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A-Rod’s suspension appeal — five things you need to know about baseball’s new legal drama

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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Alex Rodriguez and his New York Yankees didn't make the postseason this year, but the A-Rod drama of 2013 isn't going quietly into the fall night. Nope. Now we're entering into the part of the season when A-Rod can trade out his pinstripes out for a suit, and sit in front of an arbitrator while his baseball fate is decided.

A-Rod's appeal hearing began Monday for the 211-game suspension handed to him by Major League Baseball in August. A-Rod said then he'd fight the suspension with all he had, and now at Major League Baseball's Park Avenue offices in New York City, A-Rod will do just that.

With the proceedings already started, here are five things you need to know:

1. Apparently A-Rod has supporters. Just look at that picture above. There were people lined up with "Leave A-Rod alone" and "Bosch Liar" signs. Nevermind that all the signs look like they're in the same handwriting and you might have a sneaking suspicion that those people were paid to be there ... let's focus on the real surprise here. A-Rod had supporters waiting for him outside the MLB offices. That must have made him feel good.

2. The hearing is expected to last five days. So it's kind of like a five-game playoff series, right? After five days of MLB attorneys giving their side and A-Rod's attorneys presenting theirs — much like in a courtroom — arbitrator Fredric Horowitz then has 25 days to make a ruling. Don't expect anything too soon. As USA Today's Bob Nightengale writes, "Even if Horowitz knows his decision early, MLB would not walk to disrupt the postseason, much less the World Series. Look for Horowitz to announce his ruling the first week of November."

3. We won't know much that goes on. This isn't a "Judge Joe Brown" type of scene. No cameras. No TV coverage. None of that. Maybe A-Rod's lawyer will toss out some good quotes when he leaves the building each day — neither A-Rod nor attorney Joe Tacopina are strangers to the tabloids — but don't expect much in the way of play-by-play from the A-Rod court drama.

4. Who's there? In addition to A-Rod, Tacopina and Horowitz, the other names you should know in this battle: MLB attorney David Cornwell, who will be presenting the "prosecution's" side. Joining Horowitz on the hearing's three-person panel: MLB vice president (and possible Bud Selig successor) Rob Manfred and MLB Players Association general counsel David Prouty.

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5. This really could decide whether A-Rod plays baseball again or not. We all goof on A-Rod a lot, but the stakes are high here. Should his 211-game suspension be upheld, that would mean he's not eligible to play again until midway through the 2015 season. He would be turning 40 soon. He's already broken down and not the player he used to be.

If A-Rod's suspension is overturned and he's free to play again, then that would be a huge surprise to everyone, the Yankees included. The more likely scenario, most agree, is that A-Rod's suspension is knocked down a bit — perhaps to 100 games, or perhaps just all 162 games of the 2014 season. With a year off, though, you still have to wonder what type of player the Yankees would be getting back.

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