Make no mistake. Bud Selig intended to impose a baseball death sentence on Alex Rodriguez with that absurd 211 game suspension back in August 2013. As you may recall, Selig was in a rush to judgement to prevent Rodriguez from playing any games in 2013. Rodriguez was working hard to return after his second hip surgery and Selig had his chief prosecutor and successor as commissioner, Rob Manfred, paying for any and all dirt that they could gather to finally rid themselves of Rodriguez. Like many if not most baseball people, including fans, Selig had a personal dislike for Rodriguez, which clouded whatever meager judgement Selig may have been able to muster.
The other players suspended by Selig in August 2013, including Ryan Braun, Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz, received much lighter punishments (65 games for Braun, 50 for each of the others) because they took a plea bargain in exchange for admitting their guilt. Rodriguez was supposedly offered 100 games but he refused. Why Rodriguez was not offered the same 50 game suspension as the others is still not clear. NONE of them ever failed a drug test. Rodriguez wound up playing the rest of the 2013 season: 44 games from August 5 through Sept. 25, 2013. .244/.348/.423/.771; 7 home runs.
July 27, 2015 Rodriguez will turn 40 years old. Selig may have succeeded. Rodriguez will report to spring training with the Yankees and then we'll see what, if anything, Rodriguez can still do on a baseball field.
Alex Rodriguez: Requiem for a Heavyweight. Saturday, January 11, 2014
Alex Rodriguez was dealt a baseball death sentence today: suspended for the entire 2014 162 game regular season and the tournament that follows...
It's difficult to sympathize with Alex Rodriguez. He had lots of talent and has been paid a lot of money. But even at the age of 38 all he really seems to want is to play baseball...
The 211 game suspension seemed too long. And it seemed mean spirited...
Rodriguez cannot break the home record and that might be just as well. Steroid zealots are inflamed by that like no other issue. But Rodriguez could at least pass Willie Mays and maybe even still reach 700 homers.
Rodriguez could reach:
3,000 hits (needs 61)
2,000 RBI (needs 31)
2,000 runs (needs 81).
After a season in purgatory maybe even Bud Selig would like to see Rodriguez achieve those milestones. Of course, by then Selig would no longer be commissioner. That's how far into the future it would be.
Bud Selig, Alex Rodriguez has served 100 games. Do you have your pound of flesh? Thursday, July 24, 2014
Yesterday the Yankees played game number 100: 52 wins, 48 losses. Obviously, that means that Rodriguez has now served 100 games.
Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta each served 50 games in 2013. Rodriguez has served 100% more.
Ryan Braun served 65 games in 2013. Rodriguez has served 54% more.
Cruz and Braun were 2014 All Stars.
Ryan Dempster deliberately threw at Rodriguez multiple times in a game in August 2013 because Dempster did not like that Rodriguez was playing during his appeal of his original 211 game suspension. Dempster was featured on TV last night as an employed analyst on Selig's MLB Network.
What purpose is being served by continuing the punishment of Rodriguez? Is it merely so Selig gets his pound of Rodriguez flesh? ..
The quality of mercy is not strained: commute the sentence of Alex Rodriguez. Monday, March 10, 2014
It may not be a coincidence that the original punishment of Rodriguez extended through the entire 2014 season. Subsequently, Selig announced his retirement effective January 2015. The banishment of Rodriguez meant that Selig would never have to deal with him again. The return of Rodriguez would be a problem for the next commissioner.
Asking Selig to voluntarily engage Rodriguez again requires uncommon character, which I have yet to observe in Selig. Maybe Selig should learn from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice".
Bud Selig commuted the life sentence given to the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner by Selig's predecessor, Fay Vincent, whom Selig helped force from office in a coup. Steinbrenner's offense: obscenely similar to what Selig and Manfred did to Rodriguez: gather dirt on Yankee player Dave Winfield to discredit Winfield, because Steinbrenner didn't like Winfield.
Rodriguez broke the rules. Rodriguez lied about having broken the rules. Rodriguez tried to hide the fact that he had broken the rules. Didn't all the others? So Rodriguez deserved to be punished but not executed. This punishment never fit the crime, not even in the primitive world of baseball. This was a lynching and we were all involved because we watched it happen and even enjoyed it. We were part of a lynch mob and there was no lone person of character to stand up to the mob.
Some other baseball crimes and punishments:
- Lifetime ban by the first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, of the seven Chicago White Sox players who took money from gamblers to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series: Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Chick Gandil, Happy Felsch, Lefty Williams, Swede Risberg, Fred McMullin; Buck Weaver was also banned because he knew of the conspiracy but did not report it. Sort of like Derek Jeter and many others who did not report teammates who were using performance enhancing drugs (PED) because the enhanced performance of those teammates benefitted the entire team. If the Buck Weaver precedent had been applied, then Selig would have had a much stricter PED policy but one with collateral damage Selig would not accept. Selig had the same aversion to vacating wins of teams with PED users, another policy that would have made Seligs PED enforcement quite different.
- Lifetime ban on Pete Rose, who while manager of the Cincinnati Reds, gambled on baseball games in direct violation of the most basic of baseball rules, one which had been well known to all teams for many years.
- Suspension for the 1947 season of Dodger manager Leo Durocher, probably for adultery; it's still not clear.
- Various suspensions of Babe Ruth, both by his team and commissioner Landis.
I'm OK with all of those. The death penalty should only be invoked for the ultimate offense: throwing games, i.e., intentionally losing, and for associated acts such as gambling. Whatever Rodriguez did he did not deserve the death penalty, not even a suspension for a full season. Selig tried to impose a TWO season penalty on Rodriguez, which at his age would have been the equivalent of the death penalty. Whether Rodriguez can overcome his unjust treatment and continue his career remains to be seen. But the real issue is that we abandoned our core beliefs, primarily because we do not like Alex Rodriguez.
Here in the land of the free and home of the brave, where Superman came from Krypton to fight for truth, justice and the American way, we lost our sense of fairness. Worst of all, we lost it to the likes of a mean spirited old man named Allan Huber "Bud" Selig. Good riddance to Selig and may he be treated more fairly than he treated Alex Rodriguez.