Alex Rodriguez walked out of an arbitration hearing pitting him against Major League Baseball this morning, arguing that the proceedings were a "farce" because MLB commissioner Bud Selig will not be forced to testify. The hearing, which is in its third week, was convened to rule on the 211-game suspension levied against Rodriguez by Major League Baseball. Later in the afternoon, appearing in-studio on Mike Francesa's WFAN sports-talk radio show alongside an attorney, A-Rod continued to call on Selig to participate in the hearing — but stopped short of saying he was withdrawing completely from the arbitration process.
Rodriguez's departure from the midtown Manhattan hearing seems to have been premeditated, given that he simultaneously released a statement condemning the "absurdity and injustice" of an "abusive process" that relies on the testimony of "felons and liars."
Appearing on WFAN, Rodriguez elaborated on his reasoning, claiming that MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred told him during the hearings that decision to hand down an ad-hoc 211-game suspension that went beyond the guidelines of the league's normal discipline process was Bud Selig's alone. If that is true, Rodriguez argued, speaking hypothetically to Selig, "I know you don't like New York, but you gotta come face me." Rodriguez said he'd offered to meet one-on-one with the commissioner well before the suspension was announced — his message to Selig, he said, was "we can have coffee, we can have brunch" — but was rebuffed. "I said I'm going by myself, man to man. I made the same offer to Rob Manfred. They both said, 'we don't want to see you.'"
The much-maligned slugger said that he's received a good deal of support from fans recently...sort of: "People in the streets tell me 'I hate your guts, but you're getting railroaded.'" Said Rodriguez: " In an ironic way what's happened in the last six months has been the best thing that's happened to me in my career. It's humanized me."
He didn't deny that he'd met Tony Bosch, the proprietor of an "anti-aging" clinic in Miami, who is testifying that he provided Rodriguez with PEDs. (Bosch began cooperating with baseball soon after they filed a lawsuit against him. "Bosch is a guy from Miami and it was nutrition and it was weight loss," Rodriguez said. "I traveled the world to see doctors with cutting-edge stuff and it was always within the parameters of Major League Baseball."
Despite the criticism of Selig and MLB, Rodriguez and attorney Jim McCarroll did not say that Rodriguez's legal team was fully withdrawing from participation in the arbitration. McCarroll said several times that the defense was "evaluating options," noting suggestively that "If Selig has the courage of his convictions [and] comes in to take an oath, and explains his actions, Alex is scheduled to testify on Friday."
Francesa asked Rodriguez what he believed Selig's motivations were for treating him unfairly. "When they say it's not about the money, it's always about the money," Rodriguez said, arguing that MLB's executives "don't like big salaries" and dislike him because of the money he makes. "He's retiring in 2014," Rodriguez noted of Selig," and to put me on his mantle on his way out, that's a hell of a trophy."