The PED era is clearly not over. In fact, even if every player in the game today were completely clean — and I have a franchise in Montreal to sell you if you believe that — the issue of baseball’s records still needs to be addressed. And Alex Rodriguez is Exhibit A(Rod) in this discussion.
When the Yankees resigned Exhibit A(Rod) to a 10-year contract extension back in 2007, they gave him a provision that each time he passed one of the all-time home run leaders — starting with Willie Mays and ending, presumably, with Barry Bonds — he would receive an additional $6 million. On top of all the money he already gets in salary — more than any other player in the game — an additional $6 million would be showered upon Exhibit A(Rod). I hope that none of those millions have been spoken for, because he’ll see none of it. Age, injury, diminishing skills and now PED allegations have conspired to freeze Alex Rodriguez as the number five home run hitter of all time.
So, what happens if Exhibit A (Rod) sees the writing on the wall and decides to retire? The clock will start ticking on Cooperstown, but should it? Why should he ever appear on a Hall of Fame ballot in the future? He’s had a great career, of course, but how many of his numbers were achieved with the help of Biogenesis and others? Can we ever know the truth? What can be done to reclaim the integrity of the game?
I have an idea: Throw him out of baseball altogether. Only the commissioner could do that, but in this case, it’s absolutely warranted. The rampant cheating that has gone on for decades in baseball — and let’s call PED use exactly that, cheating — has sullied the game tremendously. Whether or not the Yankees knew of what Exhibit A(Rod) was allegedly doing in Miami, the fact remains he knew what he was doing and was willing to reap the financial rewards that came his way as a result. And a 100-game suspension won’t change that one little bit.
And while the commissioner’s office is at it, there should also be an inquiry opened regarding Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and every other player who failed a drug test or has been named in connection to PED usage. No longer should the BBWAA be given the discretion as to whether steroid users can be admitted to the Hall of Fame. If Pete Rose‘s name never appeared on any Hall of Fame ballots, then neither should the names Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmiero or Manny Ramirez ever appear on similar ballots in the future.
What this action would do is provide a deterrent against players using short-cuts in the form of PEDs. This is an a powerful card that MLB has at its disposal, and they must not be shy about using it. Doing so would demonstrate — as forcefully as possible — that the game is serious about policing itself, and wants to bury this this issue once and for all. Otherwise, we can expect to see many more Biogenesis-type scandals in the future.