In the never-ending storyline of Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez’s appeal hearing of his Biogenesis suspension concluded this week in New York City. Over the last few weeks, the proceedings have gotten more contentious, with verbal fire and near fist-fights occurring between opposing parties. As Yahoo’s! Jeff Passan writes this week, the mud-slinging has continued, and MLB, like A-Rod has taken the gloves off. I understand entirely the rationale behind Passan’s rationale- if your opponent fights dirty, you have to fight dirty, too. However, what is exactly does Major League Baseball stand to gain from taking things public?
Sep 17, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (13) stretches during batting practice before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Call it Bud Selig’s legacy masking as a crusade to clean the sport; call it an actual effort to clean the sport; whatever it is, MLB has spent the better part of the last decade trying to make the game cleaner. They have successfully prosecuted every player who has tested positive for PEDs. Even Ryan Braun, who won his appeal on a technicality, was eventually suspended and admitted to usage of substances banned under the joint drug agreement.
I get that MLB has a point to prove after decades of looking the other way as it sought to grow the sport after the devastating 1994 strike that cost the World Series. I commend Selig and his team for making it a priority, and having one of the strongest anti-doping policies in American sports. High-fives all around.
What I absolutely do NOT get is Major League Baseball following the pattern of histrionics set by Team ARod and wading into the muck after them. What is the need to match the ridiculousness of this sideshow? Why go statement-for-statement in the press? I expect better from Major League Baseball. As has been pointed out by many a talk show this week, notably ESPN’s “Mike & Mike”, the adage goes, “When you have the law on your side, pound the law; when you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; when you have neither, pound the table.”
By all accounts thus far, MLB has outstanding and voluminous evidence on Alex Rodriguez in his connections to the Biogenesis group, more so than any other player involved… all of whom, including the only guy to successfully beat said suspensions previously, Braun, rolled over and took their punishments without a peep. If the facts and evidence are such that Major League Baseball, and lead investigator Rob Manfred, all believe that the process will roll in their favor in the arbitration process, then why the need to work outside the process in the court of public opinion? Keep quiet and let the results speak for themselves. The confidentiality of the process has already been tarnished enough. MLB doesn’t need to diminish it’s standing as the governing entity of the sport by adding fuel to the fire.
There’s an old proverb: if you lay with a dog, you’re going to get fleas. That logic applies to the current situation between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball. I understand the end game: to prove, using the arsenal of evidence (regardless of how it was procured), the money, and the meticulous case MLB has built to nail what it perceives to be the biggest cheater in the game, who has the audacity to allegedly cheat not once, but twice, and have the arrogance to alienate his team, the team doctor, the process he as a member of the players’ union is beholden to, and the very sport he claims to love. Believe me, I get it. But I also expect more from Major League Baseball. The goal of this is to set a standard for a cleaner sport, that can compete in every way shape and form with the other major sports. To do so, the league needs to hold itself to a better standard- cool, calm, collected- not tit-for-tat with a petulant child of an athlete. I know you are better than that, MLB… act like it.