The NY Post is reporting that the long awaited Alex Rodriguez ban may be just days away. It is not surprising that a ban is coming. A-Rod has been implicated in the Biogenesis scandal. Baseball has been working hard to deliver bans to the players involved, even though they did not fail PED tests. A-Rod’s name is on the list so he finds himself in the cross-hairs.
What is surprising is the length of the ban being suggested. The post is reporting that the ban would cover the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014. My immediate reaction is to ask why? Nothing has been announced, but why should A-Rod, a player who never failed a test when PEDs were illegal in the game, receive one of the harshest non-lifetime bans in the game’s history? At worst this should be treated as a second offense, which would bring a 100 game suspension, not a 200+ game penalty.
No one knows the details yet. It is possible that nothing will be announced, but in light of such a harsh suspension being requested it becomes clear why A-Rod will fight this. He has no other choice. If he was being offered a Ryan Braun length suspension then A-Rod might cut a deal. But in light of his career essentially being ended forcibly he’ll have to fight. What’s more, according to the post article, MLB is preparing to announce the biggest single day suspension announcement certainly in my lifetime and possible since … the Chicago Black Sox? Apparently 15 players will be suspended when the announcement comes.
The size of the announcement is shocking simply as a novelty. For the Yankees only the announcement surrounding Alex is what matters. It now becomes crystal clear why the Yankees are delaying A-Rod’s return. Even if he came back in 2007 form I’m not sure I would want his circus following the team. Furthermore, the team can get money back for his contract if he misses the entire season. Perverse as it sounds, the Yankees have an incentive to keep A-Rod off the field.
Assuming the suspension goes through, what happens next? Alex isn’t just under contract for the next two years. He’d still be a Yankee after the ban was over. The first answer is fight, fight like mad. Rodriguez won’t fight because he needs the money. He’ll fight for the same reason Manny Ramirez is attempting a comeback. He only knows baseball and he’s become so personally toxic that he’ll probably be a pariah once his playing days are over (if he isn’t one already). As a result he has nothing to lose if he fights the decision. How much could he spend? $5 million? $10 million? Assuming he loses I imagine he’d then negotiate some kind of a buy out from the team. It is hard to imagine a 40 year-old A-Rod returning to the team after such a suspension. But for $60 million, the amount the team would owe him, that’s exactly what he’d do. If I’m the Yankees I try to cut a deal. Either way, if the Post is correct that the suspension may be announced this week then things are about to get interesting.