Things aren’t looking good for everyone’s favorite struggling MLB superstar, and his future in the league. Major League Baseball was originally planning to release the list of suspensions stemming from the Biogenesis case yesterday, but reports of Rodriguez and the commissioner’s office being “far apart” on what his suspension should be is slowing the process. According to an article from ESPN.com, (link) one of the major hang up’s between the two sides is Arod’s desire to recoup at least some of the over 100 million dollars remaining on his contract with the Yankees. The amount of time missed is also still a major obstacle for the two sides, with Rodriguez claiming he will fight any suspension, and the league threatening a lifetime ban if he does so.
A recent poll done in an article on Sports Illustrated’s online site showed that almost 50 percent (46.56 to be exact) of the reader’s felt that Rodriguez should receive a lifetime ban (link). The next most popular option is through the end of the 2014 season, (at 18.5%) and just over 10 percent feel he should receive a 100 game ban. So according to these numbers approximately 75 percent of fans (who responded to this poll) want to see Rodriguez receive at least a 100 game ban, significantly more than what other offenders are expected to receive.
Personally, I selected the 100 game ban, the designated number of games for a players second offense, which is what I feel this should be considered. Word on the street is that the other eight players involved, who have yet to receive their suspensions, will be given 50 games a piece. Even Ryan Braun, who is widely accepted as being a repeat offender, (his first conviction was overturned on a technicality over how the sample was handled) was only suspended for the remainder of this season. Additionally, there are many players who have admitted steroid use, or who were listed on the Mitchell Report, and who have received no punishment to date.
So the question is, why are so many people in favor of a lifetime ban for Alex Rodriguez? Is it because he attempted to tamper with the investigation, and buy back evidence linking him to the Biogenesis clinic? (link to article) Is it because people think there should be a longer suspension for a player’s second offense? Or is it because people just don’t like him? I’d say the last answer is most likely the correct one, and that fact combined with his age, and diminished production, are what allows for baseball to even consider a suspension of that length. Maybe I’m biased, I am a Red Sox fan after all, and as a result not very interested in seeing the Yankees have a bunch of extra money all the sudden, but I don’t think Arod should receive a lifetime ban. I’ve never understood the logic behind giving one person a far bigger punishment than all the others when they committed the same crime. Just because Arod is a soft target, like Lance Armstrong was, doesn’t mean they should be used as scapegoats to prove how serious their sports are about getting clean. The clock is ticking, by this time tomorrow we could very well know what the fate of Alex Rodriguez will be, and while I won’t be sad if his time is up, I don’t feel that would be the right decision for baseball.
There have been two times in my life I’ve land a very highly regarded fantasy player only to end up being totally bummed out. The first was in 2009 with LaDainian Tomlinson, the second was this year with Albert Pujols. I’ve chronically been stuck with bad draft position in all sports, and remember being stoked to finally get the first pick and land Tomlinson in 2009. Too bad he finished with under a thousand all-purpose yards and just 12 TD’s. A far cry from the 32 touchdowns and over 2.000 all purpose yards from the 2006 season that were dancing in my head when I picked him. The season was the beginning of the end for Tomlinson. After the 2009 season he headed off to the New York Jets, and was out of the league by 2011. Now I’m well aware that NFL running backs have the shortest shelf life of any position in pro sports, and that it’s not at all uncommon for a player’s career to go down hill in a hurry. That’s why I didn’t pick Adrian Peterson this past season. Clearly I’m a genius. (Right now I’m planning to finally land Peterson around 2015, the same year I plan to finally get Kobe, assuming he’s still around).
Ok, so running a little behind schedule on the weekly updates, but needed to wait for something good to happen before I posted about the sox again. It took extra innings, but things finally got back on track last night when Stephen Drew hit a game winning double in the 11th inning to snap the longest losing streak of the year for Boston. The game also featured some redemption for Clay Mortensen, who pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to close out the game, and to make up for the game winning hit he served up to Adrian Beltre the night before. Another positive take away from last night is David Ortiz hit a double in the 8th inning to keep his hitting streak alive, currently at a career long 26 games. Some negatives from last night. For anyone who missed it, Clay Buchholz, who has been looking like the staff ace so far this season, has some under some scrutiny for the past week. Last Wednesday during a masterful 7 inning, 2 hit, 8 k performance from Buchholz, Blue Jays announcer Jack Morris accused Buchholz of throwing a spit ball (a violation of major league rules). Buchholz has stated that he is using a combination of moisture from his hair, (which he wets down between innings) and rosin on his forearm (this combination shouldn’t be a rules violation). So far Buchholz has not faced on punishment, and it doesn’t seem apparent that there is any coming, but it seems like the accusations may have been enough to throw off the pitchers mental game. Of course even the best pitchers have an off night, and Buchholz performance last night certainly wasn’t terrible (he went 6 innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits while striking out 9), so it may be nothing to worry about. Finally for anyone who may be concerned about Buchholz possible cheating, I refer you to this video of Dennis Eckersley telling Jack Morris (and other detractors) to “zip it” (amongst other things). (On a side note, Eck was my favorite player growing up, and he still never disappoints me, his post game stuff is just gold).
