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Everything you need to know about the ruling in the Alex Rodriguez arbitration hearing.

For those of you who haven’t heard, arbiter Fredric Horowitz has finally ruled on the Alex Rodriguez case, and he may have just ended the Yankees third baseman’s career. We should all remember that Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games last year. Rodriguez felt like he didn’t deserve any suspension at all because he never failed a PED test (and because he’s an asshole). In the end, Horowitz ruled that Rodriguez will be suspended for 162 games, otherwise known as the entire 2014 season (including the playoffs). Let’s see what this means for all involved.

What This Means for A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez
Could this be the end for A-Rod? (Charles Cherney/AP Photo)

In the short term, it means A-Rod is not going to play Major League Baseball in 2014. In the long term, it means a whole lot more. First of all, he’s an asshole, so he’s going to file an injunction in federal court to attempt to stop this suspension from going through. This, despite the fact that the arbitration is the agreed upon way for disputes to be settled in Major League Baseball. The Players Union, which A-Rod has always talked about his love and respect for (like when he was accused of leaking Francisco Cervelli‘s name during the Biogenesis investigationa), and the owners agreed to let arbitration be the way to settle these things. The system is designed to help baseball police itself and keep the federal government out of things. Does Alex really think a federal judge is going to rule in his favor on this thing? Yes. Because he’s an asshole. This federal injunction attempt is just going to cost him millions of dollars, which his lawyers will gladly bill him for too. It won’t resolve anything.

As far as baseball goes, Alex is probably looking at the end of his career. He’s 38 years old. He’ll be 39 in July. By the time his suspension ends, he’ll be just a few months short of his 40th birthday. How many professional athletes do you know that have ever taken a year off at 39 and come back to play? Stop thinking about Derek Jeter right this second. He didn’t take the whole year off last year, so there. Anyway, back to the point… It will be very difficult for Alex to come back in any sort of playing shape after taking the 2014 season off. He was already unable to play more than a couple of games without resting after four months off last year. He’s not 25, or even 35 anymore. Also, I’m pretty sure the Yankees will cut him once the suspension ends anyway, if not before Spring Training this year (more on this later), so he’s going to have to find another team to take on his public relations nightmare persona. Good luck, A-Rod.

The Long Island Ducks have graciously offered him a home if he wants to play there in 2014, thoughb. Although it might seem like a joke, it might not actually be the worst thing for him to do. First of all, he’ll stay in playing shape. Second of all, he’ll get to pretend to be friends with all the young players on the Ducks (like he did with Yonder Alonso and Manny Machado at the Jay-Z concert last weekc). Also, he’ll be just close enough to the Bronx to pop in for a game, and some much needed media attention, basically whenever he wants. However, would the Yankees allow him to play for the Ducks? They could play the “we need you to be ready in 2015, so don’t risk injury” card.

What This Means for the Yankees

Randy Levine
Say cheese now, everybody! (Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)

The Yankees released a statement after Horowitz’s decision came down the newswire. They said:

“The New York Yankees 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.”d

I bet. I’m pretty sure I heard Randy Levine and Brian Cashman popping their champagne corks from my house in Connecticut. I bet they laughed so hard while dictating that statement to their secretaries. I mean let’s face it. Yes, the Yankees have no third baseman right now, unless you count Eduardo Nuñez and Kelly Johnson (I don’t). But they won’t have to deal with A-Rod’s shenanigans, and his weird email conversations with Randy Levinee, for an entire year; maybe even forever! They probably just took the $25MM they would have owed Alex and had themselves a big ole money fight with Hal and Hank.

They could also take that $25 MM and use it to sign Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka and another bullpen arm to boot. It’s no secret that the Yankees’ rotation needs some help. We’ve covered it extensively in many other posts, but Tanaka is now even more of a must sign than he was before. Not only do they still need help in the rotation, but they now have $25MM extra for next year. Signing Tanaka is a no brainer. Adding a reliable bullpen arm, like Grant Balfour, would go a long way to stabilize a bullpen that is currently facing a transition away from Mariano Rivera.

That being said, I really think the Yankees need to bring someone else in to play third base. Núñez is terrible at baseball. He shouldn’t be anyone’s fallback plan. He can’t hit, he can’t field and he can’t ever keep his helmet on. That thing’s gonna break some day and, if I’m the Yankees, I’m not gonna buy him a new one. Kelly Johnson, meanwhile, is going to be needed to fill in for Brian Roberts. Roberts will eventually get hurt, but you know Joe Girardi will be resting him regularly to try to stop the inevitable injury anyway. Sadly, the Yankees need Kelly Johnson somewhere else. There’s always Dean Anna and the newly signed Scott Sizemore too, but I’d be much more comfortable with Mark Reynolds manning the hot corner. Sure, he’ll hit .220, and he’s not particularly good in the field, but he’ll do for a year, especially when he hits 30 homers. As long as they don’t sign Michael Young, I’ll be OK… Please no Michael Young.

