By Ernie Palladino
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The longer Alex Rodriguez’s arbitration hearing on his 211-game PED and obstruction suspension lasts, the more it looks like he’s going to get off the hook.
Ultimately, he may only have to serve a fraction of that sentence. Given the evidence a legal team the high-powered and ubiquitous media darling Joe Tacopina leads, it seems the question of whether A-Rod actually took the Biogenesis elixirs will be pushed far under the rug, right there with the rest of the dust which has enveloped the third baseman’s career of late.
The way this thing is going, the best baseball can hope for is to make him spend a good chunk of that mega-contract on legal fees. Indeed, one sees where that strategy could cost A-Rod dearly, as the case undoubtedly will drag from one appeals court to another, and possibly up to the Supreme Court if either Team-A-Rod or Major League Baseball can find a constitutional bone to pick. Tacopina isn’t exactly taking this case pro bono. Nor are the other lawyers, or the PR firm which serves as Rodriguez’s other mouthpiece.
The Yankees, baseball’s most valuable franchise valued at $3.38 billion, have pockets plenty deep, so much so that they make the $25 million Rodriguez pockets every year look like Hal Steinbrenner’s walking-around money.
Perhaps that is the point. Perhaps baseball knows it doesn’t have a real chance at making the total suspension stick. It appears ever more likely that MLB’s supposedly irrefutable mountain of evidence that Rodriguez not only bought drugs from Biogenesis and used them, but also obstructed MLB’s investigation into said clinic, isn’t so solid after all.
The latest reports indicate exactly that. Rodriguez has now admitted that he bought evidence from Biogenesis for $305,000, a claim he refuted just a week ago. But, he maintains, it was bought three weeks ago, far too late to obstruct MLB’s investigation.
Therefore, it would have been impossible for Rodriguez to obstruct anything.
Baseball doesn’t come out of this clean, either. Officials, according to the Daily News, long ago admitted it paid for documents linking Rodriguez and other players to the purchase and use of PEDs.
Team-A-Rod in turn spent $105,000, according to the newspaper, to buy inappropriate text messages between an MLB investigator and a potential witness. Rodriguez’s representatives charge that MLB has bullied witnesses and engaged in a witch-hunt.
And round and round it goes.
Where it comes out, well, who knows?
The one thing you can bank on is this: No matter where this arbitration hearing falls, it’s going to wind up in the courts. That could mean years of protracted litigation. Meanwhile, A-Rod will probably to go back to the field — or rehab if something starts hurting again — to earn that next chunk of contract.
The sad thing is, Rodriguez might really be guilty of both usage and obstruction. But he simply won’t admit it.
It’s the old formula. Deny, deny, deny until somebody proves otherwise.
The way baseball is stumbling around with this, they may never prove it definitively. Which means A-Rod will lose only money.
But to a guy like Rodriguez, whose bears an insatiable hunger for the high life, maybe that’s enough to satisfy the MLB poobahs.
It had better be. Every time another piece of news breaks over this hearing, it looks worse for Bud Selig’s crew.
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