FanDuel - WFBC

August 05, 2013

Baseball Suspends A Rod Through 2014, 12 Others for 50 Games: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for a record 211 games on Monday for alleged doping offences. The 12 players given 50-game bans are Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Philadelphia Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo, New York Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, New York Mets outfield prospect Cesar Puello, San Diego Padres pitching prospect Fautino De Los Santos, Houston Astros pitching prospect Sergio Escalona and New York Yankees outfield prospect Fernando Martinez.

posted by rcade to baseball at 05:41 PM - 30 comments

It is a pretty sad state of affairs when a kid like me who grew up idolizing ball players just wants one of the best performing players of his generation to retire already so we can be done with the drama. I felt the same way with Barry Bonds - maybe I am just getting older, but every year a little more lustre comes off the sport I loved above all others.

If Miggy or Dustin Pedroia ever get caught I am not sure I'll recover.

posted by dfleming at 06:02 PM on August 05

Jose Canseco for President?

posted by phaedon at 06:06 PM on August 05

Who was the guy on Twitter who scooped everybody on this?

posted by rcade at 06:17 PM on August 05

Is it me or is anyone else weirded by the fact that all the players (judging by surnames alone) are Hispanic?

posted by billsaysthis at 09:40 PM on August 05

From what I've read in Yankee blogs is that they're hoping this will end Arod's career, and that this will hopefully let them off the hook in someway salary wise. But I don't get it.

This season is a loss, and the Yankees are done. So next year is the real penalty. He still has 2015,16, and 17 left on his contract. Suddenly he's unable to fulfill those three years? So he misses next year and he'll be rusty, but he also has a year to heal up completely (as much as he can). I might understand all this if Arod only had next year left, but he has 3 years to go. I'm not sure why the thought is this is a huge break for the Yankees.

Also, he's going to appeal. I may have heard wrong, but the appeal could take until the end of this baseball season? So if they lower the games to 150, and he starts it next season, he missed the season anyway, so what's the point?

What a circus.

posted by justgary at 09:45 PM on August 05

It's not just you, billsaysthis. Except for Ryan Braun, of course. Though people tend to hang out with people who are like them, and you're going to refer your friends to your steroid clinic, not just some random dude.

posted by Etrigan at 10:01 PM on August 05

Is it me or is anyone else weirded by the fact that all the players (judging by surnames alone) are Hispanic?

The clinic was in Florida, right? I think it's just that a lot of players come from areas around the Caribbean. At least for the Padres, Cabrera's Nicuraguan, Grandal (probably not mentioned here because he already did a 50-game suspension) is Cuban.

posted by LionIndex at 01:10 AM on August 06

I also think one possible reason is that Florida has some significant tax advantages if used as a principal residence; I think that's why you get multiple superstar athletes living in the same stretch of a glitzy neighborhood. Ah, here's one story (as a tidbit, this article is from 1997; A-Rod later purchased Shaq's very home in Isleworth).

Anyway, I've stated at length my believes about the silliness of this whole PED debacle. I've seen hundreds of op-eds and stories about the scourge of PED... but I've yet to hear one about a baseball player suffering ill-effects or long-term damage from any of the modern drugs. I mean, if "The Clear" had no negative side effects if used by a top athlete under medical supervision... and in many cases not even illegal under federal/state laws... why exactly is it against the rules of baseball?

This is not a victory of any kind, except for grandstanding commissioners and inane sportswriters. Normally I like Jayson Stark, but this op-ed was just a disgusting piece of writing. Basically, to his opinion A-Rod "ruined" this historic day by daring to appeal a year-and-a-half suspension and save the $96M left on his contract. He goes to basically say multiple times that no player should have fought of being suspended without a failed drug test, grudgingly admitting A-Rod had every right to do so, before admonishing him for his classlessness.

I'll never understand why so many sportswriters- and some (but not all) fans- have this torch for a PED witch hunt, and the myth of a "pure" game. No one is in a rush to toss Koufax out of the HoF as a steroid user whose success is almost entirely attributable to his drug habit. All those greenie users in the HoF whose "hallowed" records modern players like Bonds and A-Rod have or have threatened to break, there's no rush to toss them for habitual amphetamine use to get "up" for a game.

posted by hincandenza at 05:21 AM on August 06

So if they lower the games to 150, and he starts it next season, he missed the season anyway, so what's the point?

