This past Saturday, an arbitrator announced his decision on the suspension of one Alex Rodriguez. He reduced it to 162, the equivalent of one season in MLB. A-Rod will miss the 2014 season for the New York Yankees for his baseball sins of PED use connected to the Biogenesis case. But with this latest news coming down, what does the future hold for A-Rod, The New York Yankees organization, his baseball career, and his legacy?
Alex Rodriguez came into the MLB and was anointed as the chosen one. He revolutionized the position of shortstop in the league. The position went from a small solid infielder to a big, power hitting force. His career stats speak for itself; career .299 hitter, 654 home runs (ranks 5th all time), 1,984 RBIs (ranks 5th all time), and 2,939 hits. He is a 4-time MVP in the league and those seasons he put up monster numbers. For his early success and possible career of records, he was award two of the largest contracts in sports history (10 years/$255MM and 10 years/$275MM respectively). A-Rod was going to be the man that took down all the records that were put up by player suspected of using PEDs like Bonds. But now that dream and his career stats are dashed because of his 2009 admission of using PEDs from 2001 to 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers. The Biogenesis scandal now put in question more years of PED use, and now you have to wonder if all his numbers are a result of illegal PED usage.
On August 5th of 2013, MLB handed out the biggest suspension related to PED use in history when they suspended A-Rod for 211 games. A-Rod was not only accused of PED use, but also obstructing justice in the investigation of Biogenesis. A-Rod appealed this ruling and the circus began. The stories since then have piled on one on the other; A-Rod’s claims of a MLB witch hunt, to civil suits against MLB, Bud Selig, and the New York Yankees, to his claims of appealing to stand up for players in a similar position and players down the line, to storming out of the hearings and going on a PR campaign to claim innocence (a same day appearance on NY’s Sport’s Pope, Mike Francesca’s radio show). The latest news came as soon as the ruling came out in which A-Rod issued a statement summing up if frustration with the process and his intentions of fighting this in Federal Court. The likely hood of this case getting that far is 50/50 at best. And at worst, this continued fight will cost A-Rod a lot of money in legal fees. MLB is the big winner in all of this, second to the New York Yankees. MLB and Selig levied a huge suspension that they knew for one would never stand up in court and two A-Rod would fight. So when you are selling a house you list high and sell low. MLB knew this process would be done in the offseason and the wanted him gone for all of 2014, so they tacked on the end of the 2013 season. The arbitrator basically took of time that he already played and gave him the whole 2014 season. MLB got the star player they wanted suspended and humiliated so this PED use will stop.
A-Rod has made the most money in MLB history and has more on the line. He has racked up close to $355MM during his career in salary alone, which is $100MM more the second man in MLB history (Derek Jeter at $255MM in salary). This suspension will cost close to $22MM this season and he has $60MM left on his current contract. Not to mention the bonuses he has if he passes people on the all time Home Run list. He has 6 home runs to go to catch the great Willie Mays, and if he passes him he will collect $6MM in bonuses. All together if he took over the all time Home Run record, A-Rod would collect $30MM. This is a lot of money he has collected in his career and is still on the line. But with the frequent PED use, has A-Rod sold his sole for the dollars? A-Rod craves attention, love, fame, records, the HOF, and the respect as the best ever. He has cost himself all of this for +$400MM in his career.
The New York Yankees, as I previously mentioned, are the second biggest winner with this ruling. They get rid of a player they don’t want anyway and get rid of his salary for one year. They can get under the $189MM Salary threshold for 2014 and can reset their luxury tax bill. It frees up $22MM so they can go after more players. 2013 was a nightmare for the team and A-Rod’s relationship. The Yankees knew A-Rod was hurt and could be accused of trying to keep him away by using the injury as an excuse. When he finally came back in July, the love was lost and now fast forward to the end of the year A-Rod is suing the Yankees for trying to bury his career. This likely won’t go anywhere but it’s another brick in the wall.
With the ruling, A-Rod is technically still allowed to show up for Spring Training this year due to the MLB Collective Bargaining agreement. If the Yankees try to ban him or even ask him not to come, A-Rod can file a grievance against MLB and the Yankees. But should A-Rod even show up, of course not. If he loves his team and teammates as he stated Saturday, then he should know by showing up he is only providing a distraction and circus. He will not be helping the team win a championship; he will be helping them be unfocused. A-Rod should be told by his teammates, especially the Captain Derek Jeter, to stay home. Most teammates have been quiet about this whole situation, but it’s time for the Captain to prove his worth and do what’s right for the team and fans. But you know A-Rod doesn’t care about the logic of not showing up to Spring Training, he is selfish enough to be there front and center. Which begs the question, should the Yankees just cut him all together in 2015 (they can’t cut his this year)? They would have to eat his salary, no one will trade for him, but they would be done of the headache and A-Rod gets his money. It will also in theory end his career as he will be 39 years old going on 40 next year. He has had two hip surgeries and only played 44 games in two years.
A-Rod could have gone down as one of the greatest of all time without the PEDs, but he wanted more. A-Rod is like Anakin Skywalker struggling to be a great Jedi and wanting more and more. Skywalker turned to the Dark side to achieve his goals and A-Rod has too. A-Rod has the stats that could stand the test of time and had the promise of Mickey Mantle when he came up in the 50s. Now that is all gone because of the dark cloud that hangs over him; the lies in the 60 Minutes interview, the 2009 admission, the continued PED use through Biogenesis, the obstruction of justice, the ruling Saturday. The ruling could be the final nail in the coffin to a career with such promise that may end in one fail swoop. But at least he’ll have $400MM+ to fall back on.