Welcome Back to Master-Rod Theatre
Alex Rodriguez was the talk of the baseball world Wednesday, storming out of his own arbitration hearing, appearing on Mike Francesa’s show to proclaim his innocence against PED charges, and simultaneously pointing out real injustices in MLB’s attempt to suspend him while also coming off as incredibly disingenuous.
Let’s pick up Rodriguez’s tour de force with his arrival at WFAN studios to talk to Francesa.
Rodriguez: “Today I lost my mind. I banged the table and [fake laugh] kicked a briefcase and slammed out of the room, and just felt like this system … I knew it was restricted and I knew it wasn’t fair, but what we saw today, it was disgusting.”
This was the first of many instances in which Rodriguez makes cogent points about his unequal treatment compared with the 50-game suspensions given to several other players this season, while sounding incredibly insincere doing so.
Rodriguez: “The man from Milwaukee … ”
This is how Bud Selig should enter the room for any and all public appearances from now on. Like when the Ultimate Warrior shows up, hailing from Parts Unknown. Selig already has the Hulk Hogan “I can’t hear you” ear-cup move down cold.
Rodriguez: “This guy should come to my … to our city. I know he doesn’t like New York. I love this city. I love being a Yankee.”
At the very least, we can be sure that A-Rod has taken pandering-enhancing substances.
Rodriguez: “My daughters grew up in New York.”
Two mentions of Rodriguez’s daughters so far.
Rodriguez: “He doesn’t have the courage to come see me and tell me, ‘This is why I’m going to destroy your career’?”
A-Rod doesn’t come off as particularly sympathetic at any point in this interview. It’s just a breathtaking coincidence that he marched out of his own arbitration hearing, then magically appeared on Francesa’s show not long afterward, he and his lawyer suited up, with perfectly rehearsed lines like “unlimited resources, no recourse” coming out of his mouth.
But he’s got a point about Selig. It’s the worst-kept secret in the game that the commissioner was the one who got keyed up about the idea of a 211-game suspension, even though nothing in the collective bargaining agreement or Joint Drug Agreement makes mention of that number of anything close to it. That’s doubly so for someone facing his first suspension, when the penalty codified in the JDA is actually 50 games. There’s nothing explicitly in the rules about the commissioner showing up to arbitration hearings on PED suspensions, and MLB COO Rob Manfred is typically MLB’s rep in such matters. Moreover, the arbitrator is under no obligation to accept that request. Still, if Selig wants Rodriguez’s hide, it’s not unreasonable for A-Rod to ask that the commissioner show up to testify, or to be pissed off when his request is denied.
Rodriguez: “I have to explain this to my daughters every day?”
Third mention. Drink!
Rodriguez: “I exploded much worse than Paul O’Neill on any of his explosions with the cooler.”
Alex, bubeleh. If you want to curry the favor of Yankees fans, do not bring Paul O’Neill into this. You’d be more sympathetic if you arranged a series of syringes to spell out no. 13 on the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez: “I was very upset. I probably overreacted. But it came from the heart.”
And now I’m here with you doing this interview immediately afterward! My emotions are spontaneous and real!
Rodriguez: “We’ll huddle up today, and I’ll probably go see my daughters tomorrow. I missed my daughter’s birthday. First time. She’s 9 on Monday, and I was here.”
Gonna need some more Fireball over here.
Francesa: “Were you guilty of any of these charges?”
Francesa: “Did you do anything wrong.”
Francesa: “Did you do any PEDs?”
Francesa: “Did you obstruct just … any witnesses, anybody, did you do anything that they accused you of doing?”
Francesa: “So you’re guilty in your mind of nothing.”
Rodriguez: “I feel like I should be there Opening Day.”
We can make fun of Francesa for numerous suck-up questions and statements throughout the interview. But he did get Rodriguez on the record with some pretty definitive statements, all of which could come crashing down on the player’s head if evidence comes out later on.
Rodriguez: “If I gave [Tony] Bosch $5 million, he would say whatever I want, too. He walked in with four lawyers, three security guards, and a publicist, who by the way is negotiating a book deal right now.”
Again, there’s a valid point buried here. Read the reports on Bosch from the Miami New Times, Yahoo, T.J. Quinn, the ESPN investigative crew, and others, and it becomes clear that Bosch is at the very least an unsavory character with a long track record of lies and deception. Rodriguez’s hearing might not be taking place in a court of law, where both sides get a chance to depose witnesses and learn all the relevant information in the case. Still, Major League Baseball compelling Bosch to turn over reams of evidence and testify, while Rodriguez’s side gets slammed for attempting the same, is as unfair as A-Rod and his lawyers say it is. Even if Rodriguez did take PEDs at least once … for a three-year period.
Rodriguez: “I’ve reached out to Selig several times … and said, ‘I’ll fly up to you in January, I’ll fly up to you in February. I’ll come see your house. We can have coffee. We can have brunch. In your house in Milwaukee, or in a Starbucks … ’”
Rodriguez attorney Jim McCarroll: “We are prohibited — and we continue to respect the collective bargaining agreement here — we are prohibited from getting into the details of the case.”
(He proceeds to discuss details of the case, after his client discussed details of the case.)
Francesa went on to ask a bunch more questions, a few good ones mixed with multiple softballs. The second half of the interview basically repeated everything that was said in the first half. But we can’t leave before sharing one last gem.
Francesa: “There’s a lot of stories about that baseball [in that Tigers game]. Did you sign that baseball that was sent back to the stands to a woman?”
Rodriguez: “I never signed any baseball, no. I know I’m struggling, but I’m not doing that bad.”
He should’ve dropped the mic right there and walked out.
At this point, the Alex Rodriguez PED story has been told and retold far too many times. MLB overstepped its bounds in levying a 211-game suspension. Rodriguez is a megalomaniac and a liar. These things aren’t mutually exclusive. But for one day, we got some pretty amazing theater. It started with an arbitration hearing that included one of the 20 best players of all time pointing at baseball’s chief operating officer and yelling, “This is fucking bullshit!” We got some decent and some kiss-ass questions from one of the country’s biggest sports radio personalities, with answers from Rodriguez that betrayed a historic lack of self-awareness. For a good chunk of the afternoon, “Arod,” “Bud Selig,” “wfan,” “peds,” and “MLB” all trended on Twitter.
It was all a big farce, and it was anything but real baseball. But with Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder switching places later in the day, it just served as the chaotic opening ceremonies of what should be a hot stove season to remember.