Don't believe A-Rod's camp: 211-game ban isn't nearly enough
Alex Rodriguez has conned us way too many times to buy his contention that his 211-game suspension is too harsh. Jon Heyman says it isn't harsh enough.
The length of Alex Rodriguez's suspension was said by baseball players union chief Michael Weiner to be "almost ridiculous."
I agree. It is ridiculous.
It's too light.
Rodriguez is a fellow, as we finally know now, who has scammed us forever. He is charming and likeable, and it's easy to get caught in the aura of A-Rod. But the reality is, he tried to pull off a long-term fraud on the sport he supposedly loves. He is the most notable steroid cheat and liar in baseball history, and enough is enough.
Rodriguez has done plenty of damage, and it isn't unreasonable for him to pay with a small fraction of his contract money. Now should be the time for him to go away, and for a good long time. For what this guy has done, an unpaid 211 games (only 12 percent of his record $275 million contract with the Yankees, never mind the previous $252 million contract) seems like a peck on the cheek -- yes, even less than a slap on the wrist.
Let's not forget that Rodriguez challenged us -- at his seemingly heartfelt Tampa, Fla., spring training press conference in 2009 ostensibly to admit what Selena Roberts learned, that he failed the 2003 survey test -- to please, whatever you do, "Judge me from this day forward."
Judgment day finally arrived.
And A-Rod didn't like it.
According to what the MLB investigation revealed, every year since 2009 he has spent cheating up a storm, lying about it and perhaps even impeding baseball's investigation into Biogenesis (that last one still has to be proved, but based on what we know about Rodriguez, it's quite believable).
A-Rod got 50 games for violating MLB's Joint Drug Agreement.
And 161 more for chutzpah.
He deserves every last one of those games in the penalty box, and more.
By rules that keep long-term baseball contracts ironclad, Rodriguez still has about $61 million coming to him via a Yankees deal that was very likely part of his massive scam on baseball, even if he has to serve the 211 games. He'll get that money even though he doesn't deserve it.
If anyone should be complaining, it's the Yankees.
Back in 2007, before there was a whiff of 'roids and A-Rod's only alleged issue was a string of October failures, the Yankees thought they were getting baseball's best player when they signed him to that record $275 million deal. Instead they got a smiling, charming Lance Armstrong in cleats. There's nothing the Yankees can do about it now, and they understand that. But by all rights they are the ones who could be grieving about the "ridiculousness" of it all.
Even if the full 211-game penalty is upheld by baseball arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, Rodriguez will wind up receiving all but $34 million or so of the $275 million contract he signed after the 2007 season. He is said by sources to have insured that contract, as did the Yankees. It's rare for a veteran player who has already made tens of millions to take out insurance. For some reason A-Rod did, and it isn't known why he would do that since his contract is guaranteed but it looks prescient now.
While his two broken-down hips may well be related to his steroid habit, it will be all but impossible for the insurance company to prove that and invalidate that albatross of a contract. Rodriguez's doctor said no, that the 'roids didn't cause the hip issues -- though how he could be sure, no one really knows. Middle age and the pounding of playing ball could well be the culprits for his mid-30s fragility. But the concoction of drugs certainly hasn't helped -- at least not lately.
Meanwhile, neither Weiner nor A-Rod has suggested he's innocent. Weiner shouldn't be blamed here. The union is cooperating to try to rid the game of drugs under his watch, and he should be commended for that after years of stonewalling from the previous union leadership. Weiner, who's doing his job here, just said that the penalty was "too harsh."
But is it?
Rodriguez, according to sources, at some point behind the scenes has suggested he deserved "less than Braun," referring to Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, who agreed to a 65-game ban.
But does he?
He also suggested to people on his side that there's no reason to suggest he should be treated differently than the others. To that, I say, that's laughable.
Padres young shortstop Everth Cabrera told a tearful story of taking one drug for a short time in one spring training at the suggestion of his former representative, Juan Carlos Nunez, the ex-ACES agent. Cabrera signed up for 50 games and took responsibility.
Rodriguez, word is, obtained steroids and HGH for part of 2010, and all of 2011 and '12. The evidence suggests he basically lived on the stuff.
Does he really deserve the same penalty as little, teary-eyed Everth Cabrera?
Of course, we have yet to see the whole case against A-Rod that's said to be enormous. But sources suggest there are a "substantial" number of text messages between him and former Biogenesis proprietor and phony doctor Tony Bosch, the fellow A-Rod suggested he had no real ties to in a typical bald-faced A-Rod lie back on Jan. 29.
Bosch may be the devil but apparently he was something of a saver. He is said to have held on to his old Blackberrys, where A-Rod was a regular visitor.
Bosch may be a scoundrel, but his testimony and evidence got 13 other players to agree to their penalties. There has to be a lot there for all these guys to accept a deal that takes them off the field, costs them significant dollars and permanently impairs their reputations.
A-Rod, the lone holdout, clearly was in deep. Though he's saying nothing of substance now about his involvement, he issued a lie of massive proportions when the story first appeared. Back then he was blaming the Miami New Times, which broke the story. That was, of course, before he moved on to other targets.
He is full of conspiracy theories as well as you know what.
With Rodriguez, it's always someone else's fault. More recently, it is the Yankees, who he suggested were in cahoots with MLB.
