A-Rod Witch-Hunt an indictment on Bud Selig

Nov 25, 2013 by

Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, is a highly unlikable sports icon.  He has a long history of being an arrogant, selfish, childish, petulant, self-serving prima-donna.   These traits were all on display following his recent public tirade, after walking out of his own grievance with MLB, regarding the appeal process for his suspension from baseball.  Aside from him playing for the New York Yankees, it’s difficult to cheer for him under any circumstance; however, Bud Selig has turned him into a sympathetic figure.  The commissioner’s seemingly arbitrary and severe approach to punishing A-Rod, for his alleged use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) is both unprecedented and puzzling.  Ryan Braun has thus far received the harshest penalty for first time PED offenders, receiving a 65 game suspension this past season.  Like Rodriguez, Braun was linked to an investigation led by MLB involving the now defunct Biogenesis of America, a health clinic that was selling PED’s, namely human growth hormones, to sports athletes – many of whom were baseball players. Fourteen total players were penalized for their relationship with Biogenesis, 12 of them received 50 game suspensions.  The outlier among the punishments is A-Rods 211 game suspension; one that would result in him losing almost one and a half more seasons of play and roughly $40+ million in salary.  It would also mark the longest suspension of a MLB player that wasn’t a lifetime ban.  It’s a historic move by the commissioner, one that has many sports observers espousing conspiracy theories.  The real question that everyone is asking is, why so much Bud?

Selig is entering his final year as commissioner and it appears he wants to leave the game with a strong statement against PED use.  As leader, MLB baseball has undergone unprecedented growth, but the steroid era is commonly viewed as the black mark of Selig’s tenure. Under his watch a generation of MLB play was compromised by a culture of PED use. It wasn’t just no-name minor league players who participated, but the games very best both on the mound (Roger Clemens) and in the field (Barry Bonds) were implicated.  In 2006 a drug policy was integrated into baseball, putting hard penalties in place to deter future PED use, but by then the damage had been done to the public image of the game and also to a generation of baseball statistics.  Numerous power hitting records were shattered such as the single season home run record and baseball historians and beat writers have been left to try to reconcile the real meaning of numbers achieved by players from that era.  Many of which have taken a highly moral stance on the issue especially when voting for players to be inducted into the hall of fame.  Based on numbers alone, players like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa would have been sure-fire hall of famers in the past, had they not been linked with PED’s.  As it stands now, there is little to no chance that either player will be future inductees. Ironically, these same players were largely responsible for the resurgence in baseball popularity at a time when fans were disenchanted with MLB following a nasty lockout in 1996.

Selig played a complicit role during the steroid era and this has not escaped his critics. Now as he is about to depart the game it appears he has found Jesus and wants to put a final stamp on his legacy. Selig’s hard stance on one of the game’s all-time greats (statistically anyways), lends credence to A-Rods recent statement that “he’s trying to destroy me and by the way he’s retiring in 2014 and to put me in his big mantle on the way out – that’s a helluva a trophy”.

As much as people despise the highest paid player in the game, A-Rods suspension would be his first and should either be 50 or 65 games based on the precedent laid out in previous punishments.  He has never actually tested positive for a drug test, but is implicated with PED use only because of a shifty investigation that is being loosely corroborated by Tony Bosch’s (Biogenesis founder) testimony. Interestingly, Selig himself is noticeably absent from commenting and publicly participating in the suspension and appeal process.   His meek and absent way of meting out justice with A-Rod gives the appearance of cowardice and justifies theories that imply that this is a personal vendetta as a much as “what’s good for the game of baseball”.  A-Rod ever the showman has been theatrical in his public displays of disgust of this so-called due process and in many ways his confusion and frustration is understandable.

Aside from the obvious significant loss in income, A-Rod is in the twilight of his career and losing 211 games due to suspension at this stage could very well mean that his playing days are over. A buyout of his contract would be more likely with a shorter term remaining and he might find it difficult finding a job the same way Barry Bonds did near the end of his career (despite still being productive). Plus he is just shy of a number of historically significant baseball milestones, most notably the all-time home run record. He is only 108 home runs behind Barry Bonds and 101 Home runs behind Hank Aaron.  These milestones are surely significant motivators for A-Rod to continue playing baseball – his legacy, although tainted, is still being moulded.  Selig is keenly aware of how important statistics are correlated to the legacy of a player, and more specifically, how precious that home run record is to the game of baseball. He’s already allowed one PED implicated player to pass his good friend Aaron on his watch and it appears he is going to use all of his powers to prevent another one from doing so.

It’s easy to dislike A-Rod the person, but Selig is no better – in some ways he is even more reprehensible because of his position in the game. As baseballs commissioner he has to be fair and impartial in his allotment of justice or at least provide significant evidence or rationale for doing otherwise.  Selig’s arbitrary 211 game suspension of Rodriguez is an attempt to both end his career and embarrass him at the same time.  Rodriguez may have used PEDs, but that doesn’t justify the commissioner’s haphazard application of justice while at the same maintaining a noticeable absence from the process. His leadership has sorely lacked at crucial times of the PED debate and he should be remembered for that failure.  The banishment of A-Rod from baseball is nothing less than a witch-hunt and because A-Rod is so universally disliked and vilified its easier for many to stomach the decision.  I wonder how this case would be handled and viewed if a well-liked player like David Ortiz was implicated with PED’s.  Oh wait – been there done that – I forgot, everyone loves “Papi”.  It’s interesting how so many great baseball players during Selig’s tenure are now out casted from the game of baseball.  This is part of his legacy as commissioner that should not be forgotten – he created the monster that is the PED/Steroid era and one could argue he even built his legacy around it. Now as he stands on his self-righteous pedestal taking a final stand against one of the games all-time greats, one has to wonder if history will be more forgiving of A-Rod or Bud Selig – something tells me its going to be the former.






  1. Top Ten sports stories of 2013 - The Sporting Spectator | The Sporting Spectator - […] discussed this in an earlier article for your reference here, but it seems clear Bud Selig has a personal…

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