Tomorrow – Monday August 5, 2013 – is destined to be a date for baseball that will live in infamy. As many as 20 Major League ballplayers face a range of suspensions related to performance enhancing drugs. Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun is already on the bench for the year without pay. The Tigers Jhonny Peralta is sure to follow (his replacement Jose Iglesias has already been traded for and, awkwardly enough, played beside Peralta for the past several games). Which brings us to the player all of baseball is watching: Alex Rodriguez.
It would be very easy to “pile on” the Yankee third baseman – arguably the most reviled individual who ever played the game. However, for the purpose of this blog I will instead stick to the facts before offering Mr. Rodriguez some free PR advice – advice he can surely more than afford; advice he would surely never take.
At this writing, Commissioner Bud Selig is reportedly continuing to negotiate an agreement with Rodriguez’s legal team that could sit the embattled slugger through the 2014 season – perhaps longer (“forever” is rumored to be one of the possibilities). According to ESPN.com, Rodriguez, on the other hand, is apparently having none of it – citing, according to a source, “…clause 7G of the Joint Drug agreement that states that PED users can “only” be hit with a 50-game suspension. Rodriguez has never failed a drug test.”
Rodriguez is due $34.2 million this year, $25 million next season, $114 million overall through 2017. Any suspension would likely, as with Braun, be without pay. In his 19 year career, Rodriguez has earned $400 million – nearly half a billion dollars. What should he do? Of course, he should stop the posturing and selfishness and agree to whatever suspension the league hands down, demonstrating remorse while admitting that he has let the fans, his team and baseball down. This should be a ‘no brainer’.
But to try to preserve his career and attempt to repair his reputation, Rodriguez needs to take drastic measures of his own volition: He should announce that when he does come back in 2015, he will play for the major league minimum while donating the remainder of his salary to the Major League pension fund to assist former players and personnel that were never millionaires but played and performed the right way. Amazing? Absolutely. And that is what it’s going to take. For once, Rodriguez needs to acknowledge that “it’s” not about him – it’s about the game, its integrity and, in many ways the pastime’s very future.