MLB Announces Biogenesis Suspensions


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Aug 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez speaks at a press conference before the game against the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball announced today its laundry list of suspensions related to its investigation into the Miami-based biogenesis clinic where several baseball players (and, allegedly, athletes from other sports) are said to have received performance enhancing drugs.

The big fish in the announcement was New York Yankees 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez. MLB announced that he will be suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season starting on Thursday, August 8th. In addition to the suspension for the remainder of the year, A-Rod will also be gone for the entire 2014 season which brings his total game suspension total to 211 games.

In addition, 12 other players were handed suspensions of 50 games by MLB.

The players include:

Nelson Cruz—outfielder (Texas Rangers)

Jhonny Peralta—shortstop (Detroit Tigers)

Evereth Cabrera—shortstop (San Diego Padres)

Francisco Cervelli–catcher (New York Yankees)

Antonio Bastardo—pitcher (Philadelphis Phillies)

Jordany Valdespin—infielder and outfielder (New York Mets)

Fautino De Los Santos—pitcher (San Diego Padres minor league system)

Sergio Escalona–pitcher (Houston Astros minor league system)

Fernando Martinez—outfielder (New York Yankees minor league system)

Jesus Montero—catcher (Seattle Mariners minor league system)

Jordan Norberto—catcher, free agent

Cesar Puello—outfielder (New York Mets minor league system)

The press release that was put out by Major League Baseball essentially stated that part of the reason why the A-Rod suspension is so lengthy is because he obstructed with the MLB investigation. It began when the founder of the Miami clinic, Tony Boesch, went public to the Miami New Times and spilled names to the paper alleging that players went to the clinic to obtain performance enhancing drugs. Also, interestingly enough, all of the players listed, are Latino players.

The litany of suspensions also comes on the heels of the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun accepting a suspension for the rest of the 2013 season and continuing to be paid his salary.

The Texas Rangers were reportedly stunned that Nelson Cruz accepted his suspension considering the Rangers are in the middle of a pennant race where they are currently 2 ½ games behind the American League West-leading Oakland Athletics.

The Detroit Tigers likely had some foresight that Jhonny Peralta was going to get a suspension from Major League Baseball since they had traded for another shortstop, Jose Iglesias, from the Boston Red Sox at this year’s trade deadline. It was one of the few trades made in a relatively calm trade deadline.

Former pitcher Dan Meyer, who once competed with Antonio Bastardo for a spot on the Phillies bullpen in 2011, called out Bastardo for PED use on Twitter.

“Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx a lot.” –@Dmy53 on Twitter.

That sentiment can be seen as a microcosm for the feeling other players have when they see that their counterparts whom they were competing with and against had the playing field unevenly tipped in favor of those taking performance enhancers.

One aspect of this was how the Major League Baseball Players Association would react. It has been suggested that the Union’s tone on fighting performance enhancing drug use by players has changed and that it wants to cooperate with the Commissioner’s Office on combating this issue. Michael Weiner, who is the current head of the MLBPA, included this in the Union’s official statement:

“For the player appealing, Alex Rodriguez, we agree with his decision to fight his suspension. We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately.”

Despite MLB announcing that Rodriguez will likely face a stiff penalty for his involvement in the biogenesis case, Yankees manager Joe Girardi still decided to include A-Rod in the starting lineup for the Bronx Bombers as they begin a three game series against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

It was announced today that A-Rod will bat in the cleanup spot in his first game back with the Yankees after a rehab stint that saw him in their farm system.

Rodriguez and his legal team was meeting with Major League Baseball officials as the possibility of a lifetime ban was being discussed in MLB circles. He was reportedly offered a deal by MLB to accept a suspension and still get paid, but A-Rod refused the deal, leading to MLB announcing his suspension for the remainder of this year as well as all of next year.

That legal team includes his main attorney, W. David Cornwell, a high profile sports lawyer who has assisted athletes whenever they have endured transgressions in their lives and their careers. Cornwell, ironically, also represents Ryan Braun. He also represented Ben Roethlisberger when he was going through his rape case as well as an incident where he was involved in a motorcycle incident in Pittsburgh, then later determined to have been on the bike without a license to drive one in the state of Pennsylvania.

It was the worst kept secret in Major League Baseball circles that A-Rod would indeed appeal, regardless of how long the suspension was. He and his legal team will appeal which will send him into arbitration with baseball for what could turn out to be a lengthy court process. Weiner suggested that a decision in arbitration may not happen until October, November, or December.

Major League Baseball, obviously, would rather any decision occur in mid-November rather than October or December. A decision coming in October would obviously overshadow the World Series, which already has enough problems when it is competing ratingswise with the NFL. Also, if it were to happen in December, it would overshadow the Winter Meetings when the MLB Hot Stove (free agency) session reaches its highest temperature.

What has also been suggested is that there is a financial motive to everything that Alex Rodriguez is doing. He and his attorneys know how much money the Yankees owe him when they traded for him in 2004 from the Texas Rangers for Alfonso Soriano. He is owed $275 million on his contract and still has anywhere from $80 million to $96 million remaining on his deal.

Two other notable Major League Baseball players that had connections to the Miami biogenesis probe were exonerated from any investigation. Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games in 2012 for using performance enhancing drugs while playing for the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants and was in the midst of an MVP-caliber season. Bartolo Colon was also left off the names of players to be suspended.

MLB says it will pursue no further punishment for either Cabrera or Colon.