Rodriguez has always been desperate - desperate to be loved, desperate to make record amounts of money, desperate to win and now, desperate to hold on. He's 38 - next year he'll be 39. His skills are eroding and his body is failing him.

Somewhere in his delusional mind, I suspect he thinks that if he just plays well enough, he'll re-earn the respect of his fans before he retires. The games he plays this year are probably the best ones he has left. They're his last gasp at stardom, respect and all that.

I suspect Rodriguez' circle of sycophants are also telling him it's a first offence and he could get 50 games, or something closer to Braun's sentance.

posted by dfleming at 06:48 AM on August 06

I mean, if "The Clear" had no negative side effects if used by a top athlete under medical supervision... and in many cases not even illegal under federal/state laws... why exactly is it against the rules of baseball?

Okay, I know how this always goes, so I'm putting it in bold: I DO NOT THINK THIS; I AM ONLY STATING WHAT I BELIEVE OTHER PEOPLE THINK. DO NOT BOTHER TRYING TO ARGUE WITH ME.

It's a slippery-slope argument: If you allow players to use anything, then you're A) opening the door to the serious bodybuilder-type roid freaks, and B) implicitly giving teenagers (and their less-easily-monitored coaches and parents) the okay to shoot up with whatever Some Guy At The Gym says will make them stronger or heal quicker. You don't want that, right? Kids on roids? Big ridiculous overmuscled freaks in the hallowed game of baseball?

So you're allowing for some steroids/drugs/PEDs to be disallowed by MLB. Once you accept that they can, then it's just a matter of which ones. If you just say, "Well, we'll disallow the illegal ones," you're forgetting that there's a pretty huge gap between what the FDA has on the Schedules and what's out there on the street. We're at the point where any decent laboratory can manufacture a new kind of drug without too much of a problem that's technically fine even if it's A) basically the same as a banned steroid, and B) totally untested for long-term effects.

So if you admit that MLB should disallow some PEDs, and you agree that MLB should be able to make its own list and not necessarily just follow the FDA Schedules, then that's how we got to where we are now.

AGAIN, THIS IS NOT WHAT I BELIEVE.

posted by Etrigan at 07:38 AM on August 06

I can't believe you said that etrigan. Your beliefs are messed up.

My impression of this whole ARod mess is that he probably assumes that his appeal will get him the remainder of this season to play. Based on the outcome of this year, he can accept his sentence and take a year off, coming back to play out his contract or he can just retire at the end of the season and never serve a single day of "suspension"

posted by tahoemoj at 11:38 AM on August 06

Wow. That thought is alarming.

So it's possible ARod plays the season. It's possible, though not probable, that he plays well enough to get the Yanks into the playoffs.

If he is allowed to play during the appeal process is there any reason he wouldn't again "load up" to enhance his performance knowing the end is near?

ARod having enough money to finance a legal battle against MLB will make a complete mockery of baseball. And he could have the legal rights to do so.

posted by cixelsyd at 12:20 PM on August 06

A Rod exercising his right to appeal is the least offensive thing he's done in this whole controversy. Players fought for that right for a good reason.

posted by rcade at 12:54 PM on August 06

OMG, Etrigan, always with that "it's about the kids!" nonsense! Your beliefs are kind of screwed up, man. I don't know why you come here and say these things... :)

A Rod exercising his right to appeal is the least offensive thing he's done in this whole controversy. Players fought for that right for a good reason.
Right- that's why I found that Jayson Stark op-ed so ridiculous; similar to labor issues outside of sports, there is a clear and definite beneficiary to any stories pushing the idea that the employee should always be subservient to "the boss", and take whatever they're given without complaint. Athletes make a useful example, since the "working man" will have no sympathy for their millionaire selves.

A-Rod is probably a messed up guy with ego/approval issues (somewhat understandable when you're in the majors at 18, and touted as a sure-fire HoF shortstop in your early 20's), but why wouldn't he appeal a suspension, much less a long one at the end of his career? They're basically trying to Barry Bonds him; drive him out of the game before his career would naturally have ended, in part to avoid any further statistical milestones.

Then again, the PED witch hunters have neglected to point out that these "performance-enhancing" drugs, if Alex Rodriguez even took them, certainly didn't do a damn thing to prevent his performance from dropping off the table the last few years. And honestly, I'm not aware of the evidence that has him taking these drugs, nor of any failed tests, just that he's been "linked" with Biogenesis, somehow.

