New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez makes his season debut Monday night on the city's south side, facing off against the White Sox. But tonight's game is being overshadowed by perhaps the biggest single day doping bust in baseball history.
Rodriguez was dealt a 211-game suspension for his alleged involvement with a south Florida clinic that reportedly supplied illegal performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of ballplayers. Twelve other Major League players also received suspensions today-- but for just 50 games apiece. Milwaukee Brewer outfield Ryan Braun, also tied to the clinic, got hit with a 65-game suspension last month.
Those players agreed not to appeal the punishment. Rodriguez's suspension is set to begin on Thursday, but will be put on hold as he appeals the decision.
In a statement, Major League Baseball said Rodriguez's suspension was:
based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years [and] for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation.
Sports legal analyst Eldon Ham says the suspensions, and the tough talk from the commissioner's office, reminds him of the lifetime suspensions of the Chicago Black Sox--the eight White Sox players who were accused of taking bribes to throw the 1919 World Series.
"Back then, Commissioner [Kenesaw] Landis wanted to quash gambling in baseball, so he suspends all the players for life and the hammer comes down," says Ham, author of All the Babe's Men: Baseball's Greatest Home Run Seasons and How They Changed America. "It’s the same hammer now."
Ham joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm with more on the scandal, and how America's passion for home runs gave birth to the steroid era.
What do you think of MLB's doping suspension? Share your comments below.