In either a fit of anger or a premeditated performance, Alex Rodriguez on Wednesday stormed from his arbitration hearing, leaving a blistering statement behind.
Outraged, he claimed, by an independent arbitrator's refusal to require MLB commissioner Bud Selig to testify at a hearing that will determine whether Rodriguez's 211-game suspension will stand, sources said the New York Yankees third baseman pounded his hand on a table, shouted at MLB COO Rob Manfred – "Rob, this is [expletive] bull[expletive] and you know it!" – and departed.
The hearing could continue in Rodriguez's absence, as Rodriguez's attorneys did not immediately join their client in his arbitration walk-off. If they, too, refused to continue, Rodriguez's suspension would stand. Hearings are scheduled to resume Thursday morning. Joe Tacopina, one of Rodriguez's lawyers, told ESPN New York radio his team had not determined whether it would appear again before the arbitrator. He also stated Rodriguez had not used performance-enhancing drugs since he left the Texas Rangers a decade ago.
Shortly after he left MLB headquarters in New York, Rodriguez issued a statement. 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.
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"The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce."
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 read, "The MLBPA believes that every player has the right under our arbitration process to directly confront his accuser. We argued strenuously to the Arbitrator in Alex's case that the Commissioner should be required to appear and testify. While we respectfully disagree with the Arbitrator's ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex's suspension within the context of this hearing."
Presided over by independent arbitrator Frederic Horowitz, the hearings are to determine whether Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Agreement in his alleged dealings with Biogenesis, a Florida wellness clinic, and its owner, Anthony Bosch, and then if a 211-game suspension is warranted. MLB presented its case in eight days over two sessions. Bosch was its key witness. The process resumed Monday with Rodriguez's attorneys – Tacopina, David Cornwell and Jordan Siev – requesting that Selig be required to testify. Horowitz determined that Manfred was, by the letter of baseball's rules, authorized to speak for Selig. Previously, MLB had asked that Rodriguez be made available to testify. Rodriguez did not cooperate during questioning by MLB investigators in July and thus far had not testified during the hearings.
Rodriguez already has filed a lawsuit against MLB and Selig, and it seems likely he would contest a suspension in court.
Tacopina told ESPN New York radio that Rodriguez 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.
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"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."