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alex rodriguezIf you hadn’t already heard, this weekend, the arbitrator handling the appeal of MLB’s decision to suspend Alex Rodriguez for 211 games for purported violations of baseball’s drug rules determined that the suspension should be upheld, but reduced to 162 games. Generally, the parties were unhappy about the decision, but the only saber-rattling came from Rodriguez, who, in a statement featuring the usual I-didn’t-do-it-this-is-an-injustice stuff, plus a great deal of be-afraid-of-what-else-MLB-is-going-to-do-to-the-players-now, said that he planned to take his case to the federal court system. That could happen as early as today, but that’s likely to be an expensive waste of time – union arbitration decisions are nearly iron-clad when it comes to a federal court’s ability to review them. Unless the arbitrator went completely off the reservation with the decision, it will not be overturned.

In the wake of the decision, ’60 Minutes’ last night debuted a lengthy piece on the sordid ARod drama, featuring brand new allegations from Tony Bosch – the man at the center of the Biogenesis clinic, and, thus, at the center of the entire investigation. Among them? Bosch’s life was threatened by an associate of Alex Rodriguez, Bosch gave Rodriguez what sounded like gummy steroids immediately before games, Bosch personally injected Rodriguez, and Rodriguez sought further help from Bosch after seeing what Manny Ramirez did at age 35/36 back in 2008. (It’s important to keep in mind as you weigh Bosch’s credibility: he long denied any PED involvement, and changed his story after he was essentially paid handsomely by MLB. That doesn’t mean he’s lying, but it’s important background info.)

The ’60 Minutes’ piece also featured Commissioner Bud Selig and MLB Executive Rob Manfred laying out their position on the suspension, and it was quite clear that they felt Rodriguez deserved a harsh penalty. The MLBPA immediately took to arms about the duo appearing on the program, claiming that rushing to the media undermines the integrity and confidentiality of the Joint Drug Agreement. It added that legal options were being considered to address any breaches of the agreement.

After mulling the matter last night, I still don’t entirely understand what the MLBPA is so up in arms about. MLB aggressively pursued and suspended a player whom it believed had violated the agreed-upon anti-PED rules using an agreed-upon process and following an agreed-upon arbitration (with an agreed-upon arbitrator). The league’s position on Rodriguez was no secret, and Selig and Manfred spoke generally about their investigation, partially in response to public allegations by Rodriguez. I guess MLB going public with information about the investigation is probably the part that bothers the MLBPA so much, but that feels like a forest-for-the-trees problem. The players, like MLB, have an interest in ensuring that fans believe in the game and continue to be paying customers for years to come. And fans want to know what the deal was with Alex Rodriguez.

Is there a genuine concern that MLB will suddenly, on the back of the ARod success, begin witch hunts against players who aren’t guilty of cheating or otherwise violating the rules? The MLBPA’s anger certainly isn’t about protecting Rodriguez, specifically, who is now “convicted” of having taking a big PED-sized dump on his fellow players for much of his career. But Rodriguez’s is pretty clearly a unique case. What’s the genuine future concern here? (That’s not necessarily rhetorical. I’m open to thoughts on this.)

To me, this feels more like a leverage-grab in advance of the next round of CBA negotiations (the current deal expires in 2016, after the season). Everything is a negotiation, and, if the players want a higher share of the burgeoning MLB pie, they may as well start staking claim to various points of contention now. The game has enjoyed labor peace for almost 20 years now, and hopefully that will continue unabated. But we’ll see if more anticipatory disputes pop up over the course of the next couple of years. If so, fans could be in for an uncomfortable stretch.

And if we look back and see that the Alex Rodriguez case was the start of that process, I’m going to be pretty annoyed.

  • Cubbie in NC

    I think the only legitimate concern that the MLBPA should have is in regards to the information always leaking out. The MLB cannot seem to keep the test results confidential despite the agreement.

    The MLBPA took the weakest possible stance when the announcement came out, and probably felt like they had to say something so that the players did not think that they would let them be run over after MLB made additional comments.

  • Jon

    The next CBA needs to have a salary cap and non guaranteed contracts, just like the NFL.

    • bbmoney

      Goodness…why on earth?

      • Jon

        Because, I’m tired of small market teams like the Royals and Cubs never having a legit shot to compete against the “Big Boys”.

