- Grove City, Pennsylvania

January 15, 2014

EXTRA INNINGS: Don't look for A-Rod to ever appear on the field again

By Jim Sankey
Allied News Baseball Columnist

OPINION — LIKE A dragged-out story on “The Young and the Restless,” the saga of Alex Rodriguez continues to play out before people who are tired of the weariness of this never-ending story.

The narrative of an admitted doper during his 2001-2003 seasons in Texas has focused on the suspensions of 14 baseball players connected to the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic, an infamous supplier to major-league baseball players of supplements banned by Major-League Baseball.

Twelve were suspended for 50 games as first-time offenders under the Joint Drug Agreement. Ryan Braun was suspended for 65 games, and Rodriguez for 211 games. Also suspended in 2013 was Cesar Carrillo for 100 games, although he was not connected to the Biogenesis investigation.

Fourteen of the 15 accepted their suspensions without appealing; A-Rod fought his punishment, as was his right.

Threatening to sue both MLB and the Players Association if the ban was upheld, at least in this case A-Rod was truthful, since Monday he filed in U.S. District Court, seeking to vacate a reduced suspension of any regular-season and post-season games played by the Yankees, a full 162 regular-season schedule plus up to a maximum 20 playoff games should the team qualify for post-season play.

Unless you are as clueless as A-Fraud, you know that baseball’s independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz last Saturday reduced the suspension, but the season-long ban is the longest in the history of MLB’s anti-drug efforts.

Despite almost universal condemnation of the third-baseman from owners, players, and media alike, Rodriguez will try to get in district court what it has lost forever in the court of public opinion.

The lawsuit claims that Horowitz showed “partiality” and “a manifest disregard for the law” and that the MLB Players Association “violated its duty of fair representation.” Sports Illustrated reported that the suit also blasted the Association’s late union chief Michael Weiner for saying that he had recommended to Rodriguez a number of games that Rodriguez might find acceptable in a suspension. Rodriguez's lawyers have repeatedly said MLB and Selig were unfairly prosecuting and persecuting a player once considered the best in the business.

Rodriguez’s lawyers claimed Horowitz’s report was based mostly on the testimony of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, who appearance on Sunday night’s “60 Minutes” demonized both himself and A-Rod.

“Based on the entire record from the arbitration,” Horowitz wrote, “MLB has demonstrated with clear and convincing evidence there is just cause to suspend Rodriguez for the 2014 season and 2014 postseason for having violated the [joint drug agreement] by the use and/or possession of testosterone, IGF-1, and HGH over the course of three years and for the two attempts to obstruct MLB’s investigation.”

Horowitz wrote that the evidence showed that Rodriguez committed three distinct violations of the doping rules and that testimony by Bosch was “direct, credible, and squarely corroborated by excerpts from several of the hundreds of pages of his personal composition notebooks,” SI added.

As one who always has a hard time accepting as gospel the “truth” from persons like Bosch or those whose books, TV appearances, and statements tend to promote themselves with financial gains, I still cannot believe in a completely concocted witch-hunt by the entirety of the sports world against a man whose once-achievable goal of setting baseball’s all-time home run record is now as unattainable as his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Despite the loss of $25 million of his $28 million salary in 2014, Rodriguez will still be paid $61 million NOT to play over the remaining three years of his contract with the Yankees, doled out when he turns 40, 41, and 42 through 2017. He also will lose a potential $30 million in marketing bonuses for home run milestones from 660 to 763.

A-Rod will end up with his current career total of 654 roundtrippers, as he most assuredly will never again play between the lines of a major-league game.

And that’s baseball’s sweetest victory of all.

Jim Sankey is a baseball columnist for Allied News.