Drugs, lies, consequences

When you go about trying to game the system, the system usually games you. That’s what happened to Alex Rodriguez. He cheated, he lied, he cheated some more, he lied a little more, then he cried. A-Rod doesn’t deserve any sympathy. His claim that Major League Baseball is out to make an example of him is probably an accurate one and for good reason, but not the reason that he might think.

For years, the MLB has been riddled with players who used substances to gain an edge over their competition. From cocaine use in the golden era of baseball, to amphetamine use in the silver era, and testosterone treatments more recently, it is a hard truth to swallow for baseball  idealists. Alex Rodriguez has made himself a target. The MLB has finally gotten to a point, both with its Players Agreement and technology, that it can finally, truly make the game as pure as its fans view it. A-Rod has continuously gone out of his way to undermine this process and keep the game dirty.

It all began with his stint as a Texas Ranger from 2001 to 2003 and his interview with Katie Couric in 2007 when he was first connected with performance enhancing drug use by Jose Canseco, the poster boy for unashamed steroid use. In the interview, he lied about his use with the Rangers for those years. Rodriguez later admitted that he used PEDs regularly and freely during his time with the team.

Rodriguez received no punishment from the MLB for his admitted use of drugs or for originally lying about his usage. Granted, his usage wasbefore the MLB instituted bans, but the seeds had been sewn. Rodriguez, by going out of his way to grant an interview in which he lied constantly, made his own bed and would eventually have to lie in it.

That time came when the Biogenesis scandal broke in 2013. Tony Bosch was caught distributing PEDs to players all over the MLB and A-Rod’s name came up. Most of the implicated players, most notably Ryan Braun, who only a year before had railed long and hard about how he was innocent of PED use, took their suspensions like men and apologized to their respective fan bases. A-Rod, by contrast, became very vocal about how he would never used performance enhancing drugs. More lies.

He was initially suspended for 211 games, an astonishing number far above the next highest suspension ever, aside from the few lifetime bans of the baseball world. Through arbitration, which Rodriguez walked out of on the second to last day, his suspension was reduced to 165 days and the 2014 playoffs. After the announcement of his suspension, Rodriguez continued his tantrum and vowed to fight the MLB and take the organization to federal court.

Alex Rodriguez started playing baseball as this generation’s “next big thing.” Since his start in 1995, he has been on a steady downward slide. He’s still the great all around player that he’s always been, but his lies and constant inability to take blame for his actions are directly affecting the game of baseball. The regular scandals surrounding him call his greatness into question.

Part of the Players Agreement mentions conduct detrimental to the game of baseball. Rodriguez might need to reread that section of the rules, even then it could be too little, too late, as the Players Association is trying to remove him from their organization as well. Rodriguez is only lucky that, legally, they can’t. That isn’t stopping A-Rod from trying to take the Players Association to court as well, presumably because his feelings were hurt that the rest of the league doesn’t want to play with a known cheater.

No sympathy should be had for A-Rod. He’s been suspended, but he’ll be paid in the long run, after the 2014 season. The MLB didn’t take that away from him. The organization merely put Rodriguez, and anyone who was thinking of following in his footsteps, on notice that it would not tolerate the old, underhanded ways of getting an edge on competition anymore. Hopefully this scare’s him. After all, no one really knows when A-Rod last faced an opponent cleanly.

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