Monday, August 5, 2013

A-Rod Is Innocent Until Proven Guilty, and MLB Has Not Proven Squat

It is now official: Major League Baseball has now suspended Alex Rodriguez for the remainder of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season -- a total of 211 games, plus any postseason games the Yankees might play in these seasons.

That's the how many.  Here's the why: Not so much using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), for we still have not been shown any evidence of that since the previous allegations that he did so with the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003; but, rather, for "attempting to cover up his violations of the (testing) program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to 'obstruct of frustrate' the investigation."

When Pete Rose was banned, there was the Dowd Report.  The details were extensive and damning.  We know Pete was guilty, and he got what he deserved: A lifetime ban from participation in professional baseball in any way (though there have been 2 authorized appearances at MLB-sponsored ceremonies, at the 1999 World Series and the 2002 All-Star Game), and ineligibility for the Hall of Fame.

With A-Rod, we're still supposed to just take MLB's word for it.

A-Rod has appealed this suspension, and is eligible to play until the appeal is heard.  He will be in the lineup tonight for the Yankees as they begin a series against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

(Unless it rains -- and, right now, it is raining in Chicago, and the tarp is on the field.  After all this, God is having a laugh at our expense.)

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Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in baseball history.  He is also one of the least likeable, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  Like Bonds and Clemens, he was good enough to not have to cheat.  But, like Bonds, and possibly also Clemens (the evidence against the Rocket remains hearsay and nothing more), he cheated anyway.

Nothing in sports pisses me off more than someone who's good enough to not cheat, but cheats anyway.  Which is a big reason why I don't want Arsenal to sign either Luis Suarez or Wayne Rooney.  (But that's a post for another time, if at all.)

But you don't have to like someone to think he's getting a raw deal.  Even the guilty are entitled to defend themselves in due process, including facing their accusers and challenging their accusers' claims.  Even the Nazi war criminals had trials at which they could face the evidence.

There was a scene on the classic Western series Bonanza where Hoss Cartwright (played by Dan Blocker) told a desperado holding a gun on him, "You're a stubborn, miserable old man.  But they don't hang men for that.  But they do hang 'em for shooting an unarmed man." At which point Hoss removed his gunbelt, and became unarmed.  At which point the man pointing the gun at him kept his gun pointed.  But as the enormous Hoss stepped toward him, the desperado got scared, and didn't fire, and Hoss knocked him out.

A-Rod is "The Seven Deadly Sins" personified:

* Pride: He's a little too proud of himself.

* Envy: Of Derek Jeter, among others.

* Greed: Biggest contract in the history history of North American team sports, and he wanted it to be even bigger.

* Hatred: I'm not sure he actually hates anybody, although the Boston Red Sox have given him a few reasons.  Like when Bronson "Captain Cornrows" Arroyo plunked him, and then Jason "Captain Pussy" Varitek shoved his catcher's mitt in A-Rod's face, while keeping his own face protected with his catcher's mask, proving he was smart, but also that he was a goddamned coward.

* Gluttony: Often listed as "Selfishness," although that's really tied in with Greed.  I can't really say A-Rod is a glutton, as he's never gotten fat.  But maybe he's a glutton for punishment.  He's certainly a glutton for attention.

* Laziness: Not in a physical sense, certainly not.  But he's intellectually lazy, if not outright dumb.

* Injustice: Even as he now fights an injustice, here is, as I said, a guy who didn't need to cheat, and did so anyway.  I'm talking about before, 2001-03, before he was a Yankee.  That, we know.  We don't know that he's been cheating again.

And therein lies the crux of the problem: While it's easy to believe that he has been cheating again, we haven't seen evidence, let alone proof.  We're just supposed to take MLB's word for it?

* After MLB banned eight Chicago White Sox players after their acquittal on fraud charges for fixing the 1919 World Series -- when one of them wasn't even in on the fix?

* After MLB said for years that there was no color barrier in "organized baseball," before Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers openly admitted that there was one, and that he was going to be the man to break it, and did by signing Jackie Robinson, and the reactions of the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals proved his point?

