This is going to be a very interesting next couple of days for Major League Baseball. It will be historic in fact, with the Commissioner setting precedents for how the league will handle PEDs from this day forward. It’s also the non-waiver trade deadline with several big names still expected to changes teams before Wednesday’s 4 PM deadline. Then, of course, there’s still games being played on the field (17 of them today thanks to 2 doubleheaders), although it’s easy for those to get buried under a slew of PED-related headlines.
It’s almost unbelievable what a mess A-Rod’s role in the Biogenesis Clinic and subsequent MLB investigation has become. As of today, we know that MLB will attempt to discipline Rodriguez sometime this week, with the punishment varying from 100-game suspension to a lifetime ban.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Commissioner Selig may try to discipline A-Rod under the CBA rather than the drug agreement. In doing so, the Commissioner would have carte blanche to suspend A-Rod for as long as he sees fit and Rodriguez would have little recourse, essentially losing his right to appeal. Selig’s decision would “constitute full, final and complete disposition… and have the same effect as a grievance decision of the arbitration panel.”
According to the CBA, “players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or prejudicial to the best interests of baseball…” Yes, that’s the same clause the league used to ban Pete Rose for life. The evidence that the league claims it has against Rodriguez along with his attempts to purchase and destroy key evidence in their investigation could be enough for it to take unprecedented disciplinary action against a current player.
There’s a new report everyday and no one will know exactly how this saga ends until the suspensions are handed out. If A-Rod is smart, he will do what Braun did and accept a deal in which he is suspended for a finite amount of time. I think the league is going to do everything in its power to ban Rodriguez for life to make an example of their biggest target (and admitted cheater) and to try and clean up the game for good. A-Rod’s case is especially unique in that even the player’s want to see him punished (or at least that’s what most of them say).
The only way to completely rid the game of PEDs is to institute a lifetime ban for anyone’s first offense. Anyone found using any form of PEDs at any time is no longer allowed to play the game. I know this is an extremely quixotic solution and that the players would never approve but that’s the only way I see the game becoming completely clean.
I know that baseball has never been completely clean but in my mind there is a difference between gamesmanship and injecting your body with a foreign substance. All of those records were broken because the best players of the late ‘1990s and early 2000’s had an advantage that no other players in the history of the game had. The steroid era of baseball happened and now it needs to become a part of history. I’ll never stop loving baseball but I just want to go back to the days when I didn’t think twice about a player having a great season.
Unfortunately, PEDs have been overshadowing some of the amazing stories happening on the field this season. Grantland’s Jonah Keri wrote a great article last week highlighting some of those unexpected story-lines. Miguel Cabrera, who is possibly the greatest right-handed hitter since Rogers Horsby (too much hyperbole?) is in the prime of his career. Chris Davis is hitting a HR every 10 at bats. Mike Trout is having an almost identical season to his stellar Rookie of the Year campaign last year. Young pitchers like Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez, Matt Moore and Gerrit Cole have been dominant. How could I not mention Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers massive turnaround? The Pirates are 20 games over .500. The Cardinals have the best record in baseball. The Rays, Red Sox and Orioles are separated by 5 games in the AL East. I can go on and on.
Even with PEDs and A-Rod getting the covers of the newspapers, last night was a perfect example of why the game is still great. The Red Sox and Rays squared off at Fenway with 1st place in the AL East on the line. David Price was pitching a gem for the Rays and held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th. Price struck out Jonny Gomes to start the inning and then was replaced by Joel Peralta. Ryan Lavarnway hit a 1-out double off Peralta to put the tying run in scoring position.
John Farrell decided to pinch-run for Lavarnway with Daniel Nava (a questionable move as Nava isn’t known for his speed and Jose Iglesias was still available on the bench). The next batter Stephen Drew doubles over the head of Wil Myers. That would for sure score the tying run from second right? Wrong. Nava read the play poorly and had to stop at 3rd. The next batter is right-handed pinch-hitter Brandon Snyder (Nava would have been a great candidate to pinch-hit here against the righty Peralta).
Snyder flies to left, fairly deep. Sam Fuld makes the catch and Nava tags from third. The throw comes in a little up the first base line – Molina grabs it and jumps back in front of home plate to apply the tag. Jerry Meals calls Nava out, even though his foot got in milliseconds before the tag. Double play, inning over. The Red Sox would go on to lose the game 2-1.
It sucks to have a blown call – which Meals admitted he messed up – decide a game, especially between divisional rivals with 1st place on the line but it was so much fun to watch. Late-inning situations in important baseball games are about as intense as sports can get, even if you’re not watching your favorite team.
The Rays now lead the AL East by a half game and they made sure to let the Red Sox know after the game via twitter.
As any good rival should, the Red Sox fired back with this since deleted tweet:
Don’t worry @raysbaseball we look forward to seeing you in Tampa in September for our home games at the Trop.
The rivalry is alive and well and hopefully after all of this PED stuff comes to a head, this will be the type of stuff that gets lead billing in the baseball world.