SI Now: Tom Verducci on A-Rod's latest antics part of calculated effort
On Thursday's SI Now, Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci and staff writer Ben Reiter discuss Alex Rodriguez
walking out the grievance hearing on Wednesday and if it was a publicity stunt or if he's really being railroaded by MLB.
Channeling Shakespeare's Touchstone, Alex Rodriguez stormed out of his PED arbitration hearing last week and declared it "a farce." You had to laugh at the unintentional comedy in which all the baseball world had become his stage, most notably arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's hearing room and the WFAN studios.
Among the inventive twists, Rodriguez changed his story about working with Tony Bosch from "never" to "absolutely;" he said he was "fighting for his life" but became the first player in the history of the Joint Drug Agreement not to testify at his own hearing; and he claimed MLB had no evidence from Bosch even though 13 players took suspensions without protest based on the same evidence. Finally, one of his spokespeople, Rob Berkowitz, boldly promised last Thursday that Rodriguez would release all evidence in the case -- "We're going to open up everything," Berkowitz promised -- but he released nothing.
Oh, darn. But we can help with the continuation of this comedy of errors. Sources not even remotely close to the case have uncovered a trove of secret e-mails to Rodriguez that would not have been included in the planned information dump, presumably because they are entirely fictitious and presented here, like the display last week, for entertainment purposes only.
From a PR firm
Dear Mr. Rodriguez:
It was curious to hear you declare Thursday for the first time that you had a personal association with Tony Bosch. As you said on WFAN, you travel the world to receive first-class medical attention, but for your "nutrition" and "weight loss" needs you went to an anti-aging clinic in a South Florida strip mall run by a man who wore a lab coat with "Dr. Tony Bosch" on it, even though Bosch is not a doctor and his only known degree is from the Central America Health Services University in Belize. Sure.
We could not help but remember when the Miami New Times first broke the Biogenesis story nine months ago. You had us release a statement that said (with apologies for our grammatical error), "The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are [sic] not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him."
Good luck explaining how your story changed from "never" being advised by Bosch to hiring him as your "nutrition" guru.
Your old friends at Sitrick and Company
From his attorney
Re: that earlier statement about never being advised by Bosch.
Don't worry about it coming back to haunt you. In fact, I told Newsday recently, "Was he meeting up with Bosch, was he getting treatments from Bosch, absolutely. Were they illegal? No."
See, the general public and most of the media only care about today's sound bite. Nobody wants context. Almost nobody noticed that your official position on Bosch went from "never" to "absolutely." We are winning the PR war.
Jordan Siev, Reed Smith
From a disgraced teammate
Saw your admission about Bosch as your nutrition guru. Who's the mentor now? You took a page out of my book. Remember when MLB came after me and I said I went to Bosch only for "consultation" after I broke my foot? Looking back, I guess it sounded pretty funny to be playing for the Yankees and have access to top medical care and yet for me to seek out an anti-aging charlatan of a doctor -- about a broken bone in my foot!
Didn't work too well.
From another disgraced baseball legend
Jeepers, you brought back a lot of memories for me! The commissioner is out to get you? It's personal? You're being railroaded? Ah, those were the days, with Bart and I going at it! I was so convincing, my fans believed me! I took them for suckers and I wasn't disappointed! As you know, you can get away with a lot as long as you can hit -- and I guaranteed you I could hit .250 today and I'm 72!
(I love the exclamation point! It's my favorite punctuation mark! Though the semi-colon is seriously underrated; it's the Davey Concepcion of punctuation marks.)
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that it took me almost 15 years to finally admit I had been lying. I never went to federal court against baseball, but I did make a lot of money by writing a book denying that I bet on baseball. Then I made even more money when I wrote a book admitting I did bet on baseball! Now I make money at memorabilia shows signing my name and printing "I bet on baseball." America is a beautiful country! Especially Vegas, baby!
Just remember: I'll always have more hits than you.
"I Bet on Baseball"
P.S.: Did you know that the term "railroaded" originated in the late 19th century because the little guys, the landowners, had almost no chance against the railroad barons who were intent on expanding the rail system wherever they saw fit? It's great that you can pass yourself off as one of the little guys from the seat of your Gulfstream! Keep it up!
