THE BLOG
12/16/2013 11:43 am ET Updated Feb 15, 2014

A-Rod's PR Gambit

AP

Defeated by overwhelming evidence and unwilling to take the stand, Alex Rodriguez threw a fit and stomped out of his arbitration hearing on the 31st floor of 245 Park Avenue. With one of his stable of lawyers, A-Rod then went on Mike Francesa's radio show on WFAN and explained that the system of appeals designed by the Players Association and the Commissioner's Office was unjust and that Commissioner Selig had a personal vendetta against him.

A-Rod's contention was that since Commissioner Selig was the ultimate decision maker in levying his suspension for 211 games for the use of steroids, A-Rod had a right to face his accuser. For A-Rod, this meant that Selig should have to sit at the same arbitration hearing and testify as to why A-Rod merited this lengthy suspension. A-Rod's lawyers, in turn, should have to ability to cross-examine him. Selig, Rodriguez claimed, should be man enough to stand up and accuse A-Rod face to face. If he did that, then Rodriguez would also have testified.

A-Rod's radio appeal may have resonated with some fans, but it had no logical or legal standing. First, prior to the first drug control agreement between the Players Association and the Commissioner's Office in 2002 (subsequently toughened in 2005 and then again by the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in the spring of 2006) the suspension of any major league player for a disciplinary infraction would have occurred at the discretion of the commissioner under his "best interests of baseball" power. Any suspension since 2006 occurs under the joint drug agreement and the systematic procedures outlined therein. The suspension of A-Rod and the appeal process followed these procedures. A-Rod does not get to have special procedures.

Second, Rob Manfred, MLB's COO and longstanding point man for controlling drug use in baseball, gave comprehensive testimony at the arbitration hearing. Any questions or criticisms that A-Rod's lawyers had about the evidence brought against him could have been (and probably were) addressed to Manfred. Commissioner Selig's testimony would have been redundant.

Third, Rodriguez claimed that it was his right as a U.S. citizen to face his accuser, but he had no such legal right. Civil rights are protected in the public sector. They are not protected in the private sector. Workers' civil rights are only protected to the extent that they are covered in an employment contract.

The arbitrator is his matter is Fredric Horowitz. He was approved by both the Players Association and the Commissioner's Office. He is an experienced and widely respected jurist. He ruled that Commissioner Selig did not have to testify.

In addition to A-Rod's PR stunt in reaction to this ruling, his lawyers told Wallace Mathews of ESPN New York that they were going to release all the documents from the hearing to the press. Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Rodriguez declared: "We're going to show everything we have to the press so they can show it to the American public." So far, we are still waiting.

The reason that Rodriguez did not want to testify and why no documents have been released is because they would affirm the solid basis for A-Rod's suspension. MLB has documents from Biogenesis that detail the sale and use of steroids by Rodriguez. A-Rod protests that the documents are invalid because MLB paid for some of the evidence, but prosecutors pay for evidence regularly. The only violation would have been if MLB paid someone to distort the evidence. This did not happen.

A-Rod also protests that Anthony Bosch's testimony should not be allowed because he is an unreliable source. Even if one accepts this proposition, however, there are emails, receipts and records that affirm what Bosch testified.

Perhaps the most damning evidence is that of the 13 other players who were suspended based on the evidence collected from Biogenesis, none of them has appealed.

Rodriguez, of course, received the longest suspension and his penalty comes with the highest cost because he has the largest contract in baseball history. The evidence identifies multiple violations by Rodriguez over many years. MLB feels that the 211-game suspension is proportional to the frequency and magnitude of A-Rod's violations.

Horowitz will decide whether or not he agrees. He is allowed to uphold the 211 games, reduce the suspension or negate it. He is not allowed to increase it, even if he feels it warranted. The public will never know if Horowitz believed that MLB's suspension was too lenient.

Although Rodriguez may think that MLB's aggressiveness to procure evidence was motivated by a personal vendetta, the public should recognize it for what it is -- an energetic effort by MLB to eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs from the national pastime.