Monday, August 05, 2013

MLB Suspends A-Roid + 12 Others

In the biggest surprise since this morning's sunrise Major League Baseball handed out suspensions to 13 players including Alex Rodriguez for chemical cheating. Most copped to the charges and accepted the MLB version of a plea bargain that let them off with 50 game suspensions. But A-Roid was in the cross-hairs for his attempts to entice others into cheating, attempts to obtain and destroy evidence and directly lying to MLB when questioned on the matter. No plea bargain there. He was suspended for 214 (211) games which will commence after his appeals are exhausted.

It is overwhelmingly likely he will be out for the entirety of the 2014 and whatever part of the 2015 season is left over from when he starts to serve the suspension. Some experts opine that this may effectively end his career. The Yankees however are still on the hook for whatever part of his contract is not voided by the suspension. So he stands to walk away with tens of millions of dollars.

My take is that this is a good first step and probably as much as could be hoped for given the constraints of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the Players Union. One really encouraging sign is that unlike in the 90's and early 2000's when most players resisted any testing and did everything in their power to obstruct inquiries into the rampant doping, the pendulum seems to have swung. Most players now see chemical cheating as dangerous to the integrity of the game itself and are loudly demanding stronger sanctions and more aggressive testing. There is almost no sympathy being expressed for those caught doping.

Players are actually pushing their union delegates to impose even more severe penalties than what MLB has asked for in the past. Among the more popular suggestions being floated by angry ballplayers is going to a two strikes and your out rule, with a first offense being a 100 game suspension. Second offenses resulting in a lifetime ban from professional baseball. And one innovative idea that might carry the most deterrent power of any I've heard of so far. The suggestion being that any player caught doping on a first offense, and proven beyond any doubt, would be liable to having his contract terminated by his club without further appeal. Given the kinds of long term contracts, frequently worth tens of millions of dollars, with a lot of pay back loaded, this could be the key to bringing an end to the era of chemical cheating.

Anyways MLB gets two and a half cheers for mostly handling this particular case right. A few too many leaks for my taste but all in all they didn't make a hash out of it. There was talk of invoking the MLB equivalent to the death penalty and slapping A-Roid with a lifetime ban. But as much as I don't care for the man that would have been overkill for what was technically a first offense. Likewise they didn't try to deny him his right to appeal. That would have looked bad and actually made the bum a sympathetic character. Besides there's really no need. By every account MLB has absolutely damning evidence against A-Roid. So let him file his appeal. It's just delaying the inevitable.

Morally of course, judgment has been rendered. He really would do well to just let the Yankees quietly pay him off and retire from baseball. There's just no point in trying to comeback in 2015. Nothing he can do will salvage his reputation and the doors to the Hall of Fame are forever closed to him.

Correction: I initially posted that A-Rod was suspended for 214 games. It was actually 211.

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