* After MLB said for nearly a century that the reserve clause was absolute, and that free agency would mark the end of baseball, and both statements were proven to not be?

* After MLB accepted the Mitchell Report, which, weighted down with conflict-of-interest as George Mitchell was on the Red Sox board of directors, savaged the Yankees, while ignoring the positive tests of Red Sox superstars David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, without whose juicing the Red Sox might not even have made the Playoffs all those years, let alone won 2 ill-gotten World Series?

* After MLB knew that Ortiz was as guilty as anyone, and still lies about it to this day -- unlike A-Rod, who first lied, then came clean, and is now refusing to lie in public (though not denying) -- and has still never been suspended for a single game nor fined as much as a penny, and is permitted to continue to play?

If A-Rod deserves a suspension of one season and one-third of another, why doesn't Big Papi deserve any suspension at all?

Is it because Big Papi is "likeable," and A-Rod is not?

This wouldn't be the first time that someone "unlikeable" -- or even the first time that an "unlikeable" Yankee -- has gotten a raw deal in baseball.


Roger Maris demands an explanation for this bullshit.

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In this country, we have many principles, and this is one of the most important:

"Presumed innocent, until proven guilty."

MLB officials have not shown us the evidence against Alex Rodriguez.  And evidence is not necessarily proof.  But they haven't shown us one shred of evidence yet.

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. 

It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. 

You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. 

Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free". 
-- Michael Douglas, The American President

Yeah, this this has ticked me off so much, I'm quoting a man I hate, because he took the woman I love away from me.  (For those of you who don't know me outside of this blog, my love for Catherine Zeta-Jones is a running gag, as those of you who do know me outside of the blog can attest.)

You don't have to like A-Rod to accept that he's being railroaded.  You can hate the New York Yankees in general, and A-Rod in particular, and still think that this is wrong.  To borrow the great phrase of the late, great Yankee Fan Stephen Jay Gould, you can hate the Yankees and A-Rod with that love that only hate can understand, and still think that the man is being unjustly persecuted and prosecuted.

What's moral is not always legal, as Martin Luther King proved.  And what's legal is not always moral, as Anthony Weiner is proving.  There are unjust laws, and there is behavior that, while not illegal, is wrong, or disgusting, or just plain weird, or a combination thereof.

Comparing A-Rod to Dr. King? No, I'm not doing that.  Comparing A-Rod to Weiner? Well, they've both done bizarre things with mirrors.  At least Weiner doesn't own a portrait of himself in the form of a centaur.  (That I know of.  At this point, I wouldn't put it past him.  At least Huma Abedin is a more reasonable person than Alex's ex-wife Cynthia.)

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I'm conflicted:

The American in me wants A-Rod to stick it to the MLB authorities.  They unfairly punish you? They punish you without evidence? Take 'em to court, and make them prove it.  If they can't, make 'em eat crow.  A-Rod is innocent until proven guilty, and, for now, the MLB authorities have not proven squat.

The baseball fan in me wants A-Rod banned for life.  He has disgraced the game, and especially the Yankees, enough.

But the Yankee Fan in me is thinking a little of both.  I feel like the Yankees have been unfairly targeted.  On the other hand, Yankee management is hardly angelic in this, either.  There really isn't anybody worth rooting for.

At bottom, I just want this whole thing to be over.  Just let the Yankees know where things stand, so they know what needs to be done.  Have to replace him? Don't have to? Enough is enough, let them know what's necessary.

This cloud has been over the Yankees all season long, and surely it's affected them every bit as much as the Arsenalesque injury situation: They're 4 games over .500, 8 games out of the AL East lead.

I just want it to be over.  Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.  At least now, knowing that he can play for now, we know which devil to fight, and how.

What happens after the appeal is heard, your guess is as good as mine.  Or theirs.

In the meantime, weather permitting, we have baseball tonight.  Yankee Baseball.  With Alex Rodriguez.

Come on you Bombers.

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