Sunday, January 12, 2014

We knew it was likely coming, but it finally happened Saturday afternoon when arbitrator Frederick Horowitz announced he would be reducing the 211-game ban on third baseman Alex Rodriguez to just the entire 2014 season, including the playoffs, for for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Rodriguez also announced that he plans to fight the ruling in a federal court, as we all expected. However, his court fight is unlikely to go far, and will probably be a waste of time for all involved.

"The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one," Rodriguez said in a statement. "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."

MLB defended the length of the original suspension in a news release.

"For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights," MLB said in the statement. "While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game."

The Yankees also responded in a statement of their own, saying that they "respect Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel."

A spokeswoman for Bosch said he thought the suspension was deserved.

"Tony Bosch doesn't take joy in seeing Alex Rodriguez suspended from baseball, but he believes the arbitrator's decision was appropriate," Joyce Fitzpatrick said in a statement. "He is glad to have the arbitration behind him and believes he can play a valuable role in the future by educating athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs."

With the full-season suspension, the Yankees will no longer be on the hook for A-Rod's salary in 2014, saving them just over $24 million on the luxury-tax threshold.

Rodriguez also said that he plans to be in Tampa when the Yankees report in about a month. The Yankees and Major League Baseball will meet over the next few days to decide what will happen with A-Rod when Spring Training comes around.

They could tell him not to show up for Spring Training, but under the current rules, he has the right to show up, participate in workouts and play in the games.

Even though his suspension was reduced, this could still be the end of A-Rod's career. He will turn 39-years-old this year, and is still owed $61 million in the final three years of his contract after this season. The Yankees could decide to cut him, eat the remaining $61 million, and it would be highly unlikely that any team ever signs him again.

Through all of this, A-Rod has stuck to his side of the story, standing firm that he has never taken any such PED's or HGH as documented by Bosch and MLB.

"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," Rodriguez said in his statement. "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."


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