It is difficult not to wonder if rehabbing Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and All-Star Ryan Braun are going to get nailed by Major League Baseball some way, some how because their names came up during an investigation of the Miami Biogenesis of America clinic.
This is not the place where you want your name listed as a client if you are playing a sport that is scrutinizing its players for taking performance-enhancing drugs. There are many more desirable lists for your name to turn up on, such as a party list at Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s place, a state dinner at the White House, or the special inductee tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For the most part it has been quiet since a South Florida weekly newspaper ran a January expose about a number of baseball players, major and minor leaguers, being listed among the clinic owner’s clients. Then the other day baseball suspended Detroit Tigers minor leaguer Cesar Carrillo for 100 games because of his connection to the clinic.
What this shows is that the sport is not ignoring this issue, but acting with deliberate speed checking out individuals before acting. Minor leaguers have less power than major leaguers do because of union protection. But it seems certain that Major League Baseball is not going to blow off this incident without close looks at any big leaguers mentioned no matter what type of public statements they issue.
It was not so very long ago that Rodriguez was the brightest light in the game. A Most Valuable Player, a perpetual All-Star, someone compiling statistics impressive enough to propel him not only into the Hall of Fame, but into the discussion of who might be the best player of all time. Then his body started falling apart. Then he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs for a while. Then he couldn’t hit his weight in the playoffs.
After career-threatening hip surgery Rodriguez pretty much went into seclusion, only to have his retreat for rehab and promise to come back to action later this season interrupted by the Biogenesis issue. Known as an anti-aging clinic, it’s hard to think of a ballplayer more in need of anti-aging chemicals than the 37-year-old Rodriguez right now.
Career already hanging by a thread because of injury, despite his pledge to return, not retire, Rodriguez could get slapped around by MLB and given some kind of suspension penalty as an offshoot of this Miami thing.
Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers’ left-fielder, was the National League Most Valuable Player in 2011 and then in the off-season was accused of violating baseball’s drug rules. He appealed, saying it was a misunderstanding, and to the astonishment of all watchers of these types of cases he actually beat the rap by winning the appeal. It was the first time that ever happened. So Braun played a full schedule in 2012 and again was a star.
Above all what Braun needed to do was to avoid ever having drug-related suspicion cast his way again. But now here he is back on baseball’s radar screen. It is pretty to easy to see baseball officials salivating over a second chance to pin his hide to the floor. Prosecutors, and baseball people were the prospectors, don’t like to lose cases and be told the guy they accused was innocent. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear that they are working double overtime to dig up something on Braun.
We want these guys to be clean as a whistle (heck, Rodriguez has enough problems anyway), but the performance-enhancing drug issue just won’t go away. If Rodriguez and Braun are innocent of obtaining drug prescriptions for stuff that is illegal under baseball rules then they were dummies for going to such a public clinic, too. If they went there to buy Flintstone vitamins instead of the local CVS that doesn’t appear to add up. If you are smart guys you don’t go near such a clinic under any circumstances to help preserve your reputation.
Neither Rodriguez nor Braun could afford to be besmirched again, but their names are out there in the debate over this mysterious clinic and its operations. At the very least Rodriguez and Braun seem convictable of guilt by association.