I should note, however, that Alex is still legally allowed to attend Spring Training, and the Yankees are legally prohibited from keeping him from doing so. You would think that Alex would not bother, and just stay home; if you had never met or read anything about Alex. I fully expect him to be in uniform, in Florida, talking to the media about how he’s in the best shape of his life, and damning Bud Selig, and even the Yankees, for the entire month. He said as much in the statement he released immediately following the news of Horowitz’s decision. Hell, he’ll probably show up to the team complex in January… because he’s an asshole. He’ll tweet pictures and talk about how much his teammates love him and how much they want him to play this year. Then, when Spring Training ends, and no one ever talks to him again, he’ll be sad and act like a victim in the media. He will not go quietly into that good night. Assholes never do.

I’m sure the Yankees will implore him not to show up. They have a couple of other options though. Because he’s not on the 40 man roster, they could assign him to the minor league spring training camp. Would I want my prospects hanging around with A-Rod all spring? Probably not. He’ll most definitely be a distraction there. They could also tell all of their coaches to not work with him, and keep him out of games all together, but that seems very junior high to me. Who knows? Maybe Alex will see the light somewhere between now and then, but I doubt it.

I think the Yankees need to seriously consider releasing Alex if he decides he’s going to come to Spring Training no matter what. It’s easy to tell someone else to throw away $61MM of their money (what A-Rod is owed through 2017), but it’s a lot harder to do that when it’s your own money. One positive that could come from Alex showing up in February is that he will, undoubtedly, spend the entire time running his mouth about MLB, Horowitz and the Yankees, whom he is already talking about suing. The more he talks and runs his mouth, the more of a distraction he’ll be; and the more ammo he could give the Yankees to possibly get some of their money back on his deal. That’s probably highly unlikely to happen, but you never know. Still, I’d just cut my losses now and move on.

What This Means for the MLB

Maybe Bud only acts like a senile old coot. (http://thebiglead.com)
(http://thebiglead.com)

Bud Selig might be a crazy old man, as evidenced by the above photo, but he just got his white whale. An Ahab! For A-Rod! Bud took a big time risk in suspending Alex for 211 games last year. It was unheard of. The agreement with the union was that a first time offender would receive 50 games, a second offense would levy a 100 game penalty and the third a lifetime ban. Bud basically tried to rid the game of its biggest villain in one fell swoop, and the arbiter has backed him up on it. Although the 211 game suspension was not upheld, Bud rid the sport of ARod for at least one year. As we mentioned before, that might be enough to end Alex’s career, and Bud wins for good. MLB laughed their way through the following official statement:

“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. 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.”f

Oh they respect it alright. All the way to the bar for some more celebratory drinks. This is a huge win for Selig’s legacy, as he nears retirement after the 2014 season. I still think he looked the other way during the steroids era so that the game could recover from the 1994 players strike, but now he can point to himself and say “Remember when I rid the game of its most egregious, evil-minded, scum bag steroids cheat? Yes. I, Bud Selig, cleaned up the sport of baseball!”

Congratulations, Bud. You did it.

Other Odds And Ends

Tony Clark
Have Tony Clark and the MLB Players Union turned their backs? (AP)

It’s seriously amazing that Alex is probably the only party involved in this endeavor (except maybe some idiot fans and those people Alex paid to stand outside his hearing in Novemberg) that isn’t thrilled right now. MLB is psyched. The Yankees are stoked. Tony Bosch is probably yelling Cowabunga somwhere right now. Even the players union probably isn’t too upset about this. They released the following statement today:

“The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the Arbitration Panel’s decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez’s unprecedented 211-game suspension. We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision.”h

They are so outraged, that they won’t do anything else to help Alex in this case. They simply have too much respect for the process. This is like when Paulie gives Henry Hill $1200 and tells him never to come to him for help again after Henry gets caught dealing drugs in the movie Goodfellas. At least Paulie gave Henry $1200. Newly elected executive director Tony Clark and the union aren’t even going to talk about this anymore. They’re done, and probably relieved to not have to deal with A-Rod anymore.

As a fan, I’m ecstatic. The distractions caused by A-Rod over the last few seasons have been very detrimental to the team, and he has consistently proven that he only cares about himself. Am I worried about who will be playing third base for the Yankees in 2014? Of course. I think Brian Cashman will find a suitable replacement, and I think that the lineup around that position is better now that Carlos Beltrán, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann are on board. It won’t be like last year, when Kevin Youkilis, David Adams, Luis Cruz, Jayson Nix, Alberto Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, Chris Nelson, Eduardo Núñez, and even Vernon Wells combined to be one of the worst third basemen of all time in the Bronx, and most of the rest of the lineup was equally as bad.

If they’re able to sign Tanaka, and maybe a guy like Mark Reynolds, the Yankees will be just fine without A-Rod in 2014. They’ll also all be a lot happier to boot.

Featured image courtesy of: JustJarred Photography

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Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.

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