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So what exactly set A-Rod off?

11/20/2013
Why did A-Rod storm out? And for that matter, why didn't Bud Selig want to testify? Getty Images

NEW YORK -- The stated reason for Alex Rodriguez's dramatic and colorful exit from his own grievance hearing Wednesday -- according to a source, he slammed his hands down on the table, startling everyone in the room, shouted "This is ridiculous!" then pointed a finger at MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and said "this is f----g bulls--t!" and stormed out (another source said earlier that Rodriguez cursed directly at Manfred) -- is that it came in reaction to Fredric Horowitz's decision not to allow his attorneys to question commissioner Bud Selig.

And it is certainly understandable that an accused party would want to question his accuser. Under our criminal justice system, that is everyone's right.

It raises the question of why Selig did not want to testify, and it raises concerns over the true impartiality of Horowitz, who apparently ruled he did not have to. I will be interested to hear his reasoning for that decision, as well as Selig's rationale for not defending under oath the conduct of his investigation and the unprecedented 211-game suspension he meted out to Rodriguez in August. I hope those answers will be forthcoming.

But for A-Rod to react in this way makes you wonder if there is more at work here, because by storming out, it almost seems as if he is giving up the fight before Horowitz in favor of a costlier, and riskier, battle in federal court to both block the suspension and pursue a civil suit against Major League Baseball.

It raises the possibility that today's outburst was a staged event, designed to extricate Rodriguez from a proceeding he and his lawyers may not have believed was going in their favor, although it must be emphasized that no one outside of the parties involved really knows what is being said in the hearing room, what evidence has been presented or how strong a case either side really has.

It stands to reason that if Selig feels strongly about his case against Rodriguez and the punishment he imposed, he should have no reason not to testify. In fact, he should want to testify in order to avoid the perception that MLB has something to hide. A spokesman for the commissioner says MLB will have a statement some time Wednesday.

But it appears that in his final months as commissioner, Selig has chosen to assume a lame-duck role -- at $18 million a year -- and leave all the heavy lifting to Manfred, his chief lieutenant.

As for A-Rod, it would not seem to help his case to come off as combative, hostile or uncooperative. The same goes for him as for Selig. If he truly has nothing to hide, nothing said inside the hearing room should upset him all that much. Certainly not to the point that he throws a public temper tantrum and storms out of a proceeding that he requested in the first place.

It may be that A-Rod has a point, and that what is going on in that hearing room at 245 Park Ave. is little more than a kangaroo court, designed to give the appearance of fairness while heading toward a predetermined conclusion.

Or it may be that his side of the story is a sham and a smokescreen, engineered to obscure the central allegation of the case, that he is a serial and unrepentant performance-enhancing drug abuser.

The problem is that, for as public a proceeding as this has been, there are still way too many unanswered questions.

Let's hope today's blowup will start to provide some answers.