Let me begin by stating that I am not a fan of Alex Rodriguez and his Yankee pinstripes. But I think the idea of MLB suspending him over playing poker is completely daft. A-Rod has allegedly been seen playing poker in New York and California where cocaine has been used and fights have broken out. But A-Rod is not being accused of using cocaine or getting into fisticuffs. He’s only accused of playing poker and it is not illegal to do so in New York and California. Now while it is illegal in Florida to host a poker game in your home if the pot exceeds $10. But as Jim Rich of The New York Daily News notes a lot of people have poker games in their home in which real money is won and lost. Rich writes, “If that’s a crime, then we better start building more prisons.”
Frankly, I am shocked – shocked – to learn that A-Rod has been gambling. I can’t imagine that A-Rod is the only MLB player to play poker. Now I know MLB has long been skittish about gambling but it’s not like A-Rod is betting on baseball.
It seems like someone has a vendetta against A-Rod. Could it be MLB Commissioner Bud Selig? A-Rod has 626 career homeruns and needs only 137 more homeruns to eclipse Barry Bonds’ 762 career homeruns. Bonds, of course, passed Henry Aaron as MLB’s all-time leader in homeruns in August 2007. I remember when Bonds hit number 756, Selig stood up as if he were about to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish. There was no joy in that man’s face at all. After all, Selig has had a long standing friendship with The Hammer. And given A-Rod’s own history with performance enhancing drugs I can’t imagine Selig wants to go through all that again.
Now A-Rod has been out of action for over a month as he is recovering from knee surgery. He just turned 36 on July 27th. If A-Rod were to hit 35 homeruns a year over the next four seasons he would eclipse the record at around the age of 40. Certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. But if A-Rod were to miss significant time because of a suspension related to gambling that could throw a wrinkle in his pursuit of the homerun record.
Although Albert Pujols is having the worst season of his MLB career, he does have 432 career homeruns and is only 31. He also doesn’t have any of A-Rod’s baggage. Needless to say, Selig would be much more comfortable if Aaron’s legacy were passed on to Pujols rather than A-Rod, never mind Bonds.
For A-Rod’s part, his publicist has now issued a statement indicating that the story which broke in Star Magazine “contains numerous factual inaccuracies” and added that A-Rod was eager to co-operate in any investigation conducted by MLB.
Again, I’m not a fan of A-Rod but this story has all the makings of a hatchet job.