What in the heck is A-Rod doing?

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Watching another afternoon train wreck involving Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, I feel like it’s worth remembering two things:

1. Alex Rodriguez could have used PEDs like crazy, but still not have deserved a 211-game suspension; and

2. Bud Selig can have it in for A-Rod — could wish to see him burn at a stake as punishment for everyone else’s sins — yet still not be outside of his authority in suspending A-Rod.

We forget that as we spring to the defense of one side or another. Or, more often, as we spring to scorn one side or the other. But the fact is that each side is speaking some truth and each side is peddling baloney.

My personal view is that Major League Baseball overreached pretty severely in the penalty it leveled, and that a straightforward attack of that penalty as excessive by Alex Rodriguez and his legal team would serve as the best way for them to prevail. They still may do that. The arbitrator may be able to tune out all of this noise and focus solely on whether the punishment fits the crime, concluding that no, it doesn’t. If that happens, A-Rod could get a 50-game suspension, maybe. Or maybe nothing if MLB’s evidence and investigation is viewed as flawed or infirm.

But I also believe that A-Rod and Joe Tacopina are taking a gigantic risk in making this arbitration about Bud Selig personally and some vendetta against A-Rod in general. They risk alienating the arbitrator. They risk having a proportionality-of-punishment case lost in the noise. All for the promise of trying a lawsuit that, if the percentages on such things hold, never sees the light of day in court. I don’t understand why they’re doing this, but I feel like they are running the risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Normally one can see the motivations of putatively irrational action like this. But I don’t see the percentage for Alex Rodriguez in this approach. I don’t see what he possibly stands to gain by blowing up the arbitration like he has.

MLB suspends Tim Anderson for using the n-word

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This is weird.

As you no doubt recall, on Wednesday White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson hit a two-run home run off of Royals starter Brad Keller. Anderson celebrated by throwing his bat back towards his dugout. The next time Anderson stepped to the plate Keller threw a fastball at him. The benches emptied. Keller and Anderson were ejected, as was White Sox manager Rick Renteria.

Why Anderson was ejected was something of a mystery. He did not charge the mound. He did not throw a punch and he did not shove anyone or anything. At most you figure he said something intemperate and, sure, saying intemperate things can sometimes get you ejected. Only sometimes, of course, as many a blue streak-swearing manager has gotten a pass as long as he doesn’t say some magic words “Bull Durham” taught us about. But that’s usually the end of that.

MLB just announced via press release that Keller has been suspended for five games for throwing at Anderson. We’ve argued that that’s too light a sentence for pitchers in the past, but let’s leave that aside for now. What’s interesting is that Anderson has been suspended too. For one game.

Why? Major League Baseball’s press release merely says “for his conduct after the benches cleared.” Which isn’t very helpful as, again, there was nothing apparent in his conduct that seemed to warrant a suspension. Before the release came out, however, Jeff Passan reported that it was “language”:

I can’t recall a player ever being suspended merely for “language” before. Guys drop F-bombs and say aggressive things to one another fairly often when tempers flare, but that’s not the stuff of suspensions. What has been the stuff of suspensions — two games, specifically — are homophobic slurs, with players such as Kevin Pillar and Matt Joyce, among others paying the price for saying such things. There has been no report at all, however, that Anderson said such a thing. And, if he did, why would he only get one game?

There’s gotta be more to this. A player getting one game just for cussing makes no sense. If we hear any more about it, we’ll certainly provide an update.

UPDATE: And here it is:

Again, specifics definitely matter, and I presume we’ll get them soon, but I strongly suspect that this is a case where Anderson, who is black, used a word that is historically acceptable when used by and among black people and always unacceptable when used by non-black people. If that is the case, MLB has thrown itself into the insanely controversial and likely indefensible position of presuming that it can and should police a black person’s use of that term. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I feel like I’m not.

UPDATE: Nope, I’m not.

Bold move, MLB. But not a wise one I don’t think.

And it goes without saying that you all had best mind yourself in the comments on this one.