If you can figure out Alex Rodriguez, do me a favor and explain him to me. Hopelessly caught in his own web of lies, Alex Rodriguez now gets to be the poster boy for PEDs. Once caught and now guilty until proven innocent a second time, somebody needs to explain to me why someone with seemingly nothing to gain would set himself up for such a fall.

Matthew Pouilet of Hardball Talk wondered as much last night, suggesting that A-Rod’s repeated (reported?) use of drugs stems from his need to win – his need to compete and prove he is the best. Not the worst amateur psychologist job on the internet, though his commenters wanted none of it.

Pouilet is one of the few who bothered wondered what compels a man who already had hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed income to cheat. Everybody else just wants him gone.

Ken Rosenthal steps forward with the bold idea that, rather than the Yankees attempting to void his contract, saving themselves a cool $114 million in the process, Rodriguez might insist he is medically unfit to play. With medical “evidence” he can no longer play, Rodriguez keeps his paychecks while the Yankees get bailed out by the comprehensive insurance policy protecting player and team.

Jeff Passan goes full indignation, calling Alex Rodriguez the next sports disgrace after Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. Rodriguez lied to Passan’s face and, presumably, lied to many faces about just about everything. Passan questions the Yankees third baseman’s motivation, citing his “desperation and hubris” as likely culprits.

Jayson Stark goes to the Lance Armstrong well also, demanding Bud Selig use his “just cause” clause to punish cheaters more than the 50 games they currently receive for their first infraction.

Danny Knobler — THE Knobler — goes after Rodriguez’s legacy, or lack thereof. In a series of half-sentence paragraphs, the Knobler calls this incident another black eye for baseball, speaking for all baseball fans when he ensures Alex Rodriguez will never get back the trust of baseball fans.

So many writers and fans and people around the game busy themselves attempting to draw a line in the sand. THIS is the breaking point for PEDs, the point after which the game will take the drug issue seriously. That the players will rise up against themselves, casting out those who would reach beyond the rules in an attempt to gain an edge.

I go back to something comedian David Cross said once: declaring war on terrorism is like declaring war on jealousy. It feels good to say but is ultimately futile. So long as there is life-changing eff-you money at stake, people will cheat. As long as there is glory and exaltation and opportunity to change the lives of your mother and grandmother and children’s children’s children, people will cheat. They will seek an edge.

The league suits can legislate and work to clean up the game, to ensure the fans are getting a fair show for their money and the participants are safe from themselves. But cheating is not unique to baseball and it isn’t going to ceremoniously go away under threat of suspension.

The issue is complex, more complex than most fans want to acknowledge. Displaying the heads of confirmed drug users on pikes outside each Major League baseball stadium makes a good show but it won’t stop those determined to get inside by from trying — any means necessary. All we can hope for a concerted effort to ensure those who wish to undermine the integrity of the game are refused entry and thrown out on their ears when found guilty.

FOUND guilty, not assumed guilty. That distinction means everything.

And the rest

MLB.com unveiled their top 100 prospects list. Jurickson Profar at the top! (More on this later) [MLB Pipeline]

The Mariners signed Kelly Shoppach. Problem solved! [MLBTR]

Who walked the most after falling behind 0-2? [Baseball Analytics]

Highlighting some possible CLIFFORD candidates – players who might see their performance fall of a cliff. [Fangraphs]

Get the Prodcast all up in your face. [Productive Outs]

Nick Johnson retires after all the injuries. Not surprising that he patiently waited until it was time. BOOM. [Washington Post]

This Week in Baseball recaps…from 1977 [Amazin Avenue]

Brisbee on Rodriguez [Baseball Nation]