By Mike Harrington
Talking out loud about MLB's announcements today from the Biogenesis scandal ...
A-Rod: He reportedly infuriated Bud Selig with his comments Friday night in Trenton that there was a "pink elephant" in the room and it was the fact that MLB and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him off the field, with the Yankees most interested in getting out of his contract. The Commish then shut town all talks of a settlement, with ARod contending he should be no more penalized than Ryan Braun. We'll see about that.
On the field, the Yankees can use A-Rod, even at less than 100 percent. He's still going to be far more productive than anyone they've had at third base all year. But if he stays on the field for any length of time, how will they deal with the daily fan and media circus on the road? And what will be the reaction when A-Rod steps on the field in the Bronx?
Selig knew he couldn't go for a lifetime ban, and that the union would have to defend A-Rod on simple due process if he did. So he went for a suspension through the Joint Drug Policy, which allows for the appeal. That should be heard within the next three weeks or so.
A-Rod is trying to maximize the money he can make by staying on the field but I'm betting this carries into 2015 -- not 2014 -- before it's all done. He's never failed a test and this is more about obstruction of MLB's investigation. It seems more personal than ever between A-Rod and Selig, much like it was at the end between Bart Giamatti and Pete Rose in 1989.
The Commish: Selig wants his legacy to be about 1). Getting rid of PEDs from baseball; 2) adding the wild-card to get more cities interested deeper into the season; and 3) fixing the All-Star Game after the 2002 tie fiasco. He's looking at retirement in the next two years and it's interesting that the PED situation became such a focus, given the way baseball was complicit in it through the McGwire-Sosa home run chase of 1998. Better late than never, I suppose.
That said, baseball now has the toughest drug policy of any of the four major sports. Almost Olympic-level in its testing. And Selig's biggest victory is getting the support of the players' union. In the late 90s and at the start of this century, they were major adversaries on this issue. Now, you have more players who want to get PEDs out of the game and the users can take a hike. It's a major philosophical shift Selig has helped engineer, another sign of the incredible cooperation between MLB and the union that the sport could only dream about in the 80s and 90s.
Nelson Cruz: The Rangers outfielder decided not to appeal and take his suspension. People in the game are still baffled Texas didn't do more to get a bat at the trade deadline. They start today 2 1/2 games out in the AL West and a half-game out in the wild-card but can they stay there without him? It seems unlikely.
Jhonny Peralta: It's a non-factor to the baseball world at large, but I'm in a small group of people who now have a bit of an issue. Based on his incredible 2004 IL MVP season, Peralta is a stone lock to be voted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame when his career is over. And now? How tainted is that .326 average and his modern-era records of 181 hits and 44 doubles in a season? Someday, that will be an interesting discussion.
He has issued a statement saying he "made a terrible mistake in 2012." But still ... what about the years prior to that? The Tigers, obviously, knew this was coming, and that's why they traded for Jose Iglesias at the deadline to play shortstop.
Fernando Martinez: He was the Mets' much-heralded prospect when they showed up in Buffalo in 2009 but never panned out, largely because of knees that became so arthritic they were described as being much more like someone in their late 30s or even early 40s. Hmmm. Wonder how that might have happened.
Jordany Valdespin: He bounced back and forth between the Mets and Buffalo last year and is now in Las Vegas this year after running afoul of Terry Collins and his teammates again in Flushing. The kid is a head case who has no idea how the game is played and is all about himself. He was suspended by the PCL last week after a brawl with Sacramento that traced its roots to his pimping of a home run -- which is exactly what he did in New York earlier this season. So it's no surprise he would do something selfish like this too. The only surprise is how his name didn't surface as accepting the suspension until 12:30 this afternoon.
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