NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — He’s had enough.
Alex Rodriguez walked out of his grievance hearing Wednesday after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to testify.
He later showed up at the WFAN studios to talk to host Mike Francesa about it. And during that conversation he dropped a gigantic bombshell on a saga that’s been filled with one page-turning headline after another.
Rodriguez vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the case, including saying that he’s not used PEDs at all since 2003. He also denied having leaked documents about Ryan Braun to Yahoo! Sports, calling that accusation by Major League Baseball “laughable” and “disgusting.” Finally, he denied any obstructing of justice during the course of this case, one of the several reasons given by MLB to give Rodriguez the biggest drug-related suspension of all-time.
“I can’t make any decision now. I’m way too hot,” Rodriguez told Francesa when asked to state for the record whether he’s guilty of the latest allegations. “I did nothing, Mike. With the (Anthony) Bosch nonsense, nothing.”
PHOTO GALLERY: A-Rod In Studio With Mike Francesa
Horowitz was in the midst of the 12th day of hearings on the grievance filed by the players’ association to overturn the 211-game suspension given to Rodriguez last summer for alleged violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract.
After Horowitz made his ruling, the New York Yankees third baseman slammed a table, uttered a profanity at MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and left.
“I lost my mind,” Rodriguez told Francesa. “I banged a table and kicked a briefcase and slammed out of the room, and just felt like this system … I knew it was restricted and I knew it wasn’t fair, but what we saw today, it was disgusting.”
Rodriguez lambasted Selig, telling Francesa in so many words that baseball’s commissioner is a coward.
“And the fact that the man from Milwaukee that put the suspension on me,” Rodriguez said, “with not one bit of evidence — something I didn’t do — and he doesn’t have the courage to come look me in the eye and tell me this is why I did 211? I shouldn’t serve one inning.
“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?”
The three-time American League MVP said that he has offered to meet with both Selig and Manfred in a coffee shop “man to man,” but they replied with “we don’t want to see you.”
On Wednesday night CBS 2’s Otis Livingston reported that Major League Baseball said that Selig has never testified in a single case under the Joint Drug Agreement and that Rob Manfred, the COO of MLB, was selected as the leagues witness to explain the penalty imposed in the case.
The slugger also admitted that he’s angry with the Yankees, but he understands his commitment to the club and will be fully ready for Opening Day 2014, if he’s able to play.
“This has been a disgusting process for everyone,” Rodriguez told Francesa. “I’m more embarrassed than anyone to be on the front pages of the news. This is the game that I love more than anything. This is what I have my PHD in and I love it.
“I watch your show, I watch the Yankees, I watch the Mets, I watch the Dodgers. I’ll be the 75-year-old watching three or four games a night. This is what I do, I live it.”
Rodriguez said that he’s “taking one fight at a time,” but he continued to call out Selig throughout the interview.
“He hates my guts, there’s no doubt about it,” A-Rod said. “I don’t think they like big salaries. 100 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.
“I’m done. I don’t have a chance. You let the arbiter decide whatever he decides. My position doesn’t change. I didn’t do it.”
After walking out of the hearing on Wednesday morning, Rodriguez issued the following statement:
“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” Rodriguez said. “I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process.
“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. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”
Horowitz technically is chairman of a three-man arbitration panel that also includes Manfred and Dave Prouty, the general counsel of the players’ union.
“For more than 40 years, Major League Baseball and the players’ association have had a contractual grievance process to address disputes between the two parties. This negotiated process has served players and clubs well,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “Despite Mr. Rodriguez being upset with one of the arbitration panel’s rulings today, Major League Baseball remains committed to this process and to a fair resolution of the pending dispute.”
Levine was asked a series of questions by Rodriguez lawyer Joseph Tacopina, according to another person with knowledge of the proceeding, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the hearing’s confidentiality provision.
The person said Levine testified for 10-15 minutes and denied having any personal gain from Rodriguez’s suspension or the Yankees falling under the luxury tax threshold; and of having an agreement to receive a commission of any money the team saved because of the ban.
Levine also denied discussing Rodriguez’s discipline with Major League Baseball or Selig and telling Rodriguez surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly or anyone else that he wanted the player off the field, the person said.
The person said Levine testified he may have jokingly used the phrase “is he off the juice?” when talking with Rodriguez about other players who weren’t performing. Levine testified he had no exact recollection.
The hearing resumed Monday before Horowitz, who also heard the case from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and Oct. 15-18.
Howard Gans, a lawyer for MLB, said in papers filed in federal court that Horowitz will hear the case daily through Nov. 26 rather than the original plan to recess after Friday and resume Dec. 16.
MLB said U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan issued an order Tuesday compelling Michael Sitrick, head of the public relations firm Sitrick & Co., to comply with a Sept. 19 subpoena issued by Horowitz to appear at the arbitration and to provide documents. Sitrick & Co. worked on Rodriguez’s behalf earlier this year.
In papers filed in New York Supreme Court on Oct. 29, MLB alleged Sitrick & Co. had provided records from Bosch to Yahoo Sports, which published a story Feb. 5 saying the name of 2011 NL MVP Braun appeared in records of Biogenesis of America, the Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB said in the court papers it believed the documents had been “provided to Sitrick & Co. by Rodriguez or others acting on his behalf.” Miami New Times had reported Jan. 29 that Rodriguez bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances from Biogenesis during 2009-12.
Sitrick’s lawyers, who had the matter removed to federal court, did not respond to an email seeking comment on Ramos’ order, which MLB said was read from the bench.
Braun agreed July 22 to a season-ending 65-game suspension. Rodriguez was suspended Aug. 5 for alleged violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract, and the players’ union filed the grievance to overturn the penalty. Under baseball’s drug agreement, he was allowed to continue playing while contesting the discipline.
The three-time AL MVP said four years ago he used PEDs while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, but has denied using them since. At the time of his suspension, MLB said the penalty was for “use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years” and for “engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.”
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