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Alex Rodriguez’s “legacy” will not be tainted by his Biogenesis suspension. It was tainted years ago.

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In light of today’s forthcoming suspension many will, once again, rush in front of television cameras to tell us how Alex Rodriguez’s legacy is now tarnished. Or “now forever tarnished.” Or “his legacy, once sterling, is now as tarnished as … hmm … what is something that is tarnished …?  Bob, get that intern to bring me the thesaurus!”

What i’m saying is that it’s going to be difficult for these folks seeing as how the baseball commentariat has declared Alex Rodriguez a monster, a joke, a disgrace and many, many other things multiple times over the past decade. He is, as Jeb Lund put it so succinctly today, “the most screwed person in sports celebrity history.”

The last time Alex Rodriguez was truly seen as anything other than profoundly damaged goods was when he played for the Seattle Mariners. He was then transformed from a supremely-talented All-Star into a greedy mercenary when he signed his $250 million contract with the Texas Rangers In January 2001 and had that image solidified when he opted out of it while with the Yankees and signed another huge deal in December 2007. He was branded a steroid cheat and effectively denied his rightful ticket to the Hall of Fame when word surfaced of his past performance enhancing drug use in early 2009.

That was really when his legacy, in the eyes of people who care deeply about things like a ballplayers’ legacy, was sealed.  A cheater for more than four years, a money-first, me-first player for well over a decade. Sprinkle in all of the petty p.r. things like the magazine interview in which he was pictured kissing himself in a mirror, his on-field controversies like trying to distract fielders and trying to walk over opposing pitchers’ mounds, the lurid stories of Rodriguez cavorting with strippers, pop stars and movie stars and the constant unfavorable comparisons between him and teammate Derek Jeter and you have a player who has long been viewed unfavorably, rightly or wrongly.

source:  Mostly wrongly. We’d all take $250 million if someone was dumb enough to give it to us. Most of A-Rod’s “controversies” have been silly little things. Those less silly — like his marital infidelity — are certainly not unprecedented among the rich and famous. His PED use is not, as far as we know at the moment, fundamentally different from that of other players who have been implicated in that mess. Many of them — Andy Pettitte, Mark McGwire, for example — are thought of negatively when thought is actually put to the matter, but are not seen as inherently evil pariahs. Others — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens — are.  It’s no coincidence that so much of that assessment follows what people thought of those players before their drug histories came out. So it is too with A-Rod.

Alex Rodriguez is a polarizing figure. He’s been his own worst enemy over and over again. But he’s long been held to an impossible standard and has been found constantly wanting. For us to say, then, that today’s news does anything to alter his legacy is disingenuous in the extreme. This is not a fall from grace. This is not a hero brought to his knees. A-Rod has been a widely hated and hated-on figure for far longer than he was ever considered, first and foremost, a baseball superstar and this is merely another brick in that very tall, very long and very solid wall.

But I do suppose today’s suspension and Rodriguez’s inevitable appeal does provide one possible new avenue for legacy creation: that of the man who, indirectly, helped bring some semblance of reasonableness to the performance enhancing drugs discourse.

Rodriguez’s suspension of what will be, in effect, 214 games is more than four times greater than that ever handed down for a first-time drug offender in the game. His appeal will no doubt center on the disproportionality of that sanction.  If he’s successful, it will be because Major League Baseball was unable to provide evidence that his offenses were orders of magnitude greater than that of other drug offenders, his suspension will be reduced and the judgment will, in essence, be “Alex Rodriguez is not as bad as you thought he was.”

Perhaps if an independent arbitrator says this people will start to actually believe it, both about drug offenders in baseball as a whole — a bad lot to be sure, but cast in a far darker light than is reasonable given the other evil that athletes do — and Alex Rodriguez specifically.  Put differently: maybe we’ve hit peak A-Rod derangement syndrome and we will finally begin to see him for what he is rather than the monster he as been portrayed as being.

Hahaha, sorry. I couldn’t keep a straight face with that. You got me. We’re going to, collectively, continue to throw mud on A-Rod from now until he’s dead and buried and then we’ll continue throwing mud on him after that.  It’s all we’ve been conditioned to do for the past 12 years and nothing, literally nothing, is going to change that. No matter how many people go on television today to tell us otherwise.

Murray Chass rightfully nails Major League Baseball on minority hiring

Rob Manfred
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When Murray Chass lays off his vendettas against the people he feels have wronged him, he’s still capable of making some sharp points. Particularly when he’s working in his old bailiwick of the business of baseball.

On Sunday he wrote a blog post about minority hiring in baseball. As in, the nearly complete lack of it, at least in front offices:

Manfred has talked a better job on minority hiring than he has performed. He has created a pipeline program through which members of minorities are supposed to be able to advance into major league front office positions. However, no role models seem to exist as inspiration for younger employees.

In Manfred’s 20 months as commissioner, clubs have hired or promoted 19 high-ranking executives. Eighteen of the 19 are white males. The lone minority is Al Avila, the Tigers’ general manager.

Chass reports that Rob Manfred and, in the past, Bud Selig have leaned on clubs to hire friends or trusted lieutenants but claim they have no power to tell clubs who to hire when it comes to minorities. It’s pretty dang good point.

Moving beyond Chass’ points, it’s worth observing that one way baseball could better populate the executive ranks would be to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. What a better way to become a friend and crony than to have, you know, been there a long time? The game has had a horrible track record in doing this, however, for one simple reason: it pays crap wages for all but the highest of executive positions, pushing away candidates for whom money is, in fact, an object to pursuing a dream in baseball which, by demographic necessity, favors the rich and thus favors whites. Earlier this year MLB launched a pipeline program aimed at getting more minority candidates into entry level MLB jobs. That’s a good start to addressing the problem, but it’s going to take years for that to bear fruit, assuming it ever does.

Back in June Kate Morrison and Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a four-part series regarding this very issue, and it’s well worth your time. Among the points made is one that, given his vendettas, Chass surprisingly didn’t make himself: sabermetrics is partially to blame! Go read Kate and Russell’s work on that, but the short version: front offices want MBA/STEM types now, not people with athletic backgrounds. People with those degrees have expensive educations and, in turn, cannot afford to take pennies to work in baseball when they can make far more in other industries, thereby continuing to favor the rich and the white.

I don’t think Rob Manfred or Bud Selig before him or the people who run major league baseball teams are bigots. I don’t think that baseball, as a whole, wants to keep minorities out of top jobs. Chass doesn’t make such a claim either and he, like I, noted the pipeline program.

But baseball is a business rife with cronyism and nepotism which leads those in power to hire friends and relatives, thereby keeping the executive class overwhelmingly male and white. Baseball has shown that, when it wants to, it can lean on teams to make certain hiring choices. Will it do the same to push for greater minority representation in management ranks? Or will it continue to throw up its hands up and say “hey, that’s on the clubs?”

Tim Tebow hits a homer in his first instructional league at bat

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets hits a home run at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Because of course he did.

It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt.  The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.

Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.