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Look, nothing is going to happen to A-Rod over this poker business

Aug 4, 2011, 8:20 AM EDT

Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

It was rather notable to see the reports — emanating from the entertainment press, not the sporting press — about Alex Rodriguez and the allegedly high-stakes, cocaine-and-Tobey-McGuire-fueled poker games.  Kind of salacious and, because most people like talking about A-Rod, kind of fun.  But let’s be clear about something: the reports that Major League Baseball is looking into this and could dole out some discipline in A-Rod’s direction are kind of silly.

Oh, I have no doubt that someone at Major League Baseball is saying that they’re really concerned and may do something, but that’s a p.r. thing. Because our society is wired in the puritanical way that it is, they can’t just blow off reports of one of their players being in the same room as drugs, gambling and wicked women.  I mean, this isn’t like players driving drunk or beating their wives which are apparently easy things for MLB to ignore.

So someone tells a reporter that baseball thinks it’s serious. A short meeting — complete with photographers to catch A-Rod entering the building in a penitent posture — is held. Some leak occurs in which A-Rod is described as being on double secret probabtion or something and the matter is considered closed.

And there really is no other option.  Unless MLB has stopped testing for cocaine, there is no basis for it to say that A-Rod was taking drugs. Unless the cops came in, busted the card game and arrested everyone, there is no proof that A-Rod was involved in anything illegal.  Unless A-Rod ran out of chips one night and, in order to call Tobey McGuire’s bluff, he threw a paper with “I.O.U. the outcome of five Yankees baseball games” on it, he did not break any rules of Major League Baseball.

This is all about baseball still possessing some vestigial concern that its ballplayers come off as heroic and clean cut young men, as if the last 50 years of American society and cultural evolution never happened.  It’s actually kind of cute and endearing in some weird way.

But it’s not going anywhere. A-Rod is a big boy. If he wants to play cards, he’s gonna play cards. And if Bud Selig truly wants to punish him for it, he’s going to get into a fight with the union he doesn’t want.

And really, deep down, isn’t the image of A-Rod playing high stakes poker with movie stars cooler than most of the other off-the-field glimpses we get of the guy?  Kind of manly! What a bad boy!  Really, Bud, let this one ride. It’s better for everyone.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    “cocaine and Tobey Maguire-fueled poker games.”

    With Tobey’s squeeky clean image, who ever thought the above sentence would ever be uttered?

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:29 AM

      I’ve only seen one Toby Maguire movie in my life and it was “Wonder Boys”. My image of him is probably completely different than everybody else. If anybody hasn’t seen the movie, I highly suggest you do. Michael Douglass, Robert Downey Jr., young Katie Holmes. Top notch.

      • Old Gator - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:03 AM

        Young Katie Holmes sounds like a great title for a 1940s tearjerker. Might could run down at the Jewel Box in a double feature with Young Tom Edison some day, might could.

  2. largebill - Aug 4, 2011 at 8:32 AM


    I wouldn’t be so certain that nothing will happen. I realize it was different commissioners, but baseball has always taken gambling type issues more seriously than other personal transgressions. A few years back retired players (Mantle, Mays) were banned from solely for being greeters at a Vegas casino.

    A major concern for A-Rod going into this meeting is not being sure how much the commissioner knows. He obviously has an interest in minimizing his actions, but he also needs to make sure he doesn’t say anything that the commissioner will be certain was a lie.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Ron Washington was caught using cocaine, and multiple players have been busted for DUI. None of them have been punished by MLB. If they try to suspend Arod, which goes to an arbitrator, MLBPA will have a field day.

      • Ryan - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM

        Yeah, in contrast with DUI, physically assaulting women and the like, it’s really hard to see MLB cracking down on this with any legitimacy. There are bigger, more important fish to fry.

    • uyf1950 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:18 AM

      …a few years? It’s was almost 30 years ago. That Mantle and Mays were suspended for representing Atlantic City Casinos. That’s basically 2 generations of baseball players. That’s a long time ago, my friend.
      I agree with Craig, I don’t think Bud Selig wants to open up this can of worms with the union. I realize Selig likes to invoke “in the best interest of baseball” clause. But in my opinion punishing someone just because of hearsay, innuendo and rumor without any proof of wrong doing would be a huge mistake on Selig’s part. That’s just my opinion.

  3. kiwicricket - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    When the Article listed Ben Affleck amongst the Hollywood big-names, all credibility was lost I’m afraid.

  4. trevorb06 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    If anybody were to punish A-Rod wouldn’t it be the Yankees you think? They’re the ones who try to have that ‘professional image’ all the way down to players being clean shaven and nicely trimmed. I doubt even they would. Selig turned the other cheek for Ron Washington, I doubt he’s going to go after one of the highest profiles in baseball in ARod.

    Oh and can we call him AAAA Rod now? (four aces for you non card types) Or even ‘Phillies Rotation Rod’ (again… four aces)

    Did I just make a positive Phillies joke? Somebody throw rocks at me.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      From the bicepts, here are some rocks (tossing rocks at trevor).

