Rodriguez' Grievance Hearing With MLB Ends, Arbitrator's Decision Expected In January
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' grievance hearing to overturn the 211-game suspension he was dealt by MLB "ended Thursday when both sides rested their cases," according to Ronald Blum of the AP. The sides "set a schedule to file briefs and reply briefs next month, which will close the record and submit the matter to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz." A source said that Horowitz' decision on whether to "uphold or alter the discipline" for Rodriguez "likely will be made in January." Rodriguez' lawyers "already are vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court" (AP, 11/22). Rodriguez' lead attorney, Joe Tacopina, on Thursday morning said, "We'll wait for the decision, which we all sort of expect, based on what's gone on here. And then we'll take it to a different jurisdiction." He added, "We'll head to another venue after this is done. We'll be able to depose [MLB Commissioner Bud] Selig one way or the other." In N.Y., Ken Davidoff wrote, "You'd think Horowitz will uphold the bulk of the suspension, and that A-Rod's efforts in the real world will fall flat. We aren't there yet though" (NYPOST.com, 11/21). ESPN.com's Lester Munson wrote it appears Rodriguez has "somehow reached the conclusion that he has a better chance in court than he has in arbitration." It is "a sign of desperation." The evidence in the arbitration "must be piling up, and Rodriguez's attempt to attack MLB's investigative procedures must be falling flat." Unless Rodriguez can show that Horowitz "is corrupt or egregiously incorrect in his reading of the law, any lawsuit that Rodriguez files will come to an early end." Horowitz is "skilled and experienced and enjoys a gilt-edged reputation for integrity" (ESPN.com, 11/21).
GOING THROUGH THE SPIN CYCLE: In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes even SiriusXM Radio's Chris Russo "is hard-pressed to explain why" WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa is "so infatuated with" Rodriguez. Russo on Thursday said, "I can’t understand. Mike is smarter than this, to be duped by A-Rod and fall into this trap. This is the guy you’re going to defend -- A-Rod? He knows A-Rod did steroids. What do you think, Mike’s stupid? He knows." Raissman writes Francesa "is on a crusade." He is trying to "convince the Free World Rodriguez has been singled out for cruel and unusual punishment by Bud Selig, who he claims is the mastermind behind MLB’s 'persecution' of Rodriguez." Russo said, "I know Mike doesn’t like Selig" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/22). Rodriguez' publicist, Ron Berkowitz, said Wednesday's appearance on WFAN "was a spur-of-the-moment event." Berkowitz added that there "was no campaign plan, no scripted rollout of television interviews" to reinforce Rodriguez' message. But in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the "noise that Rodriguez and his team have been making for months about MLB’s conduct has had some success in deflecting attention from accusations that he used drugs to an investigation that he has said he believes has been abusive and unable to turn up credible evidence against him." Without any evidence "for the public to examine, as in a trial, noise from a noisy Rodriguez is all there is to discuss" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/22).
APOLOGY FOR A BAD ANALOGY: In L.A., Austin Knoblauch noted MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons during a radio interview on Thursday "took the villainization of Rodriguez too far." While speaking with ESPN Radio 98.7 N.Y.'s Mike Lupica, Gammons said people within the Yankees organization say Rodriguez "wants to blow up the world. You know, he's like the marathon bombers. It's just, he's going to get them." Knoblauch noted it is "unclear whether someone in the Yankees organization made this comparison to Gammons or whether the longtime baseball analyst made the comparison himself." Regardless, he "shouldn't have said it." Gammons later "apologized on Twitter for his remarks." He wrote, "Stupidly worded comp of blowing up a process. He is owed, and gets my apology for misspeaking. ... Alex would never hurt a human. I hope I haven't hurt him" (LATIMES.com, 11/21). In Boston, Chad Finn writes the apology "seemed entirely genuine." But an analogy that compares "sports trivialities to a still-raw tragedy is one that never should be considered, let alone shared with an audience" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/22).