed that the evidence against him is strong and roughly justifies the penalty he receives. But what if he fights? And what if that fight lasts a long, long time? Won’t Major League Baseball have to tell us what A-Rod did exactly?
I say that because, while we have heard report after report about just how badly A-Rod behaved, we don’t have anything but the most broad explanations of it. He allegedly used PEDs. He allegedly lied about it. He allegedly obstructed the investigation. There are disputes about how he did so, ranging from him simply talking to Tony Bosch and/or Porter Fischer about buying evidence, possibly at their initiation, possibly his, to him actively trying to destroy it and intimidate witnesses.
There’s a lot of ground covered in those allegations. If the worst is borne out it may very well justify A-Rod being banned for life. But a more charitable interpretation of those allegations covers things other Biogenesis-related players have done. Ryan Braun took PEDs and lied. Melky Cabrera took PEDs and attempted to obstruct. It’s not easy to say based on what we know that what they did was 1/3 as bad (if, say, A-Rod gets 150 games) or a fraction as bad (if A-Rod is banned for life).
Is Major League Baseball obligated to tell us anything? No. They’re a private enterprise. And of course, there is supposed to be a general cloak of confidentiality around all drug discipline. But that has long gone out the window thanks to leaks from people close to the process. And, more importantly, because of the unorthodox nature of this entire process. If things were operating as the Joint Drug Agreement specifies, fine, we can accept silence. But there is large deviation from that now and we’re not sure why.
And ultimately, there is a credibility issue in play. Buck Showalter today observed that MLB’s discipline of Rodriguez is going to create a windfall for the Yankees’ business interests and possibly its competitive ones. He is most certainly right. Others — including many HBT readers — have gone a step further, saying that this is all starting to look like a very convenient way of getting the league’s marquee franchise out from under one of its largest ever financial mistakes: signing A-Rod to a ridiculous contract in the first place.
As I said earlier today, I’m not inclined to engage in conspiracy theories and I feel like any benefit to the Yankees is incidental and welcome, not intended. But not everyone is going to think that way. Some will think this is rigged. More calm and reasonable people may not buy that, but may very well think Major League Baseball is acting arbitrarily with respect to Rodriguez and may wonder why he is being treated so harshly when Ryan Braun, who was portrayed as just as villainous until two weeks ago, got off so lightly. Maybe that is justified. But I feel like we should not have to take that on Major League Baseball’s word alone.
Perhaps MLB intends to present its evidence to the public at some point anyway and my concern is unfounded. Perhaps it is merely, and understandably, waiting for this process to play out first. That would make sense. But I do think, at some point, people should know why the game’s highest paid and highest profile player is getting either a defacto or an actual lifetime ban when no one else involved in roughly similar activities is getting anything close.