Will MLB push for lifetime ban for Alex Rodriguez?
A lifetime ban for A-Rod? A lengthy appeal of any discipline handed down by MLB? Both may be in the offing.
Will Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez take the quiet and compliant approach when MLB inevitably attempts to discipline him for his role in the Biogenesis scandal? A pair of recent reports suggests that his response will be quiet different from Ryan Braun, who recently negotiated a 65-game ban with MLB.
First, this from CBS's Jim Axelrod (also see Axelrod's report above):
A lifetime suspension ... Considering A-Rod has never before been disciplined for PED use, this would be a bold play by MLB. A lifetime ban, of course, is the "third strike" penalty laid out in the Joint Drug Agreement, but this would surely be a "non-analytic positive" (i.e., a suspension in response to something other than a failed drug test), and as such A-Rod would be permitted a vigorous appeal.
And speaking of a "vigorous appeal," A-Rod, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, is gearing up for just that. Nightengale writes:
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has no intention of negotiating a settlement with Major League Baseball, two persons close to Rodriguez told USA TODAY Sports, and currently plans to appeal any potential suspension.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, while Rodriguez continues to seek counsel from his legal team.
Major League Baseball is prepared to suspend Rodriguez at least 100 games, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation, for his role with Biogenesis, alleged lies about past performance-enhancing drug use and possible interference in the investigation.
None of this should be terribly surprising. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported not long ago that MLB has designs on a lengthy suspension for A-Rod, and the evidence against Rodriguez is reportedly more damning than what was wielded, to great effect, against Braun. Rodriguez, of course, also has more financial "skin in the game" than does even Braun, and a suspension of 100 games or more would cost Rodriguez quite a bit of money, even by his well-heeled standards.
It's difficult to lay out any certainties without knowing exactly what MLB has on A-Rod, but at this point it seems likely that Rodriguez is heading for a suspension substantially greater than what Braun agreed to. A lifetime ban, though, seems unlikely (unless Rodriguez -- at age 37, in a pattern of decline and without a good hip to his name -- earns a suspension that becomes a de facto lifetime banishment).
I also wouldn't dismiss out of hand the possibility that an agreement could still be reached. Just as MLB's lifetime-ban saber-rattling is probably at heart a negotiating tactic, so is Rodriguez's leaked unwillingness to negotiate. Even the prospect of negotiating is itself a negotiation.
With that said, the safe bet is that once this plays out MLB is going to be left pining for Braun's sense of capitulation, and A-Rod is going to be left pining for Braun's eventual punishment.
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