Grievance Hearing Turns Into Battle of Public Opinion, One A-Rod May Not Be Losing

wfanBoy, today’s arbitration hearing sure escalated quickly.

Disgusted with what he felt had become a sham process, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez walked out of his grievance hearing this morning after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to testify.

It’s becoming all to clear that neither Rodriguez nor his representatives believe they are getting a fair shake as they seek an appeal of the monumental 211-game suspension that was handed down to him by the commissioner’s office for his alleged involvement with  the Biogenesis clinic, a now defunct company accused of distributing performance enhancing drugs to Major League players.

Today was the 12th day of hearings for the grievance action filed by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, and it certainly had to be the most explosive. When the arbitrator’s ruling was announced, A-Rod lashed out, telling the arbitration panel they were full of (expletive) before storming out.

In a statement released after the outburst, Rodriguez said the following:

“I am disgusted with this abusive process. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”

Refusing to participate in the grievance hearings cannot help Rodriguez’s chances for a successful appeal of his suspension. One might chalk up his statement to the heat of the moment, an isolated outburst in the throws of his heightened defensive passions.

But that wasn’t the end of Wednesday’s A-Rod drama.

He then took to the air waives, making an impromptu appearance on Mike Francesca’s show on WFAN to voice his side of the story, and to take a few potshots at Selig along the way.

His opinions were strong, they were loud and they were forceful. Here are some of the things A-Rod had to say on the radio this afternoon, hours after storming out of the arbitration hearing.

“He’s trying to destroy me. To put me on his big mantle on the way out. That’s a hell of a trophy”


“I’m so heated up and pissed off. I can’t even think straight right now.”


“He doesn’t have the courage to come look at me in the eye. This guy should come to my … to our city — I know he doesn’t like New York, I love this city, I love being a Yankee, my daughters grew up in New York — and for this guy, the embarrassment that he’s put me and my family through, and he doesn’t have the courage to come see me and tell me this is why i’m going to destroy your career.”


“He hates my guts.”


“One hundred percent this is personal. It’s about his legacy and it’s about my legacy.”


I ask you in my best Sam Kinison voice: Welllll…is he riiiiiiiiiight????

A-Rod’s antics seem over the top. But do we really think that the 211-games he’s been given is appropriate under baseball’s current drug policy and rules? And do we think this grievance hearing process is anything other than what Rodriguez has pointed it out to be – a dog and pony show? A farce?

Yes, Rodriguez has continued to maintain his innocence throughout the investigation, discipline and appellate portions of this whole Biogenesis mess. But this is no longer a battle of guilt vs. innocence between Commissioner Selig and A-Rod. It’s a war of public opinion. And a war that, despite how much we all have grown tired of A-Rod’s act, he may not be losing as bad as we think

MLB Guru Peter Gamons on his Gammons Daily blog gave us five reasons that we should actually be rooting for A-Rod during this whole saga, and I’d like to share those reasons here (the bold are direct excerpts from Gammons’ piece; he goes into more detail as to each point, so I encourage you to click the link).

  1. Despite having only circumstantial evidence and the testimony of witnesses (Anthony Bosch and Porter Fischer) with clear motives to fabricate, exaggerate, cover for themselves, minimize their own crimes, distort, fabricate, whomp up, & c. (including allegations they were paid by Major League Baseball (“MLB”) to leak this info after A-Rod allegedly refused to be blackmailed) A-Rod has never tested positive for a Performance Enhancing Drug (“PED”).
  2. MLB is arguing that A-Rod’s suspension should exceed the 50 games prescribed by the JDA because he impeded the investigation, lied to investigators, and was a multiple-time offender. The standard has not been consistently applied and thusly, the 211 game suspension levied by MLB is arbitrary and excessively punitive. (Most notably, how can MLB punish A-Rod for lying about his PED use when they have not yet proven his PED use? Gammons accuarately points out that the league is putting the cart before the horse here)
  3. Assuming arguendo that MLB employs the “non-analytical positives” exception to suspend A-Rod despite having never tested positive for PEDs, if suspended, A-Rod must be treated as a first time offender. (The JDA expressly prohibits punishing one for a second offense before they’ve had notice of a first, and all the stuff MLB wants to punish him for now happened before he had any notice of a first offense. In addition, baseball did not give Bartolo Colon or Yasmani Grandal additional suspensions because they were already serving 50-game suspensions for positive tests. Why would the league protect them from punishment for two offenses, but be on such a crusade to punish A-Rod if this wasn’t personal?)
  4. Even though A-Rod has made few friends and lost many of his fans, further marginalizing himself and damaging his reputation over the last few months, he was completely sold out by MLB and the Players Association when they leaked the suspension details prior to the start of the appeals process. Just because someone is generally unliked, that does not give MLB, the Commissioner, the Players Association or the New York Yankees carte blanche to make an example of him.  He deserves the protection that his union dues entitle him to. Which begs the further question of whether the Yankees collude with MLB? If this 211 game suspension is upheld, the Yankees are off the hook for $34 Million in salary. At least. (Presumably they would try to void the remainder of his contract if they can successfully argue he breached his contract, lied to them or committed some other act which could result in the voiding of his contract.) Suspending A-Rod for this long would give teams like the Yankees a perverse incentive to leak information to MLB if an aging player with a burdensome contract becomes less productive than the team was hoping they would be
  5. Despite claims that the MLB Players Association is the “strongest union in the world” (that doesn’t seem to want to protect its members) by not simply accepting this ban, A-Rod has forced both MLB and the Players Association to actually/kind-of confront their role in this whole PED plague of the last two decades and stop pretending like they are actually policing their sport in good faith.  This exposure is good. MLB must own up to its role in all of this and stop pretending that handing out an overly harsh penalty to (arguably) their biggest star is somehow going to make us forget their part in all of this. Good for A-Rod for standing up to this blatant attempt to distract us from the real issue: players will always cheat and the sports organizations that (pretend to) want to police the athletes simply don’t know how to balance their love of profits with what they think the fans want them to do with respect to cheating. And the beat goes on.

Which leads me back to old Sam Kinison…Peter Gammons…is he riiiiiiiiiight????

About Matthew George

Matthew George graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He spent three years writing sports for the Kentucky Kernel, the university's daily paper, and served as assistant sports editor. After undergrad, Matthew attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University where he earned his juris doctorate. He is now admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana.

4 thoughts on “Grievance Hearing Turns Into Battle of Public Opinion, One A-Rod May Not Be Losing

    • Well for one, the arbitrator had already ruled. And two, those proceedings aren’t public.

      A-Rod is a sleaze, but in this, the biggest non-for life suspension in baseball history, don’t you think Bud should at least be called to speak?

    • But this is different. 211 games is unprecedented. I think the hearing was an opportunity to come in, face A-Rod, look him in the eye, and defend baseball’s decision. Selig’ absence from this makes it seem more arbitrary; more of a grudge.

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