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Black Friday…or Maybe Monday

baseball (1)

With suspensions rumored to come down today, William Rhoden writes that Bud Selig’s bullying almost makes Alex Rodriuez a sympathetic figure:

According to people briefed on the negotiations between Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, Selig has discussed several options, ranging from a lifetime ban to a suspension that would begin this season and end after next season. Rodriguez has never been known as a player who cares about anyone besides himself. But if there were ever a time for A-Rod — and the once-powerful players association — to step up and fight the impending suspension, that time is now. Rodriguez should challenge the credibility of the evidence. If Major League Baseball has compelling evidence, force the league to show it.

There are no vials of evidence. There are no eyewitnesses to Rodriguez’s alleged performance-enhancing drug use. Investigators have the word of two questionable characters connected to Biogenesis, one of whom, the former owner, Anthony Bosch, once impersonated a doctor. Investigators may indeed have compelling evidence — phone records, shipping receipts, e-mails. If they do, A-Rod and the players association should force those investigators to reveal what they have gathered.

This exhaustive investigation is less about A-Rod and performance-enhancing drugs than about power and control. Major League Baseball is attempting to impose its will on high-profile players by possibly circumventing due process to make an example of them.



1 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 2, 2013 8:46 am

Imagining a possible (probable?) future where PED use is not so demonized, you could foresee a scenario where Arod standing up and fighting this and exposing the hypocrisy of Selig would be viewed as a watershed moment in the evolution of public opinion and Arod held up as some kind of hero.


2 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 2, 2013 8:51 am


That was a good try though!

3 bp1   ~  Aug 2, 2013 9:49 am

I don't believe it makes A-Rod a sympathetic figure, but it certainly does not do much for Bud's reputation. I was under the impression that this process was supposed to be confidential - but it has been played out way too publicly. The media are in a frenzy and it's disturbing to witness. The blood lust is a little too much. They *want* him to be guilty.

I hope it ends soon.

4 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 9:54 am

I really don't understand this perspective. It just strikes me as very fanciful. Like A Rod is being railroaded, he really didn't continue taking PEDs, didn't get them from Biogenesis, didn't attempt to purchase/destroy records when he knew the league was looking for them, etc. Didn't "recruit" other players. They're just making this up? I doubt it. Why did Braun fold like he did if MLB is bluffing? Occam's Razor, not ditzy conspiracy theories, please.

A Rod as victim? Not buying it.

And "possibly circumventing due process"? I mean, come on.

5 rbj   ~  Aug 2, 2013 9:59 am

How about ownership giving back the billions from when "chicks dig the long ball" era? Alex isn't so much sympathetic, but he's the latest scapegoat from an era when far too many have dirty hands. What, we're supposed to get a lecture on honesty from a used car salesman?

6 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:03 am

[5] I don't get that either. This is about, like, the last five years. Not ten, fifteen years ago. How do you get from him not following the rules (recently) to THAT? The players, the league, everybody profited from the steroid era, but that doesn't mean they can never move on, ever.

7 RIYank   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:09 am

[4] I don't see your point.

Either they have real evidence, or they don't. If they have it, let's see it; if they don't, then they are indeed trying to railroad A-Rod and others.

8 Chris   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:25 am

What [4] said.

[7] Why would they try to railroad ARod and others if they don't have strong evidence? They just want to have a public shitfight over PED use? Or want to get ARod out of the game for some nefarious reason?

9 RIYank   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:28 am

[8] I don't know why, exactly -- they think it's good publicity for them, presumably. Look how tough we are!

But if they have strong evidence, why are they keeping it a secret?

10 MSM35   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:30 am

I think Bill Rhoden is filling a friday column by flipping the story. Only a sportswriter in need of an opinion piece could imagine that Alex is a sympathetic figure. Even if one feels sorry for him it is only because we remember what a great talent he was.

11 Chris   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:47 am

[9] I agree that they are clearly trying to maximize the PR value of being "tough on drugs." It's easy to understand after they took so much shit for the meathead-driven homerun-circus that was baseball in the 90s.

My guess is that they haven't made the evidence public yet because they want to reach a deal with the players. It's not good for either baseball or the players for the gritty details to become public. And there is no need to make it public if everybody does like Braun. I'm guessing they have given ARod an ultimatum on agreeing to a deal and after that they let loose with both barrels in releasing the evidence and pursuing their punishment if he doesn't capitulate.

I'm afraid I don't see the "bullying" here by MLB. These are the rules and they're tasked with enforcing them. After getting lots of criticism for looking the other way, now they're trying to be/appear tough. Perhaps it's in all the leaks of what's happening? I'll grant there have been so many that they may have been intentional. Perhaps it's because I'm a lawyer, but I don't regard this tactic as particularly unusual for a big-stakes legal battle. Not that I condone it, but it seems to be the way it works these days, so nothing unusual about MLB's conduct. Am I missing something?

