(Get ready for more of this. Courtesy of the AP)
When the 2012 season ended, I said I wasn't going to spend the entire offseason on this blog talking about Alex Rodriguez and what a bum he was, and promised only to write about him in situations where it was warranted. I think this is one of those situations. In a report released today by the Miami News Times, A-Rod's name was included in a group of professional athletes who have been receiving various performance enhancing drugs from Anthony Bosch, currently under investigation by both MLB and the DEA. Written records from the clinic Bosch runs indicate Rodriguez has been receiving PEDs, including HGH, from Bosch from 2009 through last season. What has already been a tumultuous last few seasons for A-Rod, starting with his original PED outing and admission in 2009, is only going to get worse with the release of this new report.
I'm not going to get into the details of the what and when as they are clearly spelled out in the story, but suffice it to say the evidence is pretty damning. Both Rodriguez's name and the name Yuri Sucart, A-Rod's admitted drug mule, are referenced in the clinic's records, as are the names of other current MLB players. With MLB announcing plans to implement in-season HGH testing in 2013, this story is obviously going to be big and the repercussions could be as well.
Tying this news to A-Rod's recent on-field performance, this is pretty much the extra final nail in the coffin of A-Rod's career as a productive everyday player. The general perception, or at least my own personal perception after the 2009 discovery of his previous PED use, was that A-Rod was succumbing to both natural athletic aging and the lack of PEDs in his system to speed up recovery during these last few injury-plagued seasons. Now it appears as though he's been banged up and declining even with the help of HGH and other substances. I'm not a doctor and I'm not going to dig into the negative effects of PEDs on the body and how that may be tied to his hip problems, but I will say that this latest revelation doesn't spell good things for his recovery from this latest surgery or his expected effectiveness once he gets back on the field.
Off the field is where this story is really going to blow up. The new HGH testing policy wasn't in place while this reported steroid use was going on, and with A-Rod not failing any more drug tests since '09 that we know of it's hard to say whether MLB has grounds to suspend him, but you have to at least think that possibility is in play. And whether or not he gets suspended, Rodriguez might as well be wearing a scarlet "HGH" on his uniform every time he comes to the plate because the court of public opinion is going to skewer him for this. Whatever outside chance he had of being a late inductee into the HOF after his first PED connection probably disappears now that it's come out that he's been using again in his decline years and been caught twice.
From a Yankee-centric perspective, the biggest question is how this news will affect the situation with A-Rod's contract, if it does at all. It's unlikely that the Yankees would have the power to void the remainder of the contract based on this information, as PED issues are handled through the new CBA, but it is possible. The Yankees were smart enough to take out insurance on the rest of the contract after A-Rod started breaking down, so maybe we come to find out that there's language and provisions in there that gives them the right to void the deal based on personal conduct or further PED problems.
Regardless of whether they can or will attempt to void the deal, this latest negative story will assuredly speed up the Yankees' efforts behind the scenes to separate themselves from Rodriguez. Buster Olney already spoke to this with the following tweet:
"As with Manny: There will be a time with Alex Rodriguez when the side stuff will outweigh the production, and NYY will want him to go away."
I've tried to defend A-Rod more than most recently, but even I have to admit that the continuing string of negative stories following him is getting old. It was one thing when he was still an elite hitter offering elite-level production in the middle of the lineup. It's another when he's devolved to the level that he has, is already on the DL for at least half the season, and is still bringing this type of negative media focus to himself and the team. MLB has already started its own investigation into the matter, and we'll see what comes as a result of it. One thing's for sure, though, and that's the fact that this story won't be going away anytime soon.
** UPDATE 11:10AM- MLB has released a statement regarding the report and it sounds like they're taking it seriously. LoHud has the whole thing right here. **
** UPDATE 12:41PM- A-Rod has issued the following statement denying the allegations:
“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate.”
And the saga continues... **