Alex Rodriguez was the first player to reach 400 career home runs before turning 30. He also became the first person to be suspended for a full season over alleged steroid use. For all the transgressions he committed regarding his link to the now defunct Miami-based biogenesis clinic, one thing is for sure: A-Rod should be forgiven.
After two decades playing professionally, A-Rod’s résumé boasts records far greater than the numbers on the back of his baseball card. His two 10-year contracts for $250 million in 2001 (which he would eventually opt-out) and $275 million in 2008 increased average player salary by 13.9% and 7.1% in those respective years. A-Rod paved the way for the megadeals to Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Clayton Kershaw. His landmark agreement even crossed over to influence other sports including football (Flacco and Manning) and soccer (Ronaldo and Beckham). Not even Michael Jordan received such a noteworthy playing contract.
He was the central reason Mariners front office decided against re-signing superstar Ken Griffey Jr., thinking they could build around A-Rod for years to come. He is the only player with 13 consecutive 30+ homers and 100+ RBI seasons and ranks fifth all-time with 654 home runs. His jersey was a top-10 seller from 1998-2011. During his Yankees days, he won two MVPs and was a major contributor to the World Series victory in 2009 (.400+ postseason batting average, 18 RBIs in 15 games). When he was traded to New York, it was the game’s goldmine. The best player representing the largest baseball industry would only generate greater fan interest, marketability, and revenue.
Once admitting to using steroids during his Rangers days, the fact is A-Rod has never failed a drug test since MLB implemented mandatory testing. However, Commissioner Selig along with his mafia of COO Rob Manfred and arbitrator Frederic Horowitz went to unprecedented steps to single out A-Rod in the biogenesis scandal. It is a criminal offense to practice medicine without a license and distribute illegal steroids. Tony Bosch falls under this category as the director of the biogenesis clinic, yet MLB paid Bosch $125,000 for his records. Bosch’s credibility was suspect to begin with when he initially denied allegations about the scandal in an interview with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez (claiming he was a “nutritionist”) and then appears on 60 Minutes spewing baseless accusations about A-Rod’s supposed PED use. If MLB is so righteous, it would not pay a criminal for his courtroom deposition.
Recall previous arbitrator Shyam Das was fired just days after he overturned Selig’s suspension of Ryan Braun for his positive test in 2011. Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz’s decision was heavily coerced in that if he followed the same thinking to reverse A-Rod’s ruling, he likely would have been canned by the Commissioner.
The mistakes A-Rod made was suing the Major League Baseball Players Association. Former MLBPA director Michael Weiner vehemently defends players, even when they are wrong (for Braun’s case, MLBPA did not dispute the failed drug test rather successfully argued the delivery method of the urine sample) and they backed A-Rod during his appeal. Also, for A-Rod to form a relation with Bosch would naturally raise eyebrows.
Major League Baseball and Commissioner Selig have made a lot of money through A-Rod’s on-field success. If he had to be suspended, like the 12 other players involved with the clinic, it should have allotted to the first-time offense of 50 games.
On the eve of A-Rod dropping his suits against MLB and MLBPA, essentially conceding his appeal, it is imperative to consider his work in the Florida community that includes a $3.9 million donation to the University of Miami, 20 years of producing at the highest level, and his industry allure as a Latino to globalize the game. A-Rod should be forgiven and welcomed back to baseball in 2015.
All stats are courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference. com/.