In nailing Alex Rodriguez Major League Baseball has caught the man it believes is the worst cheater of the Steroids Era at least so far but the league can't make a clean getaway from a dirty player. He won't leave. He refuses to do what so many others have done accept his fate.
He's like the guest who stays past midnight at a party that was supposed to end at 10.
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Yes he is suspended effective Thursday. But Rodriguez said he will appeal so he can keep playing possibly for the rest of the season depending on when his case goes before an arbitrator.
A dozen other Biogenesis Boys including big names such as Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz agreed to serve their 50 game punishments. A 13th Ryan Braun accepted a 65 game suspension two weeks ago.
But A Rod Oh no not A Rod. We might be done with him but he's certainly not done with us. We simply get to bounce from one A Rod soap opera to another from the Biogenesis saga to his upcoming arbitration follies.
A Rod is facing a suspension through the 2014 season the longest for a player in Major League Baseball history except for the lifetime bans handed out to former Cincinnati Red Pete Rose and the players involved in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Yet Rodriguez started at third base on Monday night in Chicago where the Yankees played the White Sox.
And here we thought the prospect of Peralta and Cruz returning from their suspensions in time for possible postseason appearances would be dreadful. It is of course but it's nothing like the circus in Chicago a banished ballplayer a pariah to MLB starting a game hours after his extraordinary suspension was announced.
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The only thing worse would be if Barry Bonds had announced on Monday that he was coming out of retirement.
A Rod certainly has the right to go to arbitration to try to get his suspension reduced or overturned even though MLB in announcing his suspension said he was guilty of doping over the course of multiple years and also engaged in a cover up designed to obstruct and frustrate the league's investigation into the Biogenesis scandal.
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A Rod previously admitted to doping from 2001 to 2003 making him a repeat offender. Continuing to fight his banishment means that details of his alleged drug use will almost certainly come out but that's the risk he wants to take to keep playing and to keep collecting his huge salary.
The game's highest paid player the $275 million man who was supposed to save baseball's career home run record from the tainted Bonds is now himself nothing but another stain on the record book. His once legendary career is in tatters.
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A Rod assumes the infamous mantle of being the worst steroid user to be documented in the history of baseball. That's a title Rodriguez never wanted but it's one he'll live with for the rest of his life.
He had company in his misery Monday. But among all the players who were suspended A Rod's is the most important name. At 38 having had surgery on both hips this 211 game suspension nearly takes him to his 40th birthday. At his age and with his health record it is tantamount to a lifetime ban. If we know that he knows it which is undoubtedly another reason for him to fight regardless of whether he ultimately loses.
What a sports tragedy this is the young man with all that potential starting his career in Seattle hopscotching to Texas then to the vaunted Yankees now caught disgraced and fighting for his baseball life. He was the youngest player to hit 500 home runs then the youngest player to reach 600. He was a two time American League MVP.
All that promise makes what he became all the more appalling.
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Then again it's quite likely that he was that good at least in part because of the drugs he used. How many of those home runs were enhanced by doping We shouldn't have believed him then or now. In many ways he is nothing more than a test tube slugger.
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If he or the players' union in conjunction with the owners had any gumption they would strike A Rod from the record book and all his juiced up colleagues as well just as international sports leaders have done with Lance Armstrong Ben Johnson Marion Jones and their ilk.
That's the next step for MLB and the players' union remove these names from the records. It's shocking really that all the active and retired players who are believed to be clean don't demand it immediately.
Whatever it decides about its past MLB is definitely moving ahead on its future. The league intends to toughen penalties for its cheaters likely after this season. The relatively soft punishment of 50 games for a first offense 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third should be replaced by the Olympic model two years for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second.
In the meantime A Rod plays on. The game that once loved him has turned on him and correctly told him to go away. He should have taken the hint and never come back.
He didn't so if you weren't sick of him before you will be now.
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GALLERY Alex Rodriguez through the yearsLast SlideNext Slide