      • trevorb06 - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        But you’re a Phillies homer! Or do you not like that I associate the Phils with the Yanks (I admit, if you associated the Yanks with the Twin’s I’d throw rocks, too.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      Yeah, from a Philly perspective, it’s never good to associate anything between New York and Philly, especially when it refers to the beloved 4 horsemen.

      I just threw rocks at you because you requested it (lol!!).

  5. aronmantoo - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    Nothing ever happens to this guy..The confessed juicer will be in the HOF some day. Wonderful example for the youth of America. Cheaters never win? That so last century

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:08 AM

      Is it lonely atop that pedestal?

      • cleverbob - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:15 AM

        Well he basically did get a free pass on that whole steroids thing…

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:16 AM

        You mean when it wasn’t against baseball rules? When every other player who was outed at that time wasn’t punished?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:17 AM

        Also, I’d say of all the people he didn’t get a free pass. How many stories have been written about him in the negative light referencing steroids? And how many have done the same with Ortiz? Not picking on Ortiz, who like OJ is still searching for the “reason he got busted”, but it’s amazing how whenever a story is brought up one individual constantly has his faults brought to light and another is “given a pass”.

      • cleverbob - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:02 PM

        Never said Ortiz didn’t get a free pass. I thought you guys were talking about A-Rod. Either way, they’re both still playing at a high level, for big dollars, and with plenty of fans cheering them on. Compared to how Bonds, McGwire, Palmeiro, and Giambi fared post-scandal, I’d call that a free pass.

  6. Professor Longnose - Aug 4, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    I don’t know why it’s so hard for people to understand, but this isn’t about ballplayers being heroic, or role models, or whatever. It’s about gambling, which baseball has been deathly afraid of since 1919. That’s it. They investigate incidents of gambling because they’re afraid that it could look like its compromising the game. They ignore incidents of wife beating and gun toting and slime embracing because there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it. You may think the policy is idiotic, but can we at least get to the point where we understand the difference between MLB’s reactions to gambling on the one hand and non-gambling conduct on the other?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      The Mets are signing an endorsement deal with Harrah’s Casino. Hypocrisy much?

      • jimbo1949 - Aug 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM

        Seems like every TV game I’ve seen lately has been sponsored by a casino.
        I’ve got Extra Innings so I’ve seen every team’s home telecast, they even sponsor the updates and pitcher changes etc. They’ve even got stadium signs. They’re almost as prevalent as beer.
        Then there are the west coast ads for bail bondsmen, what’s up with that?

    • fquaye149 - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:18 PM

      There is plenty they COULD do about dui’s and wife beating. Look at how the NFL handles off-field incidents. If Miguel Cabrera were playing under Roger Goodell he would have been suspended for certain for his recurring off-the-field behavior.

      Now, personally, I’m glad the MLB lets the law handle that off-field stuff. But let’s not pretend Selig is just throwing up his hands in dismay saying “I really want to punish these guys but my hands are tied! Damn the system!”

      • crpls - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        NFL has rules written in that allow the commissioner to punish for off-field stuff.

        I think it’s stupid, but the NFLPA is a joke so whatever.

        Selig would have to get the MLBPA to agree to off-field stuff that isn’t already there.

  7. lawrinson20 - Aug 4, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    This has less to do with the presence of drugs in the room, and more to do with this player having been ‘warned’ about these types of games in the past. The commish can’t have the game’s douchiest ‘star’ player consistently ignoring his proscriptions. If you’ve drawn a line in the sand, you can’t keep stepping back, drawing new lines. At some point, the commish is gonna hafta “protect his rep.”

    And, “puritanical?” Please. You’ve been buying into that clichéd rhetoric?

  8. jamie54 - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    Don’t tell me that card games are not going on everyday whether in player’s hotel rooms, flights, or maybe even the clubhouse so there’s no way they can touch him. His own personal time with hearsay evidence from a gossip website is a bunch of crap.

  9. dailyrev - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    This is kind of sad to see, given the beisbol that these Yanx are playing. Check this out: Sawx went 20-6 in July and only led by 2. Today, if the Central-leading Tigers were chasing the Sawx, they’d be 10 games back. Texas would be 8G back. Milwaukee would be 7.5G back; SF would be 7G back. Atlanta would be 5.5 games back. Only Philly beats them (2.5G ahead of Sawx).

    Yanx are 1 out of 1st. That’s a team playing some seriously good beisbol, yet all I see in the headlines is how bad their pitching is and all the A-Rod drama.

  10. Old Gator - Aug 4, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Eh? What’s that ye say, sonny? “A rod poked her?” Who her?

  11. SmackSaw - Aug 4, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    A-Rod is currently offering 3-to-1 odds that MLB’s investigation reveals nothing.

  12. nategearhart - Aug 4, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Oh MLB will investigate, just as thoroughly and sincerely as they have the “A’s to San Jose” issue. And in about eight years, when A-Rod is giving his HOF acceptance speech Bud will appear from the stands waving a handful of documents proving A-Rod gambled at a poker game, yell out “I protest this induction on MORAL GROUNDS!”, fill his adult diaper, and board a plane to go see the Brewers play the Indianapolis A’s.

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