The notion of Bud Selig suspending Rodriguez imminently under the collective bargaining agreement rather than the drug rules is the latest bombshell in the Biogenesis fallout.
If the commissioner does invoke the "integrity of the game" clause, Rodriguez would not be allowed to play while appealing the punishment. At 38 years old, with two surgically repaired hips, the notion of never seeing A-Rod in a major-league uniform again becomes possible, if not very real, in the event baseball chooses this route.
This course of action would be in lieu of a punishment for performance-enhancing drugs. The ability to change the narrative of A-Rod's indiscretions from PED use to compromising the well-being of baseball would give Bud Selig the power to institute a penalty without restriction. While the PED suspension barometer is clear and simple for first- and second-time offenders, the type of suspension for violating the integrity of the sport is subjective.
In other words, Selig can, if he's so bold as to take Rodriguez head on with an arbitrator, levy a lifetime ban on the three-time Most Valuable Player.
Essentially, Selig and Major League Baseball are changing the game in the midst of battle. What once looked to be a suspension and appeals process that could drag on into 2014 is now bordering on baseball's version of an immediate and sudden-death penalty for Rodriguez.
The tactic, if you're on the side of baseball doing anything and everything to rid the sport of drugs, is bold, yet calculated.
Based on his comments, interviews and statements, it's clear that Rodriguez wants to continue playing baseball above all else. A-Rod hasn't played at all this season due to a hip injury. He's been battling back on a rehab assignment at the minor league level, but Selig could end that pursuit at any minute. The specter of removing that love from his life could cause Camp A-Rod to accept a deal—something, at least thus far, he's been unwilling to contemplate publicly.
Suspending Rodriguez through the drug guidelines in the CBA would allow him to get back on the field and potentially postpone a suspension until next season, but using the integrity clause and Selig's inherent powers would take him out of commission now, causing all of his hard work to return to the field to be in vain.
It's obvious that Rodriguez sees the same writing on the wall as fans and media members. Ballplayers who are almost 40 years old don't have a long track record of taking time off and returning. If A-Rod has anything left in the tank, he wants to show and prove it in 2013.
Selig, in one of his final acts as MLB commissioner, is attempting to revoke that option.
If the plan is enacted, the idea of Rodriguez ever suiting up again for the New York Yankees becomes harder and harder to imagine. While he has three years left on his 10-year, $275 million pact beyond 2014, the team could swallow enough of the $61 million left from 2015 through 2017 to make Rodriguez disappear.
While many in New York have clamored for the team to allow a healthy Rodriguez to return in 2013 and provide the Yankees with an upgrade at third base in the midst of a pennant race, his declining ability, advanced age and time away from the game will likely put him out of sight and mind in the Bronx by 2015.
The prospect of seeing the slugger adding to his 647 career home runs in pinstripes—or anywhere else for that matter—appears to be all but dead.
Rodriguez's legal strategy and appeal were destined to give him a chance to rewrite his lasting narrative in New York one more time before either winning a legal war with Selig or succumbing to a long-term suspension.
Now, the notion of moving away from the drug ordinance changes the equation. From baseball's perspective, it's seedy, but considering the fan vitriol towards Rodriguez, his downfall will likely be met with open arms.
Comment below, follow me on Twitter or "like" my Facebook page to talk all things baseball!