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Cleveland Indians Sunday News and Notes: January 12, 2014

Oh, what a boring day yesterday was...

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

MLB News

A-Rod suspension: Alex Rodriguez gets 162 games - Let's Go Tribe

Arbitrator rules Alex Rodriguez to be suspended for 2014 season | News

This covers the basics. MLB originally suspended Alex Rodriguez for 211 games, and the results of arbitration essentially kept the status quo, as if Rodriguez had not appealed the suspension, he also would have been out through the 2014 season. However, because he did appeal, he was able to get on the field in the second half of the season, and that may change how both he and the Yankees see his viability as a player in 2015 and beyond.

Judging by Rodriguez's statement, though, this fight isn't over:

"I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. … No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me."

The reason Rodriguez is fighting the suspension is of course because he stands to lose his 2014 salary and perhaps more if the Yankees try to void the remainder of his contract, but also because a suspension would mean that there's no way he's making the Hall of Fame with the current voting process in place. Of course a lot of voters wouldn't vote for him even if the suspension would be reversed in federal court, but at this point Rodriguez is fighting for his legacy, and any deal would tarnish whatever is left.

There's a couple things that I'd like to emphasize in this whole soap opera:

  • Rodriguez's suspension (as well as all the other Biogenesis suspensions) were based on "non-analytical" evidence. In other words, there was no failed drug tests that led to the suspension of Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, or any of the others suspended last summer. Most of the information came from the word of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, who agreed to talk to MLB only after a lawsuit was filed against him.
  • The length of Rodriguez's original suspension, which is nowhere in the collectively-bargained agreement between MLB (owners) and MLBPA (the players).

Those two facets of this process should at the very least give you pause. Rodriguez is not a likable player, but that should not mean that "any means necessary" is appropriate to run him out of baseball. Perhaps this is a one-off thing, but perhaps it isn't.

This is nowhere near the end of this story. Tonight on 60 Minutes Anthony Bosch will be interviewed, and from the excerpts I've seen, it looks like he'll be repeating most of what he told MLB. Then there's the federal court action, and in a couple months, the start of Spring Training, which Rodriguez has said he'll attend.

Indians News

Cleveland Indians and Cavs still quiet about sin tax plans, but some details surfacing: "Hey, Taxpayer!" with Mark Naymik |

In 2015 the "sin tax" in Cuyahoga county, passed in 1990, expires. The passage of that ballot issue was the first step in the building of Jacobs (now Progressive) Field. About half of the money used to construct Progressive Field came from this tax, with the other half coming from Richard Jacobs, who was the owner at the time. The city of Cleveland owns the whole Gateway facility (which includes Progressive Field, Quicken Loans Arena, and a couple parking garages) and it is managed by the Gateway Economic Development Corporation.

The County Council (Cuyahoga County recently changed their government setup from the typical 3-Comissioner model to an Executive-Council model) will be taking up legislation soon which would place the sin tax extension on the ballot this fall. Most of the money from the extension (about $260M over 20 years according to the article) would be used in capital improvements for the two stadiums, both of which are 20 years old now.

I don't believe that the public should be spending its money on building and maintaining sports facilities for privately-owned teams. The claims that stadiums bring in economic development are rather dubious, especially when you consider that money is being taken out of taxpayers' pockets in the first place. The current sin tax was barely passed, and that was with the very real threat of the Indians moving in the early 90s. Perhaps an extension would be a bit easier to swallow since it is already in place, but I certainly wouldn't expect the voters of Cuyahoga County to pass it by a big margin.

AL Central News

Sizing up the available starting pitching - Royals Review

Tanaka, Jimenez, Garza, and Santana are still available. Once Tanaka agrees to a contract, then the other three should sign rather quickly as the losers in the Tanaka sweepstakes look to get a consolation prize.

Tigers' 2014 spring training invitees FAQ - Bless You Boys

Among the Tigers' NRIs are Ezequiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe. Neither is probably going to make the club, but I'm selfishly hoping to see Crowe in Detroit at least for a little bit.

The dangers of dismissing the Steroid Era - South Side Sox

A very nice essay on the attempted tainting of the last 25 years as the Steroid Era.