It's taken some time, but we've finally gotten there: the single dumbest thing you've ever read about Alex Rodriguez and the Biogenesis case. Our captain is Christopher Gasper at The Boston Globe. Our vessel is this column crucifying the "Pinstripe Pariah" for being allowed to play while he appeals his suspension.
Gasper's objection is a common one: that A-Rod has never specifically addressed the allegations MLB has made. Since he's never said some version of "I didn't do it," he shouldn't be allowed to play—in his time back the Yankees have gone 11-6—while he essentially disputes merely the length of his sentence. Which brings us to this unfathomably wrong paragraph:
Can you imagine if the American justice system worked this way? A defendant can make no claim to innocence, but doesn’t agree with his sentence, so in the meantime he’s free to go. Whitey Bulger would be doing cartwheels on Castle Island.
Putting aside that we are somehow comparing a collectively-bargained labor/management dispute resolution process to a criminal trial—not to mention that in most non-murder trials the defendant is usually entitled to at least post bail, allowing for the very cartwheeling nightmare scenario imagined while the defendant is tried—let's address the proposed Doomsday Scenario.
The "American justice system" does not, in fact, work this way. If a defendant has been sentenced, his guilt has already been determined by trial. Whitey Bulger has been convicted of murder. A-Rod has been accused of violating the Joint Drug Agreement. Put another way, Bulger was charged with committing certain crimes. He then disputed those charges in the proper forum while not addressing it anywhere but that forum, as he is permitted and encouraged to do. A final decision was made by an impartial body. After all of that, Bulger was convicted and could face a maximum sentence of life plus 30 years. He hasn't even been sentenced, yet he is safely behind bars because he had his day in court and lost. A-Rod's day is still unfolding.
Our "American justice system" has several important elements that protect against a rush to judgement. The first being that a defendant is not sentenced without a guilty verdict. Others include the presumption of innocence (which places the burden of proof on the party levelling the charges not the one defending them) and the constitutionally protected right not to incriminate oneself.
These are in place because sometimes even good people can become so insanely filled with rage or hatred at the crime that they want the accused to feel the full force and effect of justice, no matter the cost. The more injurious the crime, the more severe the punishment and accompanying calls for justice. Most times the accused is the person deserving of the punishment but when we are talking about imprisoning someone for any length of time, it goes without saying that this correlation shouldn't be assumed.
So, no, we won't be "spare[d]" the "talk about due process;" it is the most important part. It is the foundation of everything. If the process by which we determine guilt isn't on the level, how can it have any authority? Alex Rodriguez hasn't been convicted of anything by anyone except those who make inapt analogies and fail to understand even the most fundamental timeline and procedure necessary for a legitimate criminal prosecution while making them. He should not be punished—taken off the field—until such time as his appeal has been decided.
It may be frustrating that "his appeal is not based on exculpation" but we can't just set aside the basic judicial mechanism of accusation-defense-verdict because the Yankees went on a winning streak. Can you imagine if the American justice system worked that way?
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