This has been a wonderful baseball season. My Yankees have been having a rough time of it, with a historic run of injuries. But the Pirates are a great story. So are the Indians, Red Sox, Braves, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout (be prepared for MVP-geddon Part II), Yasiel Puig, Yu Darvish, Jose Fernandez, Chris Davis and a whole host of other great storylines. Even the down-year Yankees have a feel-great story in Mariano Rivera's retirement tour. At 43, he's just as dominant and classy as he's ever been. It's gonna suck not having him around baseball next year.
But the "pink elephant"* in the room is clearly the historic suspensions that were handed down yesterday from MLB coming from their investigation of Miami-based BioGenesis. Well, the suspensions started with Ryan Braun a few weeks ago. And, unfortunately, they will continue because of all the players involved in the case only one will be testing his sentence with an appeal.
The twelve others players issued suspensions yesterday all declined to appeal the sentence of 50 games. Which will take most of those players through the end of the year. A couple of them will have a chance to play in the playoffs, if their teams make it. But it will be up to the team to decide if they will be included on post-season rosters.
But A-Rod, due to an alleged overwhelming amount of evidence showing multiple years of use, multiple instances of lies, multiple attempts at obstructing MLB's investigation and his reputation as being an underground PED pimp for some of the other players in the case, is getting 211 games. 211. That's an odd number. It so happens that it adds up to the remaining games this year starting Thursday and all of next year. So it's basically an arbitrary sentence. Had the investigation concluded last week, it would be 217 games. Or if it lasted another week it would be 205 games. Whatever. Basically the suspension was this remainder of this year and all of next year because that's how long MLB (and maybe the Yankees) want him out of baseball. Fine.
A-Rod is going to fight, fight, fight the damaged fight, however. He is not accepting the suspension and his appeal could run 20-25 days. Or it could last until November or December as Michael Wiener of the MLB Player's Association has been quoted as saying. Imaging that. He could finish out the year while appealing the decision. Even worse, imagine if he catches fire and pushes the Yankees all the way to the World Series? And THEN he starts his suspension? Ugh...
In the wake of all this information, many fans and members of the media are pissed at who else? Alex Rodriguez. He's a monster. He's tarnishing the game. He should just go away. Even diehard Yankees fans are done with this guy. I'm sure he is going to be welcomed back to Yankee Stadium on Friday night with a resounding Bronx cheer.
But you know what, Yankees fans? You're pissed at the wrong dude.
Imagine this scenario, if you will. It's late 2007. The biggest superstar in the game is coming off an MVP year. He is in the middle of the biggest contract ever given to a baseball player, but he has an option to opt out. He decides to do so in a most public and crass manner during the World Series. His agent, Scott Boras, said he made the decision because he was unsure of the future composition of the team. Fine.
That didn't stop him from re-signing with the Yankees the following month for an even bigger contract than the one he just opted out of. Ten years and $275 million with a buttload of incentives for passing each career home run milestone. Doesn't matter that the Yankees were probably only bidding against themselves for A-Rod's future services. No other team was going to step up and pay that kind of money. I doubt any other team would have gone over $200 million, but that's just me...talking out of my ass. I thought it was a terrible decision at the time, and naturally I still do. But this is the kind of thing the Yankees do. Fine.
The idea was that A-Rod was the white knight that was going to break every record in the book and he was going to do it cleanly. No asterisks next to his name. He was going to take the spotlight away from Barry Bonds and all the rest of the steroid cheats. The baseball world was his oyster, and the Yankees were going to bask in his glory. Celebrating him at every turn. And as his legend was supposed to grow, the Yankees bank accounts were going to grow in turn. Fine.
It came out in 2009 that he had failed a supposedly anonymous piss test in 2004 when MLB was considering implementing regular testing. He had to admit to the world that he had indeed used illegal substances. But it was in the years prior to his time with the Yankees. And he apologized profusely saying that he has been clean since. Fine.
After several years of declining production, post-season failures and recurrent injuries, he is back in the illegal substance game. And chefboyardee did he hit it out the park this time. As if his reputation wasn't tarnished already, he is now virtually assured to go down as the greatest pariah the game has ever seen. Barry Bonds is off in a room someplace smiling. Pete Rose is doing a jig. Even Ty Cobb thinks he's an asshole.
And Yankees fans are pissed at him.
Fuck that! They should be pissed AT THE YANKEES! I know I am.
They GAVE him this contract after the 2007 season. Think about that. Supposedly the beginning of the post-Steroid era. Barry Bonds had just played his last game, by no choice of his own. He was unofficially black-balled out of the game even though he was still ridiculously productive. Roger Clemens had also just thrown his last pitch. For the Yankees, of fucking course. His retirement was more voluntary. The biggest cheats in the game were gone. Standardized testing was in place. Commissioner Bud was ruling over the cleanest league in the land. And one of the big reasons that the Yankees granted A-Rod this contract was this new era and the promise of breaking every record in the books...the clean way.
So why didn't they include anything in his contract that would punish him for using PEDs?
I mean, here we are in this supposed new era. A-Rod is the guy that is going to wipe the record books clean. They give him EVERYTHING he wanted in this new contract despite the widely-held belief that no other team was even in the running, and they don't even consider some kind of clause that would punish him if he wasn't everything that he claimed to be. Ya know, just in case. And if he and his people balked at that...well then maybe that would have been a red flag. And maybe if there was some kind of punishment for PED use in there, then maybe he wouldn't be in this position today. I doubt it, because he seems like the very definition of a sociopath right now. I doubt it would have deterred him, but maybe.
Hey listen...it's a possibility that they did want to include something like that. But if they did bring up the possibility that the white knight was maybe a few shades darker, and they agreed to do nothing about it? Then shame on the Yankees. If they didn't even consider it a possibility after everything that baseball had gone through in the previous decade? Then shame on the Yankees.
Bottom line: Shame on the Yankees. If we should be pissed at anyone right now, it should be them. Because that abhorrent contract is just as disgusting to me as the player that pissed it all away. Well...not literally pissed it away. But you know what I mean.
*This incorrect idiom is courtesy of A-Rod's post-game interview last weekend in Trenton. He obviously meant "elephant in the room" or "eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room" when referring to the topic of PEDs and BioGenesis. But it was pretty late on a Friday night, so maybe pink elephant was apropos. Hmm...now I want a Delirium Tremens. Moving on...