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Baseball cannot, and will not, punish A-Rod any more than any other PED offender

Jan 31, 2013, 9:14 AM EDT

Alex Rodriguez Getty Getty Images

Tim Keown of ESPN suggests  that Bud Selig should drop the hammer on A-Rod so as to make an example out of him. In his words, to “make an honorary sacrifice” out of him. Among his suggestions:

… could A-Rod be suspended from the game long enough to effectively end his career? Just spitballing here, but could Selig make him the Pete Rose of PEDs and use A-Rod’s arrogant, repeated nose-thumbing of the best interests of the game to make him ineligible for the Hall of Fame? … If he has evidence, he can suspend Rodriguez — or, if you’d prefer, El Cacique — for 50 games or more.

No, he can’t. He can suspend him for 50 games. That’s it.

Yes, we know A-Rod admitted to past PED use in 2009, but he has never before tested positive under the Joint Drug Agreement nor has he previously been subject to discipline. There is nothing more crystal clear than the Joint Drug Agreement’s provision of a 50-game suspension for a first time offender under its auspices.  That is the discipline that Rodriguez is subject to if the allegations in the Miami New Times story are true, and that is the discipline he will receive. Any effort to do more than that will bring about a swift response from the union. It is a battle they would almost certainly win and win easily.

The only thing that makes A-Rod different from Freddy Galvis, Edinson Volquez, J.C. Romero or Dan Serafini is that (a) he makes a lot more money; and (b) a lot of people hate him.  That’s what’s motivating ideas like Keown’s here anyway.  A-Rod’s paycheck and unpoularity, however, does not change the terms of baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. Please stop suggesting that it does.

  1. raysfan1 - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    “Just spitballing here, but…” we could tie him to an anchor and throw him into a lake. If he floats anyway, then he is a witch, and we can burn him at the stake.

    • jeremysgordon - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      Completely agree. It’s disgusting for a sports “reporter” to write that.

      Now please lets get back to praising a real Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis for his “dedication to the game” and otherworldly humanity.

      • chill1184 - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        The double standard is so pathetic its sad

      • paperlions - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        Which part do you think is sad? The ARod witch hunt or the Ray Lewis worship?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        I’m guessing Ray Lewis plays football?

    • snowbirdgothic - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      So if A-Rod weighs the same as a duck, he’s made of wood, and therefore…

    • DJ MC - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      I’d like to make a “turn the sportswriters into newts” joke, but too many of them–even otherwise respectable ones–are already acting like that would be an improvement.

      • snowbirdgothic - Feb 1, 2013 at 1:39 AM

        Gammons…got better?

  2. wonkypenguin - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    I’d also like to add “should not” to the headline.

  3. The Common Man - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Listen Craig, what you’re not getting is, regardless of what “the rules” say, how much we really really want to hurt this guy. That should override everything.

  4. yankeepunk3000 - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    wow Craig your really balls to the walls with this Defend A-rod thing…and I as a Yankee fan is meh about the whole thing. Really 50 or 100 its no difference for us since we know he is out till July. But I agree with you on this…the league simply can’t make an example out of him and if they could have they should have done it to Manny…he was am arrogant prick..well so is A-rod so I guess its the same thing. Either way he will likely get 50 unlees he decides to go noble and let’s them extend it for HONOR OF THE GAME. Here’s a fun game guys can you name me an arrogant prick on your favorite team? and GO!

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Craig does not seem to be defending ARod as much as pointing out that there are, in fact, rules and procedures that govern the exact situation we are discussing. This is not some uncharted territory that we are wandering through. Does everyone including the MLBPA, want to also end the careers of Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera etc etc? If not, this is just a bunch of reporters using their columns like my relatives in Schenectady use their facebook status: to rant and rave about the current day’s moderately annoying happening that will be blown WAY out of proportion.

      • yankeepunk3000 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        I agree. 50 game suspension and that’s about it.

  5. steeler999 - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    A 50 game suspension could end his career anyway. He is already expected to miss at least the first half of this season. Tack 50 games on to that and basically the whole year is gone. Now you’re talking about being away for over a year and trying to come back at 38 or 39? He may just call it quits. ( At least that’s what I’m hoping happens).

    • The Common Man - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      You really don’t know how this works, do you? He can serve the suspension on the DL. Other players have done it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:26 AM

        Look at the username, realize what sport he follows, ipso facto, genius…

    • zzalapski - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      Hope for something else. How many players do you know have walked away from $100+ million left on a contract? Go on, we’ll wait.

  6. kirkvanhouten - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Man…people really fucking hate Alex Rodriguez. I mean…I knew they didn’t like him but I until now, I never realized the level of vitriol.

