Bud Selig is at the brink of near total victory in the PED war. He will soon have suspended all the Biogenesis players and will have presided over a sea change in which most players in the game have shifted from silence or tacit acceptance of PED use to where they are publicly decrying such use. Some of this was natural evolution, some of it happenstance, some of it skillful maneuvering, but Selig is poised to get almost all the credit.
But one way in which he could risk these gains is by overreaching. Specifically, by taking the tack outlined by the Daily News the other day and insisting that his suspension of Alex Rodriguez be done under his “best interests” powers rather than under the Joint Drug Agreement, thereby cutting off A-Rod’s appeal rights. Such a move would certainly be tough, but it also might be counterproductive:
If Selig uses his best-interest powers and suspends Rodriguez under the CBA rather than the joint drