Alex Rodriguez flails in his final, desperate swing
Alex Rodriguez is a sad, desperate man, and sad, desperate men do sad, desperate things like blame their sad, desperate circumstances on a beloved, deceased man. Of the many layers of pathetic A-Rod has peeled back in trying to excuse his own wretched choices, never had he spoken ill of the dead, not until Monday when his failing defense found a new nadir.
Smack dab in the middle of the lawsuit he filed against Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to overturn his suspension for all of 2014 came the attack on Michael Weiner, the late leader of the union and inarguably the most respected person in baseball before cancer took his life in November. Though admiration alone does not a make a good man, nobody inside the union or out ever questioned Weiner's virtue or willingness to fight for players. He argued for those who flouted the doping rules to which they had agreed. He helped Ryan Braun escape unscathed from a positive test. Even Alex Rodriguez, a liar, a manipulator, a narcissist, everything Weiner wasn't, would still receive his best effort because he was part of a union, and a union's strength goes south to north.
Ever scraping the bottom, Rodriguez in his lawsuit said Weiner "irreparably corrupted the arbitration process," blaming benign comments that in truth bore no effect on the private arbitration case or the public's view of it. If anything, Weiner's suggestion that Rodriguez might consider a plea bargain dovetailed with his handling of the other 13 players pinched in the Biogenesis scandal and with facts made public in the lawsuit for the first time Monday.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's decision, stunning in its complete rejection of Rodriguez's arguments and damning in details about the systematic doping scheme Tony Bosch devised for A-Rod, was but another moment in a charade that from the beginning has barreled to this inevitability: a federal court case. Once MLB coerced Bosch into talking, Rodriguez's legal team started down a curious path that reeked of desperation. Instead of arguing the facts of Rodriguez's doping, of explaining the 53 phone calls and 556 texts in 2012 alone, they manufactured nits at which they picked relentlessly.
Some ring true and give Rodriguez the sliver of hope that a district court judge will ignore the binding arbitration and take the case. MLB fired its last arbitrator for the Braun decision, and it wielded that same power in this case, which Rodriguez's lawyers argued prejudiced Horowitz. Of course, the union can do the same at any time. And as much time as Rodriguez spent arguing Horowitz's bias, he did reduce Rodriguez's suspension from 211 games to 162.
For the first 42 pages of the brief, Rodriguez's lawyers tilt at windmills, their creativity attempting to muddle the case's ugly truths. Much of the bellyaching boils down to the massive leaks sprung throughout the arbitration, which would represent legitimate prejudice if the moral high ground on which they stand wasn't a millimeter-thick layer of ice. Just remember: Rodriguez went through a legion of flacks, including a P.R. person who coordinated a media campaign with tactics that included sending information during arbitration proceedings to hand-picked reporters, according to sources familiar with the leaks.
Nobody will argue that both sides did the case dirty. MLB gave $125,000 to a guy who called himself Bobby. As in, they had no idea who he was. Only that he said he had documents linking Rodriguez, Braun and a dozen others to Biogenesis. Without those or Bosch's cooperation, this case does not exist. From that perspective, the league's motivations, if not its methods, are understandable. After MLB demonized drugs and boasted of the best testing program in American sports, the existence of a wide-ranging doping program going unpunished would shatter whatever illusion the league has built of its ability to police PEDs.
Fact is, Horowitz said in his opinion, the science isn't perfect. It's why Rodriguez could pass 11 tests while regularly using Bosch's human growth hormone, testosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1. The damning evidence came in those BlackBerry messages, the ones that Rodriguez's lawyers said "bore no indicia of reliability and were illegible, out of order, and contained multiple inconsistencies." Never does the lawsuit question their authenticity. Never does the lawsuit impugn any of the evidence against Rodriguez's use. Verbal gymnastics apparently cost $1,000 an hour.