Whatever remnants of goodwill that might have still existed between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball in this ongoing appeals process essentially walked out the door Wednesday along with the New York Yankees third baseman.
So, too, may have Rodriguez's chances at a lesser suspension.
Rodriguez, who is appealing his historic, unprecedented 211-game ban for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal that has rocked baseball over the past year, exploded in an outburst, cursed at MLB's COO Rob Manfred and left the league's office in Manhattan, according to a report from Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York.
Rodriguez's tirade was sparked after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who has been overseeing these proceedings and will eventually hand out a decision on the suspension, declared MLB commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify and face questions from Rodriguez's attorneys.
Upon hearing this news, Rodriguez lost it, according to Matthews:
Horowitz was in the midst of the 12th day of hearings Wednesday on the grievance filed by the players' association to overturn the 211-game suspension given to the New York Yankees third baseman by MLB last summer for alleged violations of the sport's drug agreement and labor contract.
"This is ridiculous!" Rodriguez is said to have shouted after Horowitz issued his ruling shortly before noon.
Rodriguez then pointed a finger at Manfred, who directed baseball's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic suspected of being a source of illegal PEDs for ballplayers, and said "You know you're full of s---!"
Amended: A-Rod told Manfred he's "full of (expletive)''. You figure it out— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
Shortly after storming out, Rodriguez issued the following statement:
I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the players' association refused to order Selig to come in and face me.
The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.
Amid the many, many takeaways from a lengthy conversation/question-and-answer session during which a still-on-edge Rodriguez was rather open, he made it known on the record that he is not guilty of any of the charges the league has brought against him as a result of the Biogenesis investigation, particularly the use of performance-enhancing drugs, per Mark Feinsand of New York Daily News:
A-Rod just said "No" to the question, "Did you do any PEDs?" That, to my knowledge, is the first time he's publicly answered that question.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 20, 2013
Alex Rodriguez, in radio interview with WFAN, repeatedly denies PED use. "This is my life. This is my legacy. I'm part of history."— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 20, 2013
Rodriguez also made it clear that there's certainly no love lost between he and Selig, who Rodriguez claims personally has it out for him, per Feinsand and Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal:
A-Rod on Selig: "He hates my guts."— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 20, 2013
A-Rod: "100 percent this is personal."— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 20, 2013
ARod: Selig is "trying to destroy me. To put me on his big mantle on the way out, that's a hell of a trophy."— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) November 20, 2013
To cap off the interview, Rodriguez clarified once again that he did nothing wrong and expects to be the third baseman for the Yankees on Opening Day next season, per Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger:
A-Rod says he never did PEDs or obstructed justice. Says he is innocent. "I feel like I should be there on Opening Day."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) November 20, 2013
All that drama aside, this raises all sorts of questions about what happens next on the legal side of things, particularly if Rodriguez, who had claimed he himself would testify, will no longer take part in the proceedings.
All the histrionics aside, I for one would like to know why Bud Selig does not have to testify— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
There are indications, at least from Rodriguez's side, that this battle will wind up in federal court before it's over, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.
But that's for the lawyers and reps to figure out down the line. Perhaps the bigger, more pressing question now is: How will Rodriguez's actions impact the outcome of the appeal?
Remember, as the arbitrator, Horowitz has three options—uphold the full 211-game suspension, decrease the length of the ban (perhaps to a season's worth of games) or eliminate it altogether. Given the first possibility is already the baseline, either of the other two options would be better for Rodriguez.
While it's unknown just how much, if at all, Rodriguez's outburst will affect the decision, it's hard to see anything being decided in his favor at the moment, isn't it?
Regardless, it seems safe to say that shouting obscenities at a high-ranking MLB executive during a formal hearing—and in the presence of the very person who is deciding your fate—falls into the "probably doesn't help" category.
Of these four possibilities, which should happen to Rodriguez?
Picture Horowitz as a teacher who, after constantly putting up with a petulant student—in this scenario, that'd be Rodriguez—is sitting down to grade a test the class just completed. If there's any chance that said student's grade is on the fence between pass and fail, one imagines that it's more likely to result in an "F."
Obviously, decisions like these—whether in a classroom or an arbitration hearing for a professional athlete—are expected to be made based on the evidence and materials presented, not on emotion.
As this hearing continues to play out and eventually (and mercifully) comes to an end, Horowitz will be in that situation. Rodriguez will have to hope by that point, when it comes time for a decision, Horowitz will have had a chance for some perspective.
And some distance to help him overlook—but not quite forget—a day that certainly didn't help Rodriguez's case.