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Jamie Heap
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Alex Rodriguez, PEDs and milestone homerun bonuses

Alex Rodriguez pictured here in this Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, photo from April 19, 2008, has millions of reasons to continue playing baseball, even is he is suspended. According to ESPN, negotiations between Rodriguez and MLB over the length of the ban have stalled. If Rodriguez is not willing to except a suspension that would cover the balance of the season and all of next, then MLB may seek a lifetime ban of Rodriguez. The announcement of other suspensions are expected today.

A little over a month ago, I suggested that the financial rewards of being a Major League Baseball player outweighed being found guilty of utilizing performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). I stand by that statement today.

While Ryan Braun, the first casualty of the Biogenesis scandal, lost some $3.5 million in salary this year by way of a 65 game, season-ending suspension (which the Brewers are indirectly giving back to their fans through a $10.00 concession voucher for all remaining home games), there are still 8 years left on his contract with the Milwaukee Brewers (his 7 year/$105 million contract extension with them does not even kick in until 2015)

Similarly, it may just be a matter of time before New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez, a career .300 hitter with 647 home runs,1,950 RBI, 2,901 hits, 318 stolen bases and 1,898 runs scored, receives a similar suspension from MLB for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

The key number: 647 HR.

Even if Rodriguez (who hasn’t played an MLB game all year due to a hip injury) was to be suspended for the remainder of the season, and possibly next year as well, he would still have three to four more years left on his 10-year/$275 million contract, the richest in MLB history, notwithstanding an opportunity to earn an additional $30 million in bonuses.

How? “Alex will get $6 M each for his 660th, 714th, 755th, 762nd, and 763rd career homers,” according to an April 21, 2012 article written by Mike Axisa. Why are these numbers significant? Negotiating under the  premise that Alex Rodriguez’ career is an historic one, agent Scott Boras negotiated $30 million worth of potential bonuses : $6 million if he tied Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), Barry Bonds (762) and 763 (one more than Bonds).

There was a time that attaining each and every one of these milestones was a foregone conclusion. Not anymore. Injuries and a potential suspension that is looming over Alex Rodriguez have made collecting them mere possibilities.

In a game driven by numbers, it is a shame that Biogenesis, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez headlines have taken away from breakout season that Baltimore Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis is having, notwithstanding the season being put together by reigning American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

While Davis may not eclipse Barry Bonds’ all-time single season home run mark of 73, reaching 62 homeruns, one more than Roger Maris had, would be historic.

Organizations: Major League Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees Baltimore Orioles American League Triple Crown

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