Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

January 14, 2014

One-sided ruling against Rodriguez makes statement for clean baseball

The old lawyers’ adage goes: “When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When the law is on your side, argue the law. And when you don’t have either on your side, pound the table.”

In the end, that's where Alex Rodriguez and his lawyers, public relations masterminds and assorted flacks found themselves after presenting their case before an arbitrator. This time, there was nothing Rodriguez and his team could do to stop the truth from prevailing except pound the table.

Fredric Horowitz, who reviewed stacks of evidence, saw Rodriguez as a player who built a baseball career around illegal drug use. He wasn’t a victim of a conspiracy -- although his associates have tried to portray him as such -- but of stupidity.

Rodriguez's plan didn’t work because regardless of the defense he offered, he wasn’t believable.

In what has been a terrible year for baseball and drug scandals, Horowitz hit Rodriguez the hardest. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 162-game regular season, plus any post-season play. Horowitz's ruling technically reduced the 211-game suspension handed down against Rodriguez last year. 

In some ways, it's worse than that. Rodriguez - whose legal team has since sued Major League Baseball and its players’ union to challenge the arbitrator's ruling - is probably done with a game that has been his love and passion.

True, he could come back in 2015 following the suspension. But he played only 44 games last summer and hit just .244 during a season in which he was beset with a hip injury. No one can out-run Father Time.

Looking ahead, the odds don’t look favorable for him earning a spot in Baseball’s Hall of Fame, either. It’s also unlikely he’ll ever land in another team’s dugout as a coach or manager. Who would want that scrutiny? Who would want him advising young players about how to approach the game?

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