Update, 12:31 p.m. Per Yahoo!'s Tim Brown, Rodriguez has issued this statement about trickery claims through his team: ""What is being reported is NOT true." ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews reports Rodriguez's team has not, in fact, presented any kind of defense during appeal proceedings so far. The first two days were all MLB:
The first two days of proceedings have been dominated by MLB presenting its case against Rodriguez, who was suspended in August for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Baseball's case included the testimony of Bosch, the proprietor of the now-defunct Coral Gables anti-aging clinic.
Original The heated legal battle between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball finally got under way this week, and so we finally learned what the Yankee shortstop's defense against his mammoth steroid suspension is. In short, Rodriguez claims he was duped.
The New York Daily News reports claims of trickery are central to Rodriguez's defense. He's appealing the 211-game suspension handed down during the season by Major League Baseball for attempting to cover up years of steroid abuse, by claiming he did know that the substances he was given were banned drugs. The league, meanwhile, has documents and communication records from the founder of Biogenesis, the Miami anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied Rodriguez with steroids. Anthony Bosch, the league's star witness, is currently the subject of a federal probe; a point A-Rod's very expensive legal team will be quick to point out.
Yes, the best defense the high-priced lawyers from ARod Corp. (the real name of Rodriguez's "corporate entity," according to The New York Times) allegedly could come up with is the oldest defense in the book: that the shortstop thought he was taking legal supplements the entire time. This strategy is a favorite among baseball's most notorious (alleged!) juicers:
By claiming that he was given banned drugs when he thought he was getting legal supplements, Rodriguez is tearing a page from the playbook that guided other tainted athletes. Barry Bonds told a grand jury in 2003 that he thought the creams he got from his BALCO-affiliated trainer, Greg Anderson, were something like flaxseed oil. Roger Clemens claimed he thought the intramuscular injections he got from his trainer, Brian McNamee, were shots of vitamin B-12 and lidocaine.
The person who ultimately holds Rodriguez's fate is Fredric Horowitz, the only independent arbiter on the panel. One arbiter was appointed by the league, another by the player's union. If the other two arbiters vote according to party lines, as they're expected, Horowitz will decide whether to maintain, reduce, or eliminate the suspension completely.
The Yankee shortstop and former franchise golden boy was allowed to play out this season while the two sides prepared their cases for the three-person panel of arbitrators. If the suspension stands, Rodriguez will lose roughly $36 million of what remains on his $275 million, 10-year contract and could not play again until 2015. But Rodriguez, 38, is determined to return to the baseball field again. The suspension threatens to cut his career short just before he passes Willie Mays for fourth place in career home runs. If that happens with Rodriguez wearing pinstripes, the Yankees will have to pay him a $6 million bonus. The Yankees, currently in the middle of a plan to get under the league's luxury tax, wouldn't mind the savings a league victory in the case would afford them.