The word on the street is that Major League Baseball will make an announcement any day regarding suspensions for players involved in the BioGenesis scandal. I’ve been doing a slow burn here for several days right now, and it’s pertaining to the issue that Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter brought to the fore in an interview with USA Today yesterday.
Showalter noted what everyone outside of baseball has talked about, but no one within the sport —at least to the best of my knowledge—has dared mention. And it’s that the New York Yankees will be a clear beneficiary if Alex Rodriguez is banned from baseball. TheSportsNotebook’s own MLB coverage has been far too silent on the matter as well.
An A-Rod ban means the Yankees are off the hook for his $30 million per year contract that runs through 2017. Showalter said even the suspension of A-Rod through 2014 means that Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters likely ends up in Pinstripes when he hits the free agent market.
I’m not sure if buy that particular end result—the Yanks would still owe A-Rod $60 million and the contract would be back on the books for 2015—but the Oriole manager has finally said aloud, what people of me are quietly seething at—and it’s this preferential treatment for everything in Pinstripes.
Every team in baseball has signed players to bad contracts. The very organization which employs Showalter knows something about this. The Orioles of the late 1990s were one of the best teams in baseball, and decided to “take the next step” by throwing a huge long-term deal at Albert Belle.
The first baseman was one of the best sluggers in the game at the time. If you’re younger and haven’t heard of him—well, there’s a reason that this is probably the first time you remember the Orioles being good. Because when Belle went bad, the Orioles were crippled for a few years. Owner Peter Angelos continued to throw good money after bad and created downward spiral that wasn’t ended until the owner finally agreed to let the team bottom out and rebuild the farm system.
That little primer on recent Orioles history could probably be repeated with different names in most baseball markets. Toronto threw a huge deal at closer B.J. Ryan after the 2006 season and watched Ryan blow out his elbow. Every team in baseball makes these mistakes, and every one of them has had to pay the piper. Why do the Yankees get off the hook?
It was spring of 2009 when Alex Rodriguez first admitted to PED use. By that October, he was having his one legitimately outstanding postseason and leading the Yankees to a World Series title. There was not a single person in the Yankee organization, and I doubt precious few in the fan base, that raised any protest about his PED use then. So don’t give me any nonsense about being misled. You cheered him when he brought a championship, live with the consequences now.
There’s no question I hate seeing A-Rod benefit from his lifetime of cheating. What I would ideally like to see happen is that he doesn’t get paid, but the money the Yankees owe him is counted toward their payroll when it comes to computing the luxury tax they pay into the revenue sharing fund. This would still enable the Brothers Steinbrenner to pocket the money, but at least the team would have face the same restrictions everyone else in baseball has had to over bad contracts.
The idealist in me wants to see the money owed A-Rod and other convicted cheaters be forced into underwriting local baseball programs, complete with drug testing, for at-risk youth. I’m not sure there’s a legal way to pull that off. Or even to pull off the luxury tax count idea. But whatever the case, the Yankees should not be let off a hook that every other team in baseball has had to live with over the years.