Bud Selig is now officially my favorite major sports commissioner.
Roger Goodell? David Stern? Gary Bettman? Forget about it.
Major League Baseball’s top man has done the right thing by giving Alex Rodriguez — the one-time heir apparent to Barry Bonds as MLB’s so-called all-time home run king — a 211-game suspension. A-Rod is out for the rest of this season and all of 2014, depending on the outcome of his expected appeal. (I say “so-called” because Hank Aaron, whose mark Bonds surpassed, will remain the real HR king in my eyes; he belted 755 of ’em without cheating.)
Indeed, now A-Rod appears headed for another “heir apparent” role as it regards Bonds: the heir to the most soiled reputation among those believed to have cheated their way into baseball’s record books.
What makes this suspension so welcome is that Selig dropped the hammer on one of the game’s biggest stars. He didn’t reserve this harsh punishment for some utility player or pinch hitter. A-Rod has more than 600 home runs, fifth-most in baseball history. He was closing in on 3,000 base hits and a bunch of other standout numbers I don’t care to discuss today.
A-Rod’s sin has been his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic and its alleged dispensing of performance-enhancing drugs, such as human growth hormones, testosterone and other banned substances. A-Rod has been implicated in all of that, apparently with a mountain of evidence to back up the allegations.
Furthermore, Selig reportedly was steamed at Rodriguez’s insistence in calling all the shots in the negotiations with the baseball front office, which Selig would not tolerate.
Selig has demonstrated some serious manliness in standing up to the game’s great players. He’s already suspended Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun — who plays in Selig’s hometown — over the use of banned substances. And today, he handed out significant suspensions to a dozen other players apart from Rodriguez.
It’s that 211-game suspension that stands out, given Rodriguez’s standing among the current players and the fact that it likely means the end of the line for the star who’s approaching 40 — which makes him an “old man” in the world of big league baseball.
Major League Baseball’s commissioner is making an example of those who think they can get away with cheating — and is setting a sparkling example for other commissioners to follow.