Mother Nature tried to bring justice to Major League Baseball on Thursday, keeping Alex Rodriguez off the field — where he belongs. The Yankees’ 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium was delayed by rain for 3 hours and 32 minutes.
There is no justice in Major League Baseball as long as the self-serving Yankees third baseman is allowed to keep playing games and affecting pennant races when he can’t even look questioners in the eye and say he didn’t obtain or use performance-enhancing drugs from the Miami-based Biogenesis clinic. His appeal is not based on exculpation, but on trying to collect as many paychecks as possible before the guillotine drops.
The rain delay was a fitting backdrop for Rodriguez’s Dodging Justice Tour, which reached Game No. 17 (A-Rod has played in 15 of them). Rodriguez is a perpetual black cloud over the game these days, spreading controversy and rancor wherever he goes, as he continues to stiff-arm the 211-game ban handed down by MLB.
Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster stepped into the eye of the A-Rod storm on Sunday when he clumsily enacted frontier justice on A-Rod. Dempster hit the Pinstripe Pariah with a pitch on the fourth try. Dempster received blame for the Red Sox’ 9-6 loss, the wrath of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, and a five-game suspension from MLB on Tuesday.
Dempster has elected not to appeal his penalty, setting up the absurd, astonishing, and eminently embarrassing scenario of Dempster missing games due to suspension before A-Rod does. (Rodriguez’s spurious appeal won’t be ruled on until November.)
Spare me the talk about due process. Rodriguez is overdue to be missing baseball games, just like the other 13 players tied to the Biogenesis scandal, all of whom are sitting out.
He’s perverting the appeals process for his own gain, at the expense of some fellow union members who are on teams competing for playoff spots. The Yankees are 11-6 since his return, and they began Thursday just four games back in the wild-card chase.
Can you imagine if the American justice system worked this way? A defendant can make no claim to innocence, but doesn’t agree with his sentence, so in the meantime he’s free to go. Whitey Bulger would be doing cartwheels on Castle Island.
There is no debate over whether Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association.
The head of the union, Michael Weiner, said in an interview with “Mad Dog Radio” on SiriusXM this month that the union advised Rodriguez to accept a suspension if it was a certain number of games. Obviously, that number wasn’t 211.
It was likely closer to 50, which is the number of games MLB lays out for a first-time offender. That is what Rodriguez technically qualifies as, despite his 2009 public admission of PED use, which he claimed was confined to 2001-03 while he was with the Texas Rangers.
Would Weiner, a lawyer by trade, be advising an innocent man to accept any punishment without appeal? No way.
MLB and the Players Association need to revisit the appeals process. It didn’t work in the Ryan Braun case in 2012, and it’s not working now.
If a player’s PED appeal is not based on exoneration, but the severity of the penalty, then that player should sit out up to the minimum of 50 games while the appeal is decided.
If A-Rod won his appeal and his suspension was reduced from 211 it could have just counted as time served.
Instead, A-Rod’s appeal has paved the way for justice to be put into a state of suspended animation.
With their over-the-top outrage, the Yankees and Girardi have done a great job of using the Dempster debate as a diversion from the real disgrace to the game — that A-Rod, who is batting .281 after going 0 for 3 with a walk Thursday, is helping them get back in the playoff chase.
It’s open season, to borrow a term from Girardi, on the integrity of the game, as long as Girardi keeps filling out a lineup with Rodriguez’s name in it.
The carping of the Yankee manager after A-Rod was plunked was hypocritical and sanctimonious.
Girardi mentioned his time as a player representative in reprimanding Dempster for taking matters into his own hands. If I were Girardi, who played from 1989-2003, I wouldn’t be crowing about being a player rep during the height of the Steroid Era, when the players’ union fought performance-enhancing drug testing like the National Rifle Association fights gun law reform.
You also wonder if Girardi and some of the Yankees players have forgotten about the “60 Minutes” report that said that Rodriguez’s retinue intentionally leaked the names of other players involved in the Biogenesis scandal, including his teammate Francisco Cervelli.
The Yankees don’t have any claim to the moral high ground or adherence to baseball’s code of conduct, not when they have an ethical sinkhole at third base.
While the MLBPA and the Yankees’ on-field personnel are the biggest A-Rod enablers, MLB is not totally absolved from guilt here. Commissioner Bud Selig could have suspended A-Rod using the “best interests of baseball” clause, which would have prevented him from playing during his appeal.
But Selig backed down for fear of fracturing relations with the union, which displayed an unprecedented level of cooperation in the other 13 Biogenesis-related suspensions.
Justice isn’t being served. It’s being frozen out.
The guiltiest party of all remains Rodriguez. He is the black cloud who keeps hovering to collect all the green he can.
But there is a lot of guilt to go around baseball when it comes to explaining how and why Rodriguez is allowed to grace and disgrace Major League Baseball fields.Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.