Donna Shalala, don’t you dare.
The University of Miami took Alex Rodriguez’ $3.9 million donation in 2009 knowing that a week before he had admitted (after being implicated) to using performance enhancing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers in 2003. Despite the complaints of some of boosters, C.R.E.A.M. won out (Cash Rules Everything Around Miami) and the baseball field was renamed “Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field”. Any moral stand now will make the University look like tremendous hypocrites. The pictures of Shalala taking a check from Nevin Shapiro have become one of the symbols of the controversy surrounding her program. It has also made people question whether ethics can be bought.
What Rodriguez did was morally — not criminally — wrong. He is not a child molester or a Ponzi schemer. He is a guy who tried to get an advantage and got caught, twice. Removing his name would be symbolic because there is no way they can undo his donation. Much like Reggie Bush returning his Heisman Trophy, we all know he won it and can’t pretend like that season never happened.
If anything, this moral stand might end up backfiring. Taking his name off the stadium tells fans “we are okay taking your money if you cheated once, not twice” while basing the decision on a judgment passed by Bud Selig in a fight that seems to have become increasingly personal, culminating in yesterday announcement that Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for 200+ games under Major League Baseball’s “Lets pull a penalty out of our Budhole” policy.
Selig is close to retirement and he has done tremendous things for the sport. Rodriguez’s suspension will be the crowning achievement in his battle to clean up the sport and the lasting part of his legacy. There is one huge dilemma with that. He is trying to eradicate a problem he helped foster.
Selig is Dr. Frankenstein leading the mob against his monster.
You hear a lot of people saying Selig’s aggressive pursuit of cheaters is because he “Found Jesus” when it came to PEDs. But Selig “finding Jesus” is equivalent to a porn star finding Jesus. Of course the last 15 years look bad, but you weren’t complaining when all those pricks in the ass were making you rich and famous.
This Ahabian pursuit will be what defines Selig’s legacy. Bart Giammatti was only commissioner for 154 days, but will always be remembered as the guy who banned Pete Rose for life.
He also died 8 days after banning Rose.
Selig has made a lot of mistakes in his tenure, but turning a blind eye while steroids helped baseball recover from its work stoppage is not one of them if you believe the end justifies the means. Fans had turned on baseball and the steroid era helped rejuvenate their interest. It was just the shot in the ass it needed to get back to where it once was.
Patrick Sicher (@PSicher) is a staff writer for Page Q. He also writes for BlackSportsOnline.com and SportsHandicapping.com, where being white and too broke to gamble hasn’t stopped him from becoming a respected voice in the sports media world