12 monkeypants   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:49 am

Bud Selig’s bullying almost makes Alex Rodriuez a sympathetic figure


Of course, Bud is also a completely unsympathetic asshat in my book.

13 monkeypants   ~  Aug 2, 2013 10:54 am

[11] In fact, is this really much different from what happened between Lance Armstrong and the USADA? Armstrong was able to defeat the testing regime, but the USADA amassed tons of other evidence, which were only made public only very late in the long battle between the two parties.

14 RIYank   ~  Aug 2, 2013 11:16 am

[13] No, we knew about lots of the Armstrong evidence long before the verdict. We knew who the witnesses were and basically what they were going to say.

I think the 'bullying' lies in the threat of levying a huge punishment so that players will plea bargain. In A-Rod's case, they're going to use the CBA instead of the drug policy, so they can threaten a lifetime ban.
This probably wouldn't seem like bullying to me if I thought the underlying offense was something really reprehensible.

Don't get me wrong -- I hope A-Rod is done with baseball and the Yankees can move on.

15 rbj   ~  Aug 2, 2013 11:45 am

[6] I just hate the hypocrisy and johnny-come-lately moralizing of the "throw all these cheaters out" crowd. If Bud, et al. Want to confess laxness, look the otherwayness, or even encouragement in the past, then I think there'd be more sincerity in trying to clean things up. Especially if you want to go beyond the JDA punishments.

I wouldn't mind a two strikes and you're not eligible for the HoF (I'll allow one lapse in judgement) any where in your pro career, from rookie ball on up. And make any non-emergency, non-preapproved treatment the equivalent of a positive test.

16 monkeypants   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:04 pm

[14] Maybe you're right regarding Armstrong. But according to the all-knowing wikipedia, the USADA only published its findings only in October 2012, in response to a request by the by the UCI in February. This was long after the investigations had started, and even after Armstrong tried to block the USADA by filing a lawsuit.

I guess I am saying it is not surprising to me that MLB is keeping a lid on what they have---not sharing it with the public---while negotiating with various players.It may even be a bargaining ploy: ARod could agree to a deal on the condition that some particularly damning evidence remain confidential. Whether this is bullying or not, I don't know.

17 Chris   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:10 pm

Even if it's not bullying, it's definitely hardball (pun not intended). I feel like Bud thinks this is what the public - and more importantly the dickheads in Congress - want to see from him on the drug issue.

18 monkeypants   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:11 pm

[15] For the record, I am not a johnny-come-lately moralizer. I have bitching about this stuff for years on this blog and its forerunners! That said, yes the owners are lying hypocrite bastards. They knew what was going on, I believe with all my heart and soul. And I think theYankees may have been among the most guilty organizations---they certainly aren't more innocent---which is why a good part of me does not want to see the organization potentially profit from whatever penalty is imposed on ARod.

As for your proposed two-strikes-HOF-ineligibility proposal, is that even possible? I mean, isn't the HoF a private organization that sets its own rules for eligibility? It's the HoF that has determined if a player is banned for life, he's not eligible...that's not an MLB rule, unless I'm mistaken. Or are you proposing a two-strike and you're banned for life penalty?

19 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:30 pm

[7] They're not just going to "show" the evidence. There's a process unfolding. I'm sure A Rod's people are aware of what the league has at this point.

Note that the evidence against Braun wasn't released. I'd imagine part of the deal, for the player, is the evidence isn't released. Releasing it to the public now would be pointless.

20 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:34 pm

I don't think the threat of lifetime ban is bullying at all. In all honesty, if they can get away with it, he SHOULD be banned for life, if indeed he tried to acquire/destroy evidence the league was in pursuit of.

21 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:37 pm

[18] I don't think the Yankees knew A Rod was a juicer. At all. In fact, it seems to me they basically bet the farm that he WASN'T and they would thus be getting the HR back, clean, in pinstripes. That's what all that dough was about -- the potential to make vast sums of money off of his getting the record. Remember, once upon a time, it was surprising that he used PEDs.

Sure the Yankees knew what was going on at the height of the steroid era, as much as anyone, but they -- and MLB -- aren't going after A Rod for something from 1999. This was just a few years ago.

