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A-Rod ban will save baseball from itself

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  August 4, 2013 08:19 PM

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Baseball could use Riley Cooper right now.

Cooper has allowed the NFL to shift the spotlight away from its biggest problems - the spread of PEDs, long-term player injuries and the off-field violence/criminal activity [alleged and otherwise] by too many of its players - and instead focus it on one doofus who dropped the "n-word" during cell-phone-filmed confrontation at a Kenny Chesney concert.

The Philadelphia wide receiver and former college teammate of Tim Tebow, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Spikes, has been fined and exiled from the Eagles [at least temporarily] and will likely face the wrath of Roger Goodell.

Even in Cooper's case, it's as much the rage as the racism, for which he has expressed countless apologies and contrition. His acceptance by the Eagles or elsewhere in the NFL will depend as much as his fellow players' forgiveness as anything.

Philly QB Mike Vick was one of the first to publicly accept Cooper's apology, but his Belgian Malinois and brother Marcus are still very pissed.

Baseball on Monday will likely suspend Alex Rodriguez for the rest of this season and all of 2014 - if not longer. A-Rod lost whatever redeeming value he had in the heart of New Englanders with one out in the bottom of the 8th in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.

Ground ball. Purse/Hamburger Helper gloves. Swat. Interference. Out.

Hey, baseball, what took the test of you so long.

The juxtaposition of the latest chapter in A-Rod's sorry saga following a piece featuring Bronson Arroyo and the 2013 Reds in the most-recent issue of Sports Illustrated was sports journalistic poetic justice.

And it's the inability of his fellow players, at least those who are clean, to accept and forgive the A-Rods of baseball for what they've ingested and injected which has brought us to this point.

The fact that A-Rod may be allowed to play during his appeal won't mollify his critics on or off the field.

Hernandez has enjoyed more public support from his fellow NFL players and former Florida Gator teammates than either Ryan Braun or Rodriguez have gotten from their peers.

Since the 1994-95 players' strike, baseball has been kicked in the asterisk by the widespread if not rampant use of steroids, HGH and a litany of other performance enhancing drugs. The blame for it flourishing for so long shared by the players who juiced and fans, owners, media and MLB as a whole, all of whom looked the other way.

Eddie Murray hit his 500th career home run on Sept, 6, 1996. Since then, seven of the 10 players who have surpassed the 500-HR barrier have either admitted to or been linked to PED usage [via the Mitchell Report or elsewhere]. Remember all those "inside baseball" stories and investigative pieces about "juiced baseballs" back in the 1990s and early 2000s? Well, it turns there were juiced balls in major-league baseball, but they were mainly of the shrinking-testicular variety.

The beginning of the end of steroid-era in baseball happened 10 years ago next month when federal agents raided the offices of BALCO and home of trainer Greg Anderson in California. The ensuing criminal investigation eventually snared Barry Bonds. Baseball had thought it had put the whole "PED" issue on the rear-view mirror once it got the players' union eventually to go along with a framework of routine testing and suspensions - leading up to the ultimate - a lifetime ban. Since the first testing program was implemented in 2004, according to the Associated Press, 32 major league players have been suspended for using banned substances. Three have been suspended a second time. Before the 2013 season, baseball added HGH to the list of banned substances.

Even as recently as last month, Bud Selig said "this sport is cleaner than it's ever been." That will no longer be the case when A-Rod plays Monday.

The Biogenesis scandal - and Rodriguez's involvement in it - surfaced this past January in the Miami New Times, whose membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America has yet to have been processed.

The Twitter-Net has been sparking with A-Rod updates since the middle of last week, leading us to believe he's both ready to cut a deal and willing to fight this all the way to whatever extent that's possible.

The contempt for A-Rod in this situation is multi-layered. Fans are sickened by the fact that he's unwilling to concede his involvement in the Biogenesis PED affair.

Depending on whether or not you like the Jake Peavy deal - as long he pitches like he did Saturday, it will work out just fine for the Red Sox - the Red Sox have already benefited/been harmed by this latest PED maelstrom.

The Detroit Tigers knew Jhonny Peralta was going to get the boot for the rest of the season last week and needed a shortstop. The fact Detroit "settled" for Jose Iglesias instead of first-ballot 2040 Hall of Fame inductee and lifetime .350 hitter Xander Bogaerts opened the door for Peavy's arrival in Boston.

