Was Major League Baseball Right to Suspend Alex Rodriguez?

The star slugger can still play while his suspension is under appeal.

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez heads out to batting practice before a Class AA baseball game with the Trenton Thunder against the Reading Phillies, Monday, July 15, 2013, in Reading, Pa. Rodriguez is doing a rehab assignment with the Thunder recuperating from hip surgery.
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Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees' third basemen and the highest paid athlete in Major League Baseball, has been suspended through the end of the 2014 season, a total of 211 games, plus any 2013 playoff games the Yankees might play. "A-Rod" was charged with the use of performance enhancing drugs based on his association with Biogenesis, a boutique steroid dispensary for professional athletes disguised as an anti-aging clinic.

On Sunday, the New York Times reported how the initial leaks about Biogenesis  can be traced back to a disgruntled employee and investor in the company.  12 other players were accused and suspended by the league for 50 games for their association with the clinic, including San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and Detroit shortstop Jhohnny Peralta. Earlier, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was suspended for 65 games.

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MLB has initially threatened Rodriguez with a lifetime ban. Not only was that idea dropped, but Rodriguez will still be able to play while he appeals his suspension, meaning he will likely be in uniform for the Yankees tonight, making his season debut. Deadspin's Barry Petchesky explains why that's allowed to happen:

It appears that Bud Selig will not punish Rodriguez under the "best interests of baseball" clause in the [Collective Bargaining Agreement] that gives him sweeping powers, but would likely end up being challenged in court. Instead, A-Rod's suspension will come via the Joint Drug Agreement, and any appeal will be heard by baseball's arbitrator — exactly the system baseball and the union agreed upon.

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Why, after months of posturing, is baseball giving up on its "nuclear option?" The Post posits that Selig "reversed course out of concerns the tactic would intensify growing backlash that Selig is being particularly heavy handed with Rodriguez." A more cynical observer might wonder if the threat of a unilateral lifetime ban wasn't just a public negotiating tactic all along, designed to frighten Rodriguez into admitting wrongdoing and cutting a deal.

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ThinkProgress' Travis Waldron notes that the case also " could indicate how [Commissioner Bud] Selig may proceed on performance enhancing drugs from here on":

Some baseball insiders believe that using the Drug Agreement could ultimately work to Selig’s advantage by villainizing A-Rod even further during an appeals process and giving the commissioner legroom to make the argument that baseball’s drug policies are flawed. That would allow him to go to the union and ask for sweeping changes.

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It wouldn’t be surprising to see Selig take that tack, since he wants to keep pushing on PEDs during what is supposedly his final year in office to bolster his legacy on drugs and because he knows he has a large number of players, fans, and media on his side.

What do you think? Was the MLB right to suspend Alex Rodriguez? Take the poll and comment below.

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