Updates for Tuesday, Jan. 21
According to Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the Major League Baseball Players Union took a clear stance and reportedly requested Alex Rodriguez be expelled after his latest full-season suspension:
On a conference call of perhaps 40 players and board members held Jan. 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., outraged union members repeatedly requested that Rodriguez be expelled, sources said. Following a roll call of players present on the line, according to one participant and another familiar with the call, the first player to speak asked bluntly: Can we kick him out of the union?
Advised by union leadership that was not possible, more players nonetheless expressed the same opinion. Not a single member defended Rodriguez, one player said, in a forum where there are frequent disagreements.
"That's what everyone was thinking," the player said. "We wanted to get on this call and not let him back. [To say,] 'This is our game and we don't want you in it.'"
Updates for Wednesday, Jan. 15
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post provides quotes from Hal Steinbrenner, who did not rule out Alex Rodriguez playing for the Yankees in 2015:
“He’s a great player,” Steinbrenner said in the Yankees’ managing general partner’s first public comments since independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced Rodriguez’s suspension from 211 games to 162 games. “I have not thought about 2015, nor am I going to right now. My focus has to be right now. But when he’s on and when he’s healthy, he’s obviously an asset. We’ll see what happens.”
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times provides Derek Jeter's take on the situation:
At Tampa charity event, #Yankees Jeter says he is "saddened by whole situation" w/A-Rod and that it's been "messy" but not much else— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 16, 2014
Updates for Monday, Jan. 13
Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that Alex Rodriguez turned down the chance for a lessened suspension from Major League Baseball (Insider Only):
If Rodriguez had agreed to something last spring, before MLB investigators had all the Biogenesis details from Bosch, Rodriguez might’ve been able to barter for a suspension for something close to 50 games, or what a first-time offender gets for a first positive PED test. If he had taken responsibility then, owned up and made his best possible deal, then A-Rod probably would’ve been back on the field late in the 2013 season, with the whole matter behind him.
Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk backed up Olney's report as well:
But, inspired by Olney’s report, I made some calls. And according to sources familiar with Major League Baseball’s investigation, there was a window of time — while Rodriguez was still represented by attorneys Jay Reisinger and James Sharp and before Major League Baseball flipped Tony Bosch and got him to cooperate — where A-Rod could have made a deal for a substantially shorter suspension than he ultimately received. Possibly as low as 50 games.
It was apparently not to the level of a formal offer — there aren’t documents or emails regarding this stuff — but informal conversations had begun suggesting such a framework. A-Rod and the legal team which came to represent him through the arbitration rejected the overtures, however. Major League Baseball eventually obtained the cooperation of Bosch and the settlement ship essentially sailed.
Alex Rodriguez has officially lost his appeal and will be forced to sit out the 2014 Major League Baseball season. His 211-game suspension was reduced to 162 games, but A-Rod says it isn't over yet.
Wallace Matthews of ESPN first reported news of the arbitrator's ruling:
A-Rod suspended for 162 games, more details to come— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) January 11, 2014
Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted how much the Yankees saved due to this decision as well as additional details into the suspension:
So unless there is some reversal, #Yankees will save #27.5M on luxury tax payroll. Thus still have some chance to get under $189M (cont)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 11, 2014
A-Rod will be tested during suspension, so if continues to use to stay in shape or refuses tests runs risk of further sanctions #Yankees— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 12, 2014
CBS' Jon Heyman amended the length of the suspension:
it's 162 plus playoffs. a-rod will NOT be eligible for the postseason.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 11, 2014
However, Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reports that Rodriguez isn't satisfied:
As expected, A-Rod intends to take this matter to federal court.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) January 11, 2014
Rodriguez released a statement on the decision, courtesy of his Facebook page:
The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.
I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal.
Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News provides a statement from Anthony Bosch discussing Rodriguez on an episode of CBS' 60 Minutes program that will air on Jan. 12:
Alex cared. Alex wanted to know. He would study the product. He would study the substances. He would study the dosages, because he wanted to achieve all his human performance or in this case, sports performance, objectives. And the most important one was the 800 home run club.
