Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yanks Are Held Up by Rodriguez

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yanks Are Held Up by Rodriguez

Article excerpt

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Yankees left the Winter Meetings without the second baseman or starting pitcher they need, but two other important issues loom: Will Masahiro Tanaka be posted by his Japanese team, and, how will the Yankees afford him - and any other roster additions - without going over the $189 million threshold?

Enter Fredric Horowitz, the arbitrator who'll decide on Alex Rodriguez's arbitration appeal, described by one industry official as "the Yankees' real MVP." That's not entirely a joke: If Horowitz upholds Bud Selig's 211-game suspension, A-Rod's $27 million comes off the books and the Yankees find themselves in the promised land - with cash to burn.

People in the industry who've been following the case, fully expect Horowitz to rule against Rodriguez - if not for the full 211 games, then at least 150 games, more than enough to give the Yankees breathing room. Actually, A-Rod's legal team is also resigned to defeat, which is why they're preparing to take the dispute to the federal level, hoping (praying) a judge will hear the case.

That's a long shot according to legal experts, who say the only way the feds would intervene in a collectively bargained arbitration process is by proving the hearing - A-Rod's hearing - was flawed by gross incompetence or bias. Considering the union and MLB mutually agreed on Horowitz, there's little chance of establishing prejudice.

But that didn't stop A-Rod from storming out of the hearing on Nov. 20, slamming his hand on a table and calling the process a "farce." His display was loud and immature, not to mention self- destructive, but the only real intrigue is whether it was pre- scripted.

Actually, do we even have to ask? Of course it was. A-Rod's lawyers distributed a complete statement within minutes after he left the building, which, of course, glossed over the holes in Rodriguez's logic. That very appeal - that "farce" - had allowed A- Rod to stay on the field in August and September when the 12 other players suspended in the Biogenesis scandal were already shut down. And, Rodriguez also failed to acknowledge the premise of arbitration acts as the core of the collective bargaining agreement, forged by the union he still belongs to.

But none of that mattered much to Rodriguez, whose only goal that day was to deflect attention from his guilt as a PED user, avoid testifying under oath - which was scheduled to happen the next day - and try to take the case in front of WFAN's Mike Francesa. There, without having to swear to tell the truth, Rodriguez repeatedly said he'd never cheated.

Rodriguez's display should have no bearing on Horowitz's decision - he'll rule solely on the facts and testimony in the case. For whatever it's worth, A-Rod's team called Yankees president Randy Levine, MLB investigator Dan Mullin, a Blackberry expert, and a doctor who said A-Rod would not have passed a drug test if he'd been taking PEDs on one of the days Bosch alleges he did. …

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