The New York Yankees are probably one of the very few MLB teams that are happy right now, and who could blame them? After the news came down on Friday that their embattled third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for the entire 2014 regular and postseason, they are no longer on the hook for his salary, thus getting them ever closer to their mission of staying under their self-imposed $189 million payroll cap.
Unfortunately, their fortunes are not shared by the rest of the league, aside from players that may not have been fans of the player now known as ‘A-Fraud.’
As we now know all too well, the steroid era never really ended. It only died down for a brief period of time, if it died down at all. Really, all that happened was that the public eye was taken off of the users of performance-enhancing drugs as the suspensions became slightly heavier and it became more of a taboo to use.
Plus, there were no major scandals to hit baseball since BALCO — at least, that was until Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch came along, implicating significant players on a multitude of teams, including the likes of Ryan Braun and Rodriguez.
Braun had previously gotten off a failed drug test on a technicality in how the sample was handled, and guaranteed on his life that he was innocent. We now know that was a lie, much like Rodriguez lied in 2009 when he admitted to using steroids briefly while with the Texas Rangers because, as he claimed, the pressures of the 10-year, $252 million deal he signed with the Rangers was too much.
It’s pretty safe to say that if the steroid issues were quashed 15-20 years ago, around the time Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing Roger Maris‘ home run record, or even in the early 2000s when Barry Bonds was after Hank Aaron‘s career home run record, that there might not be a problem today.
But no, it was not quashed, because money was rolling in like the league had not seen in a very long time and player salaries were skyrocketing as well. So naturally, there was no real incentive to oust the players who were cheating because they were helping everyone else.
Now, with the gift of hindsight and revisionist history otherwise known as the Hall of Fame vote, players want to see cheaters out of the game at all costs, which could lead to stiffer penalties in the next CBA.
Currently, the punishment for a first time PED offender is a 50-game suspension, which comes with a failed test. Rodriguez did not fail a test, yet he got a year-long suspension after getting a 211-game suspension that was reduced after appeal. So obviously, Rodriguez is getting this suspension for no reason other than evidence against him, which does warrant a suspension.
However, he is also getting this suspension because of who MLB could not get in years past. Think about it: they never got McGwire and Sosa, nor did they get Bonds or Roger Clemens. But they got Braun twice, and he capitulated. They have more than enough evidence in Bosch to incriminate Rodriguez, this generation’s golden steroid goose, so they are dropping the biggest, heaviest hammer they could find on him.
Let me just say, though I think it is pretty obvious, that by no means whatsoever am I trying to defend Rodriguez. He admitted to using, he obviously lied about it and he deserves everything he gets because he thinks he has the upper hand on people that he obviously does not and never really did.
However, this is just as much about what MLB and the Player’s Union did not do in years past to at least try to stay ahead of the curve. They are now getting a taste of their own medicine; their sport of forever stained, fans have become cynical about every breakout player, and this will never go away. You know what they say: money talks, everything else walks. It’s just too bad MLB decided not to ignore it.