The MLBPA last night "issued a statement ripping MLB's decision to participate" in the "60 Minutes" exposé on the Biogenesis scandal and the resulting 162-game suspension given to Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez on Saturday, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The statement said, "MLB's post-decision rush to the media is inconsistent with our collectively bargained arbitration process." It also said that players have "'expressed anger' over MLB's decision not to let the results of Saturday's decision speak for itself." The union "threatened legal action against the league" for its participation. Barbarisi reports the words "are the first shot across the league's bow from recently appointed union head Tony Clark." After years of "labor peace and compromise across baseball, the Rodriguez issue appears to have driven a wedge between the league and its players." MLB "responded to the union's fist-shaking with what amounted to a shrug" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13). In N.Y., O'Keeffe & Thompson note MLB execs "later fired back, saying that they waited to respond to attacks" on Commissioner Bud Selig and other MLB execs "until after independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz hit Rodriguez with the 162 games on Saturday, reducing Selig's original 211-game ban." An MLB statement said, "We have notified the Major League Baseball Players Association on numerous occasions that we intended to respond to all of the attacks on the integrity of our Joint Drug Program" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/13).
THE SUSPENSION'S FALLOUT: In N.Y., Thompson, O’Keeffe, Red & Vinton noted Rodriguez' suspension encompasses all of the '14 season, "including the postseason, and will cost" Rodriguez $25M in this year’s salary. The suspension is an "endorsement of MLB’s accusations that Rodriguez scored an array of PEDs from Biogenesis." Rodriguez vowed that he would now "take the fight to federal court." He also "threatened to show up for spring training, theoretically a possibility depending on how Horowitz’s ruling is interpreted since the ban encompasses the regular and postseason and doesn’t specifically mention spring training." However, if he does appear at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, the club "would likely send him across the street to the minor league camp" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/12). The MLBPA on Saturday issued a statement that said it "strongly disagrees" with the ruling but added, "We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached. We respect the collectively-bargained arbitration process which led to the decision" (AP, 1/12). In Toronto, Richard Griffin noted the arbitration process is a "part of the basic agreement negotiated in good faith between MLB ownership and the players union, and the result was arrived at to the letter of that agreement." The follow-up statement from the MLBPA "seems to reflect the view that Rodriguez would be on his own in pursuing any legal action" (TORONTO STAR, 1/12). In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote the union "is pretending it is disappointed" with Horowitz' decision, but "once again, it will not lift a finger to help Rodriguez take his case to court." D'Alessandro: "That should tell you something" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/12).
WHERE DO THINGS GO FROM HERE? FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote the next round of CBA negotiations between the MLB and MLBPA "already is shaping up to be quite contentious, though not for the self-serving reasons Rodriguez described." While "serious talks are likely more than two years away, sources say that the union already is preparing for management to pursue an aggressive, ambitious strategy, seeking concessions on everything from the Joint Drug Agreement to the game's salary structure." The players are "more vulnerable than in the past -- and both sides know it." The union is "under new, less experienced leadership," and MLB team owners "could try to take advantage if the players show increased flexibility on drug testing." Against such a "daunting backdrop, Rodriguez's grievances seem inconsequential." However, the players, "while dismissing the messenger, should not entirely ignore the message." Now "more than ever, they need to fight for due process and protect their rights" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman wrote of the Rodriguez ruling, "Baseball's win in this case left the earth so scorched that it threatens to destroy whatever cooperation it might have gotten from its players" (WSJ.com, 1/12).
A VICTORY FOR SELIG: In N.Y., Steve Eder wrote Rodriguez' suspension "amounts to a significant victory" for Selig. With plans to retire after this season, Selig's legacy "will now include an important milestone: a lengthy suspension of Rodriguez" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12). In Detroit, Jerry Green wrote under the header, "Suspension Of Alex Rodriguez Might Define Bud Selig's Legacy." Green: "At last, Selig possesses the image of a muscled champion," as he now has "struck out the formidable A-Rod" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/12). ESPN's Jeremy Schaap said of the ruling, "This is an enormous victory for Major League Baseball. This sends a very powerful message" ("Good Morning America," ABC, 1/12). In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote under the header, "Alex Rodriguez Suspension Is A Home Run For Bud Selig And Major League Baseball" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/12). Also in N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote the winners of the ruling “are obvious: Bud Selig and the Yankees.” Selig’s office “went after Rodriguez with fervor” and “got their big fish.” The ruling “should send a powerful message that central baseball can prosecute and succeed without a failed test, and they will risk all the potential embarrassments and questions of their actions to do so” (N.Y. POST, 1/12).
WORTH THE INVESTMENT: ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick characterized the ruling as “an enormous victory for Selig” and MLB. The time and money the league “invested in the process reflect a genuine commitment by MLB to address the PED problem -- no matter how many stars are tarnished or how much the game's short-term reputation is damaged.” Selig, “barring a successful (and desperate) legal challenge that puts Rodriguez back on the field,” can “look forward to an A-Rod-free final year in office.” Crasnick: “That's a whole lot better than a rocking chair or an oil painting to hang above the fireplace” (ESPN.com, 1/11). MLB.com’s Mike Bauman wrote the league "doesn't necessarily 'win' in the literal sense when one of its biggest names is suspended for one year for violating the collectively bargained drug policy." However, MLB "did what it had to do in this case, to preserve the integrity of its drug-testing program and to preserve the integrity of the game itself" (MLB.com, 1/11).