Sports Law Blog
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Thursday, February 12, 2009
Guest Post: How A-Rod Can Still Get to Cooperstown (And Save Baseball)
The following is a guest post co-authored by Aaron Zelinsky and Benjamin Johnson of Yale Law School
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Americans love heroes, and we love to see them fall. Alex Rodriguez was a hero, and now he’s falling fast. Batting clean-up behind Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGuire, A-Rod joins the All-Star Team of the players who shot themselves in the foot – or the arm, or the thigh. The accolades and records of these disgraced players will find no place in Cooperstown.
But there’s hope for A-Rod. There’s still time to save himself and baseball.
We Americans also like a story of redemption. There can be second acts in American life after all. At 33, A-Rod still has good playing years left and much work to do on the field. However, it is off the field where he might find the road to deliverance and, with a little luck and a lot of contrition, maybe even the road to Cooperstown.
A-Rod’s comeback needs three things: First, he has to become the public face of baseball purists. He must ask for asterisks on his baseball cards for the years he was doping. He must disavow any claim to any records built even in part on banned substances. In particular, he must make it clear that he will never accept any accolades if he breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record due to those enhanced years in Texas. It will remain Aaron’s record.
Second, A-Rod must devote himself to cleaning up baseball. He needs to pressure the players’ union and the players individually to demand real, regular, and reliable testing. No more heads ups from the union. Everybody gets tested regularly. If you want to play major league ball, you will get tested.
Fans have been clamoring for this program for years, but don’t have the clout to budge the union. A-Rod does. He should follow Lance Armstrong’s example, and have himself tested publicly and regularly. A-Rod should thereby prove himself to be clean and pressure others to follow. If he can’t convince them into action, he can shame them.
Finally, A-Rod needs to stay healthy and play as long as he can play well. He must put up Hall of Fame numbers for the next five years to make the case that he is a Hall of Famer without the juice.
Baseball is an unforgiving game. Shoeless Joe was a great player who will never have his Hall of Fame plaque. Nobody played with more hustle than Pete Rose, but, to see Cooperstown, he will always have to buy a ticket. McGuire hit the ball out of the park, but the sportswriters still won’t let him into the Hall.
But for A-Rod, there is still hope. He can still earn his way to Cooperstown by saving the game he helped destroy.
Benjamin Johnson and Aaron Zelinsky are members of the Yale Law School Class of 2010.