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If you're angry Alex Rodriguez is still playing baseball while players who are actually crucial to their team’s success in 2013 are sitting and serving a PED suspension, don’t be.  A-Rod may in fact be an A-hole who causes problems, hogs the spotlight and gets into problems that put a gleam in the eyes of paparazzi, but Rodriguez is well within his rights to challenge the suspension that Bud Selig handed down.  That’s because it is excessive.

Now I’m a sworn enemy of the steroid cheats.  Back in 2005 I offered via this website to pay, out of my own pocket, for the blood tests of any player who was brave enough to step forward and say, “I’m clean and I’m willing to prove it.”   I had hoped it would start a revolution where players would come forward, prove they were clean and force the cheats out of the game.  It’s finally happening.  The players are standing up against PEDs, but not because of my offer.



Photo by Sean Svadifari, used under creative commons license.

 

The players themselves are driving the clean movement, and Rodriguez is a steroid cheat.  I’m glad to see him in line to be punished, but he’s getting a raw deal.  No matter what we may think of his public persona, he deserves to be punished by the same standards as anyone else.

Now there have been plenty of rumors over the past few weeks that MLB has had evidence of A-Rod juicing during the 2010-2012 season, but that’s what they are and how they should be treated -- as rumors.  If they were true than Bud Selig should have dropped the hammer on him long ago, because if the commissioner is guilty of looking the other way for years, then holding it against Rodriguez now is a gross miscarriage of justice and the standards laid out by the Joint Drug Agreement.  

It would also show a pro-Yankees bias that should not be overlooked by the other 29 owners since A-Rod was being allowed to play when he was a useful player to the Yankees when they were competitive but is being punished now that the Yankees are struggling and preparing to rebuild.

Because of that, if Selig has been sitting on evidence, then he should be removed as commissioner and the evidence should not be allowed to be used now, for what amounts to the betterment of a single organization at the expense of what little integrity that MLB has managed to reacquire since the “end” of the steroid era.  

A-Rod needs to be judged and punished according to the rules of the Joint Drug Agreement, albeit like the case of Ryan Braun, with a little extra tacked on.

Now if Selig has decided to punish him outside of the Joint Drug Agreement for conduct detrimental to the game, he would have had a stronger legal argument when it came to defending a punishment that exceeds both the first and second strike as laid out by the JDA.  But as it stands, even if A-Rod had used PEDs continually since 2003, is what he did worse than Melky’s fake website which was an attempt to deceive investigators?  Or worse than Braun’s impugning of the integrity of sample gatherer Dino Laurenzi and scamming his way out of what should have been his first PED suspension?

No, A-Rod, like most guilty of an illegal act, tried to cover it up by obstructing the investigation into himself.  He isn’t guilty of much more than not wanting to be caught.

That’s what will come out during his arbitration hearing.  And the judgment is likely to be that Selig overstepped the terms of the JDA.  I fully expect his suspension to be reduced, probably by close to half.  The Yankees will still get some salary relief, but justice, at least in terms of balance between organizations will be preserved.

And hopefully, it will push the players to once again ask to revise the JDA and to give it even more teeth, hopefully so that baseball will be looking at a new policy.  Hopefully one that changes baseball forever -- either one or two strikes and you are out.