Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To Drown An Unsung Man

He said it because, well, it is after all what is always said after such an incident occurs.  Sunday night - after having hurled several consecutive pitches at Alex Rodriguez, Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster told the media swarm that was gathered around his locker post-game that he had not intended to hit A-Rod.  His pitches simply "got away" from him.  His manager, John Farrell, did what managers always do after such an incident occurs:  he backed up his pitcher.  The good folks tasked with the responsibility of taking care of the Sox at Fenway Park did what they always do after such an incident occurs and the inevitable post-mortem follows:  they stood at the ready with fire extinguishers and kept a sharp eye out for pants simply spontaneously combusting.  According to news reports, Dempster's actually did whereas Farrell's apparently smoked a little.

While I am a New York Yankees fan, I am not now nor have I ever been an Alex Rodriguez fan.  As a person who is not a "Hey World look at me!" kind of person in my day-to-day, I tend to gravitate away from cheering for athletes who are such persons.  Not a damn thing wrong with them doing it I suppose.  Simply not my preference.  Irrespective of his performance on the field, A-Rod has always been a player for whom I have found it difficult to root because of his seemingly pathological need to put himself first. 

I mention that simply because what appears in this space might make one think I am an A-Rod sympathizer or apologist.  I am neither.  But I am a believer in the need to treat one and all fairly.  For the past couple of weeks one thing that Alex Rodriguez has not been the recipient of is fair and equal treatment.  

I am not speaking now of either his 211 game suspension (which is currently under appeal) or his absurd, ever-escalating tit-for-tat war of words with the Yankees.  If he has done the things he is accused of having done, then the punishment he faces is that which he knew could be imposed upon him for doing what he is accused of having done.  Eyes wide open.  Big boy pants on.  He deserves whatever he gets.  

What he does not deserve, at least in my opinion, is to be the recipient of the angry, more than slightly obtuse barbs of his fellow members of the MLBPA.  I have no issue with a young player such as Nick Markakis of the Orioles or Mike Trout of the Angels expressing their opinion - globally - as to what fate should befall their brethren who cheat.  In fact, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the players who espouse such a position.  

However I have zero respect for the players - such as John Lackey of the Red Sox and Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay - and their repeated griping about how it is "wrong" that A-Rod be permitted to play for the Yankees while he is appealing his suspension.  Setting aside for a moment the gleeful smiles that have no doubt appeared on the face of every owner of every MLB team upon reading such comments, left to hope that at long last a crack has appeared in the heretofore impenetrable foundation of the the MLBPA, at the utter absence of wisdom attached to such comments, the position of Lackey, Longoria and others is wrong both factually and legally.  

Rodriguez's right to play while his appeal of the suspension is pending is not an exception.  It is rather the rule.  His right to play while his appeal is pending is a right that union chief Michael Weiner and the MLBPA collectively bargained for on behalf of its membership, including Rodriguez (and Lackey and Longoria by the way).  Had the rank-and-file not wanted the right to play while appealing punishment doled out by the Lords of Baseball they could have - and should have - directed their negotiating team not to negotiate for it.  If Lackey and Longoria wield influence within the MLBPA's membership then perhaps they can begin rallying their fellow members now to join them so that by the time the union's negotiating team sits down with MLB to negotiate the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, that team will be able to inform the owners' negotiating team that the membership has insisted upon surrendering that right.    

Unless and until they muster the intestinal fortitude to do so - and I have a $1.00 I am willing to wager against anyone, anywhere that a monkey will sooner emerge from my arse singing "Figaro" than any member of the MLPBA shall lead such a charge - they are reminded of the wise words of Mark Twain, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid then open it and remove all doubt.

Leave saying stupid things to A-Rod.  Or to his attorneys.  Or to any member of the Yankees front office.  If history is any guide, we shall not have long to wait.  


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