Again, why wouldn't he appeal if he believes he is innocent (or at the least, that MLB has no actual case)?

posted by hincandenza at 02:55 PM on August 06

I'm also bothered by this reasoning for why A-Rod was given a far longer suspension (a 50-game suspension like the rest would have meant just losing the rest of his year, hardly a big loss given his recovery process):

In its official statement, MLB said the punishment was based on Rodriguez's "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years" and "for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."
What does any of that mean? It sounds like the propaganda language of marking "troublemakers", lots of smoke and no fire.

Alex Rodriguez has never actually failed a drug test. His one 'failed' test was taken under an umbrella agreement of amnesty, the 2003 tests which were meant to remain anonymous and confidential but to allow MLB to assess the prevalence of PEDs in the game, with blanket immunity to any players found out (and the expectation they would cease their PED use from that point on). Because of the improper leak, he did later admit (after once denying) to using PEDs in his Texas days, when he failed the test.

And... that's it. He may or may not have used PEDs since then, but we don't know and there are no failed tests to show this, and I don't believe MLB has any such evidence itself. In my heart, I suspect A-Rod has used additional PEDs (but I've also been vocal here that I just don't care).

Certainly, that history is no worse than Braun, who only got 50 games, and had previously failed an actual test long after the 2003 amnesty tests... but got off on a technicality. I'm sure it'll give Jayson Stark the vapors, but he (gasp!) appealed his suspension, and it was overturned.

So why the special attention from Selig to A-Rod? Is it due to some special plea by the owners, in particular of the Yankees, to see A-Rod's contract effectively nullified? Is it, like Bonds, where they want to take a prominent athlete and use them as a scapegoat to show they're "serious" about "cleaning up" the sport or something? Because I don't see what he did that is any different- or even as bad as- the other players who got 50-game suspensions.

posted by hincandenza at 03:08 PM on August 06

Because I don't see what he did that is any different- or even as bad as- the other players who got 50-game suspensions.

It's hard to really say without knowing exactly what the evidence was/what obstruction went on, but to me, with what we know about Rodriguez going back to the 2003 tests and (theoretically) a bunch of purchase data from this clinic, he's been doping on and off for the better part of 10 years. That's what separates him from, say, Sergio Escalona.

How he's not failing tests is certainly interesting, but like Lance Armstrong, a failed test is not the only evidence you need to create the presumption of guilt. If you found he's got a workaround, I don't think you just let him off the hook for cheating because he was smarter than the testers.

posted by dfleming at 04:01 PM on August 06

Certainly, that history is no worse than Braun, who only got 50 games, and had previously failed an actual test long after the 2003 amnesty tests... but got off on a technicality.

Braun actually (oddly) got 65 games, which seemed to account for some past acts and/or obstruction of the investigation type of things. I think A-Rod may have gotten a better deal (not necessarily Braun's deal, but better than rest of this season and all of next -- maybe 100 games, say), if he had tried to negotiate a settlement a la Braun.

posted by holden at 06:46 PM on August 06

"for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."

Melky Cabrera spent around $10k to set up a fake website that pretended to be a company that created/prescribed the drugs, in order to try and cover up his use of PEDs. He still only got 50 games for failing the test.

I have no idea why MLB thinks what ARod has done is worse than Cabrera.

BTW, I just want to point out that Etrigran is a terrible human being for having those beliefs that he just spouted above.

posted by grum@work at 07:46 PM on August 06

I'd say there is about a 40% chance ARod's appeal process results in him being suspended for only 50 games, and a 5% chance he walks scott free. I think MLB tried to brow-beat ARod into submission, and are now scrambling to save face with the "all of 2013/2014 seasons" suspension. I don't think it's going to hold up in arbitration.

I am now actively cheering for ARod to lead the Yankees to the playoffs (while Jeter sits out the rest of the season) and become super-clutch in the playoffs to carry them to the World Series, while Jeter struggles mightily while playing injured and kills their chances to win the World Series with his limited range and noodle bat.

Traditional baseball writers will slit their own wrists if that happens.

posted by grum@work at 07:49 PM on August 06

Whoa whoa whoa- rooting for the Yankees? I agree that MLB itself needs to be taken down a peg for overreaching, but let's not get crazy here, man!

