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Cut a deal with A-Rod

Mike Ginocchio | Sunday, November 24, 2013

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a baseball fan. And I don’t find it boring like some people might (understandably), but that’s another column for another time. That’s why, despite how much it hurts, this needs to be said:
Major League Baseball needs to stop mudslinging with Alex Rodriguez.
Look, I despise A-Rod. Not enough to call him A-Roid, or A-Fraud or whatever other “creative” nicknames we’ve come up with over the years as a play on his regular nickname, but close. I think he’s a whiny little kid in a grown man’s body who resorts to underhanded means in order to get his way. But I also think the MLB’s current case against him is absolutely not worth it.
In case you haven’t heard, Rodriguez was suspended for a whopping 211 games because he was connected to a treatment clinic that may have provided him with illegal steroids in order to gain an unfair competitive advantage. This, along with Rodriguez’s admission that he used steroids back around 2003, gave MLB the justification they needed for the ban. But then, Rodriguez appealed his suspension.
No longer does this exchange seem like something befitting coverage from ESPN. The catty, back-and-forth tit for tat between Rodriguez and the MLB (well, both parties’ lawyers, to be honest) resembles something you might see covered on TMZ.
And this is the last thing baseball needs, because it is a public relations nightmare.
If the absolute nadir of the economic recession was the year 2008, then 2005 was the nadir for baseball, with players called in front of Congress to explain allegations of steroid abuse. It left an ugly mark on the game’s credibility, and baseball has spent years slowly rebuilding its fans’ trust. There are signs that it is working, because the past couple of seasons have featured some truly electrifying playoff series, and even some of the more casual fans have been reeled back in.
But now, this Rodriguez issue threatens that very fragile bond the game has reformed with fans. Because in the wake of growing concern over whether we as a nation should truly be as entertained by football as we are, given the health and social risks it poses, baseball stands to catch up to the NFL in popularity. But if all we fans hear about from baseball is the latest hissy comment from Rodriguez or his lawyers, or the doddering response from the commissioner’s office, it’s going to make people really annoyed.
Break a deal with him. Reduce his suspension. Offer monetary compensation. Do whatever it takes. Alex Rodriguez is a narcissist, and dealing with him is surely driving the MLB crazy. But it would be better to deal with this situation as soon as possible, so that his “all about me” attitude doesn’t drag down the entire game with him.