Rodriguez chooses suspension over discomfort of trial

Pitchers and catchers reported to the spring training sites of Major League Baseball teams last week, the welcome harbinger of spring. The rest of the rosters are reporting this week.

Alex Rodriguez is not among those reporting to the New York Yankees spring training facilities.

You remember “ARod,” the owner of all those home runs who claims to be a victim of a Major League Baseball witchhunt following a 211-game suspension last summer. That came after a probe of a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of providing banned substances to players.

There were 14 players suspended, but Rodriquez was suspended for the longest, prompting an appeal. A judge ruled four weeks ago that a reduced suspension to all of this season 162 games would be more appropriate.

Rodriguez sued to get the suspension reduced or eliminated and even sued the players union, which has approved the drug-testing policies that led to the suspension in the first place.

After a month of screaming, Rodriguez quietly dropped the lawsuits just before spring training reporting time.

We wonder if the representatives of Rodriguez finally managed to explain to him that when his case came to court he would have to testify under oath to questions about his performance- enhancing drug experiences.

Baseball erred two decades ago in turning a conveniently blind eye to burgeoning use of steroids and other performance enhancers, many of which were incredibly not banned at the time.

But the leaders of the game are doing the right thing in trying to right that wrong now, as hard as it is to keep up with the science of cheating.

A game that relies so much on numbers has a recent history filled with inflationary statistics. That’s bad enough. But it would be worse to just turn the game into a contest among the ability to come up with the best plan for using performance enhancers to maximize talent. We suspect, had Rodriguez gone to trial, we would have found out his history with performance enhancing drugs is a lot deeper than his protestations have indicated.

A trial would have required an honest conversation about Rodriguez’s drug history. We suspect he concluded that removing the victim veneer and actually having to deal in facts would not have been fun.

For the good of the game and the health of its players, baseball needs to keep making use of performance-enhancing drugs as uncomfortable as possible.