Firstly, apologies for the lack of articles of late, I’ve been moving house and it’s basically the worst thing that a human can do. Anyway, that’s enough whinging from me. On with the show.
As a sports guy in general I have at least a loose understanding of pretty much every major and most minor sports that you can think of.
But I only really follow a handful of sports, and even then only certain leagues.
Rugby League, Football and Basketball are the main ones.
I follow the NRL but not the English Super League (mostly because of a lack of accessibility)
I follow the A-League and the EPL, but not really anything else (both a matter of accessibility and the vast number of world leagues just being far too difficult to consume)
I follow the NBA, but not the NBL (because I was a West Sydney Razorbacks fan, and I’m bitter about the way that all went)
But I still ‘follow’ many other sports and leagues – only casually. I have a team in the NHL (Detroit Red Wings), MLB (St. Louis Cardinals), NFL (Washington Redskins), AFL (Swans), Club Rugby (Randwick), La Liga (Malaga), Ligue 1 (Lille) and MLS (Vancouver Whitecaps) and I also follow test cricket (but only Australia and much more intensely when the Ashes is on) and have my favourite Tennis players (Gael Monfils in the men’s and Victoria Azarenka in the women’s)*
So what’s the point you may ask?
Well, in an effort to broaden the scope of this page a little, I’m going to attempt to write about an issue that is happening in one of my peripheral sports or leagues every so often, to give an outsiders perspective and try to see the issues as a layman. But of course when you read this, you need to realise that while I’m not an idiot and I do follow enough sport to understand what’s going on, I am by no means an expert and the things I bring up may have already been considered or dismissed.
So welcome to the first edition of I’m No Expert, But…
This edition’s topic is the MLB suspensions that have been handed down this week – in particular to A-Rod.
The tl;dr version of the story is that Alex Rodriguez has been given the longest non-life suspension in MLB history due to some documents obtained from a Florida Anti-Ageing Clinic (whatever that is) that implicate him in the use and distribution of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) as well as attempting to destroy evidence of his wrong doing.
Now, this story is being reported as a 211 game ban (which as far as I know is only a potential figure if the Yankees go all the way this season, which isn’t looking likely) and when you see a 211 game ban, it seems insanely long. If it were in the NRL or AFL it would equate to a minimum of 8 seasons and if it were the NFL it would be about 13 seasons – or an entire career. Even in the NBA it would equate to about 2 and a half seasons, but in baseball? 211 games is only a little over one season.
Some other players were given 50 game bans (about 8 weeks) and all accepted their punishment, but Rodriguez is planning to appeal against his, which means he can continue to play until his appeal is heard. Something about this seems off to me. I understand and believe in the whole innocent until proven guilty thing, but the league has weighed up the evidence and given him a suspension. That says guilty to me. So now, as far as I’m concerned, he’s guilty until proven otherwise – i.e. the burden of proof is now with A-Rod. Therefore he shouldn’t be able to keep playing through his appeal. In life, once a person is judged to be guilty of a crime and then given their sentence – they go to gaol (assuming that is the sentence). They don’t get to just say that they will appeal and then go home.
But this is all beside the point I want to make.
The point I want to make, is that the short length of this suspension is a joke, yet somehow is seen by about 50% of baseball fans as being too long. Obviously this is all based on the accusations against him being true, as I’m assuming they are for him to get this suspension (and for the sake of this article), but anything less than a lifetime ban shows baseball up for the farcical sport that it has become.
It has a reputation about as good as cycling when it comes to PED’s and to give a guy who has not only admitted to taking steroids in the past, but is now (allegedly**) doing it again, as well as supplying them to other athletes and then trying to purchase and destroy all the evidence only a one year ban? Let me spell this out for you MLB. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR REPUTATION ANY FAVOURS!
What makes this worse for me is the revelation that baseball has set suspensions for first, second and third time offenders. So if you take steroids and get caught once, you’ll be kicked out for a quarter of a season. Then you are good to go. You do it again; you get a half a season. Then you are good to go. Do it a third time and boy are you in trouble. You have to get caught deliberately cheating three times for anything more than half a season. Let me spell this out for you MLB. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR REPUTATION ANY FAVOURS!
The next step on the spiral of baseball doping is the fact that in spite of admitting to using steroids in the past as well as all of the documented evidence against him in this current case. A-Rod has never tested positive to an official drugs test. So how bad are the drug tests!? If they can’t catch a guy who has ADMITTED GUILT, what is the point of them?
It is my understanding that MLB tests the players once in pre-season, then once during the regular season and then they can’t test you again. So you could get through your pre-season test, get your regular season test 20 games into the season, then you can do whatever you want for the rest of the season! Let me spell this out for you MLB. YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR REPUTATION ANY FAVOURS!
All of this is because the Collective Bargaining Agreement is heavily in favour of the players “rights”. The Players Association has far too much power in this relationship. If they were your buddy’s girlfriend you’d call her the dungeon master and your buddy a whipped little bitch. They are so powerful that it wasn’t until the US CONGRESS threatened to step in that they finally changed their stance to be in favour of drug testing – and this was only in 2005! You need to encourage your buddy to set some better ground rules, don’t budge and if she doesn’t like it, get rid of her. Sure it will hurt, but it needs to be done for your buddy’s health.
Unsurprisingly the players union has come out against the league and in support of their player and have even called Rodriguez’s ban “inappropriate and almost ridiculous” which technically is a statement I agree with, only not the way they mean. If I were a clean baseball player I’d be livid that the union who is meant to represent me is backing someone who is cheating me.
Alex Rodriguez is possibly the most famous name in Baseball and for him to be so blatantly cheating is a slap in the face to not only the league, and the fans but to his fellow players.
Giving him anything less than a lifetime ban tells me that for all their show, the MLB is not serious about sending a message and stamping the use of performance enhancing drugs out of the sport.
To make matters more ridiculous, there is a strong feeling that A-Rod will win his appeal, because there isn’t much precedence for this length of suspension. However if the league had just had some bigger balls and given him a lifetime ban – there is no avenue for appeal.
The man is already 38 years old and even with this suspension (assuming it sticks) won’t play again until he is almost 40. It’s not even that big of a leap to say that if the suspension sticks it will end his career.
So where is the logic in not just going for it, giving him a life ban, drawing a line in the sand and at least trying to take something back for the sport.
I’m no expert, but that’s what I would have done.
*I used to like Lazio in the Serie A when I was young and before I understood their politics. Sport and Politics shouldn’t mix in my opinion.
**I don’t want to get sued. I have no money.