BENAC: A-Rod isn’t fooling anyone this time
An old adage says “to err is human, but to forgive is divine.”
Another says “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Perhaps the sports world is sick of the shame on me, egg-on-the-face feeling that comes from forgiving Alex Rodriguez for anything.A-Rod may only be human, but I’m not sure that anybody is divine enough to ever forgive him his sins.
Certainly not the MLB, which threw down a record-breaking 211-game suspension for Rodriguez. He can play while appealing the decision, but it would be hard to imagine that any appeal by Rodriguez has any chance of going through, in spite of the mysterious “evidence” he keeps flouting.
After all, this is the man who swore up and down that he had never taken any type of steroids or performance enhancing drugs since his debut as a player, but who tested positive for anabolic steroids, testosterone and Primobolan while playing for the Texas Rangers in 2003.
If you don’t remember that year, it’s the year he won his first American League MVP award. It was also the year he hit his 300th career home run and finished with 47 for the season.
A-Rod side-stepped his positive testing problem via a union agreement technicality and even though Bud Selig considered some sort of punishment, there simply wasn’t any sort of punishment system in place for Rodriguez’s crimes.
This stuck in the craw of many baseball fans, in spite of the fact that Rodriguez did come clean and seemed genuinely remorseful. He admitted that he used PEDs between 2001 and 2003, citing “enormous pressures to perform” as his official reason for using.
Fool me once, shame on you.
After this news leaked (news which, for all intents and purposes, should have perhaps stayed confidential) Rodriguez began a hunt to regain lost respect. He gave press conference after press conference, hammering on the explanation that he was young, naive and eager to prove he was amongst the best baseball players ever. He began working as a spokesperson for the Taylor Hooton foundation, an anti-performance enhancing drug organization.
He spoke passionately and often times emotionally about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs, making especially poignant arguments against youth athletes using performance enhancing drugs. This last fact shouldn’t surprise: he has often spoke about his desire to be a role model. And beyond some of his more questionable behaviors (such as hitting on fans during games), he seemed to legitimately want to inspire young players to play the game at a high level.
For all intents and purposes, the A-Rod saga appeared to be a modern take on the classic redemption tale: somebody fights hard to get to the top of the world, is revered and beloved and then falls flat on their face in a messy, messy way. A-Rod seemed to be one of the few who wasn’t like Humpty Dumpty and who was able to put it all back together again.
That all seemed to change in 2010, when it was reported that A-Rod had received treatment from Anthony Galea, a Canadian-based sports doctor. Galea was under investigation at the time for distributing human growth hormone or HGH to athletes. Both A-Rod and Galea denied the sale of HGH, naturally, and not much really came out of that. But the stench of “shame on you” lingered in the air too obviously not to notice.
And then the “fool me twice, shame on me” moment hit in 2013, as a variety of MLB players were accused of obtaining and using HGH from Biogenesis of America. This former rejuvenation clinic purportedly dealt in “natural” body rejuvenation, but was revealed to be a front for selling performance enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
A-Rod did everything he could to stall and interfere with the investigations, but he couldn’t stop the inevitable avalanche of 50-65 game suspensions from destroying the seasons of some of the best MLB players. Some players, like Ryan Braun, are done for the season: the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta will be back for the last three games.
However, nobody was hit harder than Rodriguez: should his suspension hold, (and again, there’s no reason to imagine it won’t) he won’t be able to play baseball until he is 40 years old. Of course, he’s still a millionaire a dozen times over, and while he’s “suspended” that doesn’t mean he isn’t getting paid, beyond the fines he has to pay the MLB, so it’s unlikely that too many people will feel sorry for him.
Especially when it was revealed that his suspension was so long because he had not only used various performance enhancing drugs “over the course of multiple years,” according to the official report from the MLB, but that he had actually actively recruited other players for the Biogenesis Clinic, finding players that needed or wanted a little boost, and sending them down to the clinic.
While the 12 other banned players are adults, and were fully aware of the potential consequences of their actions, it’s not impossible to surmise that a few of them may have never considered using such drugs if they weren’t recruited by Rodriguez.
Every other banned player has accepted the suspension, given their tearful apologies and appear to be attempting to make amends. However, A-Rod is appealing the suspension and giving bizarre press conferences before his return game to the Yankees, crowing that he’s glad to be back, and that he “feels like he’s 18 again,” completely ignoring the fact that he was handed down the worst suspension in MLB history.
Not that I, or anybody else, should be surprised. After all, what else would A-Rod do? Accept that what he had done was wrong, and quietly bow down like a man, fully accepting responsibility for his actions, and apologizing for the pain he has caused?
Of course not. After all, he’s A-Rod, the pride of the Yankees, the World’s Best (and Most Highly Paid) Baseball player. Such trivial concerns like legality need not impede upon taking drugs to improve his batting average, get more RBIs and help stake his claim as “the best ever.”
Even more ridiculously, he claims he feels like he could play another five years even as his batting average continues to dip and injuries continue to sideline him.
But the world has run out of divine forgiveness, has long tired of his mere existence, and is already shouting “shame on me.” Everybody simply wants him to go away, like a thief in the night, never to be heard from again.
It turns out that A-Rod was one of the biggest Humpty Dumpty’s in modern baseball history. There he lies, cracked irreparably, the yolk of his greatness leaking all over the pavement, as he desperately tries to patch his career back together, to become the role model he always wanted to be, and to recapture the sense of awe many felt when they watched him at his peak, when he could have been the best, and long before endless scandals turned him into just another cautionary tale and black spot on the worn out jersey of the tattered world of professional baseball.
And this time, no one stands over his dead career, dressed in funeral garb, either to bury or praise him. He’ll have to continue to dig his own grave and write his own ridiculous, self-serving personal myth.
Shame on you, A-Rod. And shame on baseball for letting you do this again.
All that said, though, I still like him more than Jose Canseco.