More ARod Drama
Whether or not Alex Rodriguez is ready to begin a rehab assignment for his surgically repaired hip has become surprisingly big news. When Rodriguez tweeted that the doctors had cleared him to begin playing again, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ARod through the media that the latter “should just shut the f#$% up!” and denied that ARod was ready to resume playing.
In the aftermath, the sporting press is citing unnamed sources for various tea-leaf-reading theories about what’s really going on. ESPN’s sources say that ARod believes the Yankees don’t want him to return to play this season, so that the team can collect on the insurance policy covering ARod’s contract.
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated’s sources say that ARod is chomping at the bit to start his rehab assignment, so that he can go out and play a game or two and then claim that his hip hasn’t healed and won’t allow him to play, so that he could then “retire” due to injury and collect his remaining $114 million in salary before MLB can lower the boom with a lengthy suspension for using performance enhancing drugs and lying about it.
To me, Sports Illustrated’s rumor mongering sound far-fetched. I suspect that like a lot of professional athletes, ARod’s life and personal identity revolve around his status as a baseball star and that he believes at some level that he if could just go back on the playing field and re-establish himself as a star, all his transgressions would eventually be forgiven and forgotten, just as they have been in the past.
Also, as I’ve written before, I don’t think there’s anyway MLB is going to make a suspension of more than 50 games stick. There is a collective bargaining agreement in place which very clearly spells out the penalty for a first time performance enhancing drug violation and that’s 50 games. MLB can come up with all the creative theories it wants regarding why a longer suspension is appropriate, but I just don’t see an arbitrator imposing anything more than what the parties expressly agreed to. ARod’s legal advisors and the players’ union are presumably telling him the same thing.
A 50 game unpaid suspension is certainly going to hurt ARod in the pocketbook, but it doesn’t seem like enough for him to walk away from the game entirely. Many players have been hit with 50 game suspensions, served them, and then resumed their baseball careers. There will be more pressure on ARod, as the face of PED cheating now that Barry Bonds is long-since retired/black-balled, but some of that will diminish if he can again help the Yankees win ballgames.
The Yankees may well hope that some miracle will happen to let them out of ARod’s over-sized contract, but I think in all likelihood a miracle is exactly what it’s going to take. Neither the players’ union nor the insurer of ARod’s contract is going to sit around on their hands if the Yankees try to ice ARod after he says he ready to get back out on the field. The Yanks are on the hook for $114 million to ARod and all the lawyers suckling at ARod’s teat; I just don’t see any of them giving up that much money without a legal battle to end all legal battles.