In a previous post, I explained the direction I think the conversation between MLB and the players’ union should take: move toward longer bans and stricter penalties for first-time abusers (“cheaters”), and possibly consider a clause mentioning ways to void contracts (if the lifetime ban is not pursued).
I didn’t say it explicitly, but any movement toward stricter punishments should happen in the offseason.
Because as happy as I am, as a proponent of ethics and a clean sport and butterflies and rainbows, about New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez‘s lengthy ban, I’m equally disappointed and anxious.
Disappointed because Commissioner Bud Selig levied an arbitrary punishment based on what could legitimately be perceived as arbitrary evidence. Anxious because the MLB has set a precedent, and while I hoped any severe crackdown on PEDs would be the crest of an uphill battle, it seems we’ve detoured down a slippery slope.
The more Selig denies cementing his legacy — one I, a younger baseball fan, have learned is fraught with fraudulence — the harder I have to resist thinking he is just as delusional as A-Rod or Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.
(I concede to my bias and human fault that I assume A-Rod and Braun are guilty. There is still no true evidence against them — at least this time around for A-Rod — but the admissions of Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera don’t help their cause. So when I read about A-Rod and Braun playing the victim, I can’t help but feel the same way as most others have remarked: they are delusional.)
Anyone who says he doesn’t care about his legacy is, very simply, a liar. I care about my legacy. I hope to one day be respected in whichever field I work, if not by premier experts in my field then at least by the three colleagues with whom I will one day share a cubicle. Is it so wrong to desire a favorable epitaph? Even people who don’t care about their legacies, if that’s what they’re trying so hard to project, still care about their legacies of not caring, (Get it?)
So it doesn’t make sense to me that Selig, who doesn’t care about his legacy, would opt to do something that players actually favor, considering his history of colluding against players.
On top of this, he has upended a formal agreement between MLB and the players’ union, the Joint Drug Agreement, that explicitly states the levels and degrees of punishment for PED offenders. An agreement that is set to expire in 2016 but was amended in 2013 to include Human Growth Hormone (HGH), so it is not a completely static legislative piece.
Selig seized an opportunity to crack down on PEDs, and in a vacuum, that’s great. That’s awesome. Because that’s what everyone wants. But this did not happen in a vacuum. And as badly as I wanted to see A-Rod never see the remainder of his salary enter his pockets, this was not the time nor the place to crack the whip. “This will be the last time!” Selig could have shouted, even maniacally. “I vow after this time it will never happen again!!!”
But that’s not what happened. I can only hope the next Commissioner has the foresight to not follow Selig down the path he is trying to clear for us — that is, unless Selig clears the path completely before his tenure expires and introduces us to a land not as promised as it is compromised.