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.