Before that, the story was just plain wrong. At least that's what he told us all.
"The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true," Rodriguez said through a publicist back on Jan. 29 about the New Times bombshell. "Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story -- at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez -- are not legitimate."
That statement is so over-the-top gross that it's hard to even type today.
Think about the gall it takes to come up with that whopper. While it seemed like probably a word parsing attempt at the time (of course he wasn't a patient, as Bosch wasn't an actual doctor, he just played one), the reality is, it was all just one big fat lie.
Never mind the idea to attack the report, which turned out to be 100 percent accurate -- at least as it related to Rodriguez, to steal his own phrase. The nerve to throw the others under the bus with that needless addendum "at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez" shows exactly how conniving he is.
What he's suggesting here is, maybe some of those other guys were involved. But not me!
Yeah, right, the other guys, the ones who have less involvement, the ones who told no lies publicly, the ones whose contracts combined don't come anywhere near to adding up to $275 million.
Rodriguez is famous for blaming others. The report was no good. The Yankees are in cahoots with MLB, which is over-punishing him.
At the same time Rodriguez was telling whoppers about his involvement, which was nothing short of massive, he is accused of impeding the investigation. That may be harder to prove, but knowing what we know about A-Rod, who doesn't buy it?
Word is, he was trying to obtain documents and more to hinder MLB's investigation, which if true is appalling. He could possibly try to suggest he was only looking into the case himself (as if he didn't already know what the case was about), so it'll be interesting to see whether MLB has more evidence about his possible efforts to impede.
Worst of all, at the same time he was continuing his ballplaying life as a giant steroid concoction, he was volunteering to aid the Hooton Foundation by advising youths against steroids. That entity was founded by a torn-apart father and family after their teenaged ball-playing son Taylor Hooton committed suicide following his use of steroids.
Just like now, Rodriguez is able to say straight-faced that PEDS have to be eliminated from the game. "That is a must," he said the other day
Turns out we'll never know how great a ballplayer he could have been. But we do know what kind of actor he is. He is the Olivier of steroid cheats.
Now the claim isn't that he's innocent, only that he's being treated too harshly. Rodriguez and Weiner may apparently be leaning on the rule that says the first infraction brings 50 games and perhaps the precedent that no one has ever received more than 100 games at a time (Guillermo Mota and Manny Ramirez each received 100 for second failed tests, although Ramirez's was later reduced to 50 after he retired, then unretired).
But I say, MLB actually showed restraint here.
Commissioner Bud Selig didn't invoke the "best interests" clause of the CBA to yank him off the field immediately, enabling Rodriguez to conduct his current sideshow. Selig didn't shoot for the lifetime ban, which always seemed like more of a negotiating threat -– though who would say what Rodriguez has done isn't worse than what Pete Rose did?
Fifty games isn't automatic, as Braun proved by accepting 65. The CBA provides some leeway. If MLB can prove "just cause" they can shoot beyond 50, or 100, even to 211, or more.
And if poor little Everth Cabrera signs up for 50 for one spring indiscretion, 211 seems light for Rodriguez.
There was at one point said to be a suggestion by Rodriguez that he would be willing to do 100 games then "walk away," according to sources, so there seemed to be some suggestion he understood this was more than one multiyear, multi-drug violation.
Whether Horowitz upholds the 211 games, reduces it to 150 (equal to two violations) or Rodriguez gets the big victory at 100 or even an absurd 50, this is mostly about money at this point. His legacy is shot.
If he really "cared about the game," more than his loot he would have cut a deal, apologized and stepped aside. They never got close to a deal -- no surprise since folks in Rodriguez's camp, which has expanded to include three sets of lawyers, never offered even half the 211.
If Rodriguez gets it down to 150, he saves himself about $9 million. If he gets it to 100, he saves himself about $18 million.
Either way, his legacy is in tatters.
At least when he failed the survey test, he had the excuse that he did it in a "loosey goosey" time in Texas. He knows there's nothing loosey or goosey about the times we are in now. That other time, 2001-03, could be argued were the last years of the "steroid era." It's worse, way worse, to do it now.
Rodriguez knows that now because he has been warned directly many times by MLB that baseball's powers are serious about cleaning up the game. The steroid era ended a decade ago, and recently the only ones involved are A-Rod, a couple unlucky buddies of his and several clients and former clients of the Brooklyn-based ACES agency, which baseball is looking into (ACES proprietors Seth and Sam Levinson have blamed it on rogue "consultant" Juan Carlos Nunez, who the evidence suggests was not really a consultant but a key man in the company and brought in tens of millions of dollars in business).
Rodriguez was called into MLB headquarters at least three times previously, including to discuss his link to HGH doctor Anthony Galea and his continuing connection to his cousin Yuri Sucart, whom he absentmindedly fingered as the mule in the 2003 failure in that famous 2009 press conference. And the belief is, he lied each time his employer called him in.
This time when he was questioned by MLB investigators, Rodriguez invoked the Jenkins Rule, which is the same as taking the fifth. And that's his right.
There is nothing to say now, anyway. He has been caught as the sport's biggest serial cheater and liar.
The judgment is in now, and that's whether or not Rodriguez can somehow knock a few games off the reasonable penalty.