    Why? He’s kind of arrogant, is really good, makes a ton of money and got busted for steroids? So…him and roughly every one else that played baseball in the 90s? What is it about the guy that makes him so much more loathed than a Sammy Sosa or David Ortiz?

    • natslady - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Here’s the thing. Baseball is entertainment. Alex Rodriguez has ceased to be entertaining. His off-field antics weren’t that entertaining to begin with, but his on-field skills over-rode that for a long time. Now he has neither.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        The thing nobody ever talks about is that he is still really good on the field. He is not “best in baseball” good anymore, but there are probably 15-20 teams out there that would have to consider him an upgrade over what they currently have at 3B.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:43 AM

        but his on-field skills over-rode that for a long time. Now he has neither.

        Arod hit .272/.353/.430 for a 112 OPS+ last year or 114 wRC+. That wRC+ puts him 8/18 qualified 3B in all of MLB last year. Is he worth the $25M+ that he gets, no, is he not worth playing at all, you’re out of your mind.

      • alang3131982 - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        He is pretty damn entertaining to me, in a pure baseball sense. He is one of the greatest players of my lifetime. He’s a bit odd and doesnt understand the public, but that factors little into baseball for me. I’ll enjoy watching him play in the swan song of his career the same way i enjoyed watching Cal Ripken wind down.

        Remember, AROD was the one who forced call to SS in Ripken’s last AS game. AROD moved to third when he joined the Yankees even though most people knew he was a far superior defender to jeter (ask MY if he would do that). I’m pretty sure AROD would purchase/give clothes to Yankee call-ups who were light in the wallet (cant find citation now). AROD has never been caught driving drunk, he’s never killed someone, never raped someone, never kicked a puppy. He isnt evil incarnate.

        He made a choice to do something at least 50% of people in his situation would do, good lord people.

      • deep64blue - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        He didn’t say he was worth the money – he said that ARod would be an upgrade for a lot of teams, a fact that your stats just confirmed!

  7. historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    The amusing thing to me with these statements is that there is an implied fear in them that if A-Rod only gets a 50 game suspension, that the game will be “stuck” with him after that — even though these people are calling him out as a perpetual cheater. Well, if he is, then wouldn’t it be likely that he would be caught again and get additional discipline until he is subject to the lifetime ban? But, if he stops after a first suspension, isn’t that the point of the discipline — rehabilitation? Their dislike of A-Rod is so intense that they want him to have no chance at “redemption” — which says something interesting about their sense of justice. Also, they clearly have no faith in the system — probably b/c A-Rod has tested clean and there’s evidence suggesting that may not be the case. But, rather than look at testing issues, they make it personal, and that is in so many ways human and silly. People like to target other people rather than systems generally. They seem almost sure here that they will be duped again, if A-Rod returns — which is about being a chump instead of about justice or fairness or anything.

  8. digbysellers - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I hate Dan Serafini

  9. golfrangeman - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    What ever happen to innocent till proven guilty!! For I am one who had been charged with something that I didn’t do all because someone lied and pointed the finger at me. Not saying he didn’t do it but let the system work it out, don’t just assume some junky working in a drug house would never fabricate anything.

    • cur68 - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      This has been my point all along. These are allegations based on handwritten notes published in a newspaper. That’s it. When the evidence is eye-witness accounts, voided cheques, credit card transactions, fingerprints and/or confessions and its all vetted as authentic by MLB/Federal investigators then we can start assuming guilt (this includes everyone named in those notes). If this was any of the people so ready to throw Alex Rodriguez under the bus and it was their reputation and livelihood at stake they’d be screaming “due process”. Somehow, because its THIS guy, its all “Fuck Alex Rodriguez Over” all the time. Whatever happened to a fair process?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        Santa Claus. Which one of you killed Santa Claus?

      • cur68 - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        Did you know that if Mary and Lloyd got married she’d have been “Mary Christmas”? When I realized that I laughed long time.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        Who are Mary and Lloyd?

      • cur68 - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        Mary Swanson lost her briefcase and Lloyd Christmas wanted to give it back to her. Its a ouching and lovely story about 2 buddies on a quest.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:32 PM

        It certainly sounds ouching.

      • bh192012 - Jan 31, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        @cur68

        Did you read the Miami New Times article? Or the follow up article with pictures of Gio with his strength coach who’s also implicated in the article?

        It’s more than just notes, they already have eye-witness accounts that this doctor perscribed steroids…. (to the baseball player Alex Rodriguez, the doctor bragged about it to co-workers.) This ‘doctor’ has previously been under investigation by the DEA.

        You seem like you really want to believe it’s not true, but honestly there seems to be quite a bit of evidence in that 7 page article.

