Friday, November 22, 2013

Enough Already, A-Rod!

I am no fan of Alex Rodriguez. I never have been and I never will be. He's arrogant, self-centered, oblivious and phony.

That said, I've tried to be fair with him. Afterall, most things and people are rarely all good or all bad. Truth is rarely black or white. So when A-Rod deserved praise, I didn't hesitate.

A-Rod, however, was way out of line on Wednesday when he stormed out of an arbitration hearing after arbitrator Frederic Horowitz ruled that commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify. Rodriguez described the process as disgusting. He behaved like a spoiled, petulant brat and did nothing to help his cause. And I find it highly unlikely that releasing the hearing's evidence, as A-Rod's attorneys said on Thursday they would do, will help help the third baseman's cause.

Simply put, it's time for Rodriguez to put an end to this circus. Enough already.

A-Rod has every right to appeal his 211-game suspension for using PEDs and obstructing Major League Baseball's investigation into the now-closed Biogenesis clinic. There are legitimate questions about the rationale behind the suspension, about whether it violates the Joint Drug Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreement, and about the very evidence baseball has gathered.

That's why this arbitration process exists ... and it's a system that has worked very well.

Going back to Dave McNally's quest for free agency in the 1970s, the arbitration process has given players a voice and forum to present their side of the story before an independent party that is beholden to the law as it applies to the facts of the case and is empowered to make legally binding decisions. The process has allowed the players to gain free agency, overturn unfair suspensions and fines, improve their compensation, uncover the owners' collusion in free agency, and, yes, even overturn faulty positive drug tests. Players have not won every hearing, but the process has served as a powerful check to the owners' power.

Associated Press
In essence, Rodriguez has denigrated the very process that has enabled him to secure not one, but two 10-year contracts and earn well over a quarter billion dollars.

Further, Horowitz has a reputation of being competent, capable, and fair. He is, afterall, the arbitrator who ruled Ryan Braun's failed drug test invalid and overturned his initial PED suspension. Horowitz is not going to be swayed by emotion, nor will his view be tainted by baseless accusations. He will not be swayed by A-Rod's protestations or the statements he makes to the public. He is going determine the truth and make what he believes is the right decision.

I have no doubt that in deciding MLB appropriately designated Rob Manfred as its witness and ruling that Selig was not required to testify, Horowitz ruled appropriately and did nothing to impair Rodriguez's ability to question and cast doubt on baseball's case against him.

Let's remember, Selig is not making the allegation against A-Rod, it's the Office of the Commissioner. If we all wake up tomorrow and Selig was no longer the commissioner, the case against Rodriguez would continue because A-Rod's alleged transgressions were against the game, not an individual.

Also Selig has never testified in any PED hearing before -- not Braun, not Melky Cabrera, not Bartolo Colon, not Manny Ramirez. And while Selig testifying the might look good in the court of public opinion, that court isn't going to be the one to decide the fate of this case. It's Horowitz, and baseball has the burden of proof. If the Commissioner's Office decides Manfred can make the case better than Selig, then that's call. A-Rod's team had the opportunity to cross examine, discredit baseball's investigation, and present a clear, dispassionate argument as to why MLB's accusations are wrong.

And if MLB's case is as flawed as A-Rod says, if MLB is wrong, Horowitz will see that and rule for Rodriguez. Any public response to Rodriguez's team releasing the hearing's evidence will have absolutely no effect on Horowitz. I'm quite sure of that.

No, it's not the arbitration process that's flawed and disgusting. And it's certainly not Horowitz's decisions.

It's A-Rod.

Now perhaps I've grown jaded, perhaps I'm too cynical, or perhaps I've learned from history, but this is not the first time we've witnessed the tact A-Rod is using to defend himself. Whether it was Lance Armstrong or Roger Clemens or Marion Jones or Braun, it seems that when the facts were stacked against these athletes, when there was no real defense for what they did, they decided that the best (really only) defense was a good offense. Attack the evidence, attack the accusers, denigrate and defame anyone who dared to shine a light on the misdeeds.

Who knows, if you yell your lies often enough and loud enough, someone might actually believe you. Occasionally it works, if only for a little while.

Rodriguez wants everyone to believe that he's innocent. A-Rod says Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch is not credible (and he might not be). Rodriguez want people believe MLB is out to get him, and that Selig has a vendetta against him. And his claims and protestations are growing louder and louder.

The thing is A-Rod is far from credible. He's far from innocent. He has admitted to using PEDs when he was with the Rangers. He's well aware of baseball's programs to keep its players away from the steroid peddlers. He also failed to learn any lessons about being selective with his training programs after being tied to Toronto-based, convicted steroid doctor Anthony Galea, choosing to get involved with Biogenesis, which had a shady reputation from the outset.

But perhaps most astounding is that Rodriguez actually wants us to believe that while 19 other baseball players admitted to receiving and using PEDs from Biogenesis, he didn't. He was there for health, wellness, weight-loss.

I've heard others say that, too. Barry Bonds, Clemens, Armstrong, etc.

I'm not buying it from A-Rod.

Go ahead and put up a legitimate defense to baseball accusations, but I've had enough of this circus.

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