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Monday
Jan132014

We all love to hate

I never thought I'd be writing this post. At least not from this perspective...as a person who actually feels sympathy toward Alex Rodriguez.

That's because this summer, when it was announced that his name was tied to the Biogenesis investigation, I uttered the word every other baseball fan was saying:

"Finally."

We knew it was only a matter of time until his name was connected to steroids, and now Major League Baseball had what it needed to make their case against him. His past season's antics had turned his former fans into critics; which is why, when MLB announced they were suspending A-Rod for 211 games, few ran to his defense.

I mean, we're talking about STEROIDS in BASEBALL, after all. The thing that has tainted the reputation of America's pastime in this era, the thing that makes Hall of Fame voting so frustrating, the thing that steals the magic away from the summer of 1998...

I used to feel nostalgic when I looked at this picture. Now, I just feel cheated.

So I did not arrive at this opinion flippantly.

I suppose now would be a good time to fill non-baseball fans in on the current suspension policy for MLB. The first time a player is caught using steroids, they're suspended 50 games. That's 161 games less than the sentence A-Rod was handed for a first time violation.

So naturally, Rodriguez appealed. And this weekend, it was announced that his suspension would be redcued from 211 games to...

162 games.

Which is still 112 more than all other players caught using steroids for the first time.

Of course, MLB has an explanation for why they feel justified in handing down a possible career-ending suspension. I want to be on their side, because I hate that players cheat with PEDs...

...and because I love to watch someone suffer. Especially when I can enjoy it behind the pretense of a noble cause. From this vantage point, my enemies can have faces, and my hatred can be heroic.

But there is a difference between wanting to see justice served, and wishing for the demise of your enemies. Baseball doesn't want to just punish A-Rod...it wants to end his career. His suspension doesn't simply say, "Don't use steroids." If that was the message MLB was trying to send, 50 games would have been enough.

Instead, their message seems to be about power, and the reminder of who ultimately has it (and who doesn't). In Bud Selig's quest for one final heroic act, he has made A-Rod his archnemesis. While this battle may have been a small victory against steroids, it's a loss when it comes to the integrity of the game, where both PEDs and power-hungry officials have the ability to destroy baseball.

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