Given what Alex Rodriguez has come to represent in a season where steroids in baseball were exposed and disciplined more than ever before, there would be nothing worse to happen to the sport than the New York Yankees reaching the 2013 postseason.
Sadly, in large part because of Rodriguez’s contributions, it looks like the Yankees might be playing for October after all.
Currently just one game back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot, the Yankees have been a different team in the second half and since Rodriguez made his season debut on August 5. The black eye of the baseball world has been a difference-maker for the Yankees, who are 19-13 in games Rodriguez has played.
The only problem with this, however, is that Rodriguez has no business even being on the playing field as he was suspended for his connection in the Biogenesis steroid scandal.
And yes, Rodriguez was fully within his rights to appeal the suspension. It is within the rules that he is still allowed to play. This is not about blaming Rodriguez, but blaming MLB because not only is their appeals process completely awful, it is hurting the game.
Rodriguez’s appeal won’t be heard until the offseason, which means if the Yankees manage to reach the postseason, Rodriguez will be 100 percent eligible to play and Bud Selig and the league will have to deal with those repercussions.
That brings up what is now a pressing question: what if New York makes the postseason? Moreover, what if the Yankees win the World Series?
The 2009 World Series is already tainted because of Rodriguez’s connection to steroids. Former Yankee teammate of Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, said it himself. “There’s just so many different factors that determine if a team wins … and A-Rod was a huge determining factor.”
Damon wasn’t wrong as Rodriguez was after all the ALCS MVP that year — the only year he managed to perform to a decent level in the postseason.
But in 2013, Rodriguez playing even one postseason inning would be the worst thing to happen to baseball. In 2009, there was no definitive proof that Rodriguez was juicing even if most people did suspect it. In 2013 however, there is no denying his involvement with PEDs. He is not clean and everyone knows it.
Baseball fans do not want to have to see Rodriguez in the playoffs, and they most certainly do not want to see him enjoy any level of success there. Unfortunately, that makes the Yankees public enemy No. 1. And in a season where it would have been a wonderful, fitting end for Mariano Rivera to retire after winning a World Series, the Yankees will easily be the most hated postseason team by any fan outside of the New York area.
If Rodriguez wins another World Series, it almost undermines everything MLB did this year to try to fight steroids. Selig will have to face the fact that he could have suspended Rodriguez for conduct and not the drug policy, in which case he couldn’t have appealed.
But as it is, Rodriguez could very well be playing on a Yankees team that plays in October. If that happens, one can just hope that New York does not make it past the Wild Card round. It is the last thing the baseball world needs.