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I cannot imagine having to pick up my life and move halfway across the world for a new job. I feel like it would really suck and be very difficult having to adjust to a whole new culture. Masahiro Tanaka will have to make an adjustment as he starts pitching for the Yankees, but I think he should be just fine. This is a good article that explains the significance of having fellow Japanese players Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki on the same to team to help ease the transition for Tanaka. 

Masahiro Tanaka and Billy Joel might get along well…

I say this because both Masahiro Tanaka and Billy Joel seem to be in a New York state of mind.

            As reported this morning, Tanaka has signed a seven-year deal with the New York Yankees for $155 million, and this included an opt-out after four years. And yes, that is an insane amount of money, and yes, it is record-breaking. He is now the holder of the fifth-largest contract offered to a pitcher, putting him behind Cy Young winners and proven pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander.

            No one is really surprised that Tanaka signed with New York, although some may still be a bit surprised at the amount of money. The number of years should be no surprise, but the amount of money might trip people up. After all, this is a guy who has never pitched in the MLB. Yeah, he dominated the Japanese League, but MLB is a different animal. Can he live up to the pressure? I think so. If he didn’t think he could, he wouldn’t have chosen to go to New York, where the spotlight is brightest.

            There are other teams who needed Tanaka. The Cubs and D-Backs expressed strong interest, but the feeling was not mutual. Don’t get me wrong, I love the D-Backs and I respect the crap out of the Cubs, but I don’t know many pitchers who would wake up one day and say to themselves, “Gee, coming into the majors for the first time sounds like fun! I think I’ll go to Arizona or to a team who hasn’t won a championship in decades.” The New York Yankees or the Los Angeles Dodgers would have been the most logical choices, and as a resident of Arizona, I am quite happy Tanaka chose not to go LA.

            The Yankees are back to being the Yankees. No longer worrying about staying under their $189 million goal, they have acquired some serious talent this offseason. Like, $438 million worth of talent. They need the offense they got in Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann. They need the pitching they should be getting in Masahiro Tanaka. They are probably not done, though, since I believe they need to add to the bullpen and possibly fortify their infield. So hey, since they are over their self-imposed salary cap, they might as well keep going. You might as well.

            Now that Tanaka is off the market, the remaining pitchers on the market will be swept up relatively quickly. There is no more limbo to sit through, and that is a very good thing. With Spring Training just around the corner, it will be good for the remaining free agents to settle into their new teams.

            I gotta say, it is going to be fun to see Tanaka settle into his new team and new role. I mean, the Yankees are generally always fun to watch, but with all of the off-season signings I feel like the fans have extra incentive to watch the games. The Yankees needed Tanaka and they got him. Let’s just hope that he will live up to expectations. 

162 Games

162 games.

     162 games. I can safely say that I am surprised by this verdict of suspending Alex Rodriguez for a whole season. As I have said before, I lean slightly Team A-Rod, so I guess I am biased against this, but there are so many questions I still have:

 

     Question #1: Why can’t we see the evidence used in the hearing and why isn’t the arbitrator forced to show it? Whenever the Supreme Court hands down a ruling, they must present a written-out verdict, explaining why they ruled a certain way. I want to see exactly what the arbitrator saw, just so I can have some clarity on the matter. I want to see what evidence he saw. If we had more information, maybe the suspension would seem more reasonable, but for what it’s worth, given the evidence we as a public have received, 162 games seems a bit excessive. This process probably was never meant to be transparent, but I think it would be good if it were, at least a little more.

     Question #2: Why didn’t Bud Selig testify at the trial? We, as a country, have granted defendants the right to face their accuser. A-Rod did not get this. He was right to be upset and even said himself that he wanted to face the man who was trying to further run his career into the ground (more so than A-Rod has already done to himself).  If you are going to hand down a much larger suspension to one player than all of the other players, I think you need to get up there and explain this. If Selig was forced to testify, A-Rod should testify, too.

