Big Takeaways from Alex Rodriguez's Passionate WFAN Interview
The long, arduous triple-threat match between Alex Rodriguez, Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees came to a screeching halt on Wednesday afternoon. The three-time American League Most Valuable Player stormed out of his grievance hearing when arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order baseball commissioner Bud Selig to testify.
Hours later, Rodriguez resurfaced, this time in the studio with WFAN host Mike Francesa. During an animated interview, Rodriguez, alongside one of his many legal advisers, spoke to the longtime New York radio host about his anger at Bud Selig, distrust of baseball, reason for fighting his suspension and where he expects to be in April.
The fallout, as you can imagine, will be felt by Rodriguez and Major League Baseball as his hearing continues over the next few weeks.
Here are the biggest Rodriguez soundbites and impassioned thoughts to take away from his time in the WFAN studios on Wednesday afternoon.
Listen to the full interview here.
*All quotes attributed to CBS New York, WFAN and the YES Network.
PED Usage Vehemently Denied
For the first time since the Biogenesis story broke in January, Alex Rodriguez addressed the accusations surrounding his use of performance-enhancing drugs in the time since his 2009 admission of prior use.
When asked by Francesa about the accusations by Major League Baseball, Rodriguez firmly denied using any illegal substances.
“I did nothing, Mike. With the (Anthony) Bosch nonsense, nothing.”
He also denied that he had any involvement with indicting other players in the Biogenesis scandal via leaking documents about Ryan Braun to Yahoo! Sports, calling the assertion “laughable” and “disgusting.”
This tactic, along with extreme candor by the tarnished superstar, was a complete reversal from his public stance since the 211-game suspension was handed down in August. During the season, Rodriguez asked for time and for reporters to respect the process. At no juncture did he truly deny using performance-enhancing drugs.
On Wednesday, that changed.
According to Rodriguez, he is innocent of all charges levied against him by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball.
Arbitration Process over Until Bud Selig Testifies
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.
With those three sentences, an edict was dropped. Alex Rodriguez will not participate any further in the arbitration process until the commissioner of baseball agrees to show up and testify.
During this portion of the interview, Rodriguez's emotions were on display for the world to see and hear, a far cry from his patient, long-term view of the situation during the 2013 season. The 38-year-old third baseman came off as irritated and disenchanted with the process that he believes isn't being carried out in the proper manner.
Of course, Selig is not required to appear at the hearing. As of this moment, the two biggest players in this high-stakes game of poker may not be in attendance to see a verdict come through.
It's About the Money
The one question that I would have for the fans of baseball... This has been a disgusting process for everyone. I'm more embarrassed than anyone to be on the front pages of the news. This is the game that I love more than anything. This is what I have my PHD in and I love it. I watch your show, I watch the Yankees, I watch the Mets, I watch the Dodgers. I'll be the 75-year-old watching three or four games a night. This is what I do, I live it. If I had one year and $12 million left on my deal, would I have gotten 211 games?
After leading into his pertinent question with a series of phrases that cemented his love of baseball, Rodriguez asked if he would be in this position if his contract wasn't so substantial. Regardless of his guilt or innocence in the proceedings and place on a list of baseball's most disliked players, it is a fair question.
If Rodriguez's contract didn't hamper the day-to-day business of the most powerful team in professional sports, would baseball have gone after him as hard? If he was set to hit the free-agent market, would a 211-game suspension be in the balance?
After years of being asked uncomfortable questions, Rodriguez shot back to the baseball world with one of his own.
Bud Selig's Legacy
According to Rodriguez, more is at stake than simple justice.
With Bud Selig planning on retiring after the 2014 season, he believes that the commissioner is out to get him to justify his regime and solidify his legacy in the game of baseball.
He hates my guts, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t think they like big salaries. 100 percent it’s personal. I think it’s about his legacy and it’s about my legacy. He’s trying to destroy me and, by the way, he’s retiring in 2014. And to put me on his big mantle on the way out, that’s a helluva trophy.
Among all the bombshells of this interview, this one will strike a nerve on Park Avenue. It's natural for fans and media members to wonder about Bud Selig's true motives in this case, but for the defendant to come out and claim that this is personal, not legal, is a direct shot at Bud Selig.
We're far from proving this to be true, but it's another wrinkle in the process that is up for debate due to Selig's refusal to participate in the proceedings. Right now, Rodriguez's word is all we have on the matter.
Rodriguez Is Angry at the New York Yankees
When asked by Francesa about his relationship with the Yankees, the third baseman admitted that he's angry with the organization he's known since 2004. But he's "taking one fight at a time" he said in reference to a potential lawsuit against the team for tampering with his medical records during the 2012 postseason.
Even if Rodriguez is cleared by the arbitrator, winning his battle with Major League Baseball and dousing water on the notion of him as a rampant cheater, the relationship between player and team may be beyond repair.
Currently, Rodriguez is under contract with the Yankees through the 2017 season. If the player has his way, it's going to be an uncomfortable four seasons in the Bronx.
Opening Day Plans
According to Rodriguez, he plans on playing for the Yankees in 2014. No, not after a 50-game suspension or 100-game compromise. In his mind, he'll be at third base on Opening Day for the 2014 edition of the New York Yankees.
If he's right, Major League Baseball will leave the Biogenesis scandal with egg on their face. Outside of Rodriguez's 211-game ban, every single player, including fellow MVP Ryan Braun, took baseball's punishment.
By going above and beyond to nail Rodriguez, potentially ending his playing days altogether, they've set up the embattled star to call one final shot in the spotlight.
This time, it's bigger than a home run. By stating that he expects to be on the field for Opening Day, Rodriguez told the world that Major League Baseball does not have close to enough evidence to uphold a suspension of one game, let alone a 211-game ban.
Do you believe Alex Rodriguez?
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