The A-Rod Story: No One Worthy of Sympathy: Everyone A Loser

Major Leagues Baseball’s marquee player Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the entire 2014 season including its postseason. It is a fact that he used Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) for several years. While no one knows exactly when he started cheating and he refuses to tell, it likely dates back to at least 2003. A decade of deceit.  He paid huge sums of money to prevent the MLB from obtaining evidence of his cheating. Some will claim his bribes and extortion to prevent disclosure are more heinous than his extensive use of performance enhancing drugs. The drugs provided him with an unfair advantage over other players. Asking which is worse is like asking someone if they’d rather be shot or stabbed to death. Minutes after it’s done it doesn’t matter.

Bud Selig, MLB’s Commissioner for more than 20 years is no better than A-Rod. While he wants desperately to be remembered as the one who cleaned up baseball by creating an aggressive drug-testing program, he will instead be remembered for presiding over its darkest years of steroid-infested performances by the likes of Barry Bonds, Mark McQuire and, of course, A-Rod, as MLB’s biggest cheat is affectionately known by his fans. The MLB’s aggressive drug-testing program did not actually materialize until the waning hours of Selig’s tarnished stewardship. He presided over years of lax, ineffective testing. He is no less guilty of “conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interest of baseball” than his prized target. The target he stalked for 3 years could not whitewash 20 plus years of blind ineptitude.

While Rodriguez paid wads of cash in an attempt to buy the evidence that eventually sunk him, Selig’s minions used  a bogus civil lawsuit to obtain that evidence. MLB sued Anthony Bosch, the founder and former proprietor of the infamous Florida-based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. Bosch provided the evidence of Rodriguez’s decade-long insatiable use of PED’s.  All A-Rod’s impressive statistics actually belong to a fake bionic version of himself. Bosch identified his cryptic notes and interpreted his codes of A-Rod’s PED Regiment. It was a code that only Bosch could decipher. Why did Bosch turn against A-Rod despite all the money he had received from A-Rod and despite what he was promising to pay? Bosch turned MLB witness against A-Rod because he feared MLB’s lawsuit alleging his “tortious interference” would be successful. Another legal opinion may have been in order. But it scared Bosch enough to change his story. He had been widely quoted as saying he had never injected A-Rod. He became MLB’s prime witness.

Anthony Bosch believed he was in trouble. Good enough. Lawyers call that a ‘W’. Bosch had lived his life as a con man. He was conned by a lawyer with a nebulous civil claim against him. Makes you want to hug a lawyer doesn’t it? Bosch did keep the money that A-Rod paid him, less, of course, whatever he paid his own inept lawyer. A-Rod was stuck. He could not admit he paid Bosch to obstruct MLB’s investigation of him. But Bosch was a fool. A-Rod would have paid much more. And, MLB’s tortious interference claim against Bosch was as weak as their case against A-Rod before Bosch turned.

There are no winners here. Only losers. A good baseball player is forever tarnished. A-Rod’s drug-enhanced career makes Pete Rose’s gambling lies seem banal. Selig was paid about 300 million dollars for his utter incompetence rendering virtually every record over the last 20 years suspect. And baseball’s claim to be America’s sport should cause most Americans to cringe with embarrassment. This is not an English or Canadian story.  It’s an American story. There are no happy endings in America.

Melky Cabrera and the Toronto Blue Jays

Team chemistry is key to team success. It requires assembling a group of talented players of substance and character. Obviously Cabrera is talented but he lacks substance and character. Melky Cabrera, unfortunately for the Jays, is unlikely to assist in delivering the World Series to Toronto. But on November 19, 2012 Toronto signed Cabrera to a two-year $16 million contract for precisely that reason.

That is a lot of money for any player, but particularly for Cabrera, a Bible toting mama’s boy, more likely to implode from within rather than explode with timely hits when he will be most needed. Melky’s given name derives from Melchior, one of the 3 Magi or wise men from the East who allegedly delivered gold, frankincense and myrrh at the birth of Jesus. Cabrera says he keeps a Bible in his locker and reads from it before every game. Perhaps his biblical heroes are Cain or Judas. His heavily tatooed arms suggest, however, he sees himself more aligned with Jesus and his own mother. Neither are likely proud of Melky lately.

Melky no doubt glossed over those portions of the Bible that warn against deception (Proverbs-24-28) and bearing false witness (Mark 10-19). He signed with the Jays this off-season following a tumultuous 2012 season with San Francisco. He was the All-Star game’s MVP. He was batting .346 when he was suspended by the MLB for violating its drug policy.  His suspension turned out to be a total of 50 games. His supporters credited him for his prompt and honest admission of using a banned steroid that dramatically increases the hormone testosterone. Cabrera was anything but honest. Melky’s form of “honesty” was brought about by the exposure of his deceptive cover-up scheme. It was just more dishonesty.

Melky, with the aid of a friend, created a fake website. He then claimed that his positive test was caused by an unknown substance that he purchased through that website. MLB investigators, mindful of the stain on baseball’s reputation by the likes of Barry Bonds,[1] decided to investigate further. The investigators traced the website back to Cabrera. Busted. All the kudos given to him for his alleged prompt admissions of guilt were as phony as him. His admissions were fueled by the fact that he was caught red-handed in an elaborate scheme of deceit.

The Blue Jays No Better

What does one make of the Blue Jays organization signing Cabrera to a two-year contract for $16 million in these circumstances? Obviously, the concept of winning for that organization trumps sending a message of rewarding honesty and shunning dishonesty. Cabrera’s contrived news conference at the behest of the Jay’s organization was difficult to stomach.

Cabrera first announced that this was the only time he would ever make reference to his troubled 2012 season. Then, he dealt with none of the specifics of his tawdry effort to cover his cheating. He read haltingly from a prepared statement, undoubtedly contrived by his lawyers. What he said, of course, lacked any sense of sincerity, as most prepared legalistic documents sound upon delivery.

This press conference was so devoid of any recognition of wrongdoing it was tantamount to a less sophisticated whitewash than his earlier use of a fake website to hide his guilt. He referred to his “difficulty” as “a mistake”. Singular! He has now received a World Series ring “for his efforts on behalf of the team before his scandle.”

The question is: should the San Francisco Giants even be World Series winners since their season had the benefits of his efforts before his cheating was discovered? The use of performance-enhancing drugs did not occur when he was caught. It occurred all year long when he gave himself a chemical advantage over all his competitors. The San Francisco Giants benefitted from his cheating.Their self-imposed penalty was to not use him in the playoffs. Big deal!

So what does the Blue Jay organization stand for? They took advantage of Cabrera’s availability on the market because of his cheating. What message does the organization send out by snapping up the cheater? In the realm of integrity, honesty and fair play, their organization stands for not much at all. Their message could best be described as: Cheat but don’t get caught. If caught, there will always be some organization like ours more desperate to win than conerned about principles of fair play. So, go out there and read from a prepared text that admits nothing, then promise to never speak about it again.

My prediction: The Blue Jays and Melky will fall flat on their two-sided faces. They will not challenge for the World Series. In their tough Division they will be dead last. They will be lucky to play 500 ball. This will be the Toronto version of ‘cheaters never prosper’. Nor should they.

 



[1] MLB’s current all-time home run leader, and probably its all-time greatest steroid user, who had just recently escaped with only a conviction for obstruction of justice while avoiding a conviction for perjury in relation to his testimony for his use of steroids during his career. MLB obviously believes he lied under oath because it continues to deny him entry in the Hall of Fame.