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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.

Report: Tigers and J.D. Martinez agree to a two-year, $18.5 million deal

J.D. Martinez
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UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.

Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.

After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.

Free agent reliever Eric O’Flaherty weighing interest from four teams

New York Mets pitcher Eric O'Flaherty throws against the Miami Marlins during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. The Mets defeated the Miami Marlins 8-6. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
AP Photo/Joe Skipper
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Veteran reliever Eric O'Flaherty is coming off the worst season of his career, but there’s still plenty of interest in a bounceback, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that he’s deciding between four teams and “should sign a deal by the weekend.”

You really can’t sugarcoat O’Flaherty’s 2015. The 31-year-old was flat-out bad, posting an 8.41 ERA and 21/18 K/BB ratio over 30 innings of work between the Athletics and Mets. Opposing batters hit .343/.427/.482 against him. I keep going back to check if that’s a misprint, but nope, it’s real. He also missed some time with shoulder inflammation. On the bright side, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last month that O’Flaherty feels healthy and believes that he has fixed his mechanics.

O’Flaherty’s career has veered off track since Tommy John surgery in 2013, but he has enjoyed plenty of success in the past and throws from the left side. He’s the kind of guy who will continue to get chances.

Mets sign outfielder Roger Bernadina

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Veteran outfielder Roger Bernadina has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mets that includes an invitation to spring training.

Bernadina was a semi-regular for the Nationals from 2010-2012, but never developed as much as hoped offensively and didn’t play in the majors at all last season.

At age 32 he’s a career .236 hitter with a .661 OPS in 548 games as a big leaguer and given the Mets’ outfield depth–they already have Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares in bench/part-time roles–Bernadina seems likely to begin the season in the minors.

J.R. Graham is in The Best Shape of his Life

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher J.R. Graham celebrates after the final out as the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 12-2 in  a baseball game, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Twins won 12-2. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that Twins reliever J.R. Graham has lost “roughly 30-40 pounds this offseason.” It’s not a result of workouts, though. Just a change in diet. Bollinger says that Graham cut out sugar, alcohol and foods heavy in carbs and focused on a high-protein diet with lots of salads, meats and vegetables.

That’s an awful lot of weight to lose in four months, but the dude is only 26 and guys in their 20s lose weight just by thinking about it. Which is so very annoying to those of us who aren’t guys in their 20s.

The real test, of course, will come when he is working out far more strenuously once spring training starts and gets into the season. Normal schmos like me can keep up that kind of diet without much of a hitch as long as we have the willpower. An athlete’s energy requirements are far greater and far more specialized, so he’ll need more fuel than he’s probably been getting this offseason. Word is, however, that professional sports teams have people on staff that, you know, have made monitoring that kind of thing their life’s work.

In the meantime:

“I can just feel the change,” Graham said. “The energy. Everything. I feel great. I’m excited to see how it’ll translate into spring. I know I shouldn’t have any problems because I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m faster. All that. So it’s really exciting.”

It’s very exciting indeed. Because, with that, Graham becomes the latest baseball player to be . . . In The Best Shape of His Life.