        • bbmoney

          It’s not just the big boys that compete. It’s harder, sure, but the A’s and Rays have managed to do it. The Cardinals aren’t really a big boy either. Owners love salary caps because they artificially reduce salaries and help them make more money.

          non-guaranteed contracts shouldn’t exist. It’s just a way for owners to get out of contracts they signed that the feel are now unfavorable. Now if you’re just talking from a PED perspective, I’d be fine with harsher penalties up to and including a lifetime ban (which would essentially void a contract), but I wouldn’t call that a non-guaranteed deal, just an unpaid ban/suspension.

    • Myles

      Not sure if you were being sarcastic, but I do know that the Cubs are not a small market team.

      • hansman

        I think that’s part of the act.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    With our luck we’ll be a contender in 2016 and either the owners will initiate lock-out or the players union will go on strike.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      It would be our luck we might be late to the TV rights boom, got a powerhouse front office when the new CBA kicked in and limited what we can do in the draft, so if course labor disputes will hinder us further.

    • TTH

      If this team is a contender in 2016 it would definitely be due to luck.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    The next commissioner will have his hands full from the second he starts.

    • Jon

      If the next commissioner has a pulse and a functioning brain, he’ll do a better job than Selig.

  • JacqueJones

    I thought the problem the MLBPA had was that A-Rod was a first time offender, which means he should get the 50-game suspension that is outlined in the rules. That seems fair to be pissed about, the MLB shouldnt be allowed to use different standards just because this player is worse or something.

    Section 7(A) of the JDA states:

    A player who tests positive for a Performance Enhancing Substance, or otherwise violates the Program through the possession or use of a Performance Enhancing Substance, will be subject to the discipline set forth below. (emphasis mine) 1. First violation: 50-game suspension; 2. Second violation: 100-game suspension; 3. Third violation: Permanent suspension from Major League and Minor League Baseball.

    • weshawk

      That is what I would be pissed about. He is in fact a first time offender. His admission of guilt in a Barbara Walters interview years ago was in reference to using steriolds when it was not banned by MLB and thus no JDA.

    • aaronb

      I think the even bigger issue is that Arod has NEVER ACTUALLY TESTED POSITIVE for any PEDs.

      So essentially MLB is trying to suspend a guy for life over something they believe he has done.

      Particularly troubling is that the only real “Evidence” that they have is from a felon who MLB has paid to testify against Arod.

      It goes against any and every rule of due process on the books.

  • Spoda17

    I’m growing tired of the claim that Bosch is not credible because MLB paid for information and agreed to protect him. Newsflash… that has been happening in this country since Moby Dick was a minnow.

    If Bosch was such a bad dude, why the hell did A-Rod (and all the others) go to him in the first place..?

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Is Bosch the guy that they have photos showing alleged bags of cocaine on the table?

    • Patrick W.

      FACT CHECK: Moby Dick weighed about 1 ton at birth, and therefor was not a minnow.

    • http://benjaminlaw.com Kevin

      Thank you Spada!

      And by the way, neither A-Rod or anyone on his team was able to CONTRADICT the testimony of Bosh and for the A-Rod apologists, oh poor A-Rod, yet 13 other players who did not test positive all ACCEPTED suspensions but you all make it out to be an A-Rod which hunt?

      The others all accepted the punishment without BOSH testifying but Bosh is the bad guy and A-Rod is the good guy? Huh???

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Brett…..
    Is that contract good through the 2016 season or is it expired as of the end of 2015? Things could get dicey for Ricketts if we were in the middle of renovations and they had a strike for an extended length of time. I would hate to see another 1994 come to pass.

    • Jon

      Tommy will still be in pissing matches with the rooftops in 2016….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Through the 2016 season.

  • 70’s Cub

    The Yankees will now start to work on voiding the rest of Arod’s contract.

  • Patrick G

    Say the Yankees sign Tanaka, they will have Pineda/Phelps competing for the 5th spot. Would it make sense for either the Cubs or Yankees to do a Olt for Pineda deal? Yanks need 3B with no Arod and Cubs need young pitching. Both are coming off bad/injury seasons. Or possibly a Valbuena for Phelps? Just a thought that popped in my head and wanted to get other opinions.

