Selig drops the ball on A-Rod

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Posted: August 07, 2013

Major League Baseball, including bumbling uncle Bud Selig, deserves to be congratulated for pursuing the Biogenesis investigation that has resulted in the suspensions of 14 players for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Fully awake after a long nap during the height of baseball's drug boom, the game even managed to ferret out abuse by a member of the Phillies bullpen, which is a little depressing. The local team isn't even very good when it cheats.

Antonio Bastardo made himself good enough to stay in the big leagues, however, and that was the general idea. He will lose nearly $400,000 with the 50-game suspension, but also made about $1 million this season. In other words, he will finish well ahead for 2013, and way ahead during a career that was likely helped along by the use of PEDs.

Catching the cheaters isn't an exact science, and the drug-testing net that baseball is so proud of let these players swim right through, but the game did go after them hard, even if Selig again unfortunately stopped short of really doing the right thing.

Brokering the 50-game uncontested suspensions for the smaller fish was fine, and even negotiating a reduced 65-game suspension for Ryan Braun was acceptable in exchange for his confession, but baseball totally booted the Alex Rodriguez situation. As has been the case for the last 15 years, Selig was too cautious to complete the play properly.

There is no way on earth the commissioner of baseball should have set in motion an embarrassing circus of a situation like the one that took place in Chicago yesterday, where a recalcitrant Rodriguez, whose suspension doesn't begin until Thursday, was allowed to step on a baseball field.

This is a player who disgraced the game by not only cheating, but by attempting to keep baseball's investigators from obtaining evidence against him. He has fought baseball at every step, refused to negotiate an acceptable suspension even when confronted by the depth of the case against him, and will further fight by appealing the suspension to an arbitrator.

And Bud Selig, who had a very good option, merely shrugged. What's a commissioner to do?

Baseball's reward for letting Rodriguez walk all over it was getting to watch Rodriguez emerge from the Yankees' hotel Monday afternoon, eschew the waiting team bus and climb into a limo for his private trip to U.S. Cellular Field and his triumphant return to the roster.

On a day when baseball could have made this into a much different story - a sad day, without question, but a day for going forward strongly - instead the story was about a cheater that the game didn't have the guts to deal with strongly enough.

Instead of allowing Rodriguez to thumb his nose at baseball, Selig should have invoked his power to protect the best interests of the game. Rodriguez should have been barred from rejoining the team, barred from entering a major-league stadium until the arbitration process is complete.

Would it have been taking a chance to do so? Sure. The players association would have screamed and baseball would have left itself open to litigation down the road if Rodriguez were to emerge victorious from the arbitration.

Rodriguez was very smart, or very well advised, to previously accuse the Yankees and Major League Baseball of conspiring against him to keep him off the field and keep him from collecting the huge payout still owed to him in his contract.

Maybe that led Selig to tiptoe on Monday when the two sides couldn't come to an agreement. By suspending Rodriguez without the benefit of appeal, he could have added fuel to that conspiracy fire.

A strong commissioner would have taken the step because it was the right thing to do, however. Any means necessary to prevent the stupidity that took place in Chicago was the right thing to do. Protecting the dignity and the best interests of baseball should have been far more important than playing a game of risk management.

Selig's legacy is not changed because investigators were able to pick the low-hanging fruit of the Biogenesis probe. His legacy was confirmed by another instance of failing to have the courage to do more.

Bob Ford:

On A1

Alex Rodriguez among 13 players suspended for drug-policy violation.

Contact columnist Bob Ford at Follow @bobfordsports on Twitter.

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