Friday, August 09, 2013

Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis Scandal

Let me say upfront, as a lifelong Yankee fan and an admirer of Derek Jeter's character, I've always rooted against Alex Rodriguez. There was a time I believed he was naturally a great shortstop, but he was in Seattle, and for about as long as he's played, New York has had the solid-fielding, much more composed Jeter at shortstop.

When 2003 ALCS hero third baseman Aaron Boone went down with a boneheaded pickup basketball injury, I didn't see Alex and Derek on the same team. A-Rod wasn't a third baseman. He would have to voluntarily move to third for the chance at a championship. That was a lot to ask of a star who commanded MLB's richest contract, crippling the Texas Rangers. I didn't think he'd make the switch, but he did. From his months of yips at third, though, I can only assume he didn't come to terms with the switch for some time.

Then there were the rumblings that Derek didn't embrace Alex as a teammate. There was the speculation that if Derek only showed more approval, Alex would feel more comfortable and get back to being MLB's best all-around player. I thought, if Alex really was the best, he wouldn't need anyone's approval to play well. He would play well because that's who he was.

Then came his admission of buying and taking performance-enhancing drugs while with the Rangers. Because MLB had no penalties for the drugs at the time, he couldn't be punished retroactively. Even though I'd never warmed to Alex, I was disappointed to hear he had used.

Finally in 2009, Alex seemed comfortable with himself and came through when the Yankees needed him, helping them to a twenty-seventh championship. I still was no fan of his, but I respected him as someone who had come back from rock-bottom.

Little did I know he would be caught in another, potentially more damning drug scandal. That said, I think his 211-game suspension is unfair by MLB's current 50- and 100-game standards for PED violations. It does show how seriously MLB takes Alex's alleged actions, and if the players' union has genuinely come out against PED use, stiffer penalties will be written into the next collective bargaining agreement. I'd like to see full-season suspensions for first offenses, lifetime bans for second offenses.

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