Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has spoken: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the entire 2014 regular season and postseason, leaving A-Rod’s baseball future uncertain.
Horowitz reduced the suspension from 211 games to 162, yet this is not a victory at all for A-Rod’s camp, which is clear given the language in A-Rod’s statement:
The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. … I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court.
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Major League Baseball has been relentless in pursuit of A-Rod, building a case of overwhelming evidence that he obtained illegal performance-enhancing substances from Biogenesis in South Florida and attempted to obstruct MLB’s investigation of his case. MLB’s statement was short and sweet:
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.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, which supported and assisted A-Rod during his defense, also issued a brief statement:
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.
According to reports, A-Rod has vowed that he will attend spring training, which he is entitled to do under the collective bargaining agreement. The bigger question remains: Do the Yankees want him there? Expect this to play out over the next few weeks along with A-Rod’s appeal to federal court.