That was no ordinary heave of admiring relief Wednesday night when Ichiro Suzuki swatted his way into a club whose membership now numbers six but includes only one who achieved his membership on international terms. The last time someone passed a milestone in that range or higher, it was achieved with tragedy underwriting it and scandal to follow in due course.
This hasn’t exactly been a no-questions-asked season for the ages. Between season long interleague play and the soap opera starring Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis 13 known as Pa Jerkin’, this has been a season you could call surreality television if watching at home. But there have been moments enough, and people enough, to mitigate those travesties.
Albert Pujols may not have been able to hit as customary for the last couple of seasons, thanks to nagging trouble with plantar fasciitis in his heel. But if you prick him in just the right place he can swing big with words just as deadly. Fellow former Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark may be preparing to learn the hard way just how deadly that might be.
I’m not exactly sure, but I could have sworn the hoopla over the Biogenesis 13 didn’t include as much discussion as it should have regarding those first suspected who’ve been shown to be clean. I have in mind specifically Gio Gonzalez, the effervescent pitcher for the Washington Nationals.
Gonzalez didn’t have to wait until Monday, Bloody Monday. Not only did ESPN uncover the fact that the lefthander never received a single actual or alleged performance-enhancing substance from Biogenesis, but Gonzalez passed a drug test shortly after the scandal broke in the first place. And, we must presume now, all since.
Two hundred and eleven games. That’s the sum total of Alex Rodriguez’s suspension, announced Monday, for his involvement on more than one level with the defunct and disgraced Biogenesis operation. Rodriguez is one of thirteen players suspended for their Biogenesis connections, but he’s the blue whale among the anchovies.
Yes, A-Rod’s going to appeal the suspension. Perhaps with an eye toward bringing it somewhere in the middle of the handed-down 211 and Ryan Braun’s 65. But if the appeal process is steered somehow toward addressing A-Rod’s involvement with actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances rather than Bud Selig’s powers as baseball commissioner, that would be just about perfect.
In hindsight, it seems almost inevitable. Not just that Alex Rodriguez is going down; that’s been just about a given since he became the number one topic around actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances after Ryan Braun’s suspension.
Now, we’re talking about A-Rod himself pushing the plunger on himself. If you’ll pardon the expression. And the Yankees, who’ve been stretched to the absolute end of their proverbial rope, even by their standards, aren’t exactly ready pick up his funeral tab.
By now, of course, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” the hammer drops on Alex Rodriguez. But it is a question of just what the hammer’s head will be made of that keeps observers and analysts guessing and examining A-Rod’s, and baseball’s, pending fate.
I say baseball’s pending fate because of what has washed ashore since Ryan Braun finally took the plunge we now know he had little choice but to take. Little by little, but with a force you’d never have suspected a decade and a half ago, the issue of actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances has a very different reception among those playing the game now. And it’s providing baseball government with a very interesting opportunity for resolution in the next labour agreement.