    • Chad

      This has been discussed to some extent of Olt to Yankees, but really why would the Yankees do that? Yes people say Olt has solved his vision issues, but they have no idea if he will be the Olt of 2012 or Olt of 2013 or some other version at either end of the spectrum. I know we all want Olt to succeed here (or the majority of us do), but we really have no idea what the cubs have in Olt and nobody else does either so no I don’t think it makes sense for the yankees to do that.

  • dejesus-to-trillo-to-buckner

    I think the MLBPA was in a tough spot and made a short-sighted compromise. Twelve or 13 of their players served suspensions outside the JDA. There were no positive tests. Based on evidence purchased for nearly $2 million by MLB. But MLB made it clear they wanted Braun and ARod’s scalps and no one in the media (and likely very few in clubhouses) were in the mood to listen to arguments about due process. Almost all of arod’s arguments had some strong basis in fact, but he was literally the worst person to be making them. So the post-60 minutes release is probably just an attempt to get back some tiny amount of the leverage they gave up.

  • Noah_I

    There’s a rumor on ESPN that Tanaka has selected his three finalists in the bidding war for him, and that they are the Yankees and the LA teams. I’m not positive how much I buy this for two reasons: (1) The Angels? Can they really afford another $120-$140 million (including the posting fee) deal? (2) What advantage could he possibly have to limiting his options? I could see him sending a message to the Cubs, Mariners, etc., that if they want him their offers will have to be above the best offer from the Yankees or Dodgers, but you don’t want to voluntarily move the supply/demand curve out of your favor.

  • Fastball

    I am so disgusted with all of this. My opinion on this MLB fell way short on the outcome of this abortion. Arod should have been banned from baseball for life period. He is a liar and he has cheated baseball his entire career. He is a thug who thinks he can run his own little mafia. This is the thing with him. He has told and lived lies for so damned long he thinks they are all the truth. He is a criminal as far as I am concerned. There is a Grand Jury in Florida meeting today to determine if criminal charges should be brought up against him. If his boys threatened Bosch’s life on top of all the drugs. Hell he makes OJ look like a good guy almost. I predict Arod will have all kinds of Federal Indictments come down on his ass very soon. I predict that Arod just disappears like Elvis and Michael Jackson. If he is smart he would make that happen. If I am the Yankee’s I sue his ass off for every dime I paid him on his contract. If I am Texas Rangers owners I do the same. I would bankrupt him in a heartbeat, ban him from baseball for life and then start an IRS investigation on him and get him busted down so hard he has nothing. Then throw him in prison for about 20 years and forget about him. I bet one morning we hear on the news that Arod committed suicide when he realizes how bad all this is. I cannot blame the MLB boss for doing what he did. When your going up against a Con Man and a Thug you got to ramp up to his level to get the goods on him. He did just that. I think its great that the put all that on 60 Minutes. Now all of baseball knows that the Big Boys at the MLB will catch you come hell or high water. They got the money and the resources. So if you think some Chump Nutrionist is going be your friend for life, you are plain stupid. Best final solution is eliminate AROD from this game entirely. Wipe the record books and all the data bases of his existence. You cannot let this piece of crap come back next (2015) and earn a dime on this contract that still has $64MM left on it.

  • V23

    The MLBPA has been disingenuous from the beginning on drug use.

    The union is supposed to protect their members and they defend those that hurt their own bodies! They also hurt those that stay clean and have to shut up about what they see.

    The MLB players union is way too strong and hurts baseball.

  • Fastball

    He has to reduce the number of teams he will continue negotiating with. He and his agent cannot work a deal in this short timeframe with so many teams. He has talked to everyone and heard their proposals and thinned it down. He completed his RFI and now he is in mode to listen to financial proposals. We apparently didn’t make the cut. His agent probably made it known that this would be the process up front. Tanaka probably already knew where he wanted to be geographically. He probably kept the Angels in the mix so as to make sure the Dodgers took him serious about the possibility of signing on the West Coast. He will leverage the Yankees against both LA teams. He is the ideal spot with the two teams who can pay the most money.

  • Jon

    What a shock that Tanaka doesn’t want to play for a team that has lost 90+ the past two seasons and is looking at a 3rd straight 90 loss season.

