It’s Time

Published: August 1, 2013

By Jim Lichtman
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It’s time for Alex Rodriguez to go.

After too many chances and too many lies, it’s time for baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to step up, take a stand for integrity and impose a lifetime suspension on the Yankee star third baseman.

“Who does it hurt?” I asked in 2009 (Deconstructing the Champ).

“That’s the question that needs to be answered when examining the issue of athletes lying about the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. It’s a question that warrants meaningful examination by anyone who owns a team or sponsors an athletic event in which the public expects that athletes are not only giving it their physical best, but their ethical best, as well.”

In February of that year, Rodriguez came forward and admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003 after lying about it for six years.

Nine months later, I wrote of A-Rod’s apparent penitence, (Reconstructing the Champ).

“He followed through on his spring training pledge to work with Don Hooton, an anti-steroid activist whose program is aimed at high-school-age athletes,” The New York Times wrote. “As part of their agreement, Hooton would not reveal the extent of Rodriguez’s commitment other than to say they had visited several schools. He did recall sitting with Rodriguez at a restaurant in Tampa, Fla., last spring, soon after his public admission, the two of them trying to figure out what his message would be.”

“He kept using the word ‘balanced,’ ” Hooton said. “He said, ‘Don, when I wasn’t using steroids, I always felt more balanced, more whole, than when I did.’ I said, ‘Alex, that’s your message right there.’ Here we are, less than a year later, he’s back to hero status. It’s not all that complicated,” Hooton said.

However, Rodriguez couldn’t stick with the program, and now, after more time, more lies and a lot more evidence, A-Rod is awaiting his fate by Baseball’s highest court, Commissioner Bud Selig.

“I hope he does it,” former Commissioner Fay Vincent said. “It’s right for baseball. The harder he comes down, the better it is for baseball.”

“Seems to me A-Rod is trying to make a deal like Braun,” Vincent told Reuters. “I think he’s trying to make a good deal. I don’t think a good deal is do-able.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Besides all the obvious evidence, it would send a strong message that baseball is finally drawing a line in the sand and telling players, managers and others that they stand ready and willing to ban any player that consistently thumbs their nose at the rules of the game. The simple fact is Alex Rodriguez lied, and then told more lies to cover the first. His contrition turned out to be a pretense making any suspension meaningless.
More than that, it sends the worst message to youngsters: if you’re good enough, maintain a high-enough batting average, and the public loves you, baseball will tolerate your excess.

‘What infuriates me about Alex Rodriguez,” NY Times reader Michael Gillick wrote in 2009, “is that they even think of being compared to a true American hero like Henry Aaron. Aaron came up from worse than nothing, took unspeakable abuse all along the way, and set not only a record for the ages, but an example for every young boy and girl who would like to really do something with his or her life.”

While many fans and players point to baseball’s history of liars, cheaters and drug abusers, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s wrong. Despite the batting average, his relationship with fans, it’s time for serious consequences.

It’s time to send a different message. It’s time for Selig and baseball to do what’s right. As a matter of integrity, it’s time to ban Alex Rodriguez from baseball for life.

 

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