Friday is Playoffs D-Day. Four playoff games. Twelve-plus hours of baseball. Put on the Depends and stack the beef jerky; you don't have to move for a while. It's one of the purest baseball days of the year.
And here we are, talking about Alex Rodriguez and a lawsuit.
What a dingus.
But Alex Rodriguez is suing Major League Baseball, and if you're looking for a little light reading, here's 33 pages of interesting:
Hat-tip to Deadspin for the documents, and there's also a pretty good breakdown there, too. In brief: If MLB did half of what they're accused, they wouldn't be able to make it right through the "jointly agreed upon grievance process" of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That's MLB's main complaint in their response to the suit: The grievance process worked for everyone just fine in the past, so why not now?
Because this is different. This lawsuit has:
- Illicit payoffs!
- Clandestine meetings!
It reads like Ben Stein wrote Kill Bill. This is Major League Baseball's dull, methodical tale of revenge. It's MLB as the titular character with the vendetta. For all of the shady things MLB has done or been a part of over the last 100 years, I don't recall reading about them going so far just to make an example out of someone. Remember this passage from Bob Nightengale about Ryan Braun?
They want Braun — badly. They have been relentless in their pursuit, trying to make life as miserable as possible for him.
I was critical of that at the time. Why spend so much time and effort to bring down one of the game's bigger stars? What was the upside? Where was the public-relations benefit? Were they actively trying to draw more attention to performance-enhancing drugs in baseball?
But I think MLB came out ahead on that one. No one really believed Braun was the victim of a vast, urine-related conspiracy. He was probably guilty, and when MLB suspended him for the rest of the season, it made them seem tough on crime, so to speak. Score one for Bud.
They didn't do as well with A-Rod. This is a hot mess, a distraction standing on the shoulders of horrible publicity. And after reading the lawsuit, assuming there are kernels of truth sprinkled throughout, I have a question for Major League Baseball:
What in the hell did you think was going to happen?
Seriously. How did this play out in MLB's fantasies? Probably like the Braun situation. Complete capitulation to avoid a bigger punishment. Except A-Rod is ... special. He's the Oblivious Ted DiBase. Rodriguez doesn't know any better. He has people to tell him what to think and do. And they're telling him to fight. Maybe they're right. Maybe considering Rodriguez's age and proximity to the home-run record, there was more to lose with a year off than Braun.
But somewhere along the way, someone at MLB thought, no, we're going for it all. We want Rodriguez to wear the cone of shame, and we want him to burn for this. The best-case scenario was something like Braun. The worst-case scenario was ... well, we're living it. The former scenario wasn't worth the latter.
Think about the best- and worst-case scenarios if MLB went after A-Rod without the goal of proving a point, making an example, and hoisting Rodriguez's dingus head up for the baseball world to see. They don't have the trophy in the best-case scenario, but there was still a strong chance they could have punished A-Rod and looked tough on PEDs. And the worst-case scenario was him getting off the hook. Which is still a part of the worst-case scenario today. But there would have been fewer headlines, fewer dramatic-chipmunk moments along the way.
The whole Biogenesis investigation seems like a calculated effort to put heads on pikes. It wasn't about punishing players who committed wrongs; it was about making a big, big show about it. And, lookie here, MLB got a big, big show. We already knew A-Rod would slap the ball out of a glove when he was cornered. Why wouldn't MLB figure he was going to fight like a bitey wolverine when he was cornered?
What a mess. And instead of watching Gerrit Cole throw 98 past Cardinals hitters, this is what people are paying attention to. Either this is exactly what MLB wanted, or somebody made a huge miscalculation.