Further Review: Swinging and missing
Column by Ken Cohen
January 17, 2014 I don't begrudge Alex Rodriguez for trying everything in his power to extend his crumbling baseball career. When faced with the prospect of finality, humans, especially those with competitive instincts, tend to fight to the bitter end, no matter what the odds. And why shouldn't they as long as there are available channels which afford even the slightest chance of vindication or exoneration and expense is no issue then go for it.
This doesn't mean I believe Rodriguez or think his season-long suspension was wrongly imposed. Was it excessive? Probably, when you consider the longest suspension given out to the other 12 players was 50 games. But Rodriguez went beyond what these other players did not only in the amount of times he allegedly used PEDs, but also his defiance. The other 12 players all admitted they used PEDs, accepted their penalties and moved on. They didn't fight it because they couldn't the evidence was overwhelming.
I actually wish the arbitrator would have reduced Rodriguez’ suspension to 50 games. That would have really put him in a bind. He has adamantly insisted that he never used the PEDs, essentially saying that no penalty is warranted. So if the arbitrator had rendered a decision which shortened his suspension to 50 games, what would he have done?
If he accepted the decision, he would basically be admitting that he did use PEDs and has been lying all this time. But 50 games would have allowed him to get back on the field and continue his pursuit of 700 home runs, which is really the only reason he wants to continue playing. I think the arbitrator gave Rodriguez an out by not reducing the sentence and forcing his hand. Rodriguez was really left with only one response to the 162-game suspension and that was to continue the fight and the denials at this point he has nothing more to lose.
When you listen to Rodriguez and his lawyers, they claim that the preponderance of evidence implicating him comes from Tony Bosch, a drug dealer, liar and untrustworthy witness. That's actually laughable not only because it's the same guy who provided the evidence against the other 12 suspended players, who all admitted he was telling the truth, but because Rodriguez himself has lied in the past. If he's trying to make this a case between his word or Bosch's, he whiffs badly. Whatever his tainted past, Bosch has been proven to be correct in his previous testimony against the other 12 players. Rodriguez is an admitted liar. Yes, he eventually came clean about his steroid use several years ago, but he lied about it on many previous occasions prior to his confession.
In addition to Rodriguez flailing wildly here, the players' union is looking equally aimless. Just because someone is a union member, doesn't mean you have to unequivocally defend him. Players can do things that a union should not tolerate, especially when it possibly stains the majority of the rest of the membership. By not fighting the other 12 suspensions, but supporting Rodriguez, the union miscalculated here. And now Rodriguez is so thankful for that support that he is suing the union for misrepresentation. But again, he's doing what any desperate person would chasing and going after whatever he can. Kind of like what he's done at the plate the last few years.
Ken Cohen brings 30 years of publishing experience, many covering sports and working for sports companies, His column, “Further Review” appears every Friday.