     Question #3: What are the Yankees going to now? There are still a lot of loose ends here. Obviously, they will have quite a chunk of money to spend, to go after players that will produce more and make them a much stronger team to go all-in on Tanaka. The off-season has been good to New York and they have signed a bunch of great offensive talent, all of whom would probably produce more than A-Rod. New York is coming out of this in a relatively scoff-free manor. The Yankees are probably pleased with the verdict, as they should be. With A-Rod still fighting a legal fight, they will be in limbo for a while, but now they have more flexibility. But remember, he is under contract through 2017.

     Question #4: Why wasn’t there such a “witch hunt” when people like Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire were playing? I have no answer to this one, but it troubles me to see MLB glance over this era and then come down so hard on a single player. Because they didn’t do anything about the PED issue then, why on earth are they doing something now? Bonds and McGuire filled seats and McGuire and Sosa’s epic homerun battle entranced everyone. Was that why nothing was done? I dunno. I honestly have no idea what the logic behind all of this is, but I do know that something is very wrong.

     Question #5: Why was A-Rod specifically targeted? Again, I have no idea. Unless I can see the documents that were specifically in the hearing, I don’t think anyone ever will. It’s not fair to A-Rod to be targeted in such a way.

     Question #6: What should A-Rod do now? Well, he says he will keep fighting. His chances of succeeding in a federal court are slim to none, at best. Would he fare better in front of a jury? It’s anyone’s guess. Should he gamble on it? Should he just accept his suspension? It’s all a mess. A big, big mess. No one can sort it out except for him. Will it be worth it to spend millions of his own money to fight this? I wouldn’t, but I’m not Alex Rodriguez. He no longer has the Union behind him, but I highly doubt that will stop him.

     Question #7: What’s his legacy? Beats the hell out of me. We cannot discount all the amazing feats he accomplished. If we still hold Bonds’ records in account, we cannot just throw away A-Rod’s. Will he be in the Hall of Fame? Probably not. Should he be? I’m not sure. His skill is incomparable, or at least, was incomparable.

 

     So, if A-Rod cheated, he should be punished, no question. But with no documents released confirming that he did, I’m stuck. It’s widely known that he did not test positive for PEDs. Let’s face it: this whole thing a mess. MLB is saying one thing, players are saying one thing, writers are saying thing, the fans are saying one thing, and A-Rod is saying one thing. It’s a crazy, crazy mess and I have a feeling it won’t be sorted out any time soon. I can’t say what the next moves should be, but I will say that I truly believe he was unfairly targeted and made out to be an example. I hope I see him in pinstripes this year, but it’s starting to look like that’s just not going to happen. I am accepting that and looking to the future, but it’s hard to say if A-Rod will do the same.

     I’m not going to sit here and say A-Rod is not guilty in any of this. It’s clear he has made some bad choices in this whole ordeal, but someone has to play devil’s advocate here. I’ll play devil’s advocate because I am not convinced justice has been done. MLB is guilty. A-Rod is probably guilty of something. There are really no winners here, except MLB’s drug eradication program. 

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Alright, alright. I gotta get this off my chest: Hi, my name is Hannah and I am Team A-Rod.

Yep. You read that right.

Look, I get that he may not be the most likable guy and it is possible he cheated the game. If he did, he should be suspended, no question. But, is it odd to anyone else that he specifically has been targeted by MLB? Isn’t it odd that Bug Selig was never asked to testify in A-Rod’s trial, considering he basically used the “just because” clause when bringing down the 211 game suspension? And isn’t it odd that nothing like this was happening years ago when the likes of Barry Bonds and other juicers were filling the seats in stadiums across the country?

I’m not going to pretend I know everything about this trial, but there are a lot of things I don’t agree with. But, if A-Rod can agree to a shorter suspension instead of gambling for a not-guaranteed win, I think he should, not that he has the leverage to do that. If he gets less than 100 games, he has some thinking to do. If he has more, well, he won’t go down without another fight.