The finals of last night’s home run derby, between Oakland Athletics second-year player Yoenis Céspedes, 27, and Washington Nationals sophomore superstar Bryce Harper, 20 — Céspedes won — should be an uplifting sign of baseball’s youth movement, a signal of the game’s great health, and bright future. Tonight’s All-Star game, which features National League starting pitcher Matt Harvey, the second-year phenom from the New York Mets, should be more of the same.
Instead, this week’s All-Star activities will likely be remembered as a five-star meal – at one of those upscale airport restaurants, before a long, crappy flight that nearly makes you puke.
Because drug suspensions are looming over the sport. Tony Bosch, the former director of the Biogenesis clinic who has allegedly supplied as many of 20 major league players with performance-enhancing drugs, is singing to baseball officials. Commissioner Bud Selig, who’s going to retire next year, has a chance to brandish his legacy as the commissioner who cleaned up baseball – even though something called science will likely make this nearly impossible. The chemists have stayed a step ahead of the testers, and there’s no reason to believe this will stop.
Alex Rodriguez is baseball’s biggest target. Leave it to A-Rod to overshadow a season with so many good storylines, like the emergence of Los Angeles Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig, small-market teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland A’s winning, Baltimore’s Chris Davis, with 37 home runs at the All-Star break, threatening baseball’s legit home run record – 61, by Roger Maris back in 1961. Remember when A-Rod opted out of his New York Yankees contract back in 2007, during the final moments of that year’s World Series? He stole the spotlight there, and he’s doing it again now.
And remember when Rodriguez was going to eclipse Barry Bonds’ new career home run record, and erase the awkward charade of Bonds topping Hank Aaron back in 2007? Don’t worry that Bonds’ home runs were almost surely fueled by steroids; A-Rod is clean, he’s still pumping out 50 home runs a year, and he’s in his early 30s. He’ll catch Bonds.
Ha. As we learned in 2009, when A-Rod admitted that he had used steroids earlier in his career, he was far from clean. And even after warning kids about the dangers of performance-enhancing drug use, it appears that Rodriguez cheated again, hooking up with Bosch and Biogenesis.
Injuries and age would have likely prevented Rodriguez from catching Bonds. Now, it appears that Selig will place a huge hurdle too. According to the New York Daily News, Rodriguez recently met with MLB officials in New York City, and the evidence against him was so overwhelming, he’s looking to cop a plea deal. Maybe a 150-game suspension is the best he can do. Players like Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz could also face stiff penalties. What a mess. So enjoy tonight’s All-Star game. Because the second-half of this season will leave a bad taste.