Even if you are not a baseball fan, you’ve probably heard about the enormous suspension received by New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida. Just recently, his original 211 game suspension was reduced by arbitrators to just 162 games, which would mean that A-Rod will not be able to play for the Yankees at all during the 2014 season and will not get paid the $25 million that would have been owed him under his current contract. This reduction of the suspension came after A-Rod appealed Commissioner Bud Selig’s original punishment and the result of the appeal not only reduced the overall sentence, but in appealing the ruling, A-Rod was able to finish out the 2013 season while awaiting his hearing before the arbitrators.
Now, I do not know the full situation. I am not intimately connected to the proceedings in any way. But as an outsider looking in, two things seem apparent to me. First, A-Rod did something wrong. It may not have been everything that the other side is claiming, but I do not believe for one second that he is totally innocent of wrongdoing. Second, A-Rod is doing nothing toward making things better for himself. Every step he has taken in this entire process has simply dug himself a deeper hole.
A-Rod, in an attempt to cover his wrongdoings, has merely compounded the problem. This is a common reaction when humans are caught in a lie. We try to cover it up. We make up more lies to cover the original lie and pretty soon even we aren’t sure what the truth is anymore. I think that is the place that A-Rod has come to. He doesn’t know what is the truth and what is a lie anymore. He only knows that he wants to do whatever it takes to get out of this mess he’s made for himself. The problem is that desperate people make terrible mistakes.
Now, A-Rod is taking his appeal to the federal court. In a last ditch attempt to exonerate himself, he is taking the case outside of Major League Baseball. This is quite clearly a desperate move by a desperate man who sees his entire future and his entire image crumbling around him. The problem is that he’s already lost. Even if by some miracle the federal court overturns the ruling of the MLB arbitrators, A-Rod’s image is forever damaged in the eyes of Yankees fans, baseball fans, and anyone else who has heard anything about this story. A victory now will mean virtually nothing.
And the saddest part…it all could have been avoided. The fact is that A-Rod made a mistake…perhaps many mistakes…in his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic. Okay. We all make mistakes. And he was trying to compete in an era where there were many other baseball stars using performance enhancing drugs. He made a mistake. If when this story first emerged, A-Rod would have manned up and admitted to his wrongdoings I don’t think he would be in the terrible mess that he is in. That is not to say that his sentence would have been significantly reduced. We’ll never truly know. But I guarantee that his public image would be far less damaged than it is now. A-Rod designed for himself a web of secrecy and when that web was exposed, he tried to spin it tighter and thicker…and he simply got trapped.
There’s an old story about King David of Israel in which the king has sex with another man’s wife and gets her pregnant. In order to cover his mistake, he has the woman’s husband killed and then takes her as his own wife. At some point after all this has taken place, a man by the name of Nathan comes to King David and tells him this story: “There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” The story angered David. He declared that the rich man should be punished. So, Nathan said, “You are that man,” and he pointed out how David had taken another man’s wife. David finally had to confess, but the cover up had already resulted in a man’s life being taken from him.
We are all susceptible to the cover up game. It is not something only superstars and kings face. We all make mistakes. We all tell lies. We all try to cover those lies with more lies. And when we do, we simply dig a deeper hole for ourselves. We spin that web tighter and thicker around ourselves. And it suffocates us. And the only way out is to tell the truth…to climb back up…to loosen the web. A-Rod has yet to do that, but I hope that someday he does. Because at this point, his lies are only making things worse.