Happy A-Rod Christmas, everyone! If everything proceeds as expected, around noon today Major League Baseball will announce that Alex Rodriguez is suspended through the end of the 2014 season. Then, just a few hours later, Alex Rodriguez will make his season debut for the Yankees.
It appears that Bud Selig will not punish Rodriguez under the "best interests of baseball" clause in the CBA that gives him sweeping powers, but would likely end up being challenged in court. Instead, A-Rod's suspension will come via the Joint Drug Agreement, and any appeal will be heard by baseball's arbitrator—exactly the system baseball and the union agreed upon.
The upshot is this: whereas under the threatened scenario Rodriguez would have had to sit out immediately, now he will be able to play while his appeal is heard. So Rodriguez is expected to be in the Yankees' lineup in Chicago tonight, for the first time since undergoing hip surgery in the offseason. It will be a circus.
Why, after months of posturing, is baseball giving up on its "nuclear option?" The Post posits that Selig "reversed course out of concerns the tactic would intensify growing backlash that Selig is being particularly heavy handed with Rodriguez." A more cynical observer might wonder if the threat of a unilateral lifetime ban wasn't just a public negotiating tactic all along, designed to frighten Rodriguez into admitting wrongdoing and cutting a deal. By all accounts, he remains committed to fighting.
So we prepare to enter the third stage of the Biogenesis scandal, which we learned this weekend only started over Tony Bosch pissing off the wrong shady employee. A-Rod's appeal would be heard within 20 days of the suspension being announced, and the arbitrator (Fredric Horowitz, replacing Shyam Das, who MLB fired after clearing Ryan Braun) would make his ruling within 25 days of first hearing the case. So, figure on another month of this stuff. If the suspension is for 214 games—the rest of this season and all of the next—and Horowitz doesn't lessen or vacate it, it wouldn't kick in until the arbitrator's ruling and therefore stretch into early 2015.
So A-Rod Christmas is finally here, and we're the little kids up at the crack of dawn, vibrating with excitement. Now we just have to wait a couple hours for Bud Selig to wake up so we can open our presents.