All is well in the nation on this lovely Sunday afternoon, as the Red Sox have completed their first 4 game sweep since July of 2011, and in doing so tied the franchise record for wins in April. Today also marked the triumphant return of John Lackey, who gave up just one run through six innings of work in his first start back after a bicep injury that sidelined him on April 6th. Today’s game even featured some offensive support from the struggling Stephen Drew, (hitting just .146) his 2 run triple in the 4th gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead. Today’s game also featured another strong performance from little used Mike Carp, who went 2-3 with a double and walk, and who is now hitting .455 for the season with 7 of his 10 hits going for extra bases. Finally, David Ortiz has continued to look like David Ortiz circa 2006 (only with a better BA). In the 8 games since his return, Ortiz is hitting .516 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI’s (and this is coming from a guy who claims to not feel comfortable at the plate yet).
I promise I’m not bitter (not much anyways). Saturday night Syracuse came within a few missed calls and missed jump shots from playing for the national championship. It’s hard to say what would have happened if they made it to Monday nights game. Many feel Louisville was a team of destiny, particularly after the horrific injury to Kevin Ware. But, they are also a team that lost to Syracuse earlier this season when they held the number one ranking (and with Syracuse missing key player James Southerland). If the two teams had played on Monday it would have been the fourth meeting between the two this season, (with Louisville holding a 2-1 edge in the series) and it is a well documented fact that it is extremely difficult to beat a team three times in one season (just ask Georgetown). Personally I liked our chances in the title game, but alas it wasn’t meant to be. I won’t blame the refs, even though they certainly didn’t help. Outside of a great performance by CJ Fair, and a late surge by Brandon Triche, the offense was fairly anemic the entire game. Carter-Williams, who had played brilliantly up to this point in the tournament disappeared, (he and Burke essentially cancelled each other out and were non-factors) scoring just 2 points on 1-6 shooting and dishing only 2 assists in comparison to 5 turnovers. Southerland also picked the wrong time to cool off, going just 2-9 from the field and 1-5 from 3 point range after being red-hot coming into the tourney (granted his one three was a huge shot that brought the deficit to 1 with 42 seconds remaining). Following Southerland’s made three, Trey Burke hit one of two from the line making the score 58-56 with 28 seconds to go, that’s when the refs decided it was their time to impact the game. The scene pictured above unfolded. Triche drove to the basket, and collided with Michigan’s Jordan Morgan, the refs called a charge, Triche fouled out, and with the DQ of Carter Williams roughly a minute earlier, the game was essentially over. Upon review, all but a few commentators (I’m looking at you Dickie V.) agreed the refs got the call wrong, this was a block, not a charge. Michigan again went only 1 of 2 from the line and left the door opened for Syracuse to tie it up, but things looked bleak. With Triche and Carter-Williams both on the bench, the game was left up to seldom used freshmen Trevor Cooney. The play was supposed to go to Southerland, but when Cooney couldn’t get him the ball, he instead drove to the basket and threw up a shot that missed rather badly. Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. rebounded the ball,and in classic Michigan fashion committed a travel that wasn’t called (I’m looking at you Chris Webber). Hardaway heaved the ball ahead to Jordan Morgan for a dunk as time expired. Game over, 61-56 Michigan. Honestly, for a team that few if any expected to get this far, it’s hard to be too heart broken over this loss. It did, however, feel like there was some justice in the world when Michigan was the victim of some bad officiating in the title game (a clear goal-tend by Gorgui Dieng in the first half, and the much talked about Trey Burke block late in the game).
Actually after this game, an 8-2 victory for Boston, I may be ready to bump them all the way up to third place in my season predictions. It was nice to see a victory on opening day for the red sox who have opened the last two seasons 0-6. New members to the starting lineup all looked solid (with the exception of Napoli who went 0-5). Jackie Bradley Jr. was 0-2 but had 3 walks, 2 runs scored and an RBI, and sticking with the youth movement Jose Iglesias went 3-5 with a run scored and an RBI for Boston. Shane Victorino also had a solid game going 2-6 with 3 RBI’s, and was a key player when the Red Sox pulled ahead during the second inning. (Side note on Victorino, he seems to wear a mouth guard while playing in the field, one of the stranger things I’ve seen, especially for an outfielder. He does have pretty nice teeth tough, so whatever works for you). Jon Lester had a solid outing with one shaky inning (the 4th, which has been his kryptonite recently, he had an ERA of 6.75 in the 4th last season) to pick up his first win of the season. The bullpen also looked much improved, pitching four scoreless innings. The only weak spot was Andrew Miller who gave up two walks, before regaining his control and striking out the next two batters in the 7th. Joba Chamberlain was probably happy that a rain storm was already emptying Yankee Stadium when he entered the game. Chamberlain only pitched 2/3rd’s of an inning, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 3 earned runs in the 9th to put the game out of reach for the weakened Yankees roster.
Overall a nice start for the Red Sox after a reason most fans would like to forget. The teams have the day off tomorrow before returning to action Wednesday night in the Bronx. (Game will pit Clay Buchholz against Hiroki Kuroda with a 7 pm start time). Positive notes for the Yankees, umm… Martha Stewart was there, so were Donald Trump and Regis (basically every annoying New York celebrity). Sorry that’s all I’ve got Yankees fans, but who doesn’t feel better just knowing Martha Stewart is around, focus on that and I’ll see you sometime later in the week for another recap.