* Jason Bay (Trail, BC), right, accepts congratulations from Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) after scoring. Bay became the fifth player to be honoured by having his name played on the Baseball Canada Wall of Excellence. .... Sign up for CBN Newsletter
By Bob Elliott
He had the world and the game, he was paid so handsomely to play, in the palm of his hand.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz came down with the gavel, the hammer and a 10-ton mallet on that hand suspending New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for 162 games on Saturday. Major League Baseball contended that Rodriguez had obtained illegal performance-enhancing substances from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in South Florida and then sought to hinder investigation into those allegations.
“It should be a year’s suspension for anyone’s first offence,” said Seattle Mariners outfielder Mike Saunders, the MVP of the World Baseball Classic in March. “Some guys get suspended and get bigger contracts.”
Like Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who served a 50-game suspension, normally given for a first timer, last season in the Biogenises investigation, and signed a four-year, free-agent $52 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals this winter. Melky Cabrera signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Blue Jays after being suspended 50 games for PED use in 2012.
The best in Canadian baseball came to fete Jason Bay, who will have his name placed on Baseball Canada’s Wall of Excellence in Ottawa, at the 12th annual Baseball Canada fund raiser held at the Renaissance Toronto Hotel. Rodriguez, who had his suspension reduced from 211 games, was the topic.
“Being suspended 162 games is serious, but if you look at it other way he had a lot of games (49) knocked off,” said Bay. “I’m hesitant to have an opinion, because I’m not sure if it is actually over. I don’t know when the end will actually come.”
Rodriguez will contest the ruling in federal court. The Yankees meanwhile save $24 million US of Rodriguez’s salary this year and have more to spend on free-agent right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
“If you want to do that sort of stuff, take the penalty, accept the consequences and it’s over. Look at Andy Pettitte and Jason Giambi. They admitted guilt, were knocked for a week and everyone forgot about it.
“Guys who get caught should say ‘I screwed up,’ rather than keep dragging it on forever.”
In all, 12 players were suspended as a result of the Biogenesis -- none longer than the 65 games given to Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun.
“Not many guys are happy about the cheating -- it’s supposed to be a level playing field,” said Brewers closer Jim Henderson. “Ryan showed late in the season for a physical and talked to some guys. I don’t know if there will be an apology to the team in the spring, I know I don’t need one.
“Hopefully he can get back into the lineup and get fans on his side -- he won’t win them all back, but I’m glad he accepted responsibility.”
Growing up in Trail, B.C. there were only three Canadian major leaguer Bay could identify with as a youngster: Edmonton’s Mike Johnson of the Montreal Expos, Jason Dickson from Chatham, N.B. of the Anaheim Angels and Colorado Rockies Larry Walker, of Maple Ridge, B.C.
“Being a small-town, B.C. guy, like myself, Larry was the guy I identified with most,” said Bay, the sixth honoured on the Wall of Excellence. He joins Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., Etobicoke’s Joey Votto, Ryan Dempster, of Gibson’s B.C., Ernie Whitt from the Windsor, Ont. suburbs of Clinton Township, Mich. and Walker.
“When you start out playing you certainly aren’t thinking of recognition like this,” said Bay. “It means a lot when people appreciate it. Baseball in Canada is bigger now (23 major leaguers, 30 at triple-A) than when I was young, but it is still a small community.”
Bay was closer to Walker, who came to the game late after hockey didn’t work out, than say Votto (2nd round draft) or Morneau and Dempster (both third-round choices). Bay was not drafted out of high school, went to Bing Crosby’s school, Gonzaga, to play for the Stags and was selected in the 22nd round by the Montreal Expos in 2000. He did not establish himself until his fourth organization, the Pittsburgh Pirates, being involved in deals for the likes of for Lou Collier, Jason Middlebrook, Steve Reed, Oliver Perez and Brian Giles.
Released in late July by the Mariners, Bay is retiring, turning down opportunities to go to camps on minor-league deals. He sits third in all-time home runs by a Canadian behind Walker (383) and Fredricton’s Matt Stairs (265) and one ahead of Morneau (221).
“Getting released was a blessing, I didn’t know what I was missing,” said Bay, who will send 2014 at home with his children Addison, seven, Evelyn, five and Garrett, two.
Unlike Rodriguez, it was his choice.