Alex Rodriguez won.
A-Rod is appealing his 211 game suspension, and will be in the lineup for the Yankees tonight when they take on the White Sox in Chicago.
Bud Selig was never going to invoke the CBA’s “best interests of baseball” clause and ban A-Rod for life. If he had, it could have severely damaged MLB’s relationship with the player’s union, and added fuel to the speculation that this is all an elaborate ploy to get the Yankees out from under A-Rod’s albatross of a contract.
It is near impossible to portray A-Rod as a victim, but banning him for life would have done the trick. Though MLB may have more evidence on A-Rod than the other players involved in the Biogenesis scandal, it is unclear whether they have substantially more evidence on him than they had on Melky Cabrera last year. Cabrera, for those who have forgotten, tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, and then created a phony website about a non-existent product to deceive MLB officials. He received a 50 game suspension, the minimum penalty for steroid use.
Ryan Braun won his appeal over his positive drug test in 2011, and then proceeded to attack the integrity of the drug testing program and brazenly lie about his steroid use until he was suspended for 65 games last month.
There is reason to believe A-Rod has used steroids for the bulk of his professional career. He tested positive for PEDs in Spring Training 2003, was linked to steroid distributor Dr. Anthony Galea in 2010 and is at the front and center of the Biogenesis investigation.
Despite the mountain of evidence MLB supposedly has against A-Rod, though, he has never failed a drug test since testing was implemented in 2006. That’s not to say the evidence MLB has on A-Rod is circumstantial. But if the MLB drug testing program is legitimate, it is puzzling as to how A-Rod has passed if he is juiced to the gills.
It is easy to convict somebody in the court of public opinion. It is more difficult, however, to convict somebody in the court of law. If MLB banned A-Rod for life, and didn’t allow him to play during his appeal, the legal process would have been messy.
There is little doubt A-Rod was affiliated with Biogenesis, and attempted to purchase documents from the clinic in an effort to obstruct MLB’s investigation. He is deserving of the lengthy suspension he will receive.
But he is also deserving of an appeal, and the right to play during his appeal like every other player does. It would have been a dangerous precedent if MLB had denied A-Rod the right to play this year, and thus denied his right to collect his guaranteed salary for this season.
The parties that would have benefitted from A-Rod not playing are the Yankees and MLB. If A-Rod doesn’t take the field this year, the Yankees can file an insurance claim and collect the nearly $28 million he is owed this season. If A-Rod disappears forever, Selig can thump his chest and say he has been proactive, not complicit, when it comes to combating steroid use in baseball.
But neither of those things will happen, because A-Rod is not a pawn for the Yankees to use to free themselves from paying the luxury tax in 2014, and for Selig to use in an effort to pad his legacy.
A-Rod is deserving of due process, as well as every boo that will come his way when he rightfully takes the field over the next number of weeks.
Photo by Rich Shultz/Associated Press