The spectacle that has come of Alex Rodriguez versus Bud Selig and Major League Baseball had itself a day Wednesday.
Love or bother to hate A-Rod, you must respect a man who storms from the tension of a disciplinary hearing that could end his career, appears on the doorstep of a local radio program, and leaves himself enough time in between for lunch.
With or without him, the case against Rodriguez is scheduled to resume Thursday morning on Park Avenue, though as of Wednesday evening Rodriguez's lawyers wouldn't say if they'd be there either. If neither Rodriguez nor his representatives continue with the case, arbitrator Frederic Horowitz would rule on what has been presented so far.
[Photos: A-Rod walks out of grievance hearing]
They live in Miami.
Yes, Wednesday broke from the routine of a smartly tailored Rodriguez stepping from a black car with tinted windows, waving to a crowd of supporters who may or may not have known why they were there, a long day of (someone else's) testimony, and then Rodriguez leaving the way he came. Those kinds of days appear over.
"Today," Rodriguez told WFAN host Mike Francesa, "I just lost my mind."
The routine went awry Wednesday morning, when Rodriguez and his lawyers were notified Selig would not be required to testify. Some 3½ months ago, Selig suspended Rodriguez and 13 others for their ties to a South Florida wellness clinic and its owner, Anthony Bosch. Thirteen took their punishments, including Ryan Braun. Rodriguez, suspended for 211 games, or more than three times what Braun received, chose to fight. Part of that, he said, was to question Selig about his findings and his methods. Rodriguez claimed he then would testify Friday.
"I thought rightfully so this should end with Selig on Thursday and me on Friday, under oath, put your money where your mouth is," Rodriguez told Francesa.
[Tim Brown: Can Yankees keep from overpaying for Robinson Cano?]
But, no Selig.
By his own recollection, Rodriguez slammed a table with his hand, kicked a briefcase, and flew from the room. By someone else's, he also shouted on the way out at MLB COO Rob Manfred, "Rob, this is [expletive] bull[expletive] and you know it!"
So, no A-Rod, either.
"For me," he said, "I'm done. I don't have a chance."
Selig has not testified in an arbitration case involving performance-enhancing drugs since the current program was put in place. That is Manfred's job.
Still, Rodriguez has come to believe Selig is out to get him. Considering the events of the past year or so, that's a fair assumption. But Rodriguez said the chase reaches now beyond Biogenesis, and Bosch, and the stories told by documents and other evidence. This, Rodriguez said, is personal.
"He hates my guts, there's no question about it," he said, adding, "He's trying to destroy me. He's retiring … and to put me on his mantel on the way out, that's a big trophy."
MLB would simply ask, did he or didn't he? Did Rodriguez purchase performance-enhancing drugs from Bosch and did he use them, as it believes their evidence claims, and therefore was Rodriguez in violation of the league's anti-drug program?
"I did nothing," Rodriguez said. "With the Bosch nonsense, nothing."
Bosch testified otherwise. Rodriguez's camp called Bosch names and pointed out he sold PEDs to minors. But, until Wednesday, they plodded along. MLB made its case in eight days over two sessions in September and October. Team A-Rod began its counter Monday. Things fell apart Wednesday, when in a fit of anger or a premeditated performance, Rodriguez went over the wall. MLB officials who wondered last week whether Rodriguez had fallen ill just in time to avoid an arbitrator-appointed meeting with them, now wondered if Rodriguez had staged his showy departure, reaching for martyrdom in time to escape testifying.
Their statement: "Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter. MLB selected Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the Players Association have no right to dictate how Baseball's case is to proceed any more than Baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today's antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez's continuing refusal to testify under oath."
On his way out the door, Rodriguez left a statement in his wake. It read: "I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me.
"The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce."
[Jeff Passan: The true farce is Alex Rodriguez]
"I'll probably go see my daughters tomorrow," Rodriguez said.
MLB responded: "For more than 40 years, Major League Baseball and the Players Association have had a contractual grievance process to address disputes between the two parties. This negotiated process has served players and clubs well. Despite Mr. Rodriguez being upset with one of the arbitration panel's rulings today, MLB remains committed to this process and to a fair resolution of the pending dispute."
The Players Association later countered with a statement that said it argued "strenuously" to have Selig testify and that it would continue to challenge Rodriguez's suspension.
Rodriguez already has filed a lawsuit against MLB and Selig, and it seems likely he would contest a suspension in court, and perhaps would follow that with a civil suit seeking damages.
Rodriguez's attorney, Joe Tacopina told ESPN New York radio that Rodriguez really had planned to testify Friday, and that MLB had waived its right to question Rodriguez ahead of that.
He said the Selig ruling changed that, which led to Rodriguez's outburst and rapid departure.
"This," Tacopina said, "was the final straw."
He also said, "The way things stand now, he's gone for good."
During the interview, Tacopina insisted Rodriguez had not taken PEDs. He was not asked if Rodriguez received PEDs or other substances from Bosch.
"He didn't do what he's accused of doing," Tacopina said, later adding, "Not to be able to question the guy who signed his notice of discipline is unconscionable."
Selig, he surmised, lacked the "courage" to take the witness stand, sending his client in a huff to the streets of New York.
"Today," Tacopina said, "the dam broke."
And the real spectacle began.
- Alex Rodriguez
- Major League Baseball
- Bud Selig