If the latest report proves true, New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is facing a lifetime ban from baseball over accusations he was supplied performance enhancing drugs by the same Miami "anti-aging" clinic that just took down Ryan Braun for the rest of this season.
Rodriguez is currently rehabbing a nagging hip injury in AAA, waiting for the Yankees to call him up again soon. But off the field, the game's highest paid player and a longtime favorite to smash every record in the book could go the way of Pete Rose if CBS Evening News's Jim Axelrod's source is right. A team executive told CBS that Major League Baseball is considering a lifetime ban as Alex Rodriguez's punishment over his role in the Biogenesis steroid scandal. Per Axelrod:
"They have an overwhelming amount of evidence on this guy showing multiple years of usage," the executive said. "He's met with Major League Baseball. He's seen the evidence. He is staring down a penalty much, much harsher than Braun's. It could be years... or even a lifetime suspension."
Only a handful of lifetime bans handed out by the MLB brass have stuck. But the crimes A-Rod is accused of are so wrong, so dastardly and so devious that the flaming sword of Bud Selig may come down this hard on the game's highest-played and well-known figure. Let's take a quick trip through the last eight months of A-Rod's life illuminating how we have arrived at this point.
- At the end of January, a Miami New Times investigation of the now-infamous Biogenesis clinic accused Alex Rodriguez of using HGH and other performance enhancing drugs regularly from 2009 to 2012. Rodriguez had publicly admitted using PEDs while playing with the Texas Rangers but denied using since signing with the Yankees. Some of the other players named in the investigation: Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon. This was big.
- A pre-season New York Times profile revealed the Yankees had attempted to void their $265 million in guaranteed salary mammoth contract with Rodriguez after the new PED allegations came to light. The Yankees have been quietly hoping to rid themselves of A-Rod's contract because of some very obvious financial benefits:
The Yankees, who have reached the postseason in 17 of the last 18 years, are in a financial bind. The team wants to trim its payroll — which is about $220 million for 2013 — to below $189 million for the 2014 season in order to qualify for millions of dollars in rebates and luxury-tax savings while still fielding a championship-caliber team. The average annual value of the remaining years on Rodriguez’s contract is $22.8 million.
Alas, the collective bargaining agreement forbids teams from voiding contracts for PED use.
- In April, The New York Times and the New York Daily News reported Anthony Bosch, the owner of the Biogenesis clinic, auctioned incriminating documents to A-Rod and Major League Baseball with the Yankee coming out as the eventual winner. Purchasing the documents that allegedly included signatures from major players involved in the scandal with intent to destroy them and avoid further persecution only angered Major League officials more.
- But this is what happens when you're dealing with a rat: it bites the hand that feeds it. In June, the Daily News reported Bosch reached out to Alex Rodriguez for financial help after MLB filed a lawsuit against him for providing players with illegal PEDs. Rodriguez told Bosch to get lost, so the former clinic owner turned on A-Rod and cut deal. Bosch allegedly agreed to cooperate with the MLB investigation and snitch on over twelve players who bought HGH and other drugs from his Miami clinic, giving the league more than enough evidence to suspend Braun and A-Rod.
- On July 12, A-Rod met with Major League Baseball officials to discuss the Biogenesis investigation.
- On July 22, Ryan Braun is suspended for the remainder of the baseball season for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. His punishment amounts to a total of 65 games. Whispers of A-Rod's impending harsh suspension begin.
- Two conflicting reports emerge about MLB's A-Rod investigation. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports Rodriguez is facing a suspension of at least 100 games, but unlike Ryan Braun the Yankee slugger is refusing to cut a deal. But ESPN's Wallace Matthews and T.J. Quinn report Rodriguez is trying to bargain with league officials to limit his suspension.
- Jim Axelrod cites a team executive saying a lifetime suspension from baseball is on the table.
And that's how far A-Rod has fallen in the last eight months, the extent of the league's investigation and evidence into his alleged PED use and then his clumsy attempts to cover his tracks. If the league can prove he used PEDs over the last four years and then tried to tamper with the investigation, they will come down hard on the Yankee third basement with the might of 1000 suns. Rodriguez will go from poster boy to ritual PED sacrifice -- a head on stick proving the league is cracking down on PED use -- faster than a Rodriguez home run could fly over the left field wall in Yankee stadium.