Major League Baseball is expected to announce suspensions for Alex Rodriguez and as many as a dozen other players in the Biogenesis scandal sometime early this afternoon, possibly around 2 p.m. CT. The lengths of the suspensions are expected to be anywhere from 50 games to, in A-Rod's case, through the 2014 season, as reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
... the New York Yankees third baseman plans to file an immediate appeal, enabling him to play Monday night against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, two people with direct knowledge of the plan told USA TODAY Sports. MLB officials informed Rodriguez's attorneys and the Major League Players Association of their decision to suspend the players, and told Rodriguez that he no longer is able to discuss a settlement, according to the two people, who were unauthorized to speak publicly before the scheduled announcement. Rodriguez will be suspended for at least 214 games under terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, costing him about $34 million, but likely will avoid a lifetime ban by Commissioner Bud Selig for allegedly violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
That will, undoubtedly, create a media circus at the Cell tonight; the White Sox, perhaps mindful of this, have scheduled their tribute to the retiring Mariano Rivera for Tuesday night. Monday night's game, in fact, has a pretty good chance of being interrupted or postponed by rain. Great fun, right?
Anyway, you can read more details about the suspensions anywhere. I'm making this post for two reasons: first, to give you a place to discuss everything surrounding the various suspensions. None involves anyone connected with the Cubs organization, but it's an important baseball topic.
And second, to call your attention to two articles that provide a bit of a different look at this situation.
The first is the take on the suspensions from the always thoughtful and articulate Doug Glanville, who was a teammate of A-Rod's with the Rangers in 2003. Glanville writes about how A-Rod can, even now, be an example:
Still, we can learn from him even if they are lessons he doesn't want to teach, just as we learned from watching him play even when he couldn't always communicate how he did what he did. We know that PEDs inflate your numbers, inflate your ego, inflate your sense of reality. Yet they don't seem to inflate your awareness that you might end up alone, with a trophy made of plastic. Inflated numbers pay well but get ignored. An inflated ego makes you miss the gravity of what is about to happen. An inflated sense of reality makes you think the inevitable will never happen. You used to be able to take the numbers and run. Now, you are being hunted to the ends of the earth. And it's too late to turn back. It will not end well for A-Rod in the near term, yet it is still up to him how he goes out. He has other examples out there to look to -- Jason Giambi, for instance, who showed that apologies can work, that forgiveness can be part of the game. When all is said and done, not only is Giambi still playing at 42, but he also has been and will be a serious managerial candidate. Sometimes, before you can fully embrace being a role model, you need to model yourself after some proven examples. You need to learn how to get back to zero. Then it can be up to you how to go from there. Up or out.
That's an excellent lesson to learn -- about forgiveness. Giambi is an excellent example; so is Andy Pettitte, who confessed to HGH use several years ago. Does anyone begrudge Pettitte's return to baseball and the success he's had since his confession? The stonewalling of A-Rod, the lies of Ryan Braun, and the sad cases of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds before them speak loudly: if you do something wrong, fess up, say you're sorry (and mean it), and people can and will be forgiving.
The second article I'd like you to read is this remarkable profile of A-Rod's childhood and upbringing by George Vecsey in the New York Times, in which Vecsey writes about A-Rod's father having left him when he was nine years old.
When Rodriguez arrived with the Yankees in 2004, I got a call from my daughter Laura Vecsey, who had been a sports columnist in Seattle and had a kind of big-sister affection for him. "Dad," she said, "he’s always asking what it was like to have a father in the same business. He doesn’t have a father. You ought to talk to him." She was talking about my making human contact, perhaps picking up the sliver of insight, nothing more profound. I introduced myself in spring training, and he was polite, but the next time I saw him, we were crossing paths in a corridor at the ballpark. No eye contact. Strange bird, I thought. So did his teammates. He swatted a ball from the glove of a Boston Red Sox pitcher, violating the rule, and he yelled at a Toronto Blue Jays third baseman trying to catch a pop-up, violating the code. You could vaguely sense Yankees heads jerking and eyes rolling, nothing you could prove, as A-Rod walked past.
This isn't an attempt to make excuses for Alex Rodriguez, for every adult must take responsibility for his or her actions; Rodriguez hasn't done that and doesn't seem capable of doing it. Vecsey's column attempts to explain why Rodriguez is that way, and how this 38-year-old man got to where he is. It's sad, really.
Finally, the upshot of all this is a real change in the attitude of many rank-and-file players toward PED use; perhaps that will finally help clean the game up:
To Logan Morrison, the suspensions and shame and loss in salary might not be enough. To really deter them, the Miami Marlins' first baseman suggests clubs pay a price, too. "Maybe penalizing the teams for guys who signed - like Melky signing that $16 million deal - maybe the team should have to give up something," Morrison said. Which would be fine with Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis. "We're sick of it. Tired of it," he said. "We don't want the fans thinking everybody cheats. You listen to people talk and they associate baseball with cheating." "The teams maybe should look at some things. Not sign guys who are caught. That would be a good thing. Start taking guys' money away," Ellis said.
What Ellis said is perhaps the first step in cleaning up the game. Once the fallout from today's suspensions is over, I would not be surprised if MLB and the MLBPA sit down over the winter and revise the Joint Drug Agreement. Because now, everyone wants it. Let's clean the game up.