The decision of the appeal of Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension has been announced, and the suspension has been reduced to 162-games, the entirety of the 2014 MLB season, and also includes the playoffs, should the Yankees make the postseason.
The suspension will end at the same time as it originally would have, as the 211-game suspension was from when it was issued back in August, as it remains through the end of 2014. Therefore, the reduction really isn’t all that much, even though A-Rod was able to play through the final portion of 2013, since those games ended up not having any playoff implications (although if the Yankees had won a couple more games, they could have).
If I were A-Rod (and thank God I’m not), I would be thankful to the arbitrator for reducing my suspension, and take the year off, whether I agreed with the ruling or not, and move on. Rodriguez, however, instead of accepting the blame for the drug use we all know he’s guilty of, still believes his situation is above the system, and is threatening to take MLB to federal court to appeal the suspension. He released the following statement regarding the suspension and what’s next.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.
I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal.”
There are a few things in this statement that I completely disagree with. First of all, at this point A-Rod shouldn’t keep protesting his innocence, because I don’t know one person that isn’t yet convinced of his guilt. Saying that the deck has been stacked against him is an incorrect metaphor, as there is plenty of completely credible evidence that MLB uncovered to prove A-Rod’s connection to the Biogenesis clinic. The thought MLB may abolish guaranteed contracts after players are suspended for PED use is a good idea, as hopefully that would keep players from taking the chance, but I feel confident saying that MLB will not, in the 2016 bargaining round, push for lifetime bans for first-time offenders. That would be much too harsh a penalty, and would be a black eye for the game every single time someone was busted, because it would cause another player to be gone for good for one failed drug test.
A-Rod says he didn’t use PEDs, but himself said in 2009 he used them from 2001 to 2003, and that admission came after years of denial. Now, he’s apparently back to the denial stage. In addition, he failed 2 drug tests in 2003, which we learned in early 2009 after anonymous tests were decoded in the BALCO investigation. He speaks harshly of the evidence that MLB has compiled, and of the process they have used in the suspension. Rodriguez talks about what he’s been through, but he has put himself through a lot of that himself, including the appeals process in particular. Perhaps the reason he is being so stubborn to accept such a suspension, as the season-long suspension will cost him $24 million. However, he has already made $303 million in his career on the baseball field alone, not to mention endorsements and sponsorships.
Is greed the main reason behind A-Rod’s threat to appeal to federal court? That’s certainly a possibility.
A-Rod, you’ve already made over $300 million in your career, and after the suspension, you will make tens of millions more. So please stop this suit, for the good of the game, its fans, and yourself. You’ve spoken about what you’ve been through in the appeals process; it’s about to be that much worse if you appeal this to federal court, because the court can and will side with MLB and its arbitrators.
I’m so sure that a federal judge will side with MLB for a reason pointed out in a tweet by ESPN’s Keith Olbermann: “Salient point is ARod suing over a suspension process agreed to by his employers and the union to which he belongs. Courts uphold these.” Later he added, “Courts have almost never interfered with an industry arbitration/appeals process that’s part of collective bargaining.”
However, A-Rod is going to be both arrogant and stubborn on this issue, and will likely continue to be until he dies. It wouldn’t surprise me if he even took this to the Supreme Court. It would absolutely shock me, however, if any federal court reduced or overturned the suspension. And yet, even though the outcome will be anti-climactic, this case will be dragged out in court over a period of months or even years right ahead of us. It’s terrible for the game of baseball, for its fans, and even for A-Rod. I’m sure he wants to play because of, first of all, the money, and second of all, because he’s a professional athlete and competitor who doesn’t want to watch the game on the sidelines. But for as long as this case drags on, it will be a black eye for MLB, but also on A-Rod’s personal reputation.
The longer it drags on, the more people are going to dislike him more and more. A lot of fans are over the Tiger Woods and Michael Vick issues, because they paid the price for their actions, are sorry for their actions, and have moved on with their careers. Rodriguez doesn’t want to do that, and instead wants to make us read his name in the news every few days as developments emerge. If he would accept his suspension and admit his guilt, and then apologize for the damage he has done to the game, it would be controversial, and there would be those who would never forgive him, but over time the wound would heal somewhat. This way, with the near certainty the suspension will stand, he will do damage to himself, as far as reception in the public goes, that would never be repaired.
Another reason it would be better for himself to accept the suspension is his age. He will be 39 in July, and if he took the year suspension, he would return to spring training in 2015 as a 39-year old veteran with a couple of years left. He is under contract with the Yankees until 2017. If he drags this out, it could take so long for the case to be resolved that his career might would be in jeopardy. Let’s say the court case lasts 1 year, for instance. He would turn 40 during the year of suspension, which would now be 2015, and would turn 41 just a couple of months after he came back on Opening Day 2016. And if he takes this case to higher court, assuming the suspension is upheld, it could take even longer, further jeopardizing his chances of a comeback. It’s not like players in their early 40s have never played in the big leagues, they certainly have. But the odds of taking a year or more off (the “more” if he can’t play during court proceedings, or if the proceedings happen in midseason and he has to be present), and then coming back and still expecting to be a player capable of producing as well as he has throughout his career aren’t good.
So, as I’ve said, A-Rod needs to do a favor for himself, for the game, and for the fans, and stop legal proceedings now, and accept this suspension and be done with it by the end of 2014.
Just give it up, A-Rod!