USA Today shares what the MLBPA has to say:
MLBPA statement: ".strongly disagree with award issued in grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite panel's decision to reduce the duration.— USATODAYbaseball (@USATODAYmlb) January 11, 2014
"... of Mr. Rodriguez's unprecedented 211-game susp. We recognize a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and respect.."— USATODAYbaseball (@USATODAYmlb) January 11, 2014
"... the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. Will have no further comment."— USATODAYbaseball (@USATODAYmlb) January 11, 2014
Translation: Union upset A-Rod lost...but in terms of fighting it in the courts, No. 13 is on his own.— USATODAYbaseball (@USATODAYmlb) January 11, 2014
Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown has a statement from MLB:
Brief statement from MLB that reads, in part: "While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision."— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 11, 2014
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports the third baseman plans on attending spring training:
Development: A-Rod spokesman Ron Berkowitz said it is "100 percent" certain Rodriguez plans to participate in spring training with Yankees.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 11, 2014
Wallace Matthews of ESPN reports the Yankees' statement regarding Rodriguez:
Yankees re A-Rod: (We) respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) January 11, 2014
Yankees part 2: (we respect) the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel."— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) January 11, 2014
The New York Yankees third baseman was originally suspended for 211 games in early August, which at the time carried through the end of the 2014 season. According to Bryan Hoch and Joey Nowak of MLB.com, Rodriguez was accused of violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
A number of MLB players accepted 50-game suspensions at the same time for their involvement with Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic that provided performance-enhancing drugs to players. However, Rodriguez was dealt a harsher punishment for his reported role in tampering with evidence.
According to T.J. Quinn and Pedro Gomez of ESPN, the superstar also helped pay for an attorney for Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis.
Despite the evidence presented, Rodriguez formally appealed the suspension with the backing of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), according to ESPN. After finally declaring himself healthy, he rejoined the Yankees and remained active through September.
Rodriguez ended up playing 44 games in 2013, racking up seven home runs with 19 RBI while posting a .244 batting average.
With his team out of the playoff picture, he sat out the final weekend in order to prepare for his case and face it "head on," according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN. A-Rod noted the importance of the next few days, telling the media, "I'm fighting for my whole life, my whole legacy."
While this would seem overdramatic in most cases, it is exactly what this appeal was about.
There was an air of confidence from his legal team throughout the summer that the suspension would be overturned. Rodriguez's attorney, Joe Tacopina, had this to say on the Today Show:
Alex Rodriguez, when we confront this evidence, will have been found not responsible to the point where he should not serve one inning of a suspension, as opposed to 211 games.
I know the evidence against Alex Rodriguez, and I will tell you this — it will never stand up in a court of law or in an arbitration panel courtroom. Never. Because the evidence is based on one person — Anthony Bosch.
Despite this statement, it appears as though the independent arbitrator has sided with the league and Rodriguez will have to serve out his suspension before returning to baseball.
This leaves plenty of questions regarding the three-time MVP's future in the league. He remains in pursuit of Barry Bonds' record mark of 762 career home runs (or Hank Aaron's 755 home runs if you prefer) with a current total of 654, but it will be difficult to reach the pinnacle considering he is already 38 years old.
Do you agree with the league's decision?
Rodriguez also has a $275 million contract with the Yankees that runs through 2017, which he signed after winning the AL MVP during the 2007 season. It remains to be seen how the suspension will impact this deal.
Either way, this will remain a landmark decision for the sport in the fight to keep performance-enhancing drugs out of baseball. Rodriguez is undoubtedly the most high-profile player ever suspended, surpassing Ryan Braun, who accepted a deal in July to sit out the remainder of the 2013 season.
Commissioner Bud Selig and the rest of the league will certainly hope that this sends a message to anyone else considering using banned substances in the future.