  • mjhurdle

    I agree with the idea of punishing ARod. The guy lied repeatedly and tried to interfere with an investigation of his own wrong-doing.
    However, how does baseball get off suspending Braun 65 games when he lied, attempted to ruin a man’s life, and then got busted again; but then suspend ARod 162 + playoffs for failing one test, lying, and attempting to ruin/coerce people’s lives?
    I do think that ARod’s is the more egregious case, but they are similar. Similar enough to make me question the motivation behind MLB’s pursuit.

    • miggy80

      I too can’t stop thinking on how the two cases were handled differently. Bud and most of the owners just sat back and benefited from PED’s, just like the playes, for years. Now they try to save face and go on this witch hunt for A-Rod!?!

      For the longest time I was totally against the players who doped. Now I’m starting to feel as that was the environment provided by the Owners and the Commissioner. So the writers don’t vote for Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, but yet Tony LaRussa was voted to the Hall of Fame. Shouldn’t his 2,728 wins as a manager have an: 2,728*

      *=majority of wins came during PED era when he had some of the biggest PED beneficiaries

      Vomit on Bud’s shoes.

      • hansman

        Even the league has said that players who doped then are off the hook. Basically, during the period they benefited, the players get the benefit that they don’t weren’t punished.

        That clean slate date was sometime in the early 2000’s. Anyone who broke the rules after that deserves to have the rule book thrown at them.

        • miggy80

          DeJesus-to-trillo-to-buckner Nailed it. Bud operating quid pro quo with guys who he is supposed to throw the book at? Yeah seems real legit.

      • Brandon

        +1^

    • hansman

      Braun got off easy because he agreed to not appeal.

      ARod fought this tooth and nail.

      • dejesus-to-trillo-to-buckner

        That just reeks of “ok, it’s a shoddy, illegitimate investigation, but we can torch you if you question it.” Which is of course what they did to arod. Arod gets a longer suspension because he was trying to buy documents that mlb was also trying to buy. He gets a longer suspension to making payments to witnesses mlb was making payments to. This is where chasing peds users gets us?

        Pass.

  • half_full_beer_mug

    I think most people that are fine with this outcome are letting either their hate of A-Rod or their desire to feel like everyone playing the game is 100% clean.

    Other that that there’s no other way that you can not think that this entire thing has been shady. Start at the very beginning when select names from the Mitchell report were leaked, which by the way came from a voluntary test that the results were supposed to be privileged and secret. Forward to leaked names that tested positive under the JDA BEFORE the players collectively bargained right of appeal. Then go to the use of the Federal investigation of Balco to attempt to punish Barry Bonds. Finally to the unprecedented investigation into Biogensis including purchasing sight unseen possibly forged records for 6 figures and providing physical protection for a possible felon.

    Almost everything MLB did in this case is above and beyond the limits of the CBA, and IMO is dangerously close to collusion. If the commissioners office isn’t bound by the CBA in regards to what they can punish a player for and what limits said punishment can reach, but at the same time the player is bound by the CBA by not having the right to question the accuser under oath this could have far reaching implications.

    Just because 95% of fans can’t stand A-Rod (and I’m one) doesn’t give MLB the right to go above and beyond the agreement they have with the union, especially this far.

  • Voice of Reason

    I loved the comment from Selig that what A Rod did was the worst thing he has EVER seen in the game of baseball!

    Wow!

    Hey Bud, have you looked in the mirror lately?

    I also enjoyed the comment from the sports write this morning on Mully and Hanley about A Rod and his effect on steroids to the game. The sports writer said he didn’t do as much as he could in writing about steroids in baseball.

    WOW!

    Hey sports writer, have you looked in the mirror lately?

    All these people want to throw A Rod under the bus NOW!!!!

    Where was Selig, Major League Baseball and all the sports writers when it FIRST BECAME KNOWN that players were cheating and taking steroids?

  • Brandon

    Not defending A-Rod but he never tested positive, did he? And if baseball tests players…when do they test them? Bosch is saying A-Rod used before games, how in the hell did he not get caught?

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      There are masking agents that I’m sure players use and the PED scientists are very smart and are ahead of the testing protocols. The test have to be approved before they can be used and that gives everyone thevtimevto figure out a way to hide them. I’m always shocked how anybody gets caught there is so much science to help hide them plus testing is random and it wouldn’t surprise me if some players know when the random is happening.

