NEW YORK -- Another day, another leak. What would we do without the daily anonymously sourced nugget of information concerning Alex Rodriguez and his ongoing battle against Major League Baseball?
Today's leak, courtesy of The New York Times, is the allegation that A-Rod tested positive in 2006 for an unidentified stimulant on the banned list in baseball's Joint Drug Agreement. The Times did an excellent job in today's piece, tying up all the serpentine storylines and shady characters in this admittedly fascinating saga.
But it is important to remember two things:
The first is that under baseball's JDA, a first-time positive test for a stimulant -- the JDA lists 56 varieties of banned stimulants, including ephedrine and methamphetamine -- is not punishable, but does subject the player to a series of six follow-up tests over the next 12 months. If any of those come back dirty, the player gets 25 games. Nowhere has anyone said A-Rod failed a follow-up test, and he has never been disciplined for stimulant use.
However, according to a source -- yeah, another leak -- this bit of information was never presented as evidence before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
The second thing to remember is that even that fascinating little tidbit -- which is not at all germane to baseball's allegations of PED use and seems to have been intended merely to add more ammunition to baseball's contention that A-Rod is a habitual drug offender -- remains nothing more than an allegation, as does just about every bit of information that has been published about this case. The reason, of course, is that because of the confidentiality agreement imposed on both sides by baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement, no one outside of the immediate parties involved has seen a shred of real evidence -- or at least no one is supposed to have seen it.
Instead, what most of us have gotten, ESPNNewYork.com included, are secondhand accounts of what has been said in the hearing room by people who, admittedly, have an agenda -- and that goes for both sides.
Clearly, baseball's agenda is to justify its stiff punishment of A-Rod -- more than four times that stipulated in the CBA for a first-time PED offender, which technically, he is, having never (so far as we know) failed a test for an anabolic steroid or HGH.
And A-Rod's agenda is to demonstrate that through the stridency of its tactics, MLB has gone beyond the boundaries of fair play and due process in order to make an example of the biggest name in the game. The implication is clear -- that by bagging A-Rod, commissioner Bud Selig can burnish his legacy before riding off into retirement. After all, how much glory could he have gotten by slapping Francisco Cervelli with a 211-game ban?
Each side's agenda may have some validity. Each agenda may also have more than a little inherent vindictiveness.
And the real bit of information I would like to learn is how much money is being spent -- wasted? -- by both sides in trying to forward these agendas. Already we know, or think we know, via leak and allegation, that a shadowy character named Gary Jones was apparently paid around $350,000 by both sides for providing evidence. We know that a nurse who worked at Biogenesis had an intimate affair with an MLB investigator, and that she, too, made a score -- reportedly $100,000 -- for selling A-Rod's team evidence of that liaison.
And we have a pretty good suspicion that Anthony Bosch, MLB's star witness against A-Rod, is having a lot of his checks picked up by baseball, including a reported $2,400 a day for "personal security." You'd think he could hire the Secret Service for less than that. Bosch has also reportedly had some of his legal retainers paid by A-Rod's team out of "fairness," or some such nonsense.
It all seems designed to influence the court of public opinion, which essentially means nothing, because the only thing that really matters in this case is what Horowitz rules when all is said and done.
In the meantime, it makes for great, gossipy reading. But in the final analysis, the whole thing is reminiscent of a line written by Shakespeare more than 400 years ago: "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Too bad Shakespeare's not around to cover this one. He'd have had it nailed.