22 BobbyB   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:40 pm

In 1989 I lived in San Francisco and had tickets to both the A's and Giants. This was the beginning of the steroid era, remember, the "Bash Brothers", Jose, the original PED user. Moved back to NJ in 1990. As far back as that I knew that there was rampant steroid use in MLB. Who can forget Brady Anderson (Cal Ripkin's BFF) hitting 12 homers one year, 51 the next. If I knew they were juicing, so did every player, manager, trainer, owner, the commissioner and every baseball writer who had a brain (eliminates some, we understand). My point is, the baseball writers are hypocrites to want to protect the "purity" of the HOF when they looked the other way when PED's were making the league, the players, the managers and the writers a fortune. If Bud Selig did not know that players were using steroids he's got to go down as the stupidest man on the planet and is also the biggest liar. If I knew, (and didn't all of us know), how could the biggest man in baseball not know? He's just grandstanding to deflect any intelligent criticism that he was as guilty as the players who used during that time by looking the other way.
Now, guys who are using these days, well, that's a different story. It's now part of the collective bargaining agreement that they can't do it and public and player opinion has soured from the 90's when Sosa and Maguire were chasing the home run record. I think that that if any of the ballplayers challenge this, they're going to win because baseball's star witness is not going to testify under oath with possible federal racketeering and distribution indictments which could follow. Then what will Bud do? Listen, I'd be happy to be without Alex just like everyone else but the baseball writers and the commissioner will come off looking a lot less like the hypocrites they are if they'd come clean themselves instead of demanding it of the players when they won't come clean themselves.

23 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:51 pm

[22] But you said yourself, this is about NOW. Are you suggesting in order to keep a clean house in the present, they need to cop to their complicity in the past? I mean, I guess that would be nice, but if they're not going to, I don't want them to stop trying to keep the game clean.

24 BobbyB   ~  Aug 2, 2013 12:59 pm

[23] Yes, I can't stand seeing Bud Selig, a steroid enabler in the 90's, acting so high and mighty about keeping the game clean when he was the top cop who, in a practical sense, was taking payoffs from when the game was dirtiest. He should have been replaced years ago. No, I don't want them to stop trying to keep the game clean. I just vomit in my mouth a little when I see Selig doing this and listen to the baseball writers pontificate about the purity of the game.

25 RIYank   ~  Aug 2, 2013 1:02 pm

Why aren't they just going to "show" evidence? They should. The public should know.

I doubt they can swing a deal in which they suppress evidence in exchange for, say, A-Rod not putting up a fight. The problem is that the kind of evidence they could have, a newspaper or tv network could uncover, too. It's not as if MLB had the power to compel witnesses. So the player would have no particular reason to believe the evidence wouldn't come out.

26 Chyll Will   ~  Aug 2, 2013 1:05 pm

[23] I agree. But the fact is we won't know how seriously they are trying until they attempt it. So far, they have a program in place to catch and punish players who tested positive or found in possession (is that correct?), but what they are doing now is new ground. I suspect they are trying very hard to get this "right" the first time.

27 Chris   ~  Aug 2, 2013 1:10 pm

[24] Like I said before, I think Bud is getting "tough on drugs" because Congress told him he had to - or they would do it for him. But so far as you are saying Bud's conduct with respect to this issue demonstrates hypocrisy and amorality in pursuit of profit, I agree with that.

[25] They probably have some liability exposure for showing "evidence" outside of any legal proceeding to the extent that it casts aspersions on the player's character and they are not in the process of litigating the issue of drug use or the player has agreed not to contest. And MLB does have subpoena power in its suit against Biogenesis.

28 RIYank   ~  Aug 2, 2013 1:13 pm

[27] Not sure what you mean about the liability exposure. If they have evidence, it can't be a tort to say what the evidence is, can it? I mean, if it's evidence, it's true!

29 The Hawk   ~  Aug 2, 2013 1:25 pm

But why should the public know? Nothing has actually happened yet. If neither the player nor MLB wants it out at this time, I don't see why it should be.

30 Chris   ~  Aug 2, 2013 1:56 pm

[28] If what they have are witness statements and records claimed to have been kept by those people, they need to be careful asserting the truth of those things without legal process.

This is from LoHud, and explains a lot, if true, about the size of the penalty:

"The Yankees expect A-Rod to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation, and not being truthful with MLB in the past."

31 RIYank   ~  Aug 2, 2013 2:16 pm

[30] Oh, I see what you mean. But they could just say, we have witnesses who say that...; we have records that indicate... No need to say that the witnesses and records are accurate.

Hm, it sounds like the Yankees know more than has been made public. Interesting.

32 Chris   ~  Aug 2, 2013 3:30 pm

I mean, recruiting other athletes to use your guy to do PEDS?! Why would ARod possibly want to spend time doing that? He is clearly someone who has little grasp of reality, like many celebrities. He seems to have deep psychological malfunction.

33 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 2, 2013 9:33 pm

Fact: A-Rod has never tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs.

Fact: MLB's drug policy had not succeeded in cleaning up the game, yet.

Toss-up: Who's more of an asshole, A-Rod or Selig?

From Bonds down, the problem is that MLB continues to try and convict people out of the courtroom, because they can't do it any other way.

Why should A-Rod be banned for life or even one day, when Manny, a proven 2-time cheat is getting offers to play?

It doesn't make any sense.

34 Simone   ~  Aug 3, 2013 9:28 am

[33] RME. Lots of cheaters get caught without a positive test and are banned/penalized by the governing board of their sports. Alex is a lying cheater who should be penalized. He just made it worse for himself by attempting to cover it up.

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