Why A-Rod and Major League Baseball Are in for an Ugly Showdown

Joe Giglio@@JoeGiglioSportsContributor IJuly 24, 2013

TAMPA - FEBRUARY 17: Infielder Alex Rodriguez (R) of the New York Yankees talks during a press conference as General manager Brian Cashman listens February 17, 2008 at the George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. The Yankees third baseman admitted to taking a substance known as 'boli' acquired with his cousin in the Dominican Republic in 2001.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

According to a report by Jim Axelrod of CBS Evening News, the 65-game suspension delivered by Major League Baseball to Ryan Braun may feel small in comparison to the penalty soon levied upon Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

In the report, Axelrod was told by a Major League Baseball team executive, "He is staring down a penalty much, much harsher than Braun's. It could be years... or even a lifetime suspension."

The news of a long, ground-breaking suspension for Rodriguez, coupled with the report from USA Today's Bob Nightengale suggesting that the 37-year-old slugger is not planning on cutting a deal with Major League Baseball, is sending fans down the path of an ugly showdown.

Three major details about Rodriguez, Major League Baseball and this individual case could send the baseball news cycle into overdrive, and could drag a three-time Most Valuable Player into courtroom well before we see him in pinstripes again.

First, Alex Rodriguez, if hit with a lifetime ban, should challenge the ruling with every fiber of his being.

While most fans are happy to see purported cheaters like Ryan Braun and Rodriguez taken down by the system, the tactics used by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball have become uncomfortable to accept.

Under the current CBA, first time offenders are asked to serve 50-game suspensions. Technically, Alex Rodriguez has never failed a test. Technically, he would be a first time offender.

Even if baseball had enough evidence to pin Rodriguez on charges of connection to Biogenesis, purchases of illegal performance-enhancing drugs and the attempt to sabotage their case, there is no precedent for a suspension of this magnitude.

Considering that Rodriguez only has admitted to using PEDs prior to testing in 2004, it will be hard to remove him from the game for life or even over 100 games.

Second, the mercurial Yankees slugger will have the backing of the MLBPA, regardless of the evidence that may be mounted against him.

Earlier this month, the well-respected, but unfortunately ailing, executive director of the MLBPA, Michael Weiner, said that the union would encourage guilty parties to take their punishment, but fully support any member who wanted to challenge a potential ruling.

Coupled with the copious funds and legal aids A-Rod has cloaked himself with, his army will be well prepared to discredit Tony Bosch and any Biogenesis evidence, despite Ryan Braun buoying baseball's efforts by accepting their punishment.

Last, but perhaps most importantly, Alex Rodriguez is going to fight to play baseball. 

As Joel Sherman of the New York Post reminded us in an exclusive interview with Rodriguez during his latest rehab stint, baseball is his enduring love.

Since his debut as an 18-year-old in 1994, Alex Rodriguez has seemed intoxicated by the sport.

From ground balls in batting practice, to the pageantry of the game, to the sometimes monotonous grind of a 162-game season, the minutia of the sport always made Rodriguez tick.

For all his faults, teammates and opponents have marveled for years at his work ethic and 'gym rat' mentality on the diamond, both before and after games.

It's not a defense of Rodriguez's transgressions, but merely a fact. Some players love the game, but Rodriguez lives for the game.

This afternoon, A-Rod's desire to take the field was on full display for the media to devour.

The love-hate triangle of Rodriguez, Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees took another bizarre turn when Alex's personal doctor, Michael Gross, appeared on WFAN in New York City to detail why he believed Rodriguez was ready to return. Hours later, the Yankees issued their side of the newest version of the story.

He's going to fight and fight and fight in order to remain within the white lines for a few more years.

Sure, some of it will be for millions of dollars or legacy or to prove baseball's unscrupulous tactics wrong in plain view of an arbitrator, but a good portion of the impending ugly showdown will be about how much Rodriguez desperately misses the game.

Buckle up, baseball fans.

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