Only four big leaguers have hit more home runs than Alex Rodriguez. But none has been hit with a longer suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. The severity of that sentence announced Monday — the rest of this season and all of next season — shows that the grand old game is resolved to finally rid itself of the modern PED plague that has sullied the names of such recent superstars as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.
Over the last several years, players’ rising unity against PEDs has facilitated Major League Baseball’s intensified campaign against them.
And the other 12 players suspended for the rest of this regular season on Monday accepted that punishment.
Yet while Mr. Rodriguez, aka “A-Rod,” is appealing his penalty, which could be reduced in arbitration, there’s nothing appealing about his far-fetched attempt to cast himself as a victim of this off-field drama.
Mr. Rodriguez, by far the biggest name among the players suspended Monday, is also the only one still playing, because his appeal grants him that right until it is resolved.
The New York Yankees third baseman, coming back from a serious hip injury, appeared in his first big-league game of the year Monday night in Chicago. Before that 8-1 loss to the White Sox, he said: “I’m fighting for my life” — and called his last seven months of renewed PED controversy “a nightmare.”
He ducked questions, though, about MLB’s Monday statement that he used “numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years” — and engaged “in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commission’s investigation.”
Keep in mind that Mr. Rodriguez long lied about past PED use until the release of test results prompted him to admit in 2009 that he had taken them from 2001-03.
Enough about A-Rod, who went 0-for-4 early last month during two injury-rehab games at Riley Park with our own Charleston RiverDogs, a Yankees farm team.
Yes, the spectacle of the highest paid player in baseball history whining about an apparently self-inflicted disgrace is hard to take.
Still, much more troubling is PEDs’ powerful allure to young athletes seeking an extra edge toward sporting fortune and fame by taking substances that pose serious medical hazards.
And that’s why it’s reassuring to see Major League Baseball at last stepping up to the plate against this threat to players’ health — and the national pastime’s credibility.