When a player is suspended, usually he is not allowed to play right away. Unfortunately, in Major League Baseball, players are allowed to appeal right away and wait for a hearing weeks or months away. This loophole has allowed Alex Rodriguez to return to the New York Yankees and play this season, hours after he received the longest non-lifetime ban in recent years.
Rodriguez was banned 211 games, the rest of this season and all of the 2014 season for his role in the PED scandal and his alleged attempts to cover up his use of them. He has been one of the biggest names to be involved in the PED talks as well as other steroid and performance enhancing drug talks over the last few years. Although Rodriguez has denied in interviews about ever taking PEDs, there is substantial reason to believe that he has. Major League Baseball believes this as well as shown through the lengthy suspension handed out to A-Rod, when 12 other players were only given 50 game suspensions on the same day.
I am a big believer in simply looking at the body composition of players to see who is a possible user of either steroids or PEDs. Rodriguez came into the league in the mid-1990s with the Seattle Mariners as a number one overall pick and a highly touted 19 year old. He was exceptionally good back then and has always had a productive career (except for the playoffs in 2012). Players get naturally bigger and stronger over their careers, but like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez simply puts off a vibe that he is hiding something related to taking substances to enhance his on the field performance.
Curt Schilling stated on Sports Center today that Rodriguez admitted twice to taking performance enhancing drugs, and based on the way A-Rod has acted over the course of the year, I am inclined to believe that he has indeed engaged in juicing, doping, or whatever phrase you want to use to describe his actions. He comes across as shady in interviews and simply acts like he isn’t always being 100% honest about his actions.
Alex Rodriguez will forever have his doubters
The production from Rodriguez lately shows that he may be off of PEDs with his decline in performance, but that could also be related to his two hip surgeries and age. I want to believe that he is clean and has not taken illegal substances over the course of his career. However, he is putting himself above the game itself by making it a point to stay in the news and keep the conversation alive and well about his potential use of PEDs. While the other 12 players handed suspensions today have accepted their punishments and are serving them right away, Rodriguez has taken the opportunity to temporarily put his off and ensure that he earns a paycheck for the rest of the season.
If Alex Rodriguez is proven innocent and has not taken any illegal substances, I hope he is able to continue his career and make a run at the all-time home run mark held by Barry Bonds. The possibility of a lifetime ban from Commissioner Bud Selig seems to show that MLB has enough evidence to prove otherwise. Rodriguez is such a high profile person that he will go to great lengths to prove his innocence. Hopefully if he succeeds, it will be through legitimate actions and not raise any other questions about how he was able to do it.
A-Rod is still suspended though, and if he does have to sit out 211 games, that would make him eligible to return midway through the 2015 season. The Yankees would be hard pressed to find a reason to keep Rodriguez upon his return, as he would be a year and a half removed from facing Major League Competition. He would probably have to play overseas to stay in game shape after a hiatus that long if MLB even allows suspended players to do so. And at his salary of tens of millions of dollars, even the New York Yankees could stand to save that much money on an aging non-productive player. A pay cut could keep him on the roster, but what are the odds of Alex Rodriguez, who once signed a 10-year $250 million contract, would be willing to do that?
The New York Yankees are the most decorated baseball team in history and have a long list of All-Stars and Hall of Famers. Alex Rodriguez has had a great career, but I don’t think he deserves to be recognized as a Yankee great. He has already hurt his chances of making the Hall of Fame through his allegations with PEDs, as seen through the lack of inductees this past year. When your name is associated with potentially cheating, the baseball writers have already shown how much that trumps any career statistics. For Rodriguez’s sake, hopefully he truly is innocent and can be inducted one day. To have a career like he has had and not be enshrined with baseball legends is a crime, but cheating to get there would be a much bigger crime.