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Alex Rodriguez’s “legacy” will not be tainted by his Biogenesis suspension. It was tainted years ago.

Aug 5, 2013, 8:18 AM EDT


In light of today’s forthcoming suspension many will, once again, rush in front of television cameras to tell us how Alex Rodriguez‘s legacy is now tarnished. Or “now forever tarnished.” Or “his legacy, once sterling, is now as tarnished as … hmm … what is something that is tarnished …?  Bob, get that intern to bring me the thesaurus!”

What i’m saying is that it’s going to be difficult for these folks seeing as how the baseball commentariat has declared Alex Rodriguez a monster, a joke, a disgrace and many, many other things multiple times over the past decade. He is, as Jeb Lund put it so succinctly today, “the most screwed person in sports celebrity history.”

The last time Alex Rodriguez was truly seen as anything other than profoundly damaged goods was when he played for the Seattle Mariners. He was then transformed from a supremely-talented All-Star into a greedy mercenary when he signed his $250 million contract with the Texas Rangers In January 2001 and had that image solidified when he opted out of it while with the Yankees and signed another huge deal in December 2007. He was branded a steroid cheat and effectively denied his rightful ticket to the Hall of Fame when word surfaced of his past performance enhancing drug use in early 2009.

That was really when his legacy, in the eyes of people who care deeply about things like a ballplayers’ legacy, was sealed.  A cheater for more than four years, a money-first, me-first player for well over a decade. Sprinkle in all of the petty p.r. things like the magazine interview in which he was pictured kissing himself in a mirror, his on-field controversies like trying to distract fielders and trying to walk over opposing pitchers’ mounds, the lurid stories of Rodriguez cavorting with strippers, pop stars and movie stars and the constant unfavorable comparisons between him and teammate Derek Jeter and you have a player who has long been viewed unfavorably, rightly or wrongly.

source:  Mostly wrongly. We’d all take $250 million if someone was dumb enough to give it to us. Most of A-Rod’s “controversies” have been silly little things. Those less silly — like his marital infidelity — are certainly not unprecedented among the rich and famous. His PED use is not, as far as we know at the moment, fundamentally different from that of other players who have been implicated in that mess. Many of them — Andy Pettitte, Mark McGwire, for example — are thought of negatively when thought is actually put to the matter, but are not seen as inherently evil pariahs. Others — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens — are.  It’s no coincidence that so much of that assessment follows what people thought of those players before their drug histories came out. So it is too with A-Rod.

Alex Rodriguez is a polarizing figure. He’s been his own worst enemy over and over again. But he’s long been held to an impossible standard and has been found constantly wanting. For us to say, then, that today’s news does anything to alter his legacy is disingenuous in the extreme. This is not a fall from grace. This is not a hero brought to his knees. A-Rod has been a widely hated and hated-on figure for far longer than he was ever considered, first and foremost, a baseball superstar and this is merely another brick in that very tall, very long and very solid wall.

But I do suppose today’s suspension and Rodriguez’s inevitable appeal does provide one possible new avenue for legacy creation: that of the man who, indirectly, helped bring some semblance of reasonableness to the performance enhancing drugs discourse.

Rodriguez’s suspension of what will be, in effect, 214 games is more than four times greater than that ever handed down for a first-time drug offender in the game. His appeal will no doubt center on the disproportionality of that sanction.  If he’s successful, it will be because Major League Baseball was unable to provide evidence that his offenses were orders of magnitude greater than that of other drug offenders, his suspension will be reduced and the judgment will, in essence, be “Alex Rodriguez is not as bad as you thought he was.”

Perhaps if an independent arbitrator says this people will start to actually believe it, both about drug offenders in baseball as a whole — a bad lot to be sure, but cast in a far darker light than is reasonable given the other evil that athletes do — and Alex Rodriguez specifically.  Put differently: maybe we’ve hit peak A-Rod derangement syndrome and we will finally begin to see him for what he is rather than the monster he as been portrayed as being.

Hahaha, sorry. I couldn’t keep a straight face with that. You got me. We’re going to, collectively, continue to throw mud on A-Rod from now until he’s dead and buried and then we’ll continue throwing mud on him after that.  It’s all we’ve been conditioned to do for the past 12 years and nothing, literally nothing, is going to change that. No matter how many people go on television today to tell us otherwise.

  1. deathmonkey41 - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    WRONG! One of the mythical powers of a Centaur is that their legacies are untarnishable.

  2. chacochicken - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    I feel like this is a bit too taint-apologist.

  3. tbutler704 - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Legacy doesn’t really mean what folks think it does.

    Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson…..they have legacies. Their names will ring out as long as the game is played.

    People like A-Rod come and go.

    • cohnjusack - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      True. Baseball is filled with SS/3B who won 3 MVPS and hit 600 home runs. I mean, there’s dozens…maybe hundreds of those kinds of guys who played baseball.

