Fellow MLB players are turning against Alex Rodriguez as the New York Yankees third baseman continues to exploit every avenue possible to get his season-long suspension overturned. His decision to sue the Major League Baseball Players Association was the last straw for many.
Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports report many players were letting Rodriguez go through the process unimpeded, but the longtime superstar's recent action is causing a change of tune. On a recent conference call, they were hoping to expel him from the union:
On a conference call of perhaps 40 players and board members held Jan. 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., outraged union members repeatedly requested that Rodriguez be expelled, sources said. Following a roll call of players present on the line, according to one participant and another familiar with the call, the first player to speak asked bluntly: Can we kick him out of the union?
Those in charge of the union told the player representatives that expulsion wasn't a legal option, but that did not deter anyone from sharing their disapproval.
Advised by union leadership that was not possible, more players nonetheless expressed the same opinion. Not a single member defended Rodriguez, one player said, in a forum where there are frequent disagreements.
"That's what everyone was thinking," the player said. "We wanted to get on this call and not let him back. [To say,] 'This is our game and we don't want you in it.'"
Rodriguez and his legal team have moved into the next phase of their attempt to lift his ban. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced A-Rod's suspension from 211 games to 162 (plus the 2014 postseason), but ultimately decided that forcing the Yankees slugger to sit out an entire season was fair punishment based on the evidence presented.
In turn, Rodriguez filed a complaint against both MLB and the Players Association. Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York provided further details as well as comments about the situation from union executive director Tony Clark:
Rodriguez's 42-page complaint names Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association as defendants and includes among its exhibits Horowitz's written ruling on A-Rod's appeal.
In it, Rodriguez alleges the players' union breached its "duty of fair representation" and charges MLB and the MLBPA with imposing a suspension without just cause.
"It is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez has chosen to sue the Players Association," MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said in a statement. "His claim is completely without merit, and we will aggressively defend ourselves and our members from these baseless charges."
Even if Rodriguez is unable to get the suspension overturned through every legal option available, he will head into 2015 with three years left on his contract. It's a situation the Yankees already have to start thinking about.
After two decades in the majors, the infielder's production had been declining in recent seasons. He hit just .244 with seven home runs in 44 games last season. At 38 years old, it's unlikely he'll be able to make any type of significant contributions moving forward.
The other factor the Yankees will need to consider is how other players will treat him. The Yahoo! Sports report includes comments from an unnamed player who makes it clear Rodriguez won't be welcomed back with open arms:
When he gets up to bat, you can hit him and hit him hard. That's what I'd do. He sued us. Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz screwed up. You know what? They owned up to it. They took their medicine.
[Rodriguez] needs to be scared of coming back and facing people he sued. If he can't fear the wrath of getting kicked out or not being included, he's going to be forced out.
While it looks like the MLBPA doesn't have any legal options to remove Rodriguez from the union, his membership no longer seems welcome.