The subject has become so tiresome, so repetitive, so nauseating. If only it would disappear the way Barry Bonds did. The former Giants slugger’s name comes up in stories about the Hall of Fame or brief legal updates in the back pages of sports sections, but mercifully that’s about all.
Bonds’ legal troubles and accusations about performance-enhancing drugs long ago wore down fans who stopped listening and turned their attention elsewhere. Most of us can’t even remember the details of his case. FYI: He was convicted of obstructing justice and sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and 250 hours of community service.
Really, at this point, who cares?
Alex Rodriguez can expect the same reaction once he stops rationalizing that he beat the system and realizes he can’t win. The evidence, outlined in Anthony Bosch’s interview with “60 Minutes,” was overwhelming when all the telephone records and text messages were added up and decoded.
Bosch revealed in the interview with Scott Pelley that they invented terms to help them communicate without exposing A-Rod’s use of PEDs. Testosterone-laced lozenges were called “gummies” in text messages, for example. Bosch explained the depths to which A-Rod sank to achieve top performance without detection.
OK, so Bosch isn’t going to appear on the cover of “Good Housekeeping.” The Biogenesis founder is an admitted liar and drug cheat who sold his soul. In my book, that makes him a scumbag. But it didn’t mean the mountain of evidence against A-Rod didn’t exist. It merely confirmed that he associated himself with slimy people.
Here’s where it ends for me: Twelve players were suspended for PED use in connection with Bosch. Ryan Braun beat one suspension but knew he couldn’t overcome evidence that was similar to the case involving Rodriguez. He was toast, so he took a 65-game suspension. Twelve others, the Dirty Dozen, accepted 50-game bans.
One, Rodriguez, was wronged? Please.
Major League Baseball deserves a large share of the blame for ignoring early suspicions about steroids in the first place. MLB was still trying to recover from a labor dispute that ended the 1994 season and wiped out the World Series. The home runs that followed coincided with steroid use. Fans couldn’t get enough. MLB protected the brand.
It was about ... the money.
Rodriguez made more than any player in history, and protecting $25 million he would have pocketed this season is partly what’s driving him now. His response to a 211-game suspension handed down last year for PED use in connection with Bosch was filing more lawsuits than Cellino and Barnes.
It looks like a coverup to a coverup, a veiled effort to push back his accusers. He has made some valid arguments along the way, namely that Commissioner Bud Selig should have testified in the case against him. Mostly, though, it seems as if A-Rod continues fighting because he doesn’t want to lose and doesn’t know how to quit.
An arbiter reduced his suspension to a full season but upheld baseball’s findings that he used PEDs. He appealed to federal court, which is not expected to hear the case. On Monday, he sued the MLB Players’ Association, the very union that tried to protect him and the money he’ll lose during the suspension.
He’s running out of options. No matter the legal fallout, the Court of Public Opinion has heard the case and made its ruling. In the eyes of many, Rodriguez has been convicted and sentenced to life. He ruined a career headed for the Hall of Fame. The game, and its fans, will continue without him.
Ironically, fittingly, people will soon stop paying attention to him and deny the narcissist the attention he craves. At some point, much like Bonds before him, he will no longer be news and slither away with his fortune, or misfortune, depending on where you stand. It wasn’t what he had in mind while chasing the home run leader.
Good news from the Ducks
Sabres fans clamoring for anything that resembles hope can take comfort watching the Ducks, who were off to a 19-0-2 start at home and had the best record in the NHL. Two years ago, Anaheim finished 13th in the Western Conference.
The Ducks added 11 players since the 2011-12 season who remain on the roster. Dustin Penner, a one-time 30-goal scorer who won a Stanley Cup with the Kings, is the only one among them who resembles a star. The others are mostly inexpensive castoffs from other teams who found roles after arriving in Anaheim.
Penner has 11 goals and 36 points, so he’s hardly tearing up the NHL. He signed as a free agent in July along with Marc Fistric. Bryan Allen, Sheldon Souray (injured) and Daniel Winnick signed in 2012 after the Ducks selected Hampus Lindholm with the sixth pick overall. They added size or helped shore up the blue line in short order.