From a fellow face of the Biogenesis scandal
First of all, thanks for taking the heat off me. Much appreciated.
However, I have to respond to a couple of comments from your lawyers. Joe Tacopina insinuated that I got off easy when he said, "Why did Ryan Braun get [only] 65 games with a failed drug test? Because he's from Milwaukee?"
Tell your man MLB had the goods on me for one substance and one usage -- not the multiple PEDs and multiple years they say they have on you. I got off easy? I'm the only player ever to be suspended for more than 50 games with no prior offenses and no official failed test.
Another one of your lawyers, Jim McCarroll, said, "We also understand that under the prior collective bargaining agreement, the commissioner testified in five of the last seven hearings, and he was harshly criticized in the arbitrator's decision for not voluntarily appearing in at least one of the two where he did not testify." He used this statement as proof that MLB continues to "lie to the fans."
Tell the barrister to get his facts straight. MLB correctly said in its statement that no commissioner has testified at an arbitration hearing under the Joint Drug Agreement, not the CBA. The JDA has been in place since 2002. There have been 12 known arbitration hearings held under the JDA. The commissioner has testified in none of them.
And you are the only player never to testify at his own arbitration hearing since the JDA was instituted. (No, my friend, going on WFAN doesn't count as sworn testimony.)
Anyway, keep up the good work. Thanks for the cover. The best thing about being me these days is I'm not you.
Sincerely (and I really mean it this time),
From a guy who just signed a one-year, $12 million contract
I saw what you said about Selig going after you because you make so much money: "If I had one more year at $12 million, would someone throw 211 games at me? Or would someone be this severe at me? I don't think so."
One year? Twelve mill? Chump change, I know, but I'm just curious: why did you pick those particular terms?
From a journalist
It was six years ago when you appeared with me on 60 Minutes to say you never used PEDs. You had that halting, infamous line about how "I've never felt overmatched on the baseball field ... I felt that if I did my, my work as I've done since I was, you know, a rookie back in Seattle, I didn't have a problem competing at any level."
Now you go on a local radio show to issue your denial. Getting old stinks, doesn't it?
From some old friends
Storming out of your own arbitration hearing without testifying? You've topped the tricks you pulled on us.
The city of Seattle, Tom Hicks, Bronson Arroyo, Jason Varitek, Howie Clark, Dallas Braden, et al.
From the numbers guys
Mr. Alex Rodriguez
If your suspension sticks and you never play major league baseball again (let's be honest, are the Yankees rolling out the welcome mat for you whenever that suspension expires?), we wanted to let you know the significance of going 0-for-6 in your final two games. Until those two games, your lifetime batting average was .2995, which rounds to .300. But those six hitless at-bats dropped your career batting average to .2993.
Only 13 players since 1901 have left the game with a .299 career average. Your 9,818 at-bats would be the most, leaving you to displace Kenny Lofton (8,120) as the one who played the most and fell so short.
The Elias Sports Bureau
From the arbitrator
Mr. Alex Rodriguez:
It was with great disappointment that I took note of your outburst and vulgarity in my hearing room. Of greater concern to me, however, is your subsequent characterization of my hearing as a "farce" and "a kangaroo court" and that the grievance system "wasn't fair" and is "disgusting."
As a member of the MLBPA, you should plainly understand that baseball's arbitrators, including me, are hired not by MLB but by agreement between MLB and the players association. Moreover, an arbitrator can be fired by either MLB or the union. The grievance procedure has been collectively bargained, and many of your fellow union members, including Steve Howe, John Rocker and Ryan Braun, have benefited from this procedure you call a "farce."
Such ignorance of the system and of the legacy of Marvin Miller is not the worst part of what you did. No, thanks to you, my colleagues at the American Arbitration Association have a new nickname for me: Captain Kangaroo.
Thanks a lot,
From the Biogenesis gang
"Not one bit of evidence"?
We just aren't as darn lucky as you.
Ryan Braun, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, Jesus Montero, Antonio Bastardo, Jordany Valdespin, Fernando Martinez, Cesar Puello, Sergio Escalona, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos.
From Russia, with love
There is an old saying in America that when you have the facts, pound the facts; when you have the law, pound the law; and when you have neither, pound the table.
It is with pleasure that we welcome you to the club.
The Estate of Nikita Khrushchev