Why you should be on Team A-Rod

At least Alex Rodriguez sounded sincere during his press conference Monday.

Well, here we are again, with another performance enhancing drug scandal ripping apart Major League Baseball, the very same league that loves to pound its chest about how well it has cleaned up the game. And here we are now, denied of watching the postseason pursuits of Jordan Norberto and Fautino De Los Santos, two guys suspended Monday for 50 games even if neither has a team with whom to serve the punishment.

Yeah, the Bud Hammer!

But those phantom suspensions (which will, in fact, be served immediately when each signs with another club – good luck with that) weren’t the biggest jokes on a day when baseball championed itself as the rest of the players simply await the next undetectable drug to come down the pipeline. Whatever you might think of Rodriguez, the 211-game suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig is a farce. Even if this were a second offense for the Yankees “cleanup” hitter, the collective bargaining agreement dictates that it’s to be a 100-game ban. So, where the hell is Selig getting 211?

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If Rodriguez wants to appeal the 50-game ban, that’s his right, though at the cost of angering brothers in his union like Jonny Gomes, who said Monday that he hoped his dues weren’t going toward Rodriguez’s appeal process. Well, that’s exactly where they’re going.

If this latest scandal has proven any positives, it’s that there is a new breed of ballplayer in the majors, a younger crop of players who don’t want to see the game spiral into the mess it became a decade ago, even as veterans and middling players try to hang on with every advantage that they can buy. Still, how can we be sure that the smart ones aren’t getting caught while it’s merely the tool sheds like Rodriguez who are dumb enough to leave their fingerprints all over the cookie jar.

From a Boston perspective, Red Sox fans should root for A-Rod, no matter how vile it may be. The longer he’s in the Yankees lineup, the more dysfunctional that club will be, and the more he’s around, the longer the Yankees have to continue to pay him. It makes one shudder to think what they might do with A-Rod’s $25 million salary if he is indeed gone for 211 games.

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Then, of course, there is this. Rodriguez a $30 million marketing bonus begins to kick in if he hits the 660 home run mark (for which he receives $6 million). He’s 13 away from that milestone, and wouldn’t you just love the Yankees and Major League Baseball to somehow wriggle their way out from under having to celebrate another fraudulent chase at the home run record?

You just know this is one of the primary reasons why Selig is pushing for magic number 211. It reduces the chance that Rodriguez will be able to do much of anything when he returns in 2015, a shade under 40 years old. Selig will only have Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and a host of other home run juiced kingpins under his watch. But not A-Rod. The buck stops there.

Selig wants his legacy to be one of how he cleaned up the game, which is truly something considering how dirty the whole thing was when he, the rest of the owners, and the Players Association stuffed their pockets and used the esteemed baseball writers to convince everyone to look the other way. Good for ratings, after all. Now, the same establishment that chastised anyone who declared the game a mess of needles and pills (“We don’t have enough facts.” That was always a cute one.) are the ones praising Selig for the suspensions that came down this week. Really? As much as we’ll miss Sergio Escalona, it’s hard to believe only four All-Star caliber players are involved in this latest situation.

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If the suspensions serve as a warning shot to anyone else who might be juicing, say, in Baltimore, or another American League East city, then fine. If the repercussions for other players are to come down the line, then, whatever. But if this is it, it’s a laughable solution to a problem Major League Baseball probably will never be able to fix. There’s always the next, best thing, and those smart enough to discover it have likely already moved on to it.

A-Rod may be a liar and a cheat, but he should be your kind of liar and cheat. Even if he’s a Yankee, the ruling against him is complete posturing by a commissioner desperate for a different legacy than he has already delivered. You don’t have to like Rodriguez, but you should root for him.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am sure I’m supposed to go and do some sort of penance.

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