by Kent Sterling
“I want you to find this nancy-boy A-Rod, I want him DEAD!” Selig is bellowing this morning. “I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!”
Disgraced Yankees third baseman is doing his best Al Pacino as Tony Montana in “Scarface,” “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”
Aides are waving towels in Selig’s face trying to calm the 79 year-old boss, “Let the lawyers handle this, Bud. It took the IRS to nail Capone. A-Rod isn’t going anywhere.”
As Selig’s blood pressure threatens to breach his tissue paper thin network of veins and arteries, the HR professionals try to find a way to employ a rock solid suspension or ban that will withstand appeal from the exceptionally well-funded A-Rod defense team without using Article XI, Section A1b that invokes the commissioner’s right to protect the integrity of the game.
An appeal of an Article XI use would be heard by Selig. Let’s go out on a limb and venture a guess that Selig will quickly deny. The next step is a trip to federal court or a reopening of the collective bargaining agreement.
As often happens in business today, baseball would love for A-Rod to accept a negotiated settlement that would prevent him from appealing the finding in anyway. Unfortunately, A-Rod’s situation is very different from most. He just turned 38, so the clock is ticking like a massive church bell in his ear on his ability to be productive. Worse, A-Rod is owed $86 million over the next four years.
What can baseball offer that is going to mitigate the potential loss of $86 million, plus whatever portion of his $28 million in salary from 2013?
The union isn’t going to go to the wall for A-Rod because its members are tired of this doping crap. The questions are relentless, and the players want everyone to be clean. An aggressive defense would run counter to the prevailing wishes of the vast majority of ballplayers.
So Selig has nothing more to do than seethe while the lawyers slowly build their case against Rodriguez in the same way cops gathered evidence against accused murderer Aaron Hernandez. It needs to be air tight – not just because of the legal hurdles that might be placed by A-Rod’s legal team, but to make sure public opinion does not swing toward A-Rod because of less-than-convincing evidence.
A suspension for this year and next would be a career death sentence, and baseball doesn’t want to let it go at a Ryan Braun-esque remainder of the season rip, so Rodriguez has nothing to lose. He is reviled by fans, opponents, and teammates because he only copped to using steroids from 2001-2003 while he continued with a supposedly aggressive PED regimen from 2010-2012.
There is another element to this drama, and that is the health Rodriguez is enjoying. There are reports that A-Rod could be activated as soon as Friday, and that would mean that MLB would either be forced to show their hand and suspend A-Rod immediately, or allow him to take the field in Yankee pinstripes.
Both would likely make Selig angrier than he is right now.
This confluence of cheating, lawyering, and anger makes the A-Rod drama one of the best piece of reality TV this side of of “Mob Wives.”
Rich and delusional vs. rich and outraged makes for high drama, and while A-Rod continues to work out at Yankees headquarters in Tampa, Selig’s team of law chewing sharks searches for a way to keep him off the field in 54 hours.
My money is on A-Rod being the Shoeless Joe of the PED era, and that he will never play another game on a Major League diamond or ever enjoy enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
What do you think?