Keep your focus, and remember who the real enemy is: Etrigan, for those unconscionable beliefs he so shamelessly promotes in every nook and cranny of this hallowed website. I mean, I don't want to be overly dramatic, but I think Etrigan is, like, the Greg Maddux of Sportsfilter.

Hell, the very name "Etrigan" can be anagrammed to "ingrate", which is what he is flouncing around with his contrarian trolling and schizoid rants. I mean, really.

posted by hincandenza at 08:38 PM on August 06

Alex Rodriguez has never actually failed a drug test.

This fact may have held weight a couple of years ago, but it comes off as pretty naive today. It's obvious that the athletes are, for now, ahead of whatever tests they're given.

Lance Armstrong never failed a test. Look at the 12 players that took deals yesterday. Not a single one failed a test, yet there's enough evidence that not a single one claimed innocence either.

You don't tell someone to take a deal if you're innocent and the evidence against you is weak.

And I could be wrong, but I have little doubt that Arod won't claim he's innocent, but simply that the penalty was unfair (and I do believe he's right).

If Arod can get his sentence down to 100 games, or who knows, 50... he'll be able to play the rest of this year and a good portion of next. That's where I believe this is going. I don't believe he's foolish enough to claim innocence. That ship sailed long ago.

posted by justgary at 09:00 PM on August 06

Etrigan, you should be ashamed of yourself for those beliefs. As a matter of fact, I propose Teh Banhammer. Does rcade even have one of those? If not, he should make one for Etrigan.

In more serious news, I find it interesting the correlation between "guys who the media decides to crucify for PED use" and "guys who are kinda assholes anyway". Also, the correlation between "guys who the media decides to crucify for PED use" and "guys who manipulated the media into thinking them to be actual good guys despite evidence of PED use".

posted by Bonkers at 09:10 PM on August 06

My enjoyment of MLB has been waning over the last few years, at this point I play baseball a hell of a lot more than I watch it. I'm sure most of the decline for me has been due to naturally getting more interested in other sports but I think some of it has to due with MLB's history, once a big selling point, being a big fucking mess right now. The owners, the players, the media, Selig... every party involved in this saga has done their part in making MLB history a lot less appealing than it should be. Every time another story like this pops up I find myself just being angry at everyone involved. Maybe this has nothing to do with my newfound disinterest in MLB but I love baseball and I can't figure out why I don't love MLB anymore.

Or, hey, it could just be Etrigan's clearly stated views above that have been the real culprit in souring me on MLB.

posted by tron7 at 10:23 PM on August 06

You don't tell someone to take a deal if you're innocent and the evidence against you is weak.
You do if the poor negotiating skills of the MLBPA enabled an overall broad and unchecked banhammer for Selig. This op-ed on Grantland from a couple of months ago has a pretty good take on this whole debacle. For example:
Who is Cesar Carrillo and why should we care about what happened to him?

He's a prospect in the Tigers system who was suspended for 100 games without pay in March because his name reportedly appeared in documents compiled by Biogenesis. Since neither the MLB Players Association nor any other union offers protection for minor leaguers, Carrillo was forced to simply accept the punishment without any recourse for fighting it. Puello, the Mets prospect named in OTL's latest report, could face a similar punishment without any ability to challenge it.

That doesn't suggest that MLB can be trusted to be fair or balanced. This is evidenced by the 211 game suspension, or as covered in that op-ed, that there was on the table the possibility that MLB would try to claim that the use, the initial denial, and the not cooperating sufficiently would be counted as three separate infractions, and thus lead to a lifetime ban.

I mean, i totally believe A-Rod did PEDs in 2001-2003; he finally admitted as much! And I certainly would believe he'd continued using them... if someone would actually provide evidence. MLB doesn't have evidence he was using specifically (that I've heard of), only his supposed connection to Biogenesis. If you ask me personally, I'd bet dollars to donuts he's done PEDs since then, which as an aside has done nothing to help him on-field from the looks of it.

But my beliefs or suspicions- no less than Selig's- should be supported by solid evidence to actually prove the allegations, at the very least to an arbiter. Granted, the last time an arbiter ruled against MLB, they promptly fired him after 13 years of service.

