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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Bill Madden of the New York Daily News says Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has “no vendetta” against Alex Rodriguez as the situation surrounding the Yankees star gets uglier by the day.
A-Rod is expected to be served a lengthy ban as early as this week for his alleged role with Biogenesis, the closed South Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez’s lawyer said Monday that they are planning an appeal, though the Daily News reported that Selig may try to serve a separate suspension that would keep the third baseman off the field during the grievance process.
“This is no vendetta,” Madden, who co-authored the report with three colleagues, told WFAN radio’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on Tuesday. “Trust me on this, guys. This is no vendetta on Selig’s part.”
He added: “Now, whether or not the exact violations ever come out, that depends. If he makes a deal, part of the whole drug agreement is they don’t have to announce exactly what the player did, as you can see with the Ryan Braun thing.”
MLB opened its probe into Biogenesis after a Miami New Times report in January linked Rodriguez and other players to the clinic. Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun was later tied to Biogenesis by Yahoo! Sports.
Braun, who repeatedly denied PED use after failing a drug test in 2011, accepted a 65-game ban from MLB last week – and more players could follow suit.
“The players are outraged over this,” Madden said of the Biogenesis scandal. “They’re as outraged as Bud Selig is, and that’s why I wrote in the past couple weeks that A-Rod is a pariah in baseball.”
The Daily News reported that Selig is so intent on keeping Rodriguez off the field that he’s prepared to invoke a “preserving the integrity of the game” privilege, which would force A-Rod to begin serving a suspension as soon as it is announced — and could open a Pandora’s Box between the league and the players’ union.
Oh, and A-Rod would have to appeal that suspension to Selig himself.
It would be separate from a ban he could receive under baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement, Madden said. That appeal would be heard by an arbitrator.
“They do not want this guy, the poster boy for all of this stuff that’s gone on in baseball, to be able to be on the field when all these other guys took their punishment,” Madden said.
MLB officials believe A-Rod — who admitted to PED usage in the past but has denied the Biogenesis allegations — lied about his ties to the clinic and its operator, Anthony Bosch, and attempted to obstruct baseball’s investigation, according to multiple reports.
Madden said the league has “considerable evidence that (Rodriguez) intimidated witnesses and sought to buy documents to destroy them.”
A-Rod could be facing a lifetime ban from the sport, the Daily News reported. Selig wouldn’t go down that road if Rodriguez accepts a suspension through the 2014 season, according to the paper.
Remember, he hasn’t failed a drug test. So how could MLB justify permanent banishment under the three-strikes agreement?
Madden walked Boomer & Carton through a hypothetical scenario:
“We are talking here (about) non-analytical violations, i.e. in absence of a positive drug test,” he said. “OK? Now, let’s just say for example, they have proof — good proof, legitimate proof, records, whatever — that Alex Rodriguez sought to buy drugs. That’s a violation. Now they have proof that Alex Rodriguez actually bought drugs. That’s a violation. Now they have proof that Alex Rodriguez was administered drugs. That’s a third violation.”
Even if A-Rod takes the deal, Madden believes his career would be over.
“In my opinion, Alex Rodriguez can’t play now,” Madden said.
Madden hasn’t been shy in his belief that A-Rod has played his last game in pinstripes, considering the 38-year-old has two bad hips, not to mention that looming suspension.
“It is over,” Madden said. “It doesn’t look like we’re ever going to see him on the field again.”
That said, A-Rod feels he’s ready to make his season debut following offseason hip surgery.
There’s just one problem: the Yankees don’t agree.
“I’m a little surprised that he is wanting to go out on the field when he knows he’s going to embarrass himself trying to play third base,” Madden said. “But at the same time, he is a competitor, he is an athlete, and I guess there’s that part of him that wants to think that he can still play or whatever.”
The Yankees and A-Rod could potentially collect on their insurance policies if he’s reinstated and deemed physically unable to play.
“He’ll find out quickly that his hip is a problem and that he’s not the same player — or even close to the same player,” Madden said. “And then at that point, like I said before, they’re going to have to have some sort of a determination by all the medical people that he can’t play.”
In the meantime, Rodriguez’s team seems prepared to fight for his legacy — and as much of the remaining $100 million in salary owed through 2017.
“If they’re going to fight this thing like they claim they’re going to,” Madden said, “then it’s going to get very ugly.”
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