      • cur68 - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:27 PM

        @bh192012: I have read the Times article and read the Deadspin articles, too. The most telling thing? This: “He was always talking about A-Rod,” says one former employee who asked not to be named. “We never saw any athletes in the office, so we didn’t know if he was just talking bullshit or not. But he would brag about how tight they were.”
        The “he” is Anthony Bosch. Same guy who was given to writing about himself like this: “Dr. Tony Bosch is recognized as an international educator and world-class leader in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy,” reads one description, which also praises him as a “pioneer in orthomolecular medicine” and calls him a “molecular biochemist.”

        Yeah. That’s him writing about himself. See any problem with believing what this guy has to say?

        Until this information is vetted by MLB and/or The Feds, its a lot of smoke and nothing else. Rodriguez deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    God I hope he wins the MVP next year. Just destroys everyone else who is even close. Leads all of baseball by like 2.5 WAR. I am not betting on it happening, but it would be glorious to watch these unwashed sports “journalists” squirm in discomfort.

    • cur68 - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      Ah, they won’t squirm. They lack the integrity to squirm. If Rodriguez comes back from the pumpkin patch and is his old self, everyone that’s been hammering away on the guy will scream about him being on the PEDs again. In the minds of some performance = enhancement and Rodriguez’s performance ALWAYS = steroids. They never apply this logic to Mike Trout or any of their favourite players of course.

      This mess has put me in a really peculiar spot. I’m defending a player I loathe on a team that I loathe. I detest every single person that’s put me in this spot but at the end of the day I can’t get behind a witch hunt based on published handwritten notes and I don’t care who’s handwritten notes they are or who else they name. This is not evidence. This is the grounds for an investigation, and, at this time, THAT IS ALL. Based on the available evidence, the press should not be urging MLB to toss the guy out of his livelihood, defame him him to the land, and, just to top it off, publicly urge a baseball team and player to commit insurance fraud.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        Agreed. I still think it would be sheer brilliance if it turns out some of the other guys were actually buying PEDs from this doctor, but paid him to write AROD in the book to act as a lightening rod in the event of a scandal. It would be a perfect play

      • cur68 - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        It actually makes a lot of sense to do it this way. Everyone is hunting for Rodriguez like he’s the Snipe. Meanwhile the others are flying under the radar, nearly completely out of the public eye.

        Next time I screw up at work I’m going to write “Alex Rodriguez” in the notes and see if no one notices that it was me that did it.

  11. geoknows - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    I’m not advocating this by any means – in fact, I’d be totally against it – but couldn’t Selig do whatever he wants, up to and including a lifetime ban, by invoking the “best interests of baseball” clause?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      No, there’s a CBA and zero precedent for him doing anything like this. As Craig has mentioned like 130203 so far this week, drug punishments are covered specifically by the JDA. The best MLB can do is give him a 50 game suspension, which unless some serious smoking gun appears, is highly unlikely.

    • dlf9 - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      No. There is direct on-point precedent from the 1980s cocaine cases (e.g. Steve Howe, Willie Wilson, Willie Aikens, etc.) where courts and arbitrators told Uebberoth that ‘best interests’ was constrained by explicit provisions of the CBA.

  12. sawxalicious - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    I think a full, thorough investigation by MLB is warranted. If in fact A-Rod did take banned substances last year, maybe the investigation can wind down around this fall when A-Rod might be ready to take the field again. Them give him his 50 game suspension so he can’t serve it on the DL.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      Or, if they rely on the feds to finish first, in 5 years when his contract is over.

  13. cackalackyank - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    I think an interesting comparison here would be Melky Cabrera. Last year Cabrera WAS caught, and served a 50 game suspension. If after a TRUE, THOROUGH investigation it is proved that he continued to purchase and use banned substances this would be a theoretical “second strike.” Since Melky is a) not Alex Rodriguez and b) no longer with the Yankees, it would be interesting to see how many ask for his head on a spike and ask for a forced end to his career. Another interesting thought about “guilt by association”; when with the Yankees, Melky and Robinson Cano were pals, and as far as I know they still are. It is interesting that despite their friendship, I have not heard a rush to paint Cano with the “he must be using too” brush. I do think there was a disproven rumor of a failed test at the end of last season, though. Given Cano’s reported contract dreams, this could be an interesting story line, depending on how this investigation develops.

  14. jdrew506 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Can ESPN suspend Tim for being an idiot in even suggesting this.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      If idiocy were a suspendable offense for ESPN writers/reporters, there’d be no one left to write anything.

      Wait a sec, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea…

  15. alexo0 - Jan 31, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I love how Keown asks baseball to declare ARod ineligible for the HOF. I’m pretty sure the writers have already done that.

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