On Friday afternoon, The New York Times' Michael S. Schmidt identified the player who allegedly purchased documents from a former employee of Biogenesis of America in an attempt to destroy evidence linking him to the anti-aging clinic's distribution of performance-enhancing drugs. Unsurprisingly, the player, identified by the same "two people briefed on the matter" who were the sole source in Schmidt's original article, is Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez "flatly denied the accusation" through a spokesman, and the documents were allegedly purchased not by Rodriguez himself, but by "a representative" of the Yankees' injured third baseman. Still, the accusation, per "the two people," as Schmidt repeatedly refers to them, comes from Major League Baseball itself and, sadly, rings true as the sort of self-defeating blunder for which Rodriguez has become known.
Earlier today, I criticized the commissioner's office's decision to purchase documents from a former Biogenesis employee, and I stand by that criticism. But Rodriguez's alleged actions here are even worse. Baseball may have crossed the line by circumventing proper legal channels by paying an unknown individual of questionable reputation for dirt on its own players, but one could at least argue that it did so in pursuit of the truth and some semblance of justice. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is alleged to have followed the same channels for the purpose of destroying evidence of his own guilt and perhaps that of others as well.
As always with Rodriguez, one wonders what he was thinking. The obvious is that he thought he wouldn't get caught, that both his destruction of the Biogenesis evidence and, as a result, whatever transactions occurred between him and the firm, would remain undiscovered. Rodriguez would also seem to have a misconception about how much of his reputation remained intact following his February 2009 confession of performance-enhancing drug use in light of the revelation that he had tested positive during MLB's 2003 survey testing. If Friday's allegations are true, Rodriguez clearly believed that public opinion accepted his 2009 explanation that he was "young" and "stupid" and only doped during his three years with the Texas Rangers. His actions were thus an attempt to protect the integrity of the remainder of his career, an integrity that, if it did remain, was, ironically, destroyed along with those documents, an act which can only be viewed as an admission of guilt. At the same time, the fact that these allegations concerning Rodriguez were leaked to the Times, possibly intentionally, from Major League Baseball itself, is further evidence of MLB's scorched-earth policy regarding performance-enhancing drug use. The message here is clear: No player is bigger than the game, not a perennial MVP candidate like Ryan Braun, not even a should-have-been inner-circle Hall of Famer like Rodriguez. This latest news regarding Rodriguez is nothing less that a complete annihilation of his reputation and standing in the game. The question now becomes, is baseball in the process of cutting off its own nose to spite its face?