If you couldn't tell, we've held off mentioning Alex Rodriguez' name over the last couple of days. Why you ask? There isn't enough information to analyze it. This blog prides itself on analyzing hard data and credible news stories, and neither fall into the category of the recent PED news. With that said, this Rodriguez bubble has grown, and real MLB investigations are beginning, so perhaps it's time that we step away from our usual statistical analysis. Over the last couple of days, an article came out naming a few athletes involved in a PED investigation, Rodriguez being the biggest name. The third baseman, and just about everyone else named, denied the rumors. Now we have speculation about how the Yankees could get out of the $114 million left on his contract.
As far as we know, the actual evidence that exists are a few baseball players names in this doctor's journal. This is largely the reason why this story isn't a big deal. In journalism, you typically need two sources to confirm a story before actually reporting it, but in this case, we have one non-credible source that has a lot to gain from this sort of publicity.
In the past, I've been fairly outspoken on how I feel about journalistic ethics in baseball. If you've ever witnessed a trade, signing, or other baseball news break on Twitter, you'll know that it's madness, with reporters sometimes fighting over who broke the story first, and absolutely no accountability for misinformation. There are plenty of reporters that will break rumors or stories, only to have them denied with no repercussions. People continue to follow, and reporters continue to disrespect journalism standards.
Then there's the type of seriousness that writers dedicate to the game. The latest Hall of Fame vote, showed us how steroid accusations could keep the best players of all time outside of the museum they were destined for. It also showed that players like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza were guilty until proven innocent, in that their success during the steroid era was enough evidence to earmark them as steroid users. The morality of baseball in the media has become that of the writer's, rather than the player's.
Without hesitation, the media ran with the Alex Rodriguez story, despite the lack of evidence. He was a liar, a cheater, a loser, an idiot, immoral, and reckless. This was all after Rodriguez and others denied the charges. But sanity and patience don't sell newspapers, and they don't draw readers to your blog. The media's witch hunt for Rodriguez has to be one of the most embarrassing moves they've made in recent years. Of the dozens of pieces I read on Rodriguez, only Ken Davidoff's remained intelligent.
We won't know if Rodriguez is guilty until after MLB's investigation, but even so, Rodriguez' name has been thoroughly tainted by writers taking this game too seriously. One of the greatest players of all time, a player who single-handedly carried the team to their latest championship, is now one of the most hated men in New York. He might not have even done anything wrong!
From my perspective, I don't know if he's guilty or not. I won't comment too much on the morality of the situation, but Rodriguez has already earned his money, if he was taking PED's, it was to help the Yankees win. I don't know the type of pressure he's been under, but I guarantee that staying clean in that type of competition is a lot easier said than done. As Davidoff pointed out, baseball is far from this purist illusion that fans and writers are holding on to.
PED's continue to be a clear problem in baseball. No matter how much testing is done, how often it's done, and how advanced the tests are, someone will always try to cheat. I'm not an expert on the situation, but I've heard some famous sports doctors talk about refusing to give professional athletes legal and routine steroids and other PED's for surgeries or injuries, because they are banned by the MLB. In my opinion, these athletes should be allowed the best possible health care that they can receive, and if HGH or steroids or deer antler spray can make them healthier, there is no excuse to ban them. Baseball is a tough game to play every single day, so allow the legal PED's under strict doctor's supervision and impose stricter penalties on illegal drugs. In theory, we'd see healthier players and less illegal drug use.
Finally, if Rodriguez is found guilty, it hardly affects the Yankees in a negative way. The third baseman would be allowed to serve his 50 day suspension on the disabled list. Marketing-wise, his name has already been tainted by his use of PED's with the Rangers. There's also a slight chance that the team could escape his contract, under the assumption that he saw treatment outside of the organization's health policies.
The story isn't that big of a deal yet, but the media has blown it out of the water.