I don’t like Alex Rodriguez. Let’s just get that out of the way. But I can’t help but feel he is getting a raw deal with this latest suspension. The owners and the players association have clearly written rules on how to handle suspensions.
A first time suspension should be about 50 games. I understand there is evidence that Rodriguez has used multiple times, but so had Ryan Braun. Remember him? The MVP winner who vehemently denied the accuracy of a failed test, and even went as far as to accuse the tester of being anti-Semitic? Well he was caught again and accepted the suspension this time. That one was for just 65 games.
I get it. No one likes Rodriguez. The players union would rather get rid of him than appeal the suspension. That’s saying something. Any suspension MLB hands out sets a precedent. The players (let’s be honest, there are probably several more cheaters than A-Rod) dislike Rodriguez so much that they are ok with letting that precedent stand.
But there does not seem to be any ground for this suspension. Instead this is reminiscent of how Roger Goodell handled suspensions when he first became commissioner of the NFL. Goodell was highly criticized for just making up suspensions for players. He chose to suspend corner Adam Jones for an entire season without outlining specific reasons. Unsurprisingly suspensions have not been consistent during Goodell’s tenure. Instances with Ben Roethlisberger, Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, and Aqib Talib come to mind amongst others. Goodell is arguably the least popular commissioner in sports (granted Gary Bettman could surely give him a run for his money).
Then there is the NCAA that doesn’t seem to have a rhyme or reason to their decisions. Johnny Manziel gets suspended for half a game (a pretty meaningless game too), while Terrelle Pryor’s career at Ohio State essentially ended for doing the same thing. Again this is just one of many examples.
Personally I’m happy Rodriguez will be suspended for the season. He has continued to cheat and shown no remorse for his actions. He has been accused of other moves that can nicely be classified as “bad sportsmanship.” And he has basically been viewed as a villain by other members of the league.
But there is collective bargaining for a reason. There are guidelines to suspensions for a reason. There were a ton of people accused of cheating, and none of them have been given a suspension of the same length as Rodriguez. Unless I’m mistaken there is not a clause about a player’s likability.
So again, you won’t find me outside the commissioners office protesting the decision, but it’s hard not to think Rodriguez has been given the short end of the stick.