The latest update in the seemingly never-ending Alex Rodriguez/MLB/Biogenesis saga is the Yankees’ third baseman either has to accept a suspension that will keep him out until 2015 or face a lifetime ban from the game. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports Rodriguez and his legal team are still exploring options. Most indicators on Friday morning point toward Rodriguez fighting any possible appeal and dragging the whole process out, even after word earlier in the week indicating he might accept some sort of suspension.
Meanwhile, baseball is expected to announce the suspensions for the rest of the players involved in the Biogenesis case on Monday (We think.) Most, if not all, other than Rodriguez figure to take the Ryan Braun route and accept their hypothetical 50-game bans.
Complicating matters, Rodriguez is expected to start a minor league rehab stint Friday night in Treton, N.J., and could be ready to rejoin the Yankees next week. Joel Sherman writes in the New York Post on Friday that Rodriguez isn’t expected to cut a deal by Monday when the rest of the suspensions will finally be announced.
Everyone jumping to the conclusion last week that Rodriguez would immediately follow the Braun path likely forget the Brewers outfielder a) was on a last-place team b) had a long-term guaranteed contract c) his team actually wants him on the field and d) he’s been battling nagging injuries all season. Braun had little to lose to sit out the rest of 2013. Rodriguez on the other hand could lose up to $100 million if baseball gives him the lifetime boot, which would delight the Yankees’ front office most of all. Plus he’s A-Rod, it’s never simple with him.
The interesting nugget from Nightengale’s latest update is this, somehow Rodriguez is still hung up on his legacy on the diamond.
It’s his legacy, those close to Rodriguez say, that makes him so persistent in his return to baseball. He refuses to acknowledge that he cheated since joining the Yankees in 2004, although he admitted to performance-enhancing drug use during his days playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.
If he accepts any penalty imposed by Commissioner Bud Selig, he would have to acknowledge guilt, although he could avoid specifics, just like Braun’s public admission.
But if Rodriguez fights Selig, he runs the risk of MLB investigators exposing the dirty details they’ve collected in talking to Tony Bosch, head of Biogenesis who has provided baseball with information about his operation.
At this point it’s hard to figure anyone outside Rodriguez’ own headspace thinks his legacy isn’t tarnished. Even though the overzealous manner in which baseball is going after Rodriguez seems unnecessary and over-the-top, the league must have some damning evidence if it’s digging in this hard against him. Regardless of any potential suspensions, for a large swath of people Rodriguez’ legacy will forever be having Cameron Diaz feed him popcorn at the Super Bowl.
Something else to keep an eye on, the longer this drags out it’s only inevitable some of the public sympathy sways toward Rodriguez. The New York Times William C. Rhoden wrote this morning how baseball is making the villain more sympathetic than it should. As one of my friends said on Twitter recently, Manny Ramirez failed two PED tests and baseball let him sign a minor league contract with the Rangers earlier this year, singling out Rodriguez looks more vindictive than it should (especially minus a failed test). Then again, Rodriguez’s steadfast attempt to fight a suspension since it probably thinks people want to see him try to break the all-time home run record is equally misguided.
For all our sanity, let’s hope Rodriguez sees the light in the next few days and takes his medicine so we can move on with our lives.
[UPDATE: Ken Davidoff reports that MLB has set a 6 P.M. Deadline on Sunday for players to accept deals, with announcements Monday.]
The Biogenesis guys, including A-Rod, have been given a deadline of 6 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday to settle their cases. Announcements Monday.
— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) August 2, 2013
Related: Buck Showalter: If MLB Suspends A-Rod For Life, “I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York.”
Related: Ian Kennedy, Bud Norris Trades Highlight Extremely Quiet MLB Trade Deadline