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W2W4: The A-Rod vigil

7/31/2013

Where we stand: The same place we have stood for the past couple of weeks -- in a holding pattern, waiting for Alex Rodriguez to be suspended by Major League Baseball for his involvement with the defunct Coral Gables, Fla., anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, and its director, Anthony Bosch.

The players: Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball; Michael Weiner, executive director of the MLB Players Association; David Cornwell, attorney for Alex Rodriguez; Porter Fischer, the former Biogenesis employee who turned over incriminating documents to news outlets and MLB; Bosch, believed to be providing information to MLB; and, of course, A-Rod, only one of 15-20 targets of the investigation, but by far the biggest.

The latest: The Associated Press is reporting that Selig will try to suspend A-Rod for violations of baseball's collective bargaining agreement in order to prevent him from having the right to appeal a drug suspension (and being able to suit up for the Yankees while an arbitrator weighs his appeal). Meanwhile, the New York Daily News is reporting that Selig will invoke the powers available to him under the rarely used integrity-of-the-game clause to impose a lifetime ban. Still other outlets, citing sources, are reporting that no action will be taken until after baseball's non-waiver trade deadline passes on Wednesday night.

What A-Rod's side is saying: On Monday, Cornwell spoke to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Michael Kay Show" and, while offering few specifics, repeatedly said, "We are focused on an appeal." This position seems to indicate the Rodriguez camp is resigned to a long suspension. Earlier, other sources told ESPNNewYork.com that there is virtually no doubt Rodriguez will appeal any drug suspension, likely pushing exercise of the sentence into next season.

What the Yankees are saying: Publicly, they're saying they want A-Rod back as soon as possible. Privately, they would love for Selig to throw the book at A-Rod and get them out of probably the worst contract in the history of professional sports, which still has four years to run and owes A-Rod $86 million.

What baseball is saying: Nothing.

Where's A-Rod? At the Yankees' developmental complex in Tampa on Tuesday, rehabbing the quad injury he and his lawyers said was exploited by the Yankees to delay his return to the field. Several photos of A-Rod playing catch have already appeared on social media outlets, with no doubt more to come.

What's next? Officially? Two more days of rehab in Tampa, followed by at least one rehab game, probably with the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, on Thursday. After that, A-Rod could conceivably be activated by this weekend, when the Yankees will be in San Diego playing the Padres, or, more likely, for the start of a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago on Monday.

Unofficially? As the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated reads, we could be watching "The Last Days of A-Rod."

My opinion? Until the latest reports that Selig is seeking to circumvent the appeals process, I was fairly certain MLB would seek to impose a 100- or 150-game suspension and that A-Rod would certainly appeal, making him available to the Yankees for the rest of the season, or as long as his rapidly deteriorating 38-year-old body can hold out.

Now, I'm not so sure. If the latest reports are true, it indicates a doggedness, even a vindictiveness, on the part of the commissioner that seems to indicate he wants to prevent Rodriguez from playing big league baseball again. It seems a curious stance from a man who turned a blind eye as two obvious PED users, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, rescued his strike-damaged game with a phony home run chase in 1998.

But memory is selective and history is written by the winners, and right now, Selig seems to be winning this sordid game of chicken.

QUESTION: What do you think the endgame of this interminable A-Rod saga will turn out to be?