Until Saturday, there had been no life sentence for major league baseball players found guilty of using performance-enhancing substances.
But baseball was more than willing to set a precedent in Alex Rodriguez’s case.
He is done now. All but dead as far as baseball is concerned.
Rodriguez can issue statements and hire a chorus line of greasy lawyers and threaten to take his “plight” to federal court, but what part of “get lost” does Alex not understand?
On Saturday, an independent arbitrator jointly appointed by MLB and the players’ union rendered his decision in Rodriguez’s appeal of a 211-game suspension for his involvement with PEDs. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced Rodriguez’s punishment to a manageable time frame — the entire 2014 season and post-season — and thus gave credence to the Himalaya of evidence that MLB had presented him.
Don’t go Mike Francesa on me and whine that Tony Bosch is a lying low-life and was paid by the commissioner’s office for his testimony. As TV has taught us, lawyers get their evidence in the best way they can.
In a riveting report Sunday by CBS’ 60 Minutes, we were reminded that baseball already had substantial evidence against Rodriguez and 13 other players before Bosch himself approached MLB. The baseball investigators showed him his own handwritten notes, and Bosch reportedly unlocked the code behind each of the players’ personal drug regimens.
The 60 Minutes report had a transcript of “hundreds” of incriminating text messages between Bosch, the founder of the Biogenesis clinic, and Rodriguez. It showed a bank transfer from an account owned by A-Rod to Bosch.
“Try to use service elevators. Careful. Tons of eyes,” Rodriguez texted Bosch on a road trip to Atlanta before one of their 2012 meetings.
Most disturbing, though, were Bosch’s own words in which he said that representatives of Rodriguez wanted to send him to Colombia and pay him “until this blows over.” When he refused, according to MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, Bosch said his life was threatened.
Scott Pelley, the 60 Minutes reporter, incredulously asked if Manfred was trying to say that Bosch feared A-Rod’s goons would kill him.
“The individual of greatest concern,” Manfred answered, “was an associate of Mr. Rodriguez.”
If you think this is all a fairy tale, if you still believe that this doesn’t sound at all like Alex Rodriguez, you haven’t been paying attention.
In her 2009 biography, A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez, author Selena Roberts presents a compelling portrait of a baseball sociopath whose narcissism has to be fed continuously. It wasn’t enough that ex-Rangers owner Tom Hicks made him the wealthiest player of all time. Alex wanted to walk the red carpet with celebrities and rub shoulders with the Oprahs and the Bill Gateses.
Rangers fans should never forgive him for the way Rodriguez threw the franchise under the steroids bus in his 2009 “confession.” The 60 Minutes report said A-Rod first approached Bosch a year later, asking him about another Biogenesis client, “What did Manny Ramirez take in 2008-09?”
Rodriguez, Bosch said, wanted to become the first member of the 800-home run club.
In a statement released Sunday, the Major League Baseball Players Association accused MLB of publicly piling on Rodriguez. Both Manfred and (briefly) commissioner Bud Selig appeared in the CBS report.
But so did Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, MLB replied. And as Manfred pointed out, when Alex had his chance to refute the mountain of evidence compiled against him, he declined to defend himself during the appeal process.
A-Rod wants everybody to believe that it’s all been about the money, that his suspension is part of an MLB-wide conspiracy to keep from paying him the approximate $86 million that the Yankees still owe on his contract. He wants his fellow big-leaguers to think, “This could happen to you.”
But once again, he’s just trying to play a role. He misjudges just how many players want the playing field leveled.
Rodriguez is on his own. What MLB player would be brazen enough to defend him? What major-league team, once his suspension ends, would be foolish enough to sign him?
Don’t feel sorry for Alex Rodriguez. Loathe him.