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Alex Rodriguez, Major League Baseball and the feds

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees stands

Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees stands during the national anthem before the game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. (June 5, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty

I enjoyed Michael S. Schmidt's and Serge F. Kovaleski story in The New York Times (should I change my byline to "Ken E. Davidoff"?) about Major League Baseball's interest in Alex Rodriguez, going back to A-Rod's relationship with controversial Canadian doctor Anthony Galea.

I have no idea what A-Rod did with Galea, and I'll be the first concede that, given that Galea is now under investigation, A-Rod's association with Galea with fishy, as is Jose Reyes' and Carlos Beltran's.

In this crazy country of ours, however, we somehow still believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. So I'll gladly give A-Rod (and Reyes and Beltran) the benefit of the doubt.

What's interesting about this case is that it appears, as Schmidt and Kovaleski report, that the federal agents heading this investigation aren't kowtowing to Major League Baseball - a private corporation that, from a legal standpoint, should have the same access to the information as you and I.

If you want to be angry about the Mitchell Report, after all - and you should be angry about it, IMO - then you should point your first finger at the government. The people involved in that investigation, most notably Jeff Novitzky, made a determination when they nailed Kirk Radomski: Exposing Radomski's client list meant so much to them, even if they didn't have enough evidence to penalize any and/or all of those players, that they told Radomski, "If you cooperate with our old pal George Mitchell - heading a private investigation - then we'll lighten your penalty."

In other words: "If we can't arrest Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte et al, then let's at least embarrass them." To which MItchell and Bud Selig, whose primary incentive behind the report was to get Congress off MLB's back, said, essentially "Sounds great!" Selig's choice of Mitchell, given his ties to the Department of Justice, looked all the more prescient, despite the legitimate objections to Mitchell's myriad conflicts of interest within baseball.

Now MLB once again is hoping to get the inside dope, only to be shot down - for now - by the Feds. Apparently this group isn't filled with baseball fans, or playa hatas  This group might actually prioritize its professionalism.

The likelihood of any of this winding up in discipline - for A-Rod, Beltran, Reyes or anything else - is close to nil. MLB likes to talk about non-analytical positives - in other words, something besides a failed test - but it's awfully hard legally to make something like that stick.

The two examples often cited are Manny Ramirez in 2009 - since his test that year showed something fishy but didn't quite fail - and MLB proceeded to find evidence of his usage - and Jason Grimsley in 2006, who was caught getting a shipment of HGH to his home.

The differences: Manny's evidence was collected within the arena of the drug-testing program. MLB had leverage on him.

Grimsley? He was approaching 39 years old and had committed the grave error of naming names of former teammates to Novitzky. It wasn't worth him to show his face again in a major-league clubhouse and try to repair the damage. He just went home.

So we'll see how this A-Rod situation plays out. It could take a while. But nothing dramatic has changed this morning. We learned that MLB wants more information, which - again - isn't anything different than you or I wanting more information.




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