Today came word that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has reduced Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s suspension for his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that supposedly provided PEDs to a number of major leaguers. Last year, commissioner Bud Selig had issued a 211-game suspension for A-Rod, encompassing the remaining games of 2013 and all of 2014; Horowitz reduced that suspension to 162 games, plus any playoff games the Yankees might play in 2014.
As he had previously suggested, Rodriguez issued a statement in which he vowed to fight the ruling in court. I, for one, wholeheartedly support Rodriguez in his fight against the league, and here’s why:
- First, the suspension was based on evidence that is dubious at best: the testimony of Biogenesis proprietor Tony Bosch, who agreed to help the league only after MLB dropped its lawsuit against him; Biogenesis documents for which the league paid $125,000. No failed drug tests, no evidence corroborating Bosch’s story. Just the testimony of an individual who was bullied into testifying with the threat of a life-destroying lawsuit.
- Second, it’s long past time that the players stood up to the smokey backroom cabal consisting of ownership and the commissioner’s office. Selig has dramatically overstepped his authority in the Rodriguez case by attempting to impose such a harsh suspension—a punishment that is not only wholly exceeds the dictates of the existing collective bargaining agreement, but that is also substantially greater than the penalty imposed on the other players for the same offenses as Rodriguez. The league’s position in this matter is clearly Selig’s personal vendetta against Rodriguez, and the latter should take any possible steps to reign in the commissioner’s attempt to impose his dictatorship in the league.
As I’ve said before in this space, in some ways, Rodriguez isn’t really the ideal figure to fight this fight on behalf of the players. He’s not a particularly likable public figure, as he exudes nothing so much as narcissism. However, like A-Rod or not, his fight here is important because he is fighting for the rights of all major leaguers, and he said as much in his statement responding to today’s ruling:
“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.”
Rodriguez (and/or someone in his camp) recognizes that this is not a fight just for Rodriguez’s rights, but rather, a fight for the rights of all players to be treated equitably under the law and the collectively bargained rules of baseball. For too long, baseball has operated in a legal desert where they have more or less imposed the will of obscenely wealthy team owners with no regard for the rights of the players on whose backs their fortunes are made. (Not all team owners, admittedly—ask the Athletics how happy they are about MLB’s anti-trust exemption as they try to get clearance to move to San Jose.) It’s high time someone stood up and fought back—even if it has to be Alex Rodriguez.by