      • half_full_beer_mug

        I don’t even think it’s masking agents now, I think they are just developing the new “cream” and “clear” that provide the same result but aren’t on the banned list *yet*.

      • Brandon

        So if they think you are taking them then that gives them the right to come after you? It really doesn’t matter if you pass or fail the test then. Hell I dont like player X because his attitude sucks so I believe he took ped’s or I suspect he took them so suspend the player.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          This is exactly what I have the most problem with in respect to the BioGenesis thing. We couldn’t catch you under the testing procedure we all agreed to, so we are going to make up rules to catch you at something.

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          I do have a problem with suspending players (and keeping them out of the HOF) that did not fail a test, but I also suspect many players are using things that can’t be detected or are yet labeled illegal. It’s just part of sports players will find ways to maximize thier skills and people will profit from that desire and find ways to keep them out of trouble.

  • http://Mshipart.com soultosoul

    Been checking this site daily for (I think) two years but just recently registered.

    Wanted to weigh in on this. Everytime I see Bud Selig my leg just itches to deliver a swift kick in the nuts. The man ruined baseball IMO. I’m so sick of the whole, “I didn’t know,” BS, complete with the shoulder shrug and puppy dog eyes. Makes me sick. “Chicks dig the long ball!” Remember that one?

    If this man truly wants to clean up baseball, it can be done (and should have been done a long time ago). It’s no different than anything else. Make the penalties far outweigh the benefits and people will stay in line. Test positive one time and you are done. Over. Finished. No more $$. Only takes one player, especially the highest paid one in the game, to suffer the wrath and the rest get the message.

    This is a sport that banned its all-time hits leader for life (different issue, yes, but still relevent). If the MLBPA has a problem with it, too &I^^&*#^ bad. Quit taking the illegal substances. Only part of the interview last night that caught my ear was how Bosch said Arod took lozenges during a game with no fear of getting caught. Unbelievable. So, Bud, the testing you want to wave to the world as the toughest ever is truly a crap sandwich.

    Not a big football fan but I know the NFL Commish banned the Saints head coach for an entire year. Can’t remember if there was a post season ban or not. The NCAA puts schools on probation/post season bans. If MLB held the entire organization accountable, things would change.

    How many owners would put up with a tens of millions of dollars fine, losing draft picks, or maybe losing an entire post season’s revenue just because some A-Hole (Rod) wants to gamble with the system? I doubt very many. I realize most of this is on the players, but the teams did nothing to stop it. Hopefully the next Commish will have real balls.

    Sorry, guess my first post here turned into more of a rant.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Welcome. Rants with substance are just fine.

      Selig’s tenure has certainly been a mixed bag.

    • hansman

      I don’t get the hatred of Selig. He’s made his share of mistakes but the sport has grown by leaps and bounds with him as Commish. Clearly he has done something right.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Yes he grew and stabilized baseball and dealt with a powerful players union (I suspect the NFL would love to have a players union as powerful as the MLB players union), yes he messed the whole steroid thing, the stupid All-Star game “counting,” and was passive at times when more authority could have been helpful, but baseball is in great shape and he was the Emperor of a full function Death Star of a sport. Plus lightening shooting from fingers.

        • hansman

          It doesn’t matter who is commish, they are going to have misses. Hopefully the All-Star game counting has gotten a few more casual fans interested and a few more fans involved enough to know to bitch about the All-Star game counting.

      • TTH

        Selig’s accomplishments are either solutions to problems he created/perpetuated, or would have been done by any person with a pulse sitting in the commissioner’s chair.

  • Brandon

    How can any baseball/football fan bitch about baseball players using ped’s then go root for and cheer for nfl players? What a joke!!!

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I don’t know if it’s a joke but it’s naive to think the majority of players don’t use stuff to make them better. Many of which isn’t illegal now but will be in the future. It’s the reality of modern sports.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cubman87 cubman87

    everyone will always try to get an edge.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Precisely it’s part of being ultra competitive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/cubman87 cubman87

        I ref high school basketball and I see that all the time, these guys who aren’t the best athletes in the world, will buy all kinds of gear and equipment in the hopes it will make them play better.

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