Unless a federal judge makes a rare decision and overturns Saturday’s ruling by Major League Baseball arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, Yankees third baseman and Miami native Alex Rodriguez is going to miss the entire 2014 season for his involvement in the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Horowitz on Saturday announced he was reducing Rodriguez’s suspension from 211 to 162 games — including any playoff games. Horowitz also ruled that the Yankees must pay the three-time MVP 21 days worth of his $25 million salary for the 183-day season. That comes to $2,868,852.46.
Rodriguez, who turns 39 in July and has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs since admitting to steroid use during his years with the Texas Rangers (2001-2003), posted a statement on his Facebook page that he plans to fight Horowitz’s ruling in federal court.
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one,” said Rodriguez, who was given a 211-game penalty by commissioner Bud Selig on Aug. 5 for attempting to “cover up his violations of the league’s [drug] program” and “intending to obstruct baseball’s investigation.”
“This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable.
“… I am confident that when a federal judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension.”
But that rarely happens. According to The Associated Press, the U.S. Supreme Court has set narrow grounds for judges to consider when overturning arbitrators, ruling in 1960 that “the refusal of courts to review the merits of an arbitration award is the proper approach to arbitration under collective bargaining agreements. The federal policy of settling labor disputes by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards.”
Horowitz heard the case over 12 sessions from Sept. 30 until Nov. 20 and chaired a three-man arbitration panel that included MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and union general counsel Dave Prouty. Both baseball and Rodriguez’s lawyers admitted to paying for evidence as they prepared for the hearings.
In an attempt to overturn Horowitz’s decision, Rodriguez’s lawyers could cite Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act, which states that a decision could be set aside “where the award was procured by corruption, fraud or undue means” … “where there was evident partiality or corruption in the arbitrators” … where the arbitrator was “refusing to hear evidence pertinent and material to the controversy” or “where the arbitrators exceeded their powers.”
Rodriguez played in only 44 games in 2013 and is coming off two hip surgeries. Although the Yankees owe him another $61 million through 2017, it’s hard to imagine how sitting out an entire season would help. According to ESPNNewYork.com, which spoke to A-Rod spokesman Ron Berkowitz, Rodriguez plans on attending spring training. He is allowed to participate because of a loophole in the suspension. Rodriguez’s side believes if he is able to receive an injunction to stop the suspension, he will able to play and thus should prepare for the season. The Yankees, however, could tell A-Rod to stay home.
The league office and players’ association released statements saying that although they disagreed with the ruling both sides respected the decision.