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Jacobsen: A-Rod should not be on the field (Aug. 27)

Vicky Jacobsen | Sunday, August 25, 2013

If he weren’t so detestable, what Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is doing would be impressive, at least in the “How is he pulling this off?” sense of the word. You would think that a man whose general manager won’t speak to him, who so irks opponents that one plunked him just for having the temerity to come to bat and who has been handed a 211-game suspension by Major League Baseball would not be the starting third baseman for the New York Yankees. (And if you believe his lawyer, the Yankees also conspired to sabotage A-Rod’s health so that he couldn’t play anymore. So there’s that.) And yet, everyone’s least-favorite Yankee will likely be in the starting lineup when New York faces the Toronto Blue Jays tonight, just as he has been since he returned from the disabled list earlier this month.

But he shouldn’t be.

I understand that Bud Selig’s investigators are in a tight spot. According to the collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association, athletes who have been suspended are allowed to play while appealing (apparently, this even applies to players who are less popular than Congress.) When appeals take a day or two, this rule is fair enough. But for reasons that have not been explained to my satisfaction, Rodriguez’s appeal has been put on hold until the season is over. We have been told this is because the appeal will be long and complicated and drawn out (which is pretty rich, considering the original Biogenesis investigation that led to suspensions for Rodriguez and 13 other baseball players started back in January.) Sorry, but this is not the sort of situation that can wait.

Why should we expect fans to care about wins or losses when a man who admitted to cheating in the past and is accused of cheating again is allowed to play in games that affect the pennant race? If Major League Baseball has decided that Rodriguez has done something bad enough to warrant banishment from baseball for over a season, why is it okay for him to face pitchers who are presumably clean?

Plenty of baseball fans say they now feel uneasy watching highlights of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run race in 1998. I’ve read too many editorials from journalists who admit they should have realized something was up when some of the game’s biggest stars began to resemble action figures designed for eight-year-old boys. We ask ourselves how it took about two decades before baseball did anything to get PEDs out of the league. It’s bad enough that we were once fooled by steroid users. How is Major League Baseball going to explain that it had a pretty good idea of what Rodriguez was up to but put off the appeal because, you know, it’s complicated?

A-Rod and his associates have spent plenty of time accusing, denying and generally feuding this summer. His camp made so much news that there were times when NFL training camp became a secondary story, a feat I thought I might not live to see. If they are willing to spent this much time and effort on the sports talk show circuit, they clearly have some time to devote to an appeal.

Rodriguez has shown again and again that he doesn’t respect his fellow baseball players or the game itself. He became involved in Biogenesis even after an “emotional” apology for his earlier PED use. I guess he figured that his opponents didn’t deserve fair play and that journalists and Major League Baseball were too dumb to find out. I know those unwritten rules of baseball can seem juvenile and bewildering to those of us outside the game, but pretty much every other baseball player figured out that knocking the ball out of the glove of a fielder is uncouth. Not A-Rod. And according to a 60 Minutes report, when Rodriguez found out that he was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal, he made sure to bring down other players with him, including his teammate Francisco Cervelli

It seems that A-Rod finds all the rules and courtesies of baseball below him. Well, there’s one way to make sure that he doesn’t have to worry about them: hold his appeal already and if his defense is not compelling, kick him out until 2015. 

What are we waiting for?

Contact Victoria Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.