Public Enemies


This Saturday Fredric R. Horowitz, Major League Baseball’s chief arbitrator, announced that the Yankees’ third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, will be banned for 162 games and the 2014 postseason. The ruling confirms MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s success in his apparent mission to emulate the late J. Edgar Hoover. While running the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the midst of the Cold War and running America’s pastime may seem like apples and oranges, Hoover and Selig’s tactics in dealing with their own public enemies aren’t too far off from each other.

Hoover, who resided as Director of the FBI until his death in 1972, cemented an image in American minds that the bureau was invincible and could capture anyone. The famed director made sure of this by pulling out all the stops in order to capture high profile criminals – ones who the media were fixated upon. Most famously being the killing of John Dillinger and successful arrest of the Lindbergh kidnapper, Richard Hauptmann. These very public triumphs are often attributed to the larger success of the FBI under Hoover.

Making an example out of an individual is effective, plain and simple. And with a bit of the fog clearing over the five month long battle between Rodriguez and baseball, so are the Commissioners’ intentions to bolster the portrayal of MLB’s stance on drugs.

Selig, who has been at the helm of Major League Baseball for 21 years, has overseen the building of the toughest drug testing program in all of American sports. With his contract set to expire in January of 2015 he has added one last bullet point to his extensive resume: the suspension of Alex Rodriguez – one of the most accomplished players in major league history.

Beyond his present PED scandal, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids when he was a Texas Ranger, but with no further proof he simply continued to make his way through the record books. He became the poster boy for what some believed may be a broken system. And one only has to look at Selig’s awkward reaction to Barry Bonds’ 755th home run and his absence during his 756th home run to know his feelings about Rodriguez.

Anthony Bosch’s tell-all interview with ’60 Minutes’ confirmed the prevailing belief of the biogenesis saga; that Rodriguez has used performance enhancing drugs and has been doing it for a long time.

But with the lack of clarity on why the suspension was substantially longer than the others caught in the biogenesis scandal, the reasoning for the season long ban is still up for debate. Even Ryan Braun, who got out of a previous suspension due to a technicality, received nowhere near the amount of games that Alex Rodriguez has.

Major League Baseball has said that the evidence, in combination with Rodriguez’s efforts to impede the suspension, fit his punishment. The lack of detail leaves much to interpretation though. Rodriguez is fifth on the all-time home run list, has immense star power and is simply one of the greatest players of his generation. For baseball fans everywhere to know that a player can reach those heights while admitting to cheating is a black mark on the sport. So when MLB got word that he was still doping, they pulled out all the stops to suspend him.

Because to Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez is more than a player who used PEDs; he is the face of PEDs. A-Rod is Selig’s John Dillinger. And with Rodriguez’s age and nagging hip injuries, old Bud may have quite possibly taken baseball’s public enemy #1 out of the game forever.