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Alex Rodriguez has left the building. According to multiple reports, the embattled slugger abruptly departed Wednesday's grievance hearing after arbitrator Frederic Horowitz ruled that commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify. Via the Associated Press:
"A person familiar with the session said that after Horowitz made his ruling, the New York Yankees third baseman slammed a table, uttered a profanity at MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and left. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because what takes place at the hearing is supposed to be confidential."
The ongoing grievance hearing is to determine the merit of Selig's levying of an unprecedented 211-game suspension for Rodriguez over his violation of the Joint Drug Agreement via his alleged purchase of performance-enhancing drugs from the Biogenesis clinic. Back in early August, 12 players were suspended for involvement with Biogenesis, of whom only Ryan Braun drew longer than a 50-game suspension.
The grievance and its surrounding media circus have featured plenty of drama, not only with regards to the allegations pertaining to Rodriguez, but also his legal team's counteraccusations toward MLB over the way the league conducted its investigation. Rodriguez is suing the league and the commissioner as well as the Yankees' team doctor and his connected hospital, and it's possible he may try to sue the Players Association — whom he has asked to stop representing him — and the Yankees as well. Tuesday's hearing, for example, featured Rodriguez's lawyers grilling Yankees president Randy Levine over the possibility that the latter could stand to gain anything personally in the form of a reward or commission for keeping the team under the luxury tax threshold, a task much easier if his suspension for 2014 is upheld.
It's a colossal mess that points to the likelihood that any kind of suspension applied to Rodriguez — even one of 50 games — will be followed by his team's legal challenges to the validity of the entire process. Indeed, the statement Rodriguez issued after walking out hints at things heading in that direction:
"I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails. I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce."
Despite his dramatics, Rodriguez's actions don't spell the end of his appeal. The New York Post's Ken Davidoff reported that his legal team remained involved in the hearing for another two hours. The hearing is currently scheduled to continue daily through Nov. 26. Once it's done, Horowitz is supposed to issue a ruling within 25 days of the beginning of the hearing, but numerous breaks in the process — which began back on Sept. 30 — have long since cast that number by the wayside. Even once that ruling comes down, Rodriguez's actions and those of his legal team, not just today but in recent months, suggest that this sordid saga will be far from over.