Alex Rodriguez is in minors trying to get his lost season up and running while baseball is looking to notion that embattled Yankee star did his best to slow the Biogenesis investigation. (AP)
It is now a frantic footrace with the MLB drug posse for Alex Rodriguez, who will never play another game for the Yankees but is desperately trying to make sure he doesn’t lose a penny of the $100 million owed him on the last 4½ years of his contract.
In plain view, A-Rod is going through the motions, playing in rehab games for the Class-A Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League, all in the name of making his way back to the Bronx by the end of the month. It is just an elaborate charade.
A-Rod has to know he’s never going to be remotely close to the player he once was — the player he needs to be in order to satisfy both the Yankees’ needs and his own ego. It is why he is alleged to have constantly sought the latest designer PEDs and assorted other treatments to restore his faded skills.
In the meantime, behind the scenes, Bud Selig’s MLB drug sheriff, Rob Manfred, is bearing down on A-Rod with a looming suspension for his involvement with alleged Miami steroid dealer Tony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic in South Florida — the place that apparently served as baseball’s drug cheats’ and wannabe drug cheats’ version of a CVS. But it goes further than that. MLB investigators are now also looking into whether A-Rod has had anything to do with procuring and/or compensating the attorneys for the witnesses they have been interviewing in the Bosch scandal. If he has, then he’s facing a whole new set of charges — aside from baseball’s joint drug agreement. Still, as one baseball official with knowledge of the investigation told me, MLB may already have more than it needs to suspend A-Rod, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun and others for a lot more than just 100 games on drug violations alone.
“They’re going for the nuclear option,” is how the official put it.
In recent days, as A-Rod has looked woefully out of sync at the bat — he got his second hit in six games and an RBI Wednesday — and somewhat less than gazelle-like on the basepaths and in the field, he has put out caution signs that recovery from the sort of hip injury he’s attempting to come back from “is a process” and could take some time. He has until July 22 on this rehab assignment to prove to the Yankees he’s ready to be placed on the major league roster. If not, he goes back on the disabled list and, presumably, back to batting, baserunning and fielding drills in Tampa, along with further evaluation from the doctors.
But as the Daily News reported June 26, A-Rod’s real mission is to get himself to the safe haven that will protect him from losing any of his money as a result of being suspended by baseball — and that place is the so-called “unable to perform” list, where he and baseball doctors determine whether the severity of his hip condition is such that it precludes him from being able to perform.
This is what happened with the Baltimore Orioles’ surly slugger Albert Belle in 2001 when a similar hip injury forced him out of the game and he collected the remaining $39 million on his five-year, $60 million contract, with the O’s recovering $23 million of that from the insurance company.
If A-Rod is suspended while on the disabled list, he does not get paid.
However, there is an appeals process for any player suspended under baseball’s joint drug policy that could take at least a month. So it would seem the meter is also ticking for MLB if it wants to get the most bang for its buck on any suspension of A-Rod. For if during that time, it is determined A-Rod is unable to perform and is forced to retire, like Belle, he gets paid in full and the insurance will cover the Yankees for approximately 80% of the $100 million. Thus, a suspension of A-Rod after it’s been determined he is unable to perform would be but a Pyrrhic victory for baseball.
Either way, the Yankees win.
Though it’s been speculated that A-Rod is facing a 100-game suspension for multiple violations of baseball’s drug policy in the Bosch case, it appears Selig’s men are looking to kick him out of the game for a lot longer — very possibly permanently.
They have had their fill of what they see as A-Rod’s lies, deceptions and apparent continuing ventures into the PED netherworld — this after visiting schools and lecturing kids on the dangers of drugs on behalf of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, and telling ESPN, shortly after his admission of taking steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003, that he wanted “to turn my mistake into something positive” by focusing on youth anti-steroid education.
In short, Alex Rodriguez has become a constant embarrassment to baseball and a living, breathing, still-playing symbol of the steroid era, which continues to plague the game and dog Selig’s legacy.
The sooner he goes away — for good — the better off everyone, including A-Rod, will be.