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A-Rod Doing His Best To Look Even Worse

I thought I was done writing about the Alex Rodriguez suspension until A-Rod struck again in only the way that A-Rod can. I was aware of the 60 Minutes investigation as I wrote my Rodriguez post Sunday afternoon, but unaware of how bad it would make everyone look. Take a gander for yourself if you really feel like hating the next 15 minutes of your life:

In no particular order, a few thoughts:
  • The 60 Minutes investigation had a clear bias towards Major League Baseball. It doesn't come through so much in the clip above, but is really obvious in the first half when only Bosch is interviewed. Several questions boiled down to "How could you ruin the game?!" I think both Bosch and Rodriguez could have been shed in a more complete light that made both of them look a bit more favorable.
  • Anthony Bosch is a mercenary. He worked with A-Rod because he got paid a bunch of money, and made it clear in his 60 Minutes interview that he cooperated with Major League Baseball because they provided more value than A-Rod as the investigation unfolded. In particular, part of Bosch's agreement with Major League Baseball was that he could talk to anyone about his history with MLB players, "which could result in book, movie, and/or media deals." Bosch cares about himself and getting all he can. His interview feels sleazy because there is no trace of ethics or responsibility to others...but ironically, his blatant self-interest makes his testimony more believable for me.
  • I'm not sure why Rob Manfred and Bud Selig agreed to be part of the piece. They largely corroborated what was already said by Bosch, which makes sense because all of their information came from Bosch. The deals they cut with Bosch are shady at best, and could have looked way worse than they did if the 60 Minutes interview hadn't slanted in their favor anyway.
  • Details about A-Rod's regimen and strategies to beat tests served as a sobering reminder for how behind drug testing is, and probably always will be. Testing methods will always be more transparent than cheating methods.
I didn't plan to write about the 60 Minutes interview until A-Rod sued both the MLB and MLBPA. His lawsuit included disclosure of some documents, which you can look at yourself below. I was most interested in the arbitration ruling from Saturday (page 44), which even includes the letter Selig sent to Rodriguez informing him of his suspension (page 56):

I wrote that we would never find out what happened in the arbitration hearing, but it turns out I was completely wrong! We know everything, thanks to this document unsealed by Alex Rodriguez himself.

I have to admit, this new mountain of resources have changed my mind. Both sides have highly questionable claims and ethics, but at the end of the day, the truth is the truth, and the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA) is what it is.

First of all, the arbitration ruling finally makes some sense of where the long suspension came from. It turns out the 50-100-lifetime ban penalty progression applies only to instances where players test positive for one banned substance. Bosch's evidence tied Rodriguez to three banned substances, which meant a different section that gives the MLB Commissioner discretion to figure out a penalty is what applied in Rodriguez's case. Although we will never know for sure, it seems like there is an extremely good chance that Ryan Braun faced similar circumstances. No wonder he would take a plea bargain if he had tested positive for multiple banned substances after chastising PED use and claiming his own innocence for years.

The arbitrator decided that each banned substance was worth a 50-game suspension on its own, which seemed in line with the penalties detailed in the JDA. Already, that's 150 of the 162 games right there. Additionally, the arbitration ruling essentially blamed Rodriguez for Bosch's original claims that turned out to be lies. The arbitrator believed MLB's claim that A-Rod pressured Bosch to say that A-Rod never took any banned substances.

It is worth noting that MLB paid for Bosch's security once he agreed to cooperate, which seems like coercion to tell MLB's side of the story. The fact that this got glossed over says something about the structure of the case and the arbitration ruling. In the end, Bosch's word didn't seem to mean much to the arbitrator. What meant more was that the texts, records bought from a man simply known at the time as "Bobby," and Bosch's story all lined up. A-Rod's lawyers claimed that all three sources had significant shortcomings, and to some degree I think the arbitrator would agree. However, the likelihood of all three being fabricated over the course of years to perfectly line up seemed unreasonable. The ruling also mentioned several times that A-Rod's defense never provided evidence that contradicted any of what MLB presented. That mattered too, though it trends more towards a stance "guilty until proven innocent" than the United States ideal of "innocent until proven guilty."

There is the contrarian view that MLB just crushed a man's career completely on hearsay. It is true that there is no direct evidence that Alex Rodriguez took a banned substance. However, at the end of the day, that simply doesn't matter to Bud Selig. In the end, A-Rod's case isn't about PEDs at all; it is about the integrity of the game. The Commissioner's post was originally created so that Kenesaw Mountain Landis could captain the good ship baseball away from gambling and towards a restored trust with the American public. The position has never, and probably won't ever, outgrow this original purpose. The Commissioner defends the integrity of the game, and PEDs are seen as a threat to that. Whether they should be or not is a more interesting debate than today's attitudes suggest, but the reality is that PEDs are currently intertwined with integrity.

My version of A-Rod mad, or embarrassed
So it doesn't really matter whether Alex Rodriguez took PEDs like Anthony Bosch describes with his testimony and written records. What matters is that Rodriguez at least believed he was taking PEDs, or tried to take them, and did so underneath a JDA that clearly banned the substances he pursued. Alex Rodriguez threatened the integrity of the game with his actions, particularly considering his offensive statistics put him among the all-time greats to wield a bat. Moreover, he knew what he was doing, and did it anyway.

I, much like Alex Rodriguez's team, question the practices MLB used to obtain information from Bosch. I also question Bosch's motives, and maybe even Rob Manfred's for that matter too. I also find it interesting that the MLBPA did not fight harder. On a broader level I have questions over what constitutes a PED or why they should be banned. However, all of these questions and complaints pick at small moons orbiting around the planet of this issue. Alex Rodriguez knowingly broke the rules of the game which were agreed to by both players and owners. He is yet to deny that, likely because he can't. Technicalities can't save Rodriguez from the truth. A-Rod's case is filled with shady twists and turns, but justice has been served.