      • paperlions - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        I can confirm that this is true. As a kid, in my neighborhood alone there were at least 4 SS that hit over 600 HRs in a single summer in our wiffle ball league, where home-and-home quadruple headers were pretty standard.

      • insidefastball - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

        He is just another steroids player from the 1990’s and 2000’s whose names litter the record books with tainted statistics. Sosa, McGwire, ARod, Clemens, etc…..none of these guys deserve to have their names listed alongside legends such as Gehrig, Mays and Williams on the all-time leader boards. .

      • cohnjusack - Aug 5, 2013 at 3:37 PM

        What about having his name along next to….Bob Gibson?

        Guys have always been cheating. Period. It just takes a little different form today. I’m just glad they didn’t have steroids when I was playing. I don’t know what I would have done.

        BTW, that’s not being a steroid apologist, that’s recognizing reality. For fuck’s sake, by all indications, Babe Ruth would have eaten the still beating heart of an infant child if he thought it would give him an edge.

        Now, they certainly didn’t take steroids (just amphetamines which for some reason everyone brushes off). But Sosa, McGwire and Clemens all played when the league winked and nodded and said “nope, nothing to see here!” Frankly, I don’t consider them any more of a cheater than a spitballer or greenie user. Their cheating was more immoral, just more effective.

        But no, pelase…continue to live in a fantasy world where players of the past were all virtuous and true and the game was suddenly filled with an influx of dirty cheaters in 1993. I understand moral grey area confusing your poor monkey brain.

  4. indaburg - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    I have largely ignored the Biogenesis mess because, thankfully, it really doesn’t affect my rooting interest directly, and I’m not the moralizing type. I do not condone cheating, nor am I the dreaded PED apologist. I hold myself personally to a fairly high standard, but I also think that others need to answer to their own conscience. Not mine. I also think it’s silly and hypocritical for baseball to demonize one form of cheating, but chuckle and call it “gamesmanship” when it is another.

    Anyhow. Because I have not being paying much attention to Biogenesis and MLB’s punitiveness, forgive me if this question has already been asked and answered:

    How in the world is MLB going to get away with suspending Alex Rodriguez for so long when the punishment for a first time offense is 50 games? When Braun, who actually tested positive, got far less time? I am perplexed.

    • bravojawja - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong, but my limited understanding of this whole mess is that Rodriguez wasn’t just a user, but a pusher, or at least an enabler, who got other players involved. It’s the difference between possession and intent to distribute.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

        Honestly, MLB hasn’t really leaked that part with any sort of specificity. Basically, MLB has let just enough whispers out that we are all supposed to think that ARod is FAR worse than any of the hundreds of other guys who took PEDs, so Bud can come down on him MUCH harder than he is allowed to under the JDA. Perhaps if ARod is smeared badly enough before the suspension is announced, we as fans will all get behind burning this particular witch at the end of the questionable hunt. Thus Bud can try to erase the inconvenient aspect of his own legacy as a PED enabler.

      • bravojawja - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        I would hope that if MLB leaked something so damning, they would have the goods to back it up. If not, somebody has one hell of a slander case tailor-made for him.

    • deweyks - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Why is this a 1st time offense. Didn’t he admit to taking PED’s years ago? Wouldn’t that count as his first offense? Just asking…?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        No, because PEDs weren’t against MLB rules during the ’03 test.

      • indaburg - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:26 PM

        True, but Braun actually tested positive.

  5. millmannj - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    If A-Rod does get the full amount of days (and I still believe it will get reduced- why does he get punished 4-times as long as the other dozen guys?) he’s screwed either way when he returns.

    If he doesn’t put up similar career stats everyone will whine, “See, he can’t play without steroids!”

    If he comes back healthy and produces decent numbers everyone will whine, “He hasn’t learned his lesson, he’s still on steroids!”

  6. cheeks9441 - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    If there was ever a magazine story done on Craig Calcaterra, the photographer could probably use a similar strategy with the mirror.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      Nah they’d just run with the pic he posted on twitter yesterday, with the flag t-shirt and the zubazs on.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM

        Oops not flag t-shirt:

      • bfunk1978 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        I really do like the Zubaz, though I think it was just a ploy to fit in with the rest of Detroit.

  7. heyblueyoustink - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    ” Bob, get that intern to bring me the thesaurus!”

    “Fifteen years, getting loaded,
    Fifteen years and his liver exploded.
    What’s Bob gonna do,
    Now that he can’t drink?”

    • Alex K - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      NOFX FTW!

      • heyblueyoustink - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        Atta boy Alex………. OY OY OY!

