August 7, 2013

Direct Kick: Hammer falls for players on Black Monday

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — What the hell are we fighting for?

Just surrender and it won’t hurt at all

You just got time to say your prayers

While you’re waiting for the Hammer to Fall.

Hammer to Fall, Queen

For several Major League players, including Alex Rodriguez, those words from the Queen hit “Hammer to Fall” could have described their day on Monday as they indeed were waiting for the hammer to fall, and fall it did, as twelve players were suspended for

Rodriguez received the harshest punishment, 211 days, and takes effect Thursday. What this means is he will miss the rest of this season and the entire 2014 campaign. Of course, he is claiming innocence and will appeal the decision handed down by commissioner Bud Selig on what could be referred to as “Black Monday.”

Once again baseball has received a black eye. Once again one of its stars has fallen from grace, much like Barry Bonds and many others have during the Steroid Era. Now A-Rod has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in his past, but he has never failed a drug test. The thing that got A-Rod in hot water with baseball was that baseball perceived that he hindered baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis scandal.

Now the question is did Selig have the power to add those extra days to Rodriguez’s suspension, as the other players suspended today, including Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz, were suspended for only 50 games?

Rodriguez said the last seven months have been a nightmare. Well buddy, welcome to your nightmare. You can’t blame anybody but yourself. I don’t think baseball would have made the historic suspension had it not had sufficient evidence against A-Rod. He said he was disappointed with the suspension. During a press conference Monday, A-Rod refused to answer a reporter who asked him if he used PEDs. He said there will be a time to address that during the appeal process.

The time was right then. In front of those reporters and a national television audience. If you are innocent, then why would you say “there will be a time to address that”? He sidestepped the questions about the suspension, saying that he was thrilled to be back in uniform for the New York Yankees. If I was in the same situation, and I was innocent, I would make sure everyone knows this.

But you want to know why A-Rod wasn’t singing his innocence song? Because he knows that anything he said during this press conference will be used against him in the appeal process. So if he said he was innocent, then during the appeal process it comes to light that he wasn’t, then those words can be used against him. And he looks worse than he does now.

The thing about it is, no matter what the outcome of the appeal process is, the shadow of doubt has been cast on A-Rod, larger than it already is, and the fans won’t forgive or forget. Well, maybe Yankee fans will.

As I watched his press conference Monday evening, he had that same look that Tiger Woods had when he was first asked about the incident that eventually led to his divorce and, at the time, his public downfall. Both didn’t really want to make any extended eye contact with reporters or the cameras.

The other players suspended, from Ryan Braun to Nelson Cruz to Jhonny Peralta, have all accepted their punishment and will not fight the suspensions. They have manned up and admitted they made a mistake. Hopefully A-Rod will do the same if the appeal process doesn’t go his way.

And if the appeals process does go his way? Well then I guess we will have to be the ones to man up and admit our mistakes.