A-Rod: Bud Selig 'hates my guts'
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez took his fight against Major League Baseball out of the hearing room and onto the airwaves Wednesday afternoon, flatly denying on a radio show that he had used any performance-enhancing drugs supplied by Anthony Bosch or Biogenesis.
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"I did nothing. About the Bosch nonsense? Nothing," Rodriguez said in an interview on WFAN 660 about four hours after he stormed out of his own grievance hearing upon learning MLB commissioner Bud Selig would not be required to testify.
"It was disgusting," Rodriguez said of arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's decision not to allow Joseph Tacopina, Rodriguez's lead attorney, to question Selig under oath on Thursday. "This thing should have ended with Selig on Thursday and me [testifying] on Friday. But he did not have the courage to look me in the eye."
Rodriguez said Wednesday night outside the law offices of Reed Smith in midtown Manhattan he would not return to the hearing room when the grievance resumes Thursday morning at the Park Avenue offices of Major League Baseball.
"The team's upstairs deliberating, [Rodriguez] won't be there [Thursday], and the [legal] team will figure out the rest of the options," Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz said Wednesday night.
Rodriguez is currently at home in Florida or en route there, Berkowitz said Thursday morning.
Jim McCarroll, an attorney who accompanied Rodriguez to the interview, added, "If Selig doesn't testify, Alex is not going back."
Tacopina said Thursday that, "if Mr. Selig shows up, Alex will be here ready to testify."
Berkowitz said Rodriguez's legal team will release evidence from his grievance hearing with MLB to the media on Friday.
Tacopina told Michael Kay on ESPN New York 98.7 FM that Horowitz did not consider Selig "a necessary witness." In a statement released Wednesday evening, MLB explained why Selig did not testify.
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"In the entire history of the Joint Drug Agreement, the commissioner has not testified in a single case. Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter," the statement read. "MLB selected Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the Players Association have no right to dictate how Baseball's case is to proceed any more than Baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today's antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez's continuing refusal to testify under oath."
The double-barreled media blitz -- Tacopina appeared on one show at 3 p.m. and Rodriguez on the other about a half-hour later -- capped an explosive day in which Rodriguez slammed his hands on a table, shouted "This is ridiculous!" and directed a stream of profanities at Manfred, baseball's COO, who directed the Biogenesis investigation, before storming out of the room shortly before noon.
Manfred declined comment on specifics of Wednesday's hearing, citing the confidentiality agreement, but did deny Rodriguez's charge that he had put the responsibility for the suspension on Selig.
"I have had no private conversations whatsoever with Alex Rodriguez," Manfred said. "It's just not true."
Four hours after the hearing, the third baseman was still steaming.
"I'm so pissed off right now I can't even think straight," he said.
But Rodriguez and McCarroll found the composure to issue blanket denials of any PED usage connected with Biogenesis and Bosch, who is MLB's key witness against him, and to accuse Selig of conducting a vendetta against him.
"Why did Ryan Braun get [only] 65 games with a failed drug test? Because he's from Milwaukee?" Tacopina asked, a reference to the team Selig owned before he became commissioner.
As for the 211-game suspension levied on him, Rodriguez said, "I shouldn't even serve one inning."
"This is the FIRST hearing under the drug agreement without a positive test," McCarroll said in a statement released Thursday. "The FIRST where the Commissioner's discretion and decision-making comes into play, without any science behind it. We also understand that under the prior collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner testified in 5 of the last 7 hearings, and he was harshly criticized in the arbitrator's decision for not voluntarily appearing in at least one of the two where he did not testify. MLB continues to freely lie to the fans about Alex on an ongoing basis."
Rodriguez also acknowledged being "angry" at the Yankees, but said he hopes to be playing third base for them on Opening Day.
"All I want to do is play baseball," he said. "This has been a disgusting process for everyone. I'm embarrassed to be involved in it."
Rodriguez denied having named other players in an effort to exonerate himself and questioned Selig's motivation in slapping him with the most stringent penalty ever given a baseball player for an alleged PED violation.
"He hates my guts," Rodriguez said of Selig. "It's 100 percent personal. This is all about his legacy. To put me on his mantle would be a big trophy for him."
Rodriguez also said that at one point in the hearing, Manfred said to him, "This wasn't my decision, it was Bud Selig's decision."
It was unknown whether Rodriguez's lawyers will continue with his defense minus their client.
"There will be some kind of group discussion sometime tonight," Tacopina said.
Asked if he would be back at the hearing on Thursday, Rodriguez said, "I'm going home to see my daughters."
Baseball released a statement following A-Rod's walkout expressing its faith in the fairness in the process, and in the evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association issued its own statement disagreeing with Horowitz's decision to excuse Selig from testifying.
"The MLBPA believes that every player has the right under our arbitration process to directly confront his accuser. We argued strenuously to the arbitrator in Alex's case that the commissioner should be required to appear and testify. While we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator's ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex's suspension within the context of this hearing," the statement read.
"I have no regrets," Rodriguez said about waging a fight that appears to be rapidly nearing its conclusion. "I would do it again. It's the system that is wrong."