Right Field

A-Rod May Have Lied? So What?

Forgive me for not launching into hysterics yesterday or earlier today over the revelation that the currently injured Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003, may have lied and continued to use PEDs. Other big-league players, including the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez, were also implicated in the Miami New Times article. (In today’s Washington Post, Jack Wagner writes that the report links Gonzalez to three substances: zinc, MIC, and Aminorip, noting that it was not “immediately clear what MIC and Aminorip are, or if they appear on MLB’s list of banned substances.”)

Salem witch trial judge Bergen Record columnist Bob Klapisch minces no words in his lede:

Say goodbye to Alex Rodriguez and whatever good memories you have of this disgraced slugger, assuming there are any left to conjure. A-Rod has been linked (again) to performance-enhancing drugs, as recently as last season, putting the finishing touches on his now-utterly trashed legacy — baseball’s all-time fraud.

Writing in Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci seems to think that this report will taint the Yankees’ most recent World Series triumph:

In any case, the news is worse for Rodriguez than it is for anybody else in the report, if only because of his stature and that 2009 confessional production under the tent in the Yankees’ spring training complex. Until now, Rodriguez was careful to shield the Yankees from his taint, telling the story about how he stopped using PEDs before he became a Yankee — as if it made perfect sense that he used for a last-place Texas team but suddenly would have no more use for performance enhancers upon being put on the New York stage. The story seemed to fly for many people. But now, with this story, the franchise and its 2009 championship are smeared by Rodriguez’s connection to PEDs. 

UPDATE: Does anyone, including Verducci, really believe that the eight players on the 2000 Yankees whose names appeared in the Mitchell Report have smeared that world title as well?

In response, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reminds us that the article in the Miami New Times contains mere accusations, not proof:

First, what do we actually have here? As of now, we have a terrific newspaper story that isn’t much of a prosecutorial case. We have a notebook with someone writing, “I sold drugs to A-Rod and a bunch of other guys.”

It’s going to take considerably more than that to bring down A-Rod and his pals. For starters, Anthony Bosch would have to confirm that yes, he did write that and yes, he did sell those drugs to those people. Then he’d have to provide additional evidence that these actions occurred. Canceled checks? Prescription slips? Photos of A-Rod? It’s got to be something good.

Maybe Bosch can pull that off, and maybe A-Rod actually would be suspended due to a non-analytic positive. It isn’t impossible. It’s a long way away, though, and A-Rod’s hiring of Roy Black and strong denial yesterday indicate that he’s going to fight this passionately. Which means that this is going to be a very fun story.

Still, is “a very fun story” the best way to describe what’s in store for baseball’s fans, most of whom appear enervated, not juiced, by the barrage of PED stories?

Frequent Baseball Think Factory commenter Ray DiPerna went so far as to opine to me yesterday:

I don’t understand why anyone still cares about this, on any level. The sport will never be rid of PEDs — indeed, in time there is a great chance that PEDs will be legal again and accepted; see the change in the laws against same-sex marriage or interracial marriage — and nobody has any clue which players who have been anointed ‘clean’ are actually clean.

I am not sure what to make of people whose thought process is so confused that they would still think negatively of a player for using PEDs when usage is so common, or, even worse, would think that they have the faintest notion which players presumed clean are actually clean.

While I am unwilling to go along with the notion that PEDs will be deemed kosher in my lifetime, DiPerna’s larger point stands. Why is little attention paid to players arrested for driving while intoxicated or under the influence, criminal activity that jeopardizes the lives of others? Why isn’t the fleecing of taxpayers in order to build gaudy ballparks a bigger deal?

And while we’re at it, when might we find a gaggle of sportswriters demanding that the NFL get rid of its lethal-weapon helmets once and for all?

For those Yankee fans hoping (praying?) that somehow the club will be able to part ways with the hobbled slugger via the insurance policy, thereby wiping away the rest of the $114 million remaining on his contract, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk has some breaking news:

As Calcaterra notes elsewhere, for-profit insurance companies don’t exist to pay off specious claims, let alone fraudulent ones.

And wait, there’s still more:

Know what happens if MLB finds cause to discipline A-Rod? He gets disciplined. Know what sets forth the discipline for a PED violation? The Joint Drug Agreement. Know what does not allow for voiding a contract for PED discipline? The Joint Drug Agreement.

Of course the Yankees want A-Rod’s contract voided. It’s a crappy contract. They wanted Jason Giambi‘s voided too and didn’t try to do it after exhausting their options. Or at least appearing to exhaust them. Which is what I think this really is: red meat for the angry fans. The Yankees way of showing them and the talk radio hosts that they’re upset too and, man, how bad that A-Rod guy is.

On the bright side, only 11 days remain until pitchers and catchers report.

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