The Alex Rodriguez suspension arbitration hearing is underway at MLB headquarters in New York City, and alleged leaks already are being reported. The New York Daily News — which has been, let's say, inconsistent in its accuracy regarding the A-Rod/Biogenesis saga so far — says his defense team is going to base part of its strategy on its client not knowing what supplements he might have been taking. I'll give the NYDN this: It's a good lead sentence:
Alex Rodriguez says if he doped, he was duped.
According to a source with knowledge of Rodriguez’s ongoing arbitration hearings, the embattled Yankee and his lawyers have presented a case based partly on the idea that Rodriguez believed the substances he procured from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic were innocent legal supplements.
That narrative conflicts with the version told by Anthony Bosch, the founder and proprietor of the now-shuttered facility, who spent part of Monday and almost all of Tuesday testifying before the three-person panel that will decide on the appropriateness of the 211-game doping ban Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig imposed upon Rodriguez in August.
A-Rod's side, via ESPN, already has denied that ignorance is part of their defense:
Rodriguez's spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, released a statement Wednesday emphatically refuting the Daily News report.
"We cannot provide any details of this hearing as the Chair of the Arbitration Panel has issued an order prohibiting all parties from commenting publicly on the confidential proceedings, but what is being reported is NOT true," the statement said.
The scene outside of the hearing has been a circus already, with pro-A-Rod supporters chanting and walking around with signs that all look like they were written by the same person. And the signs have amusing messages, such as:
• "In the 90's, Bud Selig was a steroid lover"
• "Tony Bosch is a drug dealer for minors"
• "Selective enforcement"
• "Latinos stick together"
• "No justice no peace."
There are grains of truth in some of those messages, but I particularly like the Al Sharpton-esque tone of the last one. The NYDN has reported that at least one of these supporters was paid to be there but, again, they've thrown a lot of stuff against the wall that hasn't stuck.
The best part of the A-Rod hearing already has happened: We've got a new picture of Tony Bosch so we don't have to run the old mugshot anymore:
Hey, it looks like he's walking past a police lineup of ballplayers. MLB headquarters sure looks intimidating.