MLB, Selig Come to Their Senses and Hit A-Rod with a Very Defendable Suspension

Lou RomContributor IAugust 5, 2013

Aug 2, 2013; Trenton, NJ, USA; Trenton Thunder third baseman Alex Rodriguez answers questions after facing the Reading Fighting Phils at Arm & Hammer Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After months of threatening a lifetime ban and invoking MLB's rarely used "best interests" clause, Commissioner Bud Selig finally faced reality on Monday after suspending Alex Rodriguez for 211 games under the league's drug policy.

The commissioner's decision to ignore the outrage in his heart and use his head on this decision should save the league the embarrassment of a successful appeal, if not a drawn out legal battle.

Rodriguez, suspended along with 12 other players Monday, has promised to appeal any suspension—guaranteeing an ugly and very public battle between the league and its most famous user.

The announcement, which came shortly after 3 p.m. EST on Monday, stems from 13 players' ties to the since-shuttered Biogenesis anti-aging clinic.

Rodriguez is expected to appeal almost immediately. A hearing will take place before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz in the next three weeks, according to MLB sources. There is no set timetable for a ruling on the appeal.

The commissioner's office Monday, in explaining A-Rod's lengthy suspension, cited evidence that the Yankees' third baseman—on top of securing performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis—also recruited other players and obstructed its investigation into the matter, according to USA Today.

Had Selig invoked MLB's "best interests" clause and denied Rodriguez due process, he ran the risk of turning the 14-time All-Star into a martyr. 

Rodriguez's suspension, if held up by Horowitz, likely means A-Rod will never play again. It's highly unlikely that a 40-year-old Rodriguez could mount a comeback after two years away from the game and two hip surgeries.   

The suspension will cost the man who once seemed poised to break most every offensive record on the books—most importantly, the all-time home run record—about $40 million.

Selig's decision to back off his threat of a lifetime ban and to deny A-Rod due process should foster a better working relationship with the MLBPA, which in recent years has become less strident in its defense of PED users. 

In other words Selig's decision to tackle the latest suspensions with reason is indeed in the best interest of the game. 

All of the remaining 12 players accepted suspensions for the remainder of the regular season, including, most notably, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

Rodriguez is still expected to suit up tonight and start for the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox on the road. 

Lou Rom covers the New York Giants, all things New York, and whatever else gets under his skin for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at louromlive.