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Alex Rodriguez was dealt the most severe punishment in the history of baseball's drug agreement when an arbitrator ruled the New York Yankees third baseman is suspended for the entire 2014 season as a result of a drug investigation by Major League Baseball. Bruce Beck reports.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension, which was announced last Aug. 5 by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, to 162 games and any postseason games the New York Yankees play this year. Here are five things to know about the decision:
WHO WON? Most people regard the decision as a big win for Selig. It is the longest suspension ever under the drug agreement, which began in 2002, and it can be used by Major League Baseball to refute critics who say Selig did not do enough to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs since his tenure started in 1992.
WHAT'S NEXT? Rodriguez vowed to challenge Horowitz's decision in federal court. However, most experts say he has little change of overturning the rule. The U.S. Supreme Court has given lower court judges little leeway, ruling they may not reconsider the merits of arbitration rulings, only whether the process was flawed or corrupt.
WHEN WILL A-ROD BE ON A BIG LEAGUE FIELD AGAIN? Uncertain. Baseball's drug agreement says spring training games and extended spring training games are not included in suspensions. Carlos Ruiz and Bartolo Colon played in exhibition games last March to get ready for their returns from drug discipline. However, the Yankees and MLB may argue that since Rodriguez has no season to prepare for, there's no reason for him to report to their spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.
WILL RODRIGUEZ PLAY FOR THE YANKEES AGAIN? Too early to tell. He's signed through 2017 and owed $61 million for the final three seasons of his $275 million, 10-year contract. That and the chance to earn extra payments for milestone accomplishments — there are five levels of $6 million payments included in his deal — provide incentive for him to return. But he will turn 40 in July 2015 and hasn't played a full season without a trip to the disabled list since 2007.
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT HIS CHANCE TO BE ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME? Based on the vote totals of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, players tainted by steroids use have little hope of gaining the necessary 75 percent of the vote from senior members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. If Rodriguez never plays in another big league game, his first appearance on the ballot would be in December 2018.