HILLARY SMITH: A-Rod didn't sit silent long enough

2013-10-06T21:00:00Z HILLARY SMITH: A-Rod didn't sit silent long enoughHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 06, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

After saying little in his return to baseball, Alex Rodriguez is showing why.

While he finished the season with a .244 batting average in 44 games, he pressed that he would "state his case" about performance-enhancing drug use when he had the opportunity to sit in front of an arbitrator and fight the 211-game suspension handed out by Major League Baseball in the wake of the Biogenesis Lab report.

The Yankees shortstop was the only player to be given a suspension that didn't accept it. His was also the longest.

His chance to state his case started last week with hearings into the grievance filed on his behalf by the Players Association.

In the meantime, Rodriguez and his lawyers said the most in multiple lawsuits filed in court.

The first was against Major League Baseball and Bud Selig for compensatory and punitive damages caused by what Rodriguez and his lawyers call a "witch hunt" to harm him in the court of public opinion before he was able to state his aforementioned case. The lawsuit alleges that the league and its commissioner wanted to destroy A-Rod's career.

The second came against the N.Y. Yankees' team doctor and the hospital in New York that treated him after and during last season's injuries. He claims malpractice and mishandling of his care.

There's a faction of fans that want to see Rodriguez and his team of lawyers wander off into the sunset and end the circus. Maybe that's what's best for baseball: End the PED scandals as Selig has promised to end his reign as commissioner in after the 2014 season.

There should be a faction saying "hear him out." Let's say it was a smear campaign. (I'm not saying that Rodriguez is right, but let's play Devil's Advocate for a few paragraphs.) It worked didn't it? Rodriguez came back to jeers and boos louder than he'd ever heard, and even more than he would have if he'd never been named as part of the Biogenesis Labs scandal.

He couldn't enter an opposing park without hearing an overture of negativity that crescendoed because of Biogenesis.

If there really was a backroom campaign to harm his reputation because he'd already admitted to using PEDs from 2001-03, it was a job well done.

That's a stretch, though. There's a lot going on in baseball, and if the commissioner really wanted to crack down on PED use, he has several better targets.

That the entirety of the organization was going after a single player seems incredibly far-fetched.

Also making the arbitration process more difficult — one that Rodriguez said he was so looking forward to — is that the MLBPA is handling the grievance and his lawyers this week were critical of union chief Michael Weiner after Weiner said in an interview in August that he'd recommended that Rodriguez take a suspension of "a certain length."

Maybe this is the point at which the Rodriguez camp should play mum again.

Let the appeals process work its way through, but attacking the league, the commissioner, the doctors and the union chief when you need one or any on your side during an arbitration process seems like a marathon into a brick wall. Waiting until after the arbitration ruling is handed down at least shows you're willing to hold the cap in your hand before throwing it over that wall.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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