If you have paid more than one minute of attention this week to the coverage of the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis scandal, you would have heard the same things over and over -- that A-Rod was facing a lifetime ban if he did not cooperate. But that if Rodriguez agreed to a settlement that would cover the rest of 2013 and all of 2014, and agreed not to appeal, that would be the extent of his punishment. (As if a 214-game settlement for a 38-year-old for what is still technically a first offense would be a fair one.) In fact, there was even a story published this week in USA Today that MLB was about to ban A-Rod for life last Thursday or Friday. (Remember how that was the latest D-Day on this scandal? There have been about a half-dozen or so!)
So what has happened since then? A-Rod actually told the truth Friday in his post-game press conference after his Trenton Thunder rehab stint. He said the following two things:
And what has been the reaction on it? Well, there haven't been any denials from either MLB or the Yankees -- the Daily News quoted a Yankee official who said:"There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that’s not my teammates and it’s not the Yankee fans.”
"...when all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract and stuff like that, I think that’s concerning for me, it’s concerning for present — and I think it should be concerning for future players, as well.”
"This is typical Alex," one Yankee official told the Daily News on Saturday. "Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he blames everybody else. It wasn't the Yankees who introduced Rodriguez to Anthony Bosch. It wasn't the Yankees who introduced him to Dr. Galea, or anybody else."Note: that is not a denial of A-Rod talking about people "finding creative ways to cancel your contract." Instead, it is answering questions that were never asked.
And Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes this today (emphasis added):
I have been working on this story for weeks and I have heard theories expounded by the A-Rod camp that have had everything but Yankees officials and MLB executives high-fiving Lee Harvey Oswald on a grassy knoll. And I will not discredit them. I am sure the Yankees want out of the contract. I am sure MLB wants A-Rod out of the game.
But the suspension that is going to be announced either today or tomorrow is about PED use. It is about obstructing the investigation. In all the theories expressed none can explain that away — unless Rodriguez is innocent.He also says that "The Yankees could be guilty. So could MLB. That doesn’t make A-Rod innocent." Sherman misses the point, though -- I am sure A-Rod is guilty of a first offense with PEDs here. But a 50-game suspension apparently isn't enough for MLB and the Yankees, so they are gunning for much more, including threatening a lifetime ban, and treating him differently than they are any other suspected steroid user. And they want to take away his due process rights, too. Incidentally, Sherman also writes that A-Rod has "hired a stable of private investigators and word is they have a bunch of information that would embarrass MLB and the Yankees." Interesting!
At any rate, less than 12 hours after A-Rod does his shot across the bow, MLB's minions in the New York Daily News and the New York Post claim that Rodriguez will be suspended for the end of this season and all of next season, which is actually a victory of sorts for him, considering that this amount was the deal he would only get if he agreed not to appeal. But they spin it as a defeat.
The News writes: "Alex Rodriguez just talked himself out of a possible settlement with Major League Baseball and faces a 214-game suspension to be handed down on Monday." And the Post writes that "Alex Rodriguez struck out even before he got on the field yesterday." Both claim that MLB refused to negotiate further with Rodriguez or the players' union.
Except that A-Rod didn't really strike out. As I said earlier, that 214-game suspension was the offer on the table originally only if he cooperated and did not appeal. Now, according to the media, he has that very same offer from MLB, without taking away his ability to appeal. How is this a defeat for him?
In closing, ask yourself this: if MLB has all the evidence against Rodriguez that they say they do, then why didn't they just ban him weeks ago? Why all these moved-back deadlines, and lesser levels of punishment? What are they afraid of here? Those are questions the media ought to ask themselves, instead of carrying MLB's water for them.