Alex Rodriguez‘s appeal decision came down today, and it did not go his way. While his suspension was reduced, Rodriguez will be missing the entire 2014 campaign with a 162-game suspension. This process is the final step for Major League Baseball, but Rodriguez may bring this battle to federal court.
Last season Rodriguez appealed his suspension, which allowed him to play through the end of the season. His hope, for the moment, is that he can obtain a federal injunction. An injunction would put this 162-game suspension on hold until the federal court hears the case. He has already made a public statement since learning of the his suspension, saying that a federal judge would overturn the case after seeing the evidence, or lack thereof.
Rodriguez has laid most, if not all, his cards on the table. He mentioned that the appeal hearing consisted of hearsay, a lack of credible evidence, and a lack of reliable witnesses. The fact is the arbitration process is impartial. That is the entire point of using the arbitrator. 162 games may seem like a complete win for the MLB, but they technically lost the appeal. MLB wanted a 211-game suspension for Rodriguez and reminded the public of that today. While we do not know the reasons used by the arbitrator to determine the 162 game suspension, we need to be able to assume that this was treated just like a regular court case. The evidence had to be there for the arbitrator to come down with the full year suspension.
It is important to note that Rodriguez has agreed to this process under the MLBPA. Accordingly, the Players Union stated today that they are disappointed with the result of the final arbitration. However, they will not be fighting it. They agree that this is the agreed upon process, and the suspension is final. In addition to trying to obtain a federal injunction, Rodriguez is seeking damages from the MLB for stopping his ability to earn a living. While this may sound silly for someone who has made hundreds of millions of dollars, it does show the public and the legal teams what is important to Rodriguez. It shows that this is an angry appeal, not necessarily based on facts. Also, like mentioned above, with every statement made today and in the days following, he is making his legal team’s job more and more difficult.
For the time being, Alex Rodriguez is done with Major League Baseball. He was suspended, he appealed, and now he has lost again. His next step of moving to federal court has a slim chance of working out in his favor. If he goes the federal route this week, we should hear an answer before spring training. Like any situation with Rodriguez, look for his story to consume baseball for the foreseeable future.