MacArthur: We will benefit from the Rodriguez appeal

Scott MacArthur
8/6/2013 9:13:09 AM
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SEATTLE, Washington - Thanks to Alex Rodriguez – that's not a typo – we will get a better understanding of the depths of the mess caused by Biogenesis and its ballplayer clients.

There isn't much sympathy for the Yankees' third baseman, a fallen star, but players do support A-Rod's right to play as he appeals a 211-game suspension – through the 2014 season – which is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

“He says he feels good to play, I mean I don't know too much about what's going on there but if he feels like he wants to play and they let him play I don't see why not,” said Blue Jays' shortstop Jose Reyes. “Be on the field, play baseball and do what he loves to do. From the other stuff, I don't know what's going to happen to be honest with you.”

It could be that Reyes has but a passing interest in the Rodriguez-Major League Baseball-Biogenesis saga or, perhaps, he's on to something.

We really don't know how this will play out. Rodriguez intends to appeal, a legal process which could take weeks or months and keep him on the field until an independent arbitrator renders a ruling.

This is good and it will be healthy for the game. Theatre aside, maybe we'll actually learn of what's gone on here. Unlike about a dozen others who swallowed their pride, signed off on statements and disappeared to serve 50-game suspensions, Rodriguez intends to defend his honour.

The fact he has no honour as an already admitted drug cheat and as a nauseating narcissist is irrelevant. His will to fight opens the entire process to greater scrutiny.

Did Rodriguez attempt to purchase the documents linking him to Biogenesis from Tony Bosch, the founder of the now-defunct anti-aging clinic? Or did Bosch, facing financial ruin after a disgruntled employee went public about Biogenesis' peddling of PEDs, attempt to extort money from Rodriguez in exchange for the papers?

Will an arbitrator view Bosch as a credible witness considering Major League Baseball threatened to sue him if he didn't cooperate?

Was Rodriguez not only a user of Biogenesis product but also a recruiter, supplying the clinic with additional clients from the baseball world?

These questions will – or at least should – be answered because Rodriguez, regardless of motive, has the gumption to fight.

The Players' Association, which backs a cleaner game on behalf of members who are fed up with others' drug use, is supporting A-Rod's appeal.

Players like Mark DeRosa, who want a clean game, also see the value in the appeals process.

“I know it's something that we've got to address,” said veteran Mark DeRosa. “I just think that when we sit down in the offseason or when that Players' Association meetings get together I'm sure there are going to be a lot of opinions on a lot of ways to just, I don't want to say to make it easier, just make it a one shot lifetime ban, see ya later and then no one will ever do it again. I don't know if that's the answer. I'm sure there will be a lot of things discussed.”

As a player who broke into the big leagues in the late 1990s, the height of steroid use in the game, DeRosa is bothered that drug use continues to be a hot topic.

“Just very tiring to listen to,” he said.

Tigers' shortstop Jhonny Peralta settled for a 50-game suspension. Should Detroit make the playoffs, he'll be eligible to return to the lineup at that time. DeRosa, a teammate of Peralta's for part of the 2009 season, was shaken by the news.

“Peralta's the toughest one for me,” he said. “I shared a locker next to him in Cleveland. Shared a locker next to him all of spring training and the first half of the season and I know him, I know his wife, I know his kids, I know his family so that's shocking. No it won't change my perspective of him as a person. Definitely you question some things but I'd like to think I know who the real guy is.”

The unknown seems to bothers players most. No doubt, there's a washed up pitcher somewhere who didn't make it because drug users were rapping his offerings over outfield walls in minor league parks across the country.

Surely there's a dirty player in the majors who beat out a minor league teammate, at the same position, because the other guy was clean.

Greats like Ryan Braun, the guy the Brewers chose to give a nine-figure contract instead of Prince Fielder, may no longer be great without the drugs.

“I don't think these people realize it's affected way more than just them,” said DeRosa.

However well intentioned his comment, DeRosa surely realizes a dirty player who's stashed away millions of dollars likely has fewer regrets about his career than the clean scrub who never made the big time and wonders how different his bank account would be if he'd cheated.

As for the commissioner, Bud Selig's war on drugs is inconsistent with the passive stance he took as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds rewrote record books and did all but turn green in transforming into Incredible Hulk-like characters.

Maybe back then he didn't care, just thankful for renewed interest in the game years after the players' strike of 1994 wiped out a World Series and public appetite for the sport.

Maybe back then he didn't know, ignorant like so many of the rest of us who want so badly to believe the sports we watch are pure.

Either way, this pursuit feels better suited to the man who will succeed Selig.

As for A-Rod, it's the strangest thing. So obsessed is he with his legacy and his money owed that he's willing to fight.

His motive is personal. It always is. The difference, in this instance, is that baseball fans stand to benefit.

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