Cleaning MLB is a dirty mess

We are at a moral crossroads in America as it relates to performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

A little strong? Yes. Over the top? You could say that.

But the game – the beautiful game of baseball – is being threatened by louts and cheats who couldn’t care less about the historical significance or integrity of what used to be America’s national pastime. And if I sound like “baseball old-timer guy,” it’s because I am.

Alex Rodriguez was suspended by MLB on Monday for 211 games. Then last night, he came out and played third base for the New York Yankees.

Alex Rodriguez played for the Yankees on Monday night, hours after he was suspended by MLB for 211 games. It’s true.

You can’t make this stuff up. While A-Rod appeals MLB’s suspension, the Yankees have no choice but to put him in the lineup and see what he can do. Plus, since Alex glows in the dark he can be useful if the lights go out during a game.

It was a surreal night as Rodriguez talked about what an honor it was to be back in a Yankees uniform and how he was ready to try to help his “brothers” on the field.

Oh, brother.

A-Rod was piling it on thick, for sure. The man is either innocent of all alleged violations or the most delusional person of the 21st century. And even though the competition is thick, I’m going with the latter.

I’m no one’s moral compass, trust me. But I do worry about our cheating ways, induced by mountains of cash that make it justifiable to do what it takes to get ahead. At some point, I do believe money becomes evil. And for a guy like A-Rod, who is still owed more than $100 million on the kind of contract that used to be issued only for the building of a fleet of aircraft carriers, the end apparently justifies the means.

I get the sense that his attorneys are telling him that while he’s going to sound like a blithering idiot saying the things he’s saying during this ordeal, the checks will still cash and the bank will still want his business.

The value of integrity, we have learned, does have a limit. There are still more than enough people willing to kiss the feet of these cheats and scoundrels that they can drown out the more sensible shouts from the masses.

I was sickened by the comments of Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, who said after the Yankees’ loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night that Rodriguez could help the team get better and that he was happy to have him back.

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson chimed in, too.

“I want him back with us,” Granderson said. “This is arguably one of the best hitters of all-time. Having him in the lineup is obviously going to be very positive for us.”

I need a shower.

All across baseball, players are speaking out against the known cheaters and substance abusers. Unless that known cheater or substance cheater is a teammate, apparently. Then everything’s OK because “he’s going to help us win games.”

Hogwash.

And I don’t want to hear about due process, either. While I acknowledge its importance, and understand that under baseball’s provisions with the player’s union Rodriguez has the opportunity to appeal his suspension, is there really any doubt?

How many times do we have to be snowed under before we realize we shouldn’t believe anything these cheaters tell us. They’re cheaters and liars who go to great lengths to keep from telling the truth. Until they’re finally forced to spill their guts to Oprah Winfrey or Katie Couric, lies beget lies.

Remember in December when the Toronto Blue Jays signed disgraced outfielder Melky Cabrera to a two-year, $16 million contract just a few months after he was suspended for 50 games by the San Francisco Giants. Cabrera, another violation of MLB’s PED rules, got right back into the game.

Kudos to the Giants for not re-instating Cabrera during the playoffs of World Series last season and for not offering him a new deal. But the Blue Jays couldn’t resist.

“We have said as an organization, we will give a player a second chance,” Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said at the time of the Cabrera signing. “Maybe not a third or a fourth, but we’ll definitely give a player a second chance.”

I’m all for second chances in most areas of life. But not with PEDs and not in baseball.

The rules aren’t harsh enough. A 50-game ban for a first offense isn’t serving as a detriment. There is too much money in the game and too many players are still willing to roll the dice.

I also hated hearing the remarks coming out of the Texas Rangers clubhouse in regard to fallen teammate Nelson Cruz, one of the players who was slammed with a 50-game suspension Monday.

General manager Jon Daniels said he would welcome Cruz back for the American League playoffs if things worked out, then passed the kid gloves to Rangers players.

Hours after Cruz accepted the suspension for violating the Joint Drug Agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, he tried to explain why he wouldn’t be with them the rest of the season. Cruz broke down while explaining that he ended up a Biogenesis of America client while trying to put weight back in the aftermath of a stomach infection following the 2011 World Series.

“It was hard,” Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus told the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve known Nelson since I came to this organization. He’s helped me in this game. I know who he is. But we are all going to make mistakes. He’s learned his lesson. And that’s all we can ask.

 

“But we are a family,” Andrus said. “We win as a family. We lose as a family. We stick together. … I definitely want him back.”

 

Second baseman Ian Kinsler seconded that emotion.

“Absolutely, we want him back,” Kinsler said. “When this is over, there is no reason he can’t return to the team in my eyes. I’m not here to judge him. He made a bad decision and he’s ready to accept responsibility for it. Everybody has different circumstances for doing what they do.”

 

Lots of mixed signals. Lots of confusion. Lots of anxiety.

If Major League Baseball is serious about cleaning up the game – and is there any doubt now that it is – penalties have to be more harsh. Compassion can’t be factored in with something this serious. There are players speaking out about how they want their game back and without all the PEDs that have permanently stained baseball.

Unless, apparently, it involves a teammate. Then maybe it’s OK because, well, that guy can “help us win.”