Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension appears to be nearing a conclusion after
A-Rod stormed out of the hearing on Wednesday and suggested he will not testify.
There are three main arguments that can be made for or against A-Rod. If we remove our own personal biases, they are all plausible, which is why this case is so ugly.
Let’s make a case for each potential outcome.
A-Rod should not be suspended at all.
It is easy to not like Rodriguez and he has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in the past. So it is easy to assume that he is guilty of something. But what evidence does Major League Baseball actually have that he broke the rules and deserves to be suspended?
MLB investigators purchased stolen documents showing A-Rod made large payments to the Biogenesis clinic, something A-Rod does not deny happened. But does this prove A-Rod purchased performance-enhancing drugs? Isn’t it possible A-Rod, a very wealthy athlete, was looking for a legal edge and was willing to pay top-dollar for it?
In fact, this is exactly what BALCO founder Victor Conte said when asked about his meeting with Rodriguez in 2012. According to Conte, Rodriguez came to him looking for advanced, yet legal supplements to give him an edge.
MLB investigators also have the testimony of the clinic’s founder, Tony Bosch. However, it is clear that Bosch was under great financial pressure to help the investigation. While other suspended players have not denied receiving PEDs from Bosch, it may have been clear to Bosch that A-Rod was the prize MLB wanted.
A-Rod is guilty but he should only be suspended for 50 games.
Under the rules agreed to by MLB and the players’ union, a first-time suspension is 50 games. Rodriguez has not previously been suspended by MLB for violating the drug program and he never failed a drug test.
MLB is arguing that Rodriguez case ultimately comes down to multiple violations and thus deserving of more than the standard first-time penalty. However, this is a dangerous precedent for MLB since, in theory, they could make that same case against all suspended players and yet MLB is only using it against A-Rod.
In the most famous case, Melky Cabrera produced a fake website trying to show he didn’t know he was taking an illegal substance and still only received a 50-game suspension. This suggests MLB is deciding when it is convenient to ignore the 50-game suspension agreement and Bud Selig either has a vendetta against A-Rod or is using A-Rod as an example to other players. If true, that is not fair to A-Rod even if he is guilty.
A-Rod deserves every game of his suspension.
One of the biggest arguments against the lengthy suspension was that 211 games was an arbitrary figure that just happened to be the number of games left in the 2013 season combined with the entire 2014 season. Many have argued that throwing out an arbitrary number is unfair to A-Rod and other players that may be suspended in the future.
But ultimately any number above the standard 50-game suspension, and shorter than a lifetime ban was going to be arbitrary because A-Rod’s case did not fit the norm and there was no precedent. So MLB had to come up with something.
Maybe MLB could have given a lengthier suspension. Maybe the arbitrator will decide it should be something less than 211 games. But the idea of an arbitrary number is not necessarily unfair if you believe Rodriguez’s case goes above and beyond the normal steroid suspension.
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