Monday, October 20, 2014

Sports
Alex Rodriguez suspended from MLB for 2014 season
by Tiffany Shepherd


(CNN)--Alex Rodriguez has officially lost his appeal and will be forced to sit out the 2014 Major League Baseball season. His 211-game suspension was reduced to 162 games, but A-Rod says it isn't over yet.

Rodriguez released a statement on the decision, courtesy of his Facebook page:
 
The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.
 
I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
 
I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal.

The New York Yankees third baseman was originally suspended for 211 games in early August, which at the time carried through the end of the 2014 season. According to Bryan Hoch and Joey Nowak of MLB.com, Rodriguez was accused of violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
 
A number of MLB players accepted 50-game suspensions at the same time for their involvement with Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic that provided performance-enhancing drugs to players. However, Rodriguez was dealt a harsher punishment for his reported role in tampering with evidence.
 
According to T.J. Quinn and Pedro Gomez of ESPN, the superstar also helped pay for an attorney for Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis.
 
Despite the evidence presented, Rodriguez formally appealed the suspension with the backing of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), according to ESPN. After finally declaring himself healthy, he rejoined the Yankees and remained active through September.
 
Rodriguez ended up playing 44 games in 2013, racking up seven home runs with 19 RBI while posting a .244 batting average.

With his team out of the playoff picture, he sat out the final weekend in order to prepare for his case and face it "head on," according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN. A-Rod noted the importance of the next few days, telling the media, "I'm fighting for my whole life, my whole legacy."
 
While this would seem overdramatic in most cases, it is exactly what this appeal was about.
 
There was an air of confidence from his legal team throughout the summer that the suspension would be overturned. Rodriguez's attorney, Joe Tacopina, had this to say on the Today Show:
 
Alex Rodriguez, when we confront this evidence, will have been found not responsible to the point where he should not serve one inning of a suspension, as opposed to 211 games.
 
I know the evidence against Alex Rodriguez, and I will tell you this — it will never stand up in a court of law or in an arbitration panel courtroom. Never. Because the evidence is based on one person — Anthony Bosch.
 
Despite this statement, it appears as though the independent arbitrator has sided with the league and Rodriguez will have to serve out his suspension before returning to baseball.
 
This leaves plenty of questions regarding the three-time MVP's future in the league. He remains in pursuit of Barry Bonds' record mark of 762 career home runs (or Hank Aaron's 755 home runs if you prefer) with a current total of 654, but it will be difficult to reach the pinnacle considering he is already 38 years old.

Rodriguez also has a $275 million contract with the Yankees that runs through 2017, which he signed after winning the AL MVP during the 2007 season. It remains to be seen how the suspension will impact this deal.
 
Either way, this will remain a landmark decision for the sport in the fight to keep performance-enhancing drugs out of baseball. Rodriguez is undoubtedly the most high-profile player ever suspended, surpassing Ryan Braun, who accepted a deal in July to sit out the remainder of the 2013 season.
 
Commissioner Bud Selig and the rest of the league will certainly hope that this sends a message to anyone else considering using banned substances in the future.