The decision is in. Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the 2014 season. This includes the postseason, so barring a reversal in court, Alex will not be in uniform again until 2015.
Personally, this decision shocks me. I thought he might get 100 games, reasoning that an arbitrator would view the 2003 failed test as strike one and this as strike two. But I was wrong and this is a very clear signal that Alex did a lot more than fail a drug test.
What it means for the Yankees is that $189-million is back in play. Assuming they don’t do anything stupid with Tanaka, they should make it. (They are around $150 million with A-Rod off the books.) They will need someone to play third and I suspect Mark Reynolds could be back now.
What it means for Alex is much more complicated. He can try to find a judge willing to overturn an arbitrator’s decision, but that will be exceedingly hard. He has already issued a statement (have to assume it was prepared in advance) that says: “The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one.” He will keep playing the victim card, but it is hard to think of anyone who will buy that storyline now. MLB didn’t act honorably in this, but it doesn’t change the fact that Alex broke a lot of rules.
The biggest question I have about Alex’s future is will we ever see him in a Yankees’ uniform again? If he sues the team, I would expect the answer to be no. Even if he doesn’t, the Yankees may have had enough. With this suspension, the Yankees will owe Alex $61-million for the final three years of his contract. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see them simply write that check sometime next offseason and say good-bye forever. It wouldn’t upset me either.
I was thinking the other day how much joy I used to get watching Alex play back when he was in Seattle. I have no idea if he used PED’s back then, but he was so much fun to watch. You could see the fun he was having out there and the enjoyment he got from the game. Unfortunately, that joy went away and now we are left with this version of Alex, something we all want to move on from.
It’s funny to think that once Alex and Jeter were good friends because they are so different. For Alex, it seemed like he never could get enough attention. Even with all the money and accolades, he seemed to want more attention. He could have played out his deal in the quiet baseball backwaters of the Metroplex, but he tried to get a trade to Boston and then New York- two places that will never be quiet when it comes to baseball. Jeter is intensely private and while I truly believe he loves being a Yankee, I think he would have been happy anywhere he could have played baseball and won championships. Watching all of this go down with Alex makes me think that I don’t think give Jeter enough credit for what he has done on the baseball field and how he has conducted himself off of it.
UPDATE Here’s a link to Alex’s full statement. Basically, he denies everything and says he will take things to court.
UPDATE Here’s a link to the MLBPA statement on the ruling. Very interesting statement here:
“While we respectfully disagree with the Arbitrator’s ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex’s suspension within the context of this hearing.”
UPDATE 2pm- Here’s a “fun” twist. MLB Network is reporting that Alex is 100% certain that he will attend spring training with the Yankees. Yup, that’s right, the suspension only counts for the season, so Alex could play in spring training and as a member of the MLBPA he has the right to do so. I don’t think circus is enough of a word for what that scene would be.