  8. skeleteeth - Aug 5, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    How much of a detriment was he to the Rangers financial health in 2004 when they moved him? If they had not would they have been able to make the playoff run they have over the last few years? Was the bankruptcy and subsequent new ownership more instrumental in that push for the post-season? I’m curious as to whether he could have redeemed himself somewhat for taking the 80 million more than the closest offer in 2001 by sticking it out with Texas and being part of their competitive improvement in a more “organic” sense, if you can call it that.

    In addition to the money, his wanting to be traded to either the Red Sox OR the Yankees in the same off-season should also be noted. So glad he never ended up in Boston.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      How much of a detriment was he to the Rangers financial health in 2004 when they moved him?

      Zero, he provided more value than he was paid when he was with the Rangers. How can you blame Arod for overperforming his contract when the Rangers did this:

      The Rangers, on the other hand, paid Kenny Rogers and Darren Oliver a combined $14.5 million for a whopping +2.7 WAR, and that’s a generous assessment based on their FIP, as they each posted an ERA over 6.00 that year. They also gave Andres Galarraga $6 million for -0.1 WAR, Rusty Greer got $4.6 million for +0.1 WAR, and Ken Caminiti got $3.5 million for +0.1 WAR. The Rangers essentially flushed a huge chunk of their payroll down the drain on players who produced around replacement level, and I cannot come up with any rational way to blame that on Rodriguez.

      In 2002, they sought to make some drastic changes to their roster, and in the process, raised their team payroll to $105 million, third highest in Major League Baseball. They gave Juan Gonzalez a two year, $24 million deal to return to the Rangers and try to recapture his past glory. They gave Chan Ho Park a five year, $65 million contract to try and fix their pitching problems. They traded Darren Oliver to Boston, and in exchange, they took on the remaining $17 million left on the final two years of Carl Everett‘s contract. They brought in John Rocker to try and stabilize the bullpen.

      None of it worked. Those four big splash acquisitions combined for a total of +2.2 WAR, and the team was once again remarkably bad. The Rangers had simply invested in lemons, but again, I fail to see how any of that is due to having Rodriguez on the roster. Did he advise management to throw a large amount of money at bad players? Was he in charge of giving Carl Everett over 400 plate appearances despite a .295 wOBA and disastrously bad defense?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        Church, do you have that article bookmarked or do you just search for it every time you need to beat some numbnuts over the head with it?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:58 AM > + alex rodriguez + rangers

        And it’s the first hit

  9. stoutfiles - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    There are various levels of a “tainted legacy”, and this latest blunder has pushed it to new heights. I’m now convinced that Alex has never been clean his whole career.

    • Glenn - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      I would not be surprised in the least to hear that he started using PEDs in high school.

  10. proudlycanadian - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Noon! HIGH NOON! The full list of names will come out. Bud’s silver hammer will come down on several heads, but we only have eyes for you, AROD! You are worse than kitten eaters.

    • paperlions - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Can MLB actually announce all of the names? Or are they restricted to only announcing the names of players who agreed not to appeal their suspensions and to have them begin immediately?

      I know MLB has tried to use a loophole to get around the CBA/JDA and say that players whose names are already in the news don’t have the right to anonymity during the appeal process….of course, the institution that generally seems to put names in the news is MLB itself, which is convenient.

      • proudlycanadian - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        We will find out soon enough.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:44 AM

        I think I remember reading on deadspin when they did the chat with the three sports lawyers that because everything is basically public information now, the JDA allows MLB to announce all the names (aka the privacy part is null and void). No idea if it’s true or not, I don’t feel like digging around the contract.

  11. autmorsautlibertas - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    A-Rod is a humbug. He is obviously not very smart, and seems oblivious as to how his actions are perceived by the public. He has become a pathetic, ego-maniacal, fool. His public foolishness embarrasses the organization, and is inconsistent with the image the team prefers to project. As a Yankee fan, I don’t think he is fit to don the pinstripes.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      Yeah, because when I think of the pinstripes, I don’t think of the former owner being suspended from baseball twice, the Bronx Zoo years, the Billy Martin George Steinbrenner feuds…

    • Alex K - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      I wonder if people would be saying this about Mickey Mantle if he played in A-Rod’s era. Would all his drinking and general shenanigans go unreported today? I highly doubt it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        The same Mickey Mantle who, when asked to say something nice about the stadium, replied in a letter that he appreciated the blow job he got under the stands? That one?

      • autmorsautlibertas - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        The drinking and “shenanigans” of Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, and the Bronx Zoo were issues of personal character that were outside of the game. Unlike A-Rod, who used substances that gave him an unfair advantage over the competition, the effects of Martin and Mantle’s debaucheries would have tended to place them at a disadvantage. A-Rod is a cheater and his transgressions sully the 27th title.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM

        The drinking and “shenanigans” of Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, and the Bronx Zoo were issues of personal character that were outside of the game.

        Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson went after each other in the dugout. You don’t think Mantle’s drinking had any effect on his playing?

        who used substances that gave him an unfair advantage over the competition

        Ruth played in a stadium tailor made for him to hit HRs. Isn’t that an unfair advantage? It also helped out LHP vs RHP. Isn’t that an unfair advantage. RHH had an extremely hard time hitting HR in that stadium, as evidenced by the fact that Arod was the first RHH since DiMaggio to hit 40+HR. Wasn’t that unfair?

      • bigharold - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        “Ruth played in a stadium tailor made for him to hit HRs. Isn’t that an unfair advantage? It also helped out LHP vs RHP. Isn’t that an unfair advantage. RHH had an extremely hard time hitting HR in that stadium, as evidenced by the fact that Arod was the first RHH since DiMaggio to hit 40+HR. Wasn’t that unfair?”

        In a word, ..No. I’m with you on most of what you’ve said here but the fact that the Stadium is tailor made for LH hitters is no greater advantage to Ruth or the Yankees as it is the teams they play against.

      • Alex K - Aug 5, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        autmorsautlibertas- So the “greenies” that Mantle took didn’t help his performance? Got ya.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      ARod is a flawed human being, but has always been an excellent baseball player. Would anyone care much about the first part if not for the press salivating at every opportunity to point it out?

  12. deepstblu - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    (On the next revival of The $10,000 Pyramid:)

    “An oollld silver tray…”

    “Things made of metal!’

    “An oollld penny…”

    “Um…things that are collectable…”

    “…A-Rod’s legacy!”


  13. ctony1216 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Totally confused. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be outraged about A-Rod or outraged at the outrage directed at A-Rod.

    Frankly, I’m just glad the system seems to be working a little better today than it did three weeks ago, when MLB could have and should have announced the suspensions, and better than it did a dozen years ago, when steroids weren’t even banned. A-Rod rightfully will have his day in court, and probably serve a well-justified suspension, and people will feel however they want to feel about him. And that’s all fine.

    I do have one far-fetched wish that, as A-Rod is serving his suspension, he can work with MLB to help them understand how he managed to hide his steroid use for so long, and then help the league create a program that better identifies PED use among players, and ultimately eliminates them from the game. It’s highly unlikely A-Rod would do something like that, but it would have an impact on his “legacy.”

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      You mean, you want MLB to actually try to rid baseball of PEDs instead of making theater about ridding baseball of PEDs?

      Seriously, how often does law enforcement give a break to a drug kingpin in exchange for information about an end-user? Doesn’t this all seem a bit backward?

  14. jfk69 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Neither will Buds legacy be tainted
    Baseball owners collusion scandal and 300 million payout. I am wondering how much Bud payed, Will the Arod fine be greater?
    Popeye Sosa,Mcroid and Ten gallon head Bonds chasing BS home run titles while press breathlessly reports chase whike owners and Bud stay quite and count the millions
    How the owners elected one of their own to oversee the integrity of the GAME.
    Naw ..
    Pete Rose is thanking Alex every day. I heard he just applied for canonization at the Hall.

    • animalkindness - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      jfk69: Clearly you have not been listening to Pete Rose on any of the sports talk shows…..that is not how he feels.

  15. jfk69 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Arod can no longer hit the curve,is a lousy tipper and refuses to eat his vegetables.
    However Paula Deen thanks everybody for making him the new American scape goat and getting her off the front page.

    • Old Gator - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      She’s still on the front page of the weekend Having section.

  16. Utley's Hair - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I look forward to the day I don’t have to hear about ARoid’s taint anymore.

  17. xujudadyveg - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    my friend’s ex-wife makes $84 every hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her income was $19559 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more ……. Max47.ℂ­ℴ­ℳ

  18. metrocritical - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Wow, Craig. That’s a lot of analysis for a story about a guy that has gradually lost a relevance over the years except for the faint stench that preceded and follows him. His greatest numbers (while suspect) were put up prior to the various ped issues and he hasn’t been producing at an awe inspiring rate since. Meanwhile, younger players have come into the league and have had sustained periods of success (Miguel Cabrera, for example) without suspicious activity and ARod no longer seems all that interesting for what he has accomplished on the field. The younger generation of baseball fans who’ve joined the party in the last 5+ years will view him as an old guy who tested the limits of cheating just to rekindle some measure of old glory and if does receive a lengthy suspension he will return with eroded skills and a fan base that will havering since moved on.

  19. animalkindness - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    I am so glad that the bulk of people on this site are such upstanding human beings that they would never, ever lie, cheat or do anything morally reprehensible. It is nice to see that America has such a conscience, when is somebody gonna get a rope???

  20. joey4id - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    People have been throwing mud at Shoeless and the others for more than the past 12 years. Now we just add more names to the mud slinging. A-Fraud is a cheater. Period.

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