Is One Season Enough?
Following Major League Baseball’s announcement that Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for the entirety of next season, much of the public response was mixed. Part of the reason was the lack of any factual information about his use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). A few nights ago, however, the 60 Minutes report on Alex Rodriguez and interview with his “nutritionist”, Anthony Bosch (who really acted as his supplier of PEDs) was aired, finally shedding some honest light on the scandal. No one expected the extent of the PED usage that Bosch described nor how much A-Rod had paid Bosch to supply him. What was equally shocking was the lengths to which A-Rod has gone to cover-up his usage while he was playing and then later during the MLB’s investigation. Bosch’s accusations were not just hearsay: he had thousands of text messages to back them up. Based on that report (which included interviews with MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig and Rob Manfred, COO of the MLB), Major League Baseball is delivering a relative slap on the wrist by suspending Alex Rodriguez for only one season, when in reality he deserves a lifetime ban.
There’s no doubt that A-Rod was juicing pretty hard and very often. Bosch claims A-Rod was paying him $12,000 each month for the PEDs. While that amount would be insignificant compared to A-Rod’s annual $28M salary from the Yankees, it suggests that he was more than just a casual user. Moreover, Bosch claims he set up the entire PED regimen in a way that would elude detection. For example, testosterone gummies chewed at the beginning of the game, which would be out of A-Rod’s system by game’s end. Or, even stranger, instructions as to the part of a urine stream to use as a sample. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Alex Rodriguez has violated all of the MLB’s rules regarding performance enhancing drugs.
But as is usually the case with criminal acts, it’s not just the crime it’s also the cover-up. A-Rod went to nearly unimaginable lengths to try and obfuscate his usage and disassociate himself from Bosch.. Once news got out that Major League Baseball had discovered what was going on with Biogenesis, A-Rod and his “associates” paid a purported bribe of nearly $50,000 to Tony Bosch to keep quiet. In addition, Bosch claims that A-Rod’s associates offered him $25,000 a month to move to Colombia and hide out for a little while, plus an additional $150,000 once he returned to the States. When Bosch turned down these offers, Rodriguez took a more sinister approach towards ensuring that he word would not get out about his PED use. On 60 Minutes, Bosch says he received death threats from A-Rod’s associates. He added that “nothing ever happens without A-Rod’s approval”, so if his accusations are true, then the threats came from Alex Rodriguez. This further solidifies the idea that Rodriguez’s steroid usage seems to have turned him into a thug who’s not worthy of being in an organized sports league. This news has turned the public’s opinion of A-Rod from a simple liar and cheater to a possible gangster. In fact, what he’s done to the league only serves to further sully his own reputation as well as that of the league.
The whole Biogenesis scandal, along with Major League Baseball’s willingness to allow him to play again, could hurt the credibility, health and vitality of the sport. When asked the 60 Minutes report about the fairness of such a thing, Tony Bosch criticized the idea of “fair play,” saying that A-Rod knew that while he was batting “the pitcher throwing the 95 MPH pitch” is juicing, as is the catcher behind him and even the outfielder that’ll catch A-Rod’s fly ball is on steroids. This infuriated everyone, particularly those players who don’t do PEDs. The players who take steroids are a small minority of the overall league, so making such a wide sweeping and incriminating assumption not only enrages each and every player who’s clean, but it also should upset those in charge of drug testing since it would imply that they’re failing in their jobs.
If anything, the 60 Minutes report combined what we already know about Rodriguez with new details to essentially destroy what little was left of his reputation. A-Rod is cold and disingenuous, he’s incredibly full of himself and likes to prop himself up as a kind of indestructible being, and he’s devious and calculating. I’d even go as far as to say that the man has no conscience. This is an example of a kind of attitude that tarnishes the game of baseball and weakens the MLB as a whole, which can only strengthen the argument for a lifetime ban.