When an arbitrator between MLB and Alex Rodriguez's legal team ruled that MLB's initial suspension of 211 games was too extreme, reducing the term to 162 games, including the playoffs, Bud Selig was able to close out his legacy exactly as he wanted.
Ever since PEDs tarnished baseball for much of the last few decades, or brought fans back to the game, depending on your perspective, Selig has made it a priority to ensure he is remembered for the commissioner who cracked down on PEDs and eradicated them from the game, rather than the guy who let it happen under his watch.
Unfortunately for Selig, the legacy he is trying to run away from is the one of fact, whereas the latter is public perception. Though Selig finally bagged Rodriguez, an admitted user who became the poster child for the benefits of PEDs with his gargantuan contracts, players below the majors are still using drugs to try and get to the bigs. On another level, players like Kobe Bryant can travel to different countries to have operations that aren't legal in the United States, a move Rodriguez also pulled while recovering from injury. He can suspend as many "cheaters" as he likes, but Selig, nor any athletic commission, will simply never out-run advances in medical technology.
Rodriguez was angry at the decision, feeling like the object of Selig's legacy PR campaign. MLB used shady tactics to acquire documents used to suspend Rodriguez, a point A-Rod says he will take to federal court to try and overturn the decision, while holding on to the fact that he never tested positive.
But whether he did or didn't is a bit like Selig's attempt to hide what he perceives to be the transgressions of his era. At this point, people believe A-Rod to be a cheater, and his millions don't lend him the benefit of the doubt, especially in this economy.
He would do better to simply move on and try to make his money and wealth have meaningful impact on the world. At 38-years-old, Rodriguez has plenty of time to show his true character and rehabilitate his image.
As Selig will find out, it is impossible to outrun the past. In his attempt to do so, he suspended several players, costing them millions, effecting their teams and ultimately disappointing fans by taking away key players. But the legacy of the McGwire's, Bonds', Sosa's and A-Rod's days in MLB will never change.
The next commissioner will have different options without the weight of a scandal. Perhaps there are safe alternatives to using these drugs. Perhaps, like the War on Drugs that is so miserably failing society, it would be better to work with the evolving technology and drugs, rather than against it.
We will find out shortly, as Selig will no longer be running MLB in 2014. As for Rodriguez, he looks ready to burn all the money he made using PEDs trying to undo what's already been done.
Maybe that's justice.