Which is why Alex should totally appeal- and in fact all of them should have appealed- but of course Selig did a questionably legal tactic of basically saying "We'll give you an even stiffer punishment if you challenge us". Very small-town-racist-sheriff-pulling-someone-over-as-they-pass-through-town kind of maneuver, if you ask me. And that is what is so galling; I really don't care about PEDs but hey if non-use was part of the CBA, then so be it; the players knew the rules and risks. However, getting suspended/banned ought to be supported by real evidence, not the shell game MLB is playing, or by these games of "If you even try to defend yourself, we'll just keep upping the punishment until you relent" which the MLBPA definitely needs to be worried about. Seems like it's an escape hatch by which any team burdened with an expensive contract to an underperforming player could use.

Now, I say this because I haven't heard of or seen any specific evidence showing A-Rod actually has dosed since he came to NYY. MLB claims to have loads of this, but they've neglected to share it- and the huge number of leaks in any PED story suggests MLB is happy to share anything even in violation of the CBA and JDA. Odd that we still haven't heard (or at least I've missed) any evidence specifically proving that A-Rod has purchased and/or used banned substances from Biogenesis. If that does surface, I'd argue he deserves a suspension- the standard 50-game suspension found in the CBA that is given out to first time offenders, not some made up "And another week for not going to your room fast enough after I grounded you!" bullshit.

From what I've seen and read, this sure seems like a railroad job to get A-Rod out of baseball (like was done with Bonds and the strange and eerie dearth of any GM in a pennant race to hire the greatest hitter of the last half-century even at league minimum), to get the Yankees to lower their luxury tax in 2014 (and beyond), and thus to potentially free up that salary for other players in MLB.

posted by hincandenza at 10:27 PM on August 06

Who is Cesar Carrillo and why should we care about what happened to him?... Since neither the MLB Players Association nor any other union offers protection for minor leaguers, Carrillo was forced to simply accept the punishment without any recourse for fighting it.

Eh, you've cherry-picked a player that fits your scenario and isn't really comparable to most of the players suspended. Ryan Braun certainly had no problem fighting punishment last year and he tested positive, and he wasn't handcuffed by being a minor leaguer. Why now would he just plead innocent if he's done nothing wrong? Just doesn't make any sense.

While I share a lot of your thoughts on the big picture, I don't think it's remotely believable that all these players just fell in line without knowing the evidence was damning. Nor do I believe Arod would have taken a lesser suspension (as his own union says they would have recommended) if there wasn't some truth to the allegations.

I do agree that it's ridiculous to give out punishments and not have to show your hand, which is why I'm glad Arod is appealing. I want to see exactly what a 'mountain' of evidence amounts to. But again, I don't think he's going to fight to prove his innocence at all, but merely try and prove the penalty he's received is unfair (which, again, I believe is true).

posted by justgary at 11:58 PM on August 06

Demonizing Etrigan will have little effect.

But don't let it stop you.

posted by yerfatma at 06:46 AM on August 07

Very small-town-racist-sheriff-pulling-someone-over-as-they-pass-through-town kind of maneuver, if you ask me.

Well, except the guy who he pulled over had a team of lawyers, private investigators and union reps sitting in his car. Trying to paint him as some defenceless rube at the hands of a racist sheriff is missing the fact that he hasn't missed a game due to PED use yet.

There is a process here for both sides to show their evidence. Concluding the MLB is railroading because you personally haven't seen the evidence is premature. The other side of MLB's persistence could be the fact that you, I, and EVERYONE believe he's been probably using them.

If that does surface, I'd argue he deserves a suspension- the standard 50-game suspension found in the CBA that is given out to first time offenders, not some made up "And another week for not going to your room fast enough after I grounded you!" bullshit.

What if what surfaces is corroboration for the multiple sources that have accused Rodriguez of trying to buy up the evidence to keep it out of the hands of investigators? What if it shows multiple years of purchase orders? Do you think at that point he, and Sergio Escalona, are equivalent offenders of the sport's integrity?

But really - Etrigan being a terrible person is what we should be focusing on.

posted by dfleming at 06:46 AM on August 07

You guys are ruthless. Is Etrigan actually Snooki or Nicki Minaj?

posted by beaverboard at 09:17 AM on August 07

He is actually Greg Maddux, Jr.

posted by Scottymac at 01:16 PM on August 07

What if what surfaces is corroboration for the multiple sources that have accused Rodriguez of trying to buy up the evidence to keep it out of the hands of investigators?

I don't disagree with your larger point, but why is it ok for MLB to do this but a crime for A-Rod to do it? And if you don't like the available punishments, don't agree to the CBA.

posted by yerfatma at 10:56 AM on August 08

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