Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
On Jan. 12, 2014, CBS news reporter Scott Pelley asked Rob Manfred if Alex Rodriguez tried to have a man killed.
"Are you saying that Alex Rodriguez and/or his associates were involved in threatening to kill Tony Bosch?" Pelley said.
"I don't know what Mr. Rodriguez knew," said Manfred, then MLB's chief operating officer. "I know that the individual involved has been an associate of Mr. Rodriguez for some time."
That "individual," who sources later identified as convicted steroid dealer Jorge "Ugi" Velazquez, was a former liquor store owner, A-Rod acquaintance and well-known figure in the Miami underworld.
In short, Velazquez had sent a text message indicating that Bosch -- owner of the infamous Biogenesis clinic, which supplied banned substances to A-Rod and got him suspended from baseball for a year -- would not live to see the end of the year.
During that time, MLB and A-Rod lobbed allegations back and forth about threats of violence, stolen documents and improper investigative techniques. A-Rod felt unfairly persecuted; MLB thought that goons working on his behalf engaged in a series of intimidation tactics.
This all feels like another lifetime ago, doesn't it?
Flash forward six years. Rodriguez and his fiance, Jennifer Lopez, are taking steps to buy the Mets. If he can assemble a group that makes the most appealing bid to current ownership, MLB will conduct diligence on him. Ultimately, the owners will vote.
To quote David Byrne: You might ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
As we all know, A-Rod has done well in rebranding himself from a drug-stained pariah to a crossover celebrity. He has made private amends with some of the people he hurt. Even those who once accused him of terrible deeds see genuine growth.
Manfred, now the commissioner, has given his tacit approval for A-Rod to emerge as a face of baseball, appearing on World Series broadcasts, at the All-Star Game, and just about every other tentpole event. As far as MLB is concerned, he has served his suspension for past offenses, and that chapter is closed.
But let's not pretend that to go from the subject of that 60 Minutes piece to MLB owner within a decade wouldn't represent an unprecedented leap.
Rodriguez could argue that many figures from the so-called steroid era have re-established themselves in the sport. Players named in the 2007 Mitchell Report have become coaches and managers, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds among them.
A-Rod could also argue that MLB has already approved owners with troubling pasts. Before Jim Crane purchased the Astros in 2011, the company he built, Eagle USA Airfreight, was the subject of a lengthy report issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The EEOC found that Eagle paid "female and minority employees less than white men who do similar work; did not investigate employee complaints of sexual harassment; and destroyed evidence that the company was instructed to retain as part of the two-year EEOC investigation."
Crane himself was accused of advising managers not to hire African-Americans, saying "Once you hire blacks, you can never fire them." The company paid $8.5 million in settlements related to the claims.
In 2006, the United States Justice Department sued Eagle for war profiteering, claiming that Crane's company had jacked up the prices on military shipments to Iraq. Eagle paid a $4 million settlement.
A-Rod's offenses did not compare to racism or war profiteering. They are perhaps closer to George Steinbrenner hiring a gambler to dig up dirt about Dave Winfield, for which the Yankees owner was suspended and reinstated.
But no one has ever been at war with Major League Baseball like A-Rod was, and then joined its club of 30 owners.
It would be a leap like none other in the history of the sport.