Major League Baseball appears to be nearing a conclusion in its quest to suspend New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for their connection to the Biogenesis Clinic.
The meeting, likely to take place in Tampa, is expected to be one of the final steps before MLB suspends the fallen Yankee star for allegedly acquiring performance-enhancing drugs for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal that has engulfed baseball.
It is also reported that any suspensions handed out would not come before the All-Star Game next Tuesday at Citi Field.
Rodriguez will follow Braun, who T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN reported had his interview with MLB on June 29 and refused to answer any questions about a connection between himself, Bosch and the Biogenesis Clinic.
Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB have made it their personal mission to drop the hammer on Braun and A-Rod, the two most prominent players named in the Miami New Times report about the Biogenesis Clinic back in January.
Meeting with Rodriguez and Braun appears to be the final piece of the puzzle that MLB needs before determining if it can suspend the two former MVPs and for how long.
In June, the New York Daily News reported that Bosch cut a deal to work with MLB and provide information necessary to bring about penalties and suspensions to the players named in the New Times article.
That came after Bosch was said to have asked Rodriguez for financial help to pay for a lawsuit that Major League Baseball filed against him after the New Times report was released.
This story has had more twists and turns over the last five-plus months than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Rodriquez's forthcoming interview appears to be the only holdup in the proceedings, though it remains to be seen if he will actually say anything to MLB. Considering what Braun is reported to have done, it is hard to imagine A-Rod engaging in open conversation.
Especially with MLB hanging suspensions over their heads if it has hard evidence, Rodriguez has no reason to talk. But he will show up to the meeting because he has to.
This begs the question of what will happen with the punishments that baseball is expected to dole out in the wake of this mess. It is hoping to impose 100-game penalty on all the players linked to the clinic, according to a June report from ESPN.
According to the same Daily News report that said MLB was going to interview Rodriguez, investigators believe they have "ample evidence that Rodriguez has been involved with performance-enhancing drugs and are prepared to move for a lengthy suspension, perhaps a 100-game ban or even a lifetime ban."
Of course, the report also states that Rodriguez and his team have prepared a "hefty" defense that will help him escape any suspension.
What all of this says, at least to me, is that no matter how hard MLB fights and tries to send a message, there is always going to be something standing in the way of actually making the suspensions stick.
Even if MLB has a lot more witnesses in this case than just Bosch, the one thing it will have a hard time fighting is the Players Assocation and the collective bargaining agreement.
The 100-game suspension, which is the penalty for failing two drug tests in MLB, is, as the ESPN report says, because the link to Bosch and Biogenesis constitutes one offense and previous denials about a connection or use of PEDs is another.
While I am not a lawyer, it makes sense that if there is a collectively bargained deal in place addressing drug testing, then the lack of a failed drug test—regardless of whether a player has been linked to a distributor—would be enough to overturn the suspensions.
The MLBPA, which is the strongest union in all of sports and one of the strongest in any field, would fight anything that Selig tries to levy against its members. Considering this investigation is void of conclusive drug-test results and relies on the testimony of a man in Bosch who had a clear motive for coming clean, MLB may not have a leg to stand on in this matter.
But it could come down to what the other witnesses say and evidence that MLB has. All we are basing this assumption on is Bosch's word against the players'. Perhaps the mysterious evidence baseball is keeping under wraps will be substantial enough to prevent a legal court from overturning any suspension.
I have my doubts, and that is why it would be a huge surprise if MLB were able to carry out a 100-game suspension of Rodriguez and Braun.
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