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Alex Rodriguez, on Saturday, received news he had been hoping he wouldn’t hear. He has been suspended for the duration of the 2014 season.
Over the last several months, he has been embroiled in an ugly appeals process with MLB over his 211-game suspension relating to his alleged steroid use and involvement with Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. He and his team have been trying to proclaim his innocence, while also discrediting MLB’s evidence and witnesses. It only worked to the extent that he won’t be forced to sit out the additional 49 games he ended up playing in last year while the appeals process began.
This 162-game ban was just about the worst case scenario for A-Rod. The 211-game suspension was an unprecedented length from the league, and the likelihood of arbitrator Fred Horowitz upholding it in its entirety was slim to begin with. But the MLB knew that.
The league also knew it was a very real possibility that Horowitz could still rule A-Rod out for all of 2014, which is exactly what happened. For the MLB, this is nothing short of a huge victory. Selig and Co. have had their targets set on A-Rod for years, and this ruling validates their decision to hand out a punishment that goes beyond the 50 games typically given to a first-time offender.
Even with today’s ruling, though, this battle is far from over. Earlier this week, reports emerged that Rodriguez would consider accepting a reduced ban, possibly in the sub-100 game range. A full season suspension, however, is not reduced enough.
Rodriguez says he will, indeed, file a lawsuit to take this matter to federal court. In a statement issued on Saturday, he argued that the tactics MLB used during the appeals process would not hold up in front of a judge. He points to the facts that the league included testimony from a criminal, MLB lacked credible evidence, and that Horowitz disregarded facts and the law. So he’s prepared to fight on.
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.
It’s fairly safe to say Rodriguez has no real interest in whether future players’ contracts are guaranteed. He has a lot of money on the line himself. He is scheduled to make $25 million this season, and he wouldn’t see a penny of that if he is suspended for the year.
The Yankees would undoubtedly love to see A-Rod kept away from The Bronx. With Alex Rodriguez suspended, the Yankees could free up a lot of money from a declining player. That would be a huge gain for a team with many holes to fill that is fighting to stay under the luxury tax threshold. Even keeping the A-Rod circus out of town would be worth it in itself. The Yankees would likely look to a veteran like Michael Young or Mark Reynolds to fill in at third.
Rodriguez, though, is too narcissistic to throw in the towel. He’ll take his legal fight to a judge in the hopes of getting someone to believe he is not the cheat the league has labeled him as. But if that fails, once again, it is entirely possible Rodriguez has played his last game in the major leagues. And MLB would love nothing more.
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