No one should feel sorry for Rodriguez. He brought a mountain of humiliation on himself, whether he admits that or not.
An acknowledged steroid user in his days with the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez professed to be a changed man when he came to the Yankees. Maybe it was the pressure to succeed in New York or perhaps trying to survive the grind of a long season, but he turned to illegal substances – drugs, lozenges and injections – to help him perform at a peak level.
It also enabled him to earn a salary unequaled in the history of professional baseball. One calculation had him earning $17,000 per inning. Given his contract with the Yankees that runs through 2017, he’s owed another $60 million or so.
Money might buy all the luxuries life offers, but there’s not much he can do to save his reputation. The “60 Minutes” interview with Anthony Bosch, founder of a South Florida anti-aging clinic named Biogeneis, took care of that. Bosch described in detail a plan to deliver banned substances to Rodriguez. It was an ugly, sleazy partnership.
So one-sided was the arbitrator's ruling that even Rodriquez’s own union had good words for the process. “We respect the collectively-bargaining process that led to the decision,” the players' association said in a prepared statement.
One can only hope this ruling – and those given to other players last summer – leads to a day when illegal substances are no longer part of the game. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but players who break rules not only expose themselves to public ridicule, they further damage a game they profess to love.
The message of the Rodriguez ruling is that drug use is cheating and won’t be accepted in professional baseball. Hopefully those with the ability to hit, run and throw will understand its significance. If they don’t, they will find themselves pushed out of a game that made them rich and famous.
Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.