Sunday, May 3, 2015
MLB TO BLAME FOR A-ROD, YANKS CONTROVERSY
The controversy between the New York Yankees and Alex Rodriquez over the $6 million
bonus the steroid king was contractually obligated to receive after tying Willie Mays on
the all-time list with 660 home runs is absurd.
The Yankees, the most valuable franchise in sports worth north of $3 billion, refuse to pay
A-Rod, a player who has earned more than $300 million in his career, because they feel
most of his home runs were belted while he was juiced up on PED's. They appear more than
willing to spend as much in legal fees as the amount they agreed to pay A-Rod for hitting
number 660 in the 10-year deal they lavished on him in 2007.
All this petty stuff over $6 million, which is chump change to a franchise that has a payroll
of more than $200. It's all silly, very silly. It's almost ironic too, since the Yankees increased
the value of their franchise by winning four World Series titles during the Steroid Era with
a number of players who fell under a cloud of suspicion. Now, their noses are all bent
out of a shape because they don't want to cough up a measly $6 million to player who
helped them win another World Series title--while on steroids, of course.
Who is to blame? The Yankees? A-Rod? Try Major League Baseball.
Thanks to turning a blind eye to the Steroid Era, nearly every significant record and milestone
became meaningless. 61, 755, and even 3,000 weren't all that special anymore. Baseball
used to be all about statistics the average fan could memorize. Boy, that sure changed,
because of steroids. Now, baseball is about OPS, WAR, and numbers that only sabremetric
geeks care about.
Commissioner Bud Selig and his cronies ducked their heads in the sand during the Steroid
Era because everybody was getting filthy rich. Thanks to the fraudulent home run duel
between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, baseball became hot once again.
Fans were flowing through turnstiles at a record rate and television paid MLB billions
to broadcast its games. Selig wasn't going to be the man who killed the golden goose, that's
for sure. Forget about all the great records and milestones, it was all about the money.
It always is.
McGwire broke the single-season home run record by 8, until Barry Bonds got jealous and
then hit the juice. He broke Big Mac's record by three in 2001. Before that season, Bonds
never hit more than 49 home runs then belts 73! Oh, sure, it had nothing to do with
Selig said his hands were tied thanks to a powerful Players Union that wasn't open to
re-doing the collective bargaining agreement to implement stronger testing and
penalties for players who got caught cheating.
So the steroid use went on and all these players kept compiling ridiculous numbers.
Former stick-figure Luis Gonzalez, who never hit more than 31 home runs in his
career, belted 57 home runs in 2001. 57! Hank Arron never hit more than 47 during any
season of his Hall of Fame career.
After all their pockets were lined with gold and baseball reaching the zenith of its
popularity, Selig started to get tough. Perhaps, a big nudge from Congress had something
to do with it. Congress all but mocked Selig for baseball's drug testing program and
his authority over it.
Following orders from Selig, George Mitchell undertook a 21-month investigation of
steroids in baseball. The Mitchell Report told the world what most everybody had long
known: baseball had a steroid problem. The casual needed only five minutes and an
examination of the head of Bonds to figure that out, but Selig was finally going to do
But for all new penalties and drug policies, it came way too late. All the significant
records became irrelevant. Milestones don't mean anything anymore. When Albert
Pujols hit his 500th career home run, nobody blinked. Jim Thome crushed his 600th
dinger and we barely noticed.
When A-Rod cranked out career home run number 660, there was no big celebration.
Willie Mays didn't go onto the field to congratulate him. 660 means something to only
one person: Alex Rodriquez. The Yankees only care about the $6 million figure they
have no intention of paying him.
The number 660, 6,000,000, and nearly everyone in between are all meaningless thanks
to Major League Baseball, which did nothing but look away when everybody was on
steroids and climbing the ladder of the record books at a frightening pace.
Major League Baseball has nobody to blame but themselves. Thanks, Bud.