Baseball Is Better Than This

Above all else I am a baseball fan.  Within that, I am a die-hard New York Yankees fan – always have been, always will be.

That is why the recent events surrounding my favorite team’s polarizing third baseman sadden me.  The name-calling and finger-pointing that is occurring between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball only casts a shadow over what are special times for the greatest of American sports.

Do the two sides not see what their childish behavior is doing to their cause?

MLB has levied a 211 game suspension against A-Rod for using PEDs.  That suspension is currently under appeal and while we wait for it to be heard, Rodriguez remains an active part of the Yankees lineup.

Baseball deserves better than the media's focus on A-Rod

Baseball deserves better than the media’s focus on A-Rod

Others suspended alongside A-Rod (Ryan Braun, Francisco Cervelli, Nelson Cruz etc.) have already accepted the penalties placed on them and are sitting out the remainder of 2013’s campaign.

Rodriguez is the only one that has chosen to fight.

Perhaps it is because his is the harshest penalty, and MLB has clearly made him the face of its efforts to clean up the sport, that Alex chooses to make a stand.  Maybe it’s because he really is innocent?

I don’t know.  In fact, none of us really knows.

We think we do because of the “spins” bombarding us on an hourly basis from each side of the argument.  Heck, even I am of the belief that “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”.

Given that Rodriguez admitted in 2009 he used steroids while with the Texas Rangers, I can’t help but feel there is an element of truth to the reasons why MLB has gone after the once-feared slugger.

But, I also know that the way each of the warring parties has acted makes me question just who to believe.

I am sick of MLB’s lap dogs in the media referring to the activities of A-Rod’s “camp” or “inner circle”.   The fact that they NEVER directly refer to Rodriguez, but instead make claims against those vaguely defined groups and want us to know that they mean A-Rod, angers me to no end.

If you don’t have direct evidence that Alex Rodriguez did what you want us to believe he did, then don’t use the guilt-by-association argument.

Michael Radutzky’s (“60 Minutes” producer) article on CBS news from August 16th is a perfect example of this kind of direct/indirect accusation.  The title of the column is “Alex Rodriguez implicated fellow players in doping investigation”.

At first glance I thought “ouch, they have you Alex, you are toast”.

60 minutes

“60 Minutes” article’s title misleads the reader.

Then I read the piece.

It never directly says that A-Rod implicated fellow ballplayers.   Instead, it’s very first sentence is:

“60 Minutes” has learned that members of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s inner circle in February obtained and leaked documents that implicated Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun as well as his own Yankees teammate, catcher Francisco Cervelli, in the doping scandal that has enveloped Major League Baseball.

Later in the article, it uses the term “Rodriguez’s camp” four times.  Nowhere do I see that Rodriguez is said to have directed people to take the alleged actions on his behalf.
That’s because Radutzky doesn’t have that proof.   It’s all a supposition.

I will be the first to tell you I love “60 Minutes” and respect it deeply.  Perhaps that is why this type of article troubles me so much.  You are better than that Michael.

Jon Heyman of CBS sports is another to throw around the “A-Rod’s camp” and “A-Rod’s inner circle” terms like candy at a parade.

In his August 16th article “A look at A-Rod’s ever-evolving inner circle” he mentions “camp” SEVENTEEN times.  The funny thing is that Heyman goes so far as to say that A-Rod’s camp “.. is an ever-changing camp”, yet continually uses it as the evidence of A-Rod’s guilt.

How can you deduce A-Rod’s guilt based on someone (who you do not directly mention) that may, or may not, be in his “camp”?

That “camp” must be one hell of a place to get talked about so much.  Is there lots of shoreline?  Are there great views?

He, of course, piggy backs on the “60 Minutes” piece from the same day.  One thing to note: Jon Heyman, in addition to writing for CBS sports, is also a “baseball insider” for MLB.

In other words, Jon is in MLB’s “camp”.  I bet that’s a nice place too, and he has plenty of neighbors.

I suspect another writer spending his vacation at the MLB “camp” is New York Daily News writer Bill Madden.

mikefrancesa

Mike Francesa presents both MLB and A-Rod’s side of argument with objective interview on WFAN.

In one of the better – and more objective – interview segments I’ve heard Mike Francesa do for WFAN in New York, the host first interviews Madden, then one of Alex’s lawyers (David Cornwall).

Madden paints an almost angry, accusing portrait of Rodriguez and implies that what he’s done is worse than mobster Whitey Bulger.

Cornwall, of course, contradicts everything Madden says.

The interviews can be listened to here.

“60 Minutes”, Heyman and Madden aren’t the only ones pitching a tent in MLB’s “camp”.  A quick Google search of “A-Rod camp” comes back with over 69 million hits.   One has to go to the fifteenth page before finding a link to something not actually referring to Rodriguez.

The MLB lap dogs are out in full force.

Rodriguez’s side is in full “spin control” as well.

On August 17th one of ARod‘s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, levied serious allegations at the Yankees, saying that the team hid MRI results from Rodriguez that revealed a torn labrum.  He also contends that the Yankees president, Randy Levine, went so far as to tell surgeon Dr. Brian T. Kelly that he didn’t want to see Alex on the field ever again.

Levine responded by saying that if that was true, why hasn’t A-Rod filed a grievance?  A very good point to be sure.

The problem is that Levine didn’t just stop there.  He went on to challenge Rodriguez to release his medical records, showing that the Yankees took good care of their controversial star.  He also expressed many other opinions about the entire situation – only throwing more logs onto the fire.

The actions of the third baseman’s legal team certainly appear to be that of someone trying to point a finger away from themself, and with each passing day another statement or opinion gets expressed that only cements that apparent strategy.

Lost in all the volleys is the actual sport of baseball.

2013 should be celebrated for the competitive season it has become.  Things like Yasiel Puig’s explosion into “the show” that jump-started a stumbling Los Angeles Dodgers season, the Pittsburgh Pirates actually leading their division this late in the season for the first time in over 20 years, and the spectacular promise that players like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen bring are all being overshadowed in the press by A-Rod’s PED controversy.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets

Andrew McCutchen and the rise of his Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the many great MLB stories being overshadowed by the A-Rod story.

I’m not saying that this fiasco should be ignored.  What I am saying is that baseball is bigger than it and better than it.   It should be treated as such by members of the media.

Let due process take its natural course and focus on what is happening between the lines.  Trust me, there are some much better stories there.

Randy Levine, shut up.  Focus on getting Robinson Cano re-signed and working with your general manager in getting the Yankees back on track.

randylevine

Randy Levine needs to work on making the Yankees better, not on getting into a pissing contest in the papers with A-Rod’s lawyers.

MLB writers, stop whoring yourselves.  You are better than that.  I know, I’ve read your stuff and believe that you have the ability to paint masterpieces with your words.  You don’t need to sell out in the name of getting site hits, or scoring points with MLB.

A-Rod, decide if you want to help the Yankees (as you claim) or destroy them.  If it’s the former, you need to put a muzzle on your lawyers and tell them to work quietly on giving you the best legal representation.  Let them know they are currently making fools of themselves and you.

Baseball deserves better than what all of you have given it.  In the last few weeks each of you has only added to the sport’s embarrassment.  Instead of adding to the growing disgust, try to give back to the sport that has given all of you livelihoods.

Baseball will endure this, as it has every other controversy to pound it broadside since its inception.  Let’s all just take a deep breath, step back and enjoy the sport for what it is.

Baseball is better than this.

Steve Skinner also writes for Bleacherreport and BleedingYankeeBlue.

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