Alex Rodriguez has given up on his pursuit to play Major League Baseball in 2014. For a player who has made a career out of negative public relations, the sport gave up on him a long time ago.
After filing a lawsuit against his own union, watching his fellow union members attempt to kick him out and alienating every ally left in the sport, Rodriguez has waved the white towel in his fight against a 2014 suspension.
Unfortunately for a player so enamored with the history of baseball, there's no way for Rodriguez to rewrite his own history or reverse the damage that his career-long infatuation with success and on-field dominance created.
For the last 20 years, Rodriguez has made a mess of himself, his respective teams and Major League Baseball. To be honest, some of the vitriol against him is blatantly unfair. One of the greatest players in the history of baseball is a product of his environment. From steroids to money to personality, Rodriguez grew up in a game that set him up for success, but also failure.
The news came as a surprise, leaving those around the game wondering why Rodriguez would give up in his pursuit to play this season. Without a lawsuit against MLB and MLBPA, the full-season ban for 2014 can't be lifted. Baseball fans won't see Rodriguez again until 2015, at the earliest.
That was assured when one of Rodriguez's lawyers, Joe Tacopina, confirmed that his client won't be attending New York Yankees spring training, with Ken Davidoff of the New York Post sharing the revelation.
If Rodriguez and his legal team think that a year away from the game will lessen the anger toward the former three-time AL MVP, they could be right. Fans will find a new villain or another scandal to latch onto, and the media will cover it with the same vigor that overtook the Rodriguez story.
Yet, a year away or waving the white flag can only alter the present. The past is in the record books.
When Rodriguez resurfaces in 2015, the MLBPA will be required to back its member. The lawsuit, despite only lasting for a few weeks before this dismissal, won't be allowed to be a detriment or impact Rodriguez's rights within the CBA. If the Yankees release Rodriguez before the end of 2017, expect the union to make sure that its member receives every penny he's owed.
In a statement issued by Major League Baseball, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the league acknowledged Rodriguez's path back to the field of play when his suspension is over.
"We believe that Mr. Rodriguez's actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League Players," MLB said.
But don't expect the union to ever go above and beyond for Rodriguez again.
If the Yankees write Rodriguez a $61 million check to walk away after the 2014 season, he'll be free to sign with any team in baseball. With the Yankees paying his salary, he could be had for the league-minimum rate. Even after a year off, half the teams in baseball should be willing—from a strictly baseball perspective—to bring him into camp next spring.
Yet that scenario is highly unlikely.
Instead, there's a chance that he receives the Barry Bonds treatment. In other words, a form of collusion between owners in which it's agreed that no one signs the player. When a situation like this arises, the MLBPA should fight for its member.
If it happens to A-Rod, don't expect much of a fight to take place.
As the waning days of Rodriguez's baseball career slowly drip away, it's amazing to reminisce about the career and legacy that he seemed destined to have. From the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to phenom in Seattle to dominance at such a young age, predicting Rodriguez to be remembered as the best and most famous baseball player in the modern era wouldn't have been crazy.
Now? His career and legacy look worse by the hour.
Despite moving on from a PED admission in 2009, Rodriguez wasn't close to beloved. Yet he was playing out his career on the field, climbing up the record books and in position to be remembered—PEDs or not—as one of the best ever.
That may still be the case, but the roller coaster ride that is A-Rod's career has been, well, bumpy since January of 2013.
Over the last calender year, per the New York Post, Rodriguez has been implicated in the Biogenesis scandal, feuded with his own organization over an injury comeback, been hit with a 212-game suspension, denied using any performance-enhancing drugs during the period in question, called out Bud Selig, granted arbitration, had his suspension reduced to 162 games and sued both the MLBPA and MLB.
When Rodriguez's lawyers dismissed the latest lawsuit in a year full of embarrassment, they did nothing but spare litigators time, effort and money.
The irreparable damage was already done.
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