Rodriguez: We crushed it; MLB had nothing
Alex Rodriguez will likely have to wait until 2014 to learn the outcome of the grievance hearing into his 211-game suspension by Major League Baseball, but the New York Yankees slugger passed his own verdict on the performance of his legal team Thursday.
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez will likely have to wait until 2014 to learn the outcome of the grievance hearing into his 211-game suspension by Major League Baseball, but the New York Yankees slugger passed his own verdict on the performance of his legal team Thursday night.
"We crushed it," Rodriguez said. "They had nothing."
But his elation with his lawyers was tempered somewhat by the realization that his fate now lies in the hands of arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
"Now that it's over, as far as the state of the case, how the evidence went in, how my team challenged it, I feel great," Rodriguez said. "The only thing that concerns me is the process."
Rodriguez spoke with ESPNNewYork.com for about 45 minutes in a conference room at the Manhattan offices of his attorneys about three hours after baseball finished up its last order of business in the hearing, calling three rebuttal witnesses in the afternoon after Rodriguez's lawyers had rested their case in the morning.
Both sides have until Dec. 11 to file written briefs -- the labor hearing equivalent of closing arguments -- and another 10 days after that to file replies to each other's briefs. Once that process is completed, Horowitz has 25 days to render his decision, almost certainly pushing a resolution of the case into January of next year.
Already, Rodriguez's legal team, led by Joseph Tacopina, is planning its next move -- obtaining an injunction to prevent a suspension from being implemented. Yet despite Rodriguez's optimism, his lawyers seem resigned to the reality that Horowitz will mete out some form of punishment.
"I firmly believe Alex should get a goose egg here, but Horowitz has to be prepared for this to be his last arbitration to do that," said Jordan Siev, one of Rodriguez's attorneys. "But do I think he would have the courage to give him a goose egg? I'd like to think so, but I frankly can't imagine Alex walks out of there with nothing."
The hearing went out with a comparative whimper following a tumultuous Wednesday in which Horowitz ruled commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify, prompting Rodriguez to slam his hands on a table and storm out of the room vowing not to return.
He was not present for the final session, but he spent the day in Manhattan and said he was treated to a hero's welcome as he walked the streets.
"Today was nuts," Rodriguez said. "The support has been overwhelming in the streets today. People were jumping out of their f---ing cars. I been coming to N.Y. for 20 years and, including 2009, I have never had a more positive reaction in the streets. I couldn't believe this s---."
Meanwhile, Rodriguez's attorneys expressed satisfaction with the way the hearing went.
"In my heart of hearts I don't think they've met their burden," Siev said. "There's no physical evidence at all, just [Anthony] Bosch's testimony. And if you don't believe Bosch, there's no case. Period. End of story."
Rodriguez repeated that his one regret was that his lawyers did not get to cross-examine Selig, which he said "would have been six hours of a good time."
"We want to know why Bud gave me 211 games," Rodriguez said. "That's why I hired Joe. We wanted to ask him. But we never got the chance."
"This was my moment. This was my Game 7," Tacopina said. "My cross-examination was going to be absolutely brutal. When it didn't happen, what it cried out to all of us, particularly Alex, is that this wasn't a fair process."
As a result, Rodriguez, too, declined to testify after having maintained for months that he was looking forward to telling his side of the story.
"He'll have plenty of time to tell his story," Tacopina said. "He has two other litigations pending. He will be the plaintiff and he's looking forward to being deposed. He's dying to do it. But if it's not going to be a fair process, if they're not going to play fair, we're going to shut it down, and we did."
Earlier in the day, a Rodriguez spokesman said that his lawyers would be releasing all of the evidence in the case.
"We're going to open up everything," Ron Berkowitz had said. "We're going to show everything we have to the press so they can show it to the American public."
But late Thursday, that was overruled by Rodriguez's lawyers. "We can't release any evidence," Jim McCarroll said. "We must have gotten our signals crossed somewhere."
Instead, Rodriguez's legal team said it will hold a press briefing next week at which it plans to release material that was not entered into evidence in the hearing but is likely to be used in his lawsuit against baseball and his medical malpractice suit against Yankees team physician Chris Ahmad.
With the hearing behind him, Rodriguez said his next order of business will be to prepare for the start of a baseball season he may not be allowed to play in.
"My approach never changes," Rodriguez said. "Get ready for spring training. Get ready to play baseball. All this other stuff is out of my control. I hired my team. I feel like my game was somewhat incomplete because the two principals didn't get a chance to speak. But I'm satisfied that we did what we had to do."
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