Monday, January 13, 2014

Alex Rodriguez, and due process

I am Mike Hammer -- I am my own jury.  I arrive at my own verdict through my own deliberation, after going through the evidence that has been presented and/or my own preconceived biases.  There are no mistrials among my opinions.  This is all perfectly swell, but nothing comes of my verdicts except whatever comments I make to my friends, whatever I post online, and however loudly I choose to cheer or boo.

Remember when Barry Bonds was going for Hank Aaron's career home run record?  I knew Bonds had juiced, I knew he was a cheater, I knew his record would be tarnished.  I had banned him in my mind.  Yet there he was, still playing, still hitting home runs.  Those home runs, whether I liked it or not, were legit.  They occurred, they counted in the scorebook, they marred the opposing pitchers' ERAs, and they helped determine a winner and loser in games that affected the standings.

This wasn't Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa juicing and swatting longballs while the whole country thought it was wonderful and wholesome.  This was PED-caused success in the open.  It was an embarrassment for the national pastime.

Such was the verdict reached by many a baseball fan across the country, no evidence required.  The details revealed in Game of Shadows was a bonus, making us all the more confident in Bonds's guilt. 

Embarrassed by what occurred with Bonds, crushing the sport’s image, MLB decided not to experience a reprise when the Miami New Times last year revealed that a Miami clinic had been juicing up athletes.  The clinic's big man was Anthony Bosch, and the clinic's big patient was baseball's highest paid player, Alex Rodriguez.  Here you might think that Anthony Bosch is the true villain of the piece, but Major League Baseball disagreed.  No one knew Bosch's name; everyone knows A-Rod.  Any penalties suffered by Bosch would be ignored by the national population.  If Rodriguez wasn't punished, though, it would be Barry Bonds all over again.

A ban of 216 games was announced for Rodriguez... not so coincidentally, the exact amount of games required to suspend A-Rod for the remainder of 2013 and 2014.  Now, maybe you'd be fine with arbitrarily deciding that Rodriguez should disappear for the next two baseball seasons.  I certainly wouldn’t mind it.

But Major League Baseball cannot work arbitrarily.  In order to punish a player to any extent, Bud Selig and his people needed direct evidence that will stand up before an honest to goodness judge (and not just an emotionally-charged, idealistic fan).  After all, for things to stick, the penalty would have to be proven in a court of law.  The burden of evidence was upon the league.

In order to vindicate themselves, Major League Baseball took the dual steps of paying Tony Bosch for his testimony and giving $125,000 to a guy they only knew as “Bobby,” who possessed pertinent files that had been stolen from the trunk of Peter Fischer, who had been the marketing director at the Biogenesis clinic.

More details, trustworthy or not, were revealed by Sunday's “60 Minutes” report by Scott Pelley, which was filled with characters and dramatics stolen from the pages of Mickey Spillane.

I know A-Rod juiced.  You know A-Rod juiced.  We were all uncomfortable when he kept on playing toward the end of 2013, trying to help the Yankees reach the playoffs.  Well, now Alex Rodriguez is banned for 2014.  (He'll try to appeal it, but it doesn't look good.)

In the end, this is the result I wanted.


It is unsatisfying.

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