Alex Rodriguez's legal team filed a notice of dismissal in his lawsuit against Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association on Friday, the deadline for the prosecution to respond to the motion by MLB and the MLBPA to dismiss the case.
That action, initiated by Rodriguez, effectively ends Rodriguez's fight against his now-162-game suspension for actions connected to the Biogenesis doping scandal and, in turn, brings something resembling closure to the scandal as a whole.
In response to Rodriguez's decision, Major League Baseball released a statement praising the decision as "prudent," citing the need to "return the focus to the play of our great game on the field" and "move forward."
That sentiment was echoed by a statement from the union. Rodriguez's spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, effectively seconded both statements while adding that Rodriguez's team has "no further comment."
This is a rather surprising and definitive cease fire from Rodriguez, who, according to his attorney, will not attempt to attend Spring Training with the Yankees, something he had at one point been considering. That said, it echoes his storming out of his arbitration case before taking the stand, thus preventing himself from having to answer, under oath, direct questions about his performance-enhancing drug use or baseball's obstruction of justice charges. Viewed that way, Rodriguez's actions today come as at the very least a partial admission of guilt.
In the short term, this is good for baseball. The league didn't need this scandal making headlines through another championship season. Rodriguez's fate for the 2014 season is now sealed, the other implicated players have already served their suspensions and been reinstated. From MLB's perspective, 2014 can be about reconciliation with those players, while outgoing commissioner Bud Selig can oversee his final season having secured an apparent victory over performance-enhancing drug use, rather than as a defendant in a federal lawsuit.
I'm not sure it's good for the game in the long term, however. From what we know, Baseball's methods of acquiring evidence, coercing witnesses, and punishing players connected to Biogenesis were not entirely above-board, or at the very least would have had a hard time holding up in a proper court of law. I, for one, was eager to see MLB's feet held to the fire in that regard, not so much for the benefit of Rodriguez and the other players implicated, but to remind baseball of the standards to which it should be held and should hold itself.
If there's good news in that regard, it's Selig's impending departure. Rodriguez dropping his suit can't help but embolden the commissioner with regard to his methods of investigation and punishment in such cases, but the emboldened Selig only has one more year at the helm. One hopes the criticisms of baseball's tactics regarding the Biogenesis scandal have had, or will have, an impact on the next commissioner, whether that person proves to be MLB chief operating officer and Selig's second-in-command Rob Manfred or someone outside of Baseball's current power structure. As for Rodriguez, he'll be 39 in 2015, but I fully expect him to return to the Yankees for that season. He still has $61 million left on his contract, not counting the extra $6 million he'll earn with just six more home runs (which would tie him with Willie Mays on the all-time career list). The year off is unlikely to do him as much good as he has suggested it might, but he'll be back. In the meantime, I'm guessing he'll still manage to make regular appearances on TMZ and Page Six.