The Yankees can't wait to dump any or all of the $100 million left on A-Rod's $275 million 10-year contract. Some Red Sox fans are upset that baseball is going to throw the Yankees a solid by letting them off the hook for a chunk of that dough.

For sure, the Yankees will spend some of the $34 million they'd save if A-Rod's given the boot though 2014, overpaying some of the choice names on this list - including Matt Garza, Tim Lincecum
and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Call it baseball karma. The Red Sox conned Magic Johnson and the Dodgers into bailing them out last year. The Baseball Gods, Selig and the dedicated would-be BBWAA members at the Miami New Times are giving the Yankees a re-set on the worst contract this side of Carl Crawford.

[For the record, the Crawford deal was opposed by Red Sox owner and newspaper mogul John Henry. This man is a genius.]

A-Rod is expected to join the Yankees in Chicago tonight. Hal Steinbrenner is changing the locks on the visitor's locker room at U.S. Cellular Field as you read this. The second he steps to the plate, Pete Rose should immediately be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Far too many of A-Rod's fellow MLBPA members are fed-up with him and the others who continue to load up on anything and everything they can find that can't be detected and lie about it. "In my opinion, he should be suspended � lifetime ban. One strike, you're out. It's enough. It's ridiculous," Skip Schumaker of the Dodgers said of Braun after his 65-game slap on the wrist. "Watching him talk right now makes me sick. I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I'll be taking down." Matt Kemp of the Dodgers said Braun should be stripped of his 2011 NL MVP award. Kemp finished second.

So much for baseball's Omert�."

Word surfaced over the weekend that the players' union may re-open the collective bargaining agreement this offseason to strengthen MLB's PED policy.

Marvin Miller just hit 5,000 RPM.

For every A-Rod, Braun and Bartolo Colon, there are tens or hundreds of players who are clean. The players' union has finally come to the realization that their sport is being forever trashed by those who juice.

The low tide is sinking all boats. And it's hurting baseball when it comes to the marketability of its players. On the 2013 SportsPro Magazine list of the world's Top 50 most-marketable athletes, the only baseball player on the list is Mike Trout of the Angels at No. 28. He ranks ninth among the Americans on the list - behind skier Lindsey Vonn and swimmer Missy Franklin. Meanwhile, QB RGIII of the Redskins was fourth overall.

Even baseball players who are clean - such as Baltimore's rampaging Chris Davis - find themselves enjoying stellar seasons at the plate, face questions or guilt by association about PED use.

David Ortiz, who tested positive for an unnamed PED during a 2003 pilot program, faced PED questions earlier this season when he was off to a torrid start. The issue of "roid rage" resurfaced [somewhat in jest] after he demolished that phone in Baltimore last weekend. We called it "roid-free" rage since we try to deal in truth whenever possible.

Many of those questions fired at Ortiz, Davis and any one else who hits more than 35 home runs in a season these days, come from the same journalists who 15 years ago this summer believed Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting all those home runs because of bat speed, bad pitching and good karma from the ghost of Roger Maris.

Whatever A-Rod's fate, its revelation and implementation [appeals and all] will mark a major step for baseball.

When A-Rod's taken down, even if it's for "just" through 2014, the applause will nearly be universal. The contrarians will force themselves to argue that somehow A-Rod is being victimized here because he's either Hispanic, the easiest target in baseball, the Yankees' highest-paid player or all of the above.

A-Rod remains the poster child for what's wrong with baseball beyond his admitted and alleged PED usage. Bloated guaranteed contracts, aging, overpaid and under-performing "superstars," and the Yankees.

On the moral relativity scale, millions of regular schmoes are guilty of using PEDs every morning when they stop at Dunkin' Donuts for their morning coffee [see caffeine] or fire up a Marlboro [see nicotine] during the drive into the office. And it may be easier for baseball, and the rest of pro sports, to adopt an anything goes stance and let the best dopers win - see the Chinese Olympic team.

But as long as baseball has rules against using banned substances, it appears thankfully these days enough players will go along with them to make the users outcasts.

If getting rid of A-Rod for any reasonable length of time cleans up the reputation of the players who don't juice, it's well worth it for everybody involved with baseball, or those who watch it.

And the Riley Coopers of the world can stick to bailing out the NFL.

Don't forget to visit our Obnoxious Boston Fan blog. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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