A-Rod's decision puts focus back on game
Major League Baseball, its players and most importantly its fans can all exhale.
Alex Rodriguez has withdrawn his lawsuits against Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball Players Association. He accepted his suspension for the upcoming season and any postseason games the New York Yankees could play.
With Spring Training officially opening Thursday when Arizona's pitchers and catchers reported and continuing when the Los Angeles Dodgers welcome pitchers and catchers this weekend, baseball can work to get the focus back on the game and out of the courtroom.
The Yankees can show up in Tampa, Fla., for spring work, and the questions will be on the health of Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, who's on second and what to do about third base in light of Rodriguez not being available this season.
The media can debate Boston's ability to repeat as World Series champion or wonder if another worst-to-first tale can be written in 2014 or whether the Yankees can regain their spot atop baseball.
But there won't be countless words printed and spoken on what might happen if Rodriguez won his suit, challenging an arbitrator's ruling in which Fredric Horowitz reduced that 211-game suspension that Major League Baseball handled down on Aug. 5 to 162 games, which covers the 2014 season.
The 162-game suspension will cost Rodriguez a tad more than $22 million, but not the entire $25 million he was due for this season because the season is based on 183 days, and the suspension was not for "a full season," but rather 162 games.
The decision means that Rodriguez, after appearing in only 44 games last year, will go into Spring Training a year from now at the age of 39, having not played at all in 2014. But he will still collect $61 million for 2015, 2016 and 2017, the final three years of his 10-year deal.
But there is a small victory that Rodriguez can claim. His suspension was reduced by 55 games, which would have been the remainder of the 2013 season, after MLB handed that suspension down, so he was able to collect more than $9 million that he would have had to forfeit out of last year's $28 million salary had he accepted that original 211-game suspension.
What can't be overlooked, however, is there is no winner in this action.
It's going to be a generation or two of fans before the bad taste of performance-enhancing-drug allegations will be forgotten.
Baseball lives under the cloud of PED abuses. Rodriguez will be forever remembered for his center-stage role in the controversy.
There, however, comes a time where it's best to move on.
Could Rodriguez have won his legal challenges? Maybe, but it would have been difficult in light of the fact the Basic Agreement provides that in the case of a dispute, both MLB and the MLBPA agree to have the issue settled by an arbitrator, not in a court of law.
The only sure thing had Rodriguez moved ahead with his legal challenge to MLB and the union he belongs to was there would be ongoing public moments of embarrassment for both the game and Rodriguez as both sides worked to justify their actions.
Rodriguez had a choice.
He could end his public fight with Major League Baseball, accept the suspension and hope to move on, much like Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun did last summer when he was suspended 65 games for his involvement with Biogenesis.
He could continue the public battle and wind up ostracized from the game like Pete Rose, which would mean he would not be able to be a part of the game in his post-playing career, not even as a broadcaster, much less as a part of an ownership group, both of which he has discussed in the past.
Rodriguez chose the diplomatic route.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.