Alex Rodriguez slammed his fist on a table and stormed out of his grievance hearing on Wednesday.
For good measure, he punched a wall too, the Daily News reported.
Rodriguez must have seen this “ridiculous” “bullshit” coming like a hanging curveball. Because almost immediately after he exited Major League Baseball’s Midtown East office building, his PR team had already drafted a statement.
“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” it read. “The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”
The claim of absurdity and injustice stemmed from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s ruling that MLB commissioner Bud Selig does not have to testify in the proceedings.
“This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the players’ association refused to order Selig to come in and face me,” Rodriguez’s statement said.
If this “adamantly deny performance enhancing drug use and blame the unfair system” ploy sounds familiar, it’s because Lance Armstrong hammered it on our heads for years before admitting that the system was right the whole time.
The hearing was convened because Rodriguez and the players’ association appealed the 211-game suspension that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig slapped him with in August for 1) violating the league’s drug policy and 2) interfering with its investigation into the Florida-based Biogenesis clinic that allegedly supplied him with the PEDs.
Horowitz began hearing the case on September 30, and the proceedings have since trudged along in four-day spurts. It picked back up on Monday. It was possible that A-Rod would testify at some point soon. He was scheduled to meet with the league officials last Friday for an investigatory interview, but had to cancel because he said he was sick.
His side argued that Selig should have to answer questions for doling out the record-length suspension. MLB policy states that first time PED policy offenders miss 50 games. Which means that the meat of A-Rod’s punishment was tied to the league’s accusation that he engaged “in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.”
Next: A-Rod’s fight to clear his name.
Rodriguez has denied all charges of wrongdoing. A cynic might observe that America tends to give only one Admit and Apologize Pass, and A-Rod already used it in February 2009, two days after he — unofficially — got caught for steroid use.
“I was young. I was stupid. I was naive,” Rodriguez said in a nationally televised interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons. “I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”
He’d succumbed to a moment of weakness and insecurity, he explained. He was now ready to move on. He told America that he quit taking steroids in 2003.
This time around, he’s launching a flurry of counter-punches. “If I don’t defend myself, no one will,” he said in an August press conference the day after the world learned of his punishment.
He’s called MLB’s offensive against him a “quest to allow commissioner Selig to act, for the first time, as if he was tough on PED use in baseball.” A-Rod is perhaps the final giant of the Steroid Era remaining in the game, and he argues that the league is unfairly targeting him in a hypocritical effort to cleanse its soul. “Witch hunt,” as Team Alex puts it.
His own employers, the New York Yankees, Rodriguez charges, have been complicit in the smear campaign. After all, he is an aging and struggling ballplayer with $86 million left on a contract that runs through 2017.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina asked Yankees president Randy Levine whether he benefited from the third basemen’s suspension.
The Daily News paraphrased a portion of the testimony as such:
JT: Did you receive an 8.5 percent commission if Alex Rodriguez was suspended?
JT: Will you receive a commission or bonus if the Yankee payroll goes under $189 million?
JT: Did you influence the commissioner in any way to get A-Rod a higher penalty?
It’s unclear where the Alex Rodriguez v. MLB brawl goes from here. Following Rodriguez’s apparent exit from the arbitration process, MLB declared in a statement that it “remains committed” to the hearing.
A spokesperson for A-Rod told ESPN, “We don’t know what we’re going to do. The fight’s still going on, but most likely it’s going to end up in federal court.”
After leaving MLB headquarters, Rodriguez headed to the WFAN studios for an interview with Mike Francesca.
“I lost my mind. I banged a table and kicked a briefcase and slammed out of the room,” he explained.
“Not one bit of evidence,” he said of Selig’s accusations. “Something I didn’t do… For this guy, the embarrassment that he’s put me and my family through, and he doesn’t have the courage to come see me and tell me, ‘This is why I’m going to destroy your career?’ And I have to explain this to my daughters everyday?”
What is clear is that Rodriguez is going all-in with the theory that he’s a victim in all this, a persecuted hero defending himself against the evil and powerful Bud Selig, whom he dubbed “the man from Milwaukee.”
“He hates my guts, there’s no doubt about it,” A-Rod said. “I don’t think they like big salaries. One hundred percent it’s personal. I think it’s about his legacy and it’s about my legacy. He’s trying to destroy me and, by the way, he’s retiring in 2014. And to put me on his big mantle on the way out, that’s a helluva trophy.”