New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez has been suspended through the end of the 2014 season by Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig for using performance enhancing drugs, lying to the league about his PED use, and impeding the investigation into the Biogenesis steroids scandal, according to ESPN's TJ Quinn and the New York Daily News.
The suspension will begin on Thursday and amount to a total of 211 games. Here's the money paragraph from Major League Baseball's official announcement:
Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, August 8th, will cover 211 Championship Season games and any 2013 Postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
According to previous reports from Fox Sports's Ken Rosenthal and Yahoo's Jeff Passan, these other players have accepted 50-game suspensions — the same punishment given for a first time steroid offense under the league's drug rules — for their roles in the Biogenesis scandal: New York Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo, Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli. Minor leaguers Cesar Puello, Fautino De Los Santos, Fernando Martinez, and Jordan Norberto are also receiving suspensions.
Early reports suggested the league had a substantial case built against Rodriguez, one much stronger than the league's evidence against the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun, who was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season. The Miami New Times reported in January that Rodriguez's name appeared on records for Biogenesis, a Miami "anti-aging" clinic that distributed performance enhancing drugs to some of baseball's biggest names. But Rodriguez sealed his own fate when he tried to purchase and destroy evidence from a former clinic employee, Anthony Bosch. Bosch would go on to cooperate with the league's investigation. The Daily News says Major League Baseball has evidence showing Rodriguez used testosterone and human growth hormone during the 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons.
Quinn reports Rodriguez will be suspended under the drug agreement and collective bargaining agreement for his attempts to tamper with the league's investigation. The New York Daily News reports Rodriguez plans to appeal the suspension, and so the case will go to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz in September, where a long, drawn out legal battle between Rodriguez and Major League Baseball is expected to play out. (Again, some might say.) The suspension will be delayed and Rodriguez will be allowed to play with the Yankees until an official ruling is made. He's expected to suit up against the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
(Update, 4:12 p.m. Rodriguez says he's "disappointed" with the suspension and confirmed his intention to appeal in his official statement. "I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight." MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner supported Rodriguez's appeal.)
The 38-year-old Yankee slugger hasn't played a game in the majors yet this season because hip surgery in January has kept him off the field. Though Rodriguez contended Friday evening that the Yankees, who reportedly want out from what's remaining on the $275 million contract signed in 2007, have conspired with the league to keep him off the field. "When all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract and stuff like that, I think that’s concerning for me," Rodriguez told reporters after a minor league game with the Yankees double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder. The Yankees will reportedly save close to $36 million if A-Rod serves his entire suspension, and the team responded to Rodriguez's allegations today:
However, we are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees' role in this matter. The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.
In 2003, Major League Baseball made a joint agreement with the Players' Association: players would be subject to mandatory drug testing to determine whether there was a problem with performance enhancing drugs in baseball. But the catch was the list of players who test positive would remain anonymous. That veil of anonymity didn't last, and Sports Illustrated would report in February 2009 that Rodriguez tested positive in the 2003 testing. A-Rod tested positive for PEDs the same year he won his third straight American League home run title and his first American League Most Valuable Player award. He was busted, openly, for the first time ever.
But the Yankees had no idea about his positive test when they traded for Rodriguez in February 2004, bringing the highest paid player in baseball, the guy young enough and good enough to make a run at every major record in the book, to the house that Ruth built.
And it was in Ruth's house where the Yankees would sign A-Rod to a contact extension worth $275 million in 2007, not without some reservations and Godfather politics, that would make him the highest paid athlete in sports. That contract was loaded with bonuses that could put Rodriguez's take-home somewhere north of $300 million if the then-33-year-old was able to chase and surpass Willie Mays (660), Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) on the career home run list. Each of those first three milestones would earn him another $6 million, but Rodriguez would get $12 million if he could beat the San Francisco Giant and former steroids abuser's record. The goal was to bring bring the home run title back to the Bronx. The Yankees would make their money back promoting the chase and selling special merchandise. Rodriguez had 553 home runs at such a young enough age that chasing the home run record should have been possible had he stayed healthy and out of trouble.
So much for that idea.