Mathieu Perreault, acquired from Washington last year, is centering the third line. Ben Lovejoy, acquired from Pittsburgh last year for a fifth-round pick, is a top-four defenseman. Jakob Silfverberg was acquired with Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in June in the trade that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa.
Of course, it helps when a team has Ryan Getzlaf (53 points), Corey Perry (49 points) and goaltender Jonas Hiller (23-4-4 record). Remember, the Sabres talked about a trade with the Ducks that supposedly had Getzlaf and Hiller coming to Buffalo in a package for Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, among others.
Rough ride on Tobacco Road
Duke continued tumbling down the AP poll, falling from 16th to 23rd after starting the New Year with two losses in three games to unranked teams. It’s the lowest ranking for the Blue Devils since 2007, when they fell out of the Top 25. Duke had been in the top 10 for four-plus seasons before slumping.
Their struggles combined with North Carolina and North Carolina State starting slow sent a jolt along Tobacco Road. All three lost their conference openers for the first time in ACC history. They were 2-7 in conference play while ACC newbies Syracuse (17-0, 4-0) and Pittsburgh (15-1, 3-0) were undefeated in the conference.
Syracuse is home against Pitt on Saturday while Duke plays host to N.C. State. North Carolina next Monday visits Virginia, which lost by four points to Duke and blew out N.C. State. The Tar Heels are headed for a long season unless they quickly turn things around. Duke, likely overrated to start the season, should come around.
Freshman phenom Jabari Parker had a terrific start but was criticized after scoring seven points on 2-of-10 shooting against Notre Dame. He’s leading Duke with 18 points per game but is 19 of 59 from the field in his past five games. If he’s the Blue Devils’ biggest problem, they should be just fine.
“We’re a very young team and we get predicted to do something based on me being old,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after losing to Clemson. “That’s the way it is. And we have to measure up to something we probably weren’t good enough to do to begin with.”
Omaha is rooting for Manning
In case you weren’t keeping score, and heaven help you if you were, Peyton Manning shouted “Omaha” 44 times at the line of scrimmage during the Broncos’ win over the Chargers last week. Manning isn’t saying what it means, of course, but it did draw attention to Nebraska’s largest city.
Omaha was trending on Twitter during the game Sunday. The Greater Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau chimed in with a Tweet: “We certainly appreciate all the love from Peyton Manning :)” Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert officially invited Manning to the city, via the Denver Post.
Do the math. Super Bowl advertisement costs about $4 million for 30 seconds. If Manning continues calling “Omaha” at the same rate, he could land himself another commercial.
“Everybody in Omaha really needs to root for Peyton to take down Tom Brady and the Patriots,” Nebraska-based public relations executive Doug Parrott told the newspaper, “so we can hear ‘Omaha’ in the Super Bowl.”
11 – Consecutive postseason games the Patriots were favored to win before they were installed as underdogs for the AFC Championship Game against Denver.
49 – Percentage of passes completed this season against the Seahawks by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 302 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions in the two meetings.
.950 – Save percentage by Ryan Miller in 10 games before Tuesday, the best of any 10-game stretch in his career.
• The best move the Knicks didn’t make this season was firing coach Mike Woodson, who was on the hot seat after a 3-13 start and remained there after falling to 9-21. New York has won five straight and six of its last seven, allowing them to sneak back into the playoff picture in the poor Eastern Conference.
• Tampa Bay must be kicking itself after seeing LeGarrette Blount gain 189 yards rushing against Buffalo and 166 yards and four touchdowns Saturday against Indianapolis. Blount gained 151 yards in 13 games with the Bucs last season. They swapped him for track star Jeff Demps, a running back who played two games and landed on IR.
• What do Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Kaepernick have in common, other than their position? All three were MLB draft picks. Brady was a catcher picked by the Expos, Wilson was a middle infielder taken by the Orioles and Kaepernick was a pitcher who was selected by the Cubs.