It should come as a surprise to no one that Bud Selig and MLB would botch the Biogenesis of America investigation, the latest round in the league’s seemingly endless PED saga.
However, the decision to banish New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to baseball wilderness until 2015 is not only comically arbitrary, but it also fundamentally undercuts the entire purpose of banning the slugger in the first place. The first overall pick in the 1993 draft is far from the only player to be toppled by the scandal. The New York native just happens to be the biggest star.
Ryan Braun somehow escaped with just a 65-game slap on the wrist, which will cost the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year $3.25 million (Rodriguez meanwhile is in line to lose $34 million). That seemed like a ridiculously lenient deal at the time, and now it just seems downright absurd.
Let’s quickly recap Braun’s transgressions. The five-time All-Star was originally linked to performance enhancers when he failed a drug test back in the fall of 2011 — the same season he won the NL MVP. Braun was never suspended, however, as the results were overturned on a technicality. In the spring of 2012, the left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers infamously proclaimed that “the truth is on my side.”
In February 2013, Braun was connected to Biogenesis, and by June, he had begun a backpedal of Lance Armstrong-type proportions, as he finally confirmed that actually he had made a few “mistakes.”
Undoubtedly, Rodriguez and the rest of the Biogenesis crew have made some mistakes as well. Like the other 12 players suspended on Monday, this will be Rodriguez’s first time getting popped. According to the rules, that should have earned Rodriguez a 50-game ban, just like all the others.
Perhaps if baseball really wanted to stick it to Rodriguez, the league could have slapped him with a Braun-sized 65-game suspension. But 211 games for the hobbled 38 year old? That’s just a joke. But what’s worse is that the overzealous ban has actually backfired so badly that it will now have the exact opposite effect than it was supposed to have.
It’s hard to know why Rodriguez was singled out so extensively, but it seems to have to do with the fact that the 14-time All-Star not only went to great lengths to enhance his performance, but also to cover his tracks and frustrate baseball’s investigation.
One theory would be that the 211-game ban was laid down effectively as a de facto life-ban, as Rodriguez will be 40 when his time is up in 2015. It seems, though, that in his eagerness to rid the game of Rodriguez, the apparent scourge, Selig made a serious miscalculation.
Backed into a corner, the aging third baseman now has nothing to lose and no reason not to fight. The funny thing about the 211-game ban is that the idea behind it was to get Rodriguez out of the game as soon as possible. However, Michael Weiner, the executive director of the MLB Players Association, has already suggested that the appeal process will spill over into the offseason.
So, as it turns out, Rodriguez, the one member of the Biogenesis bunch who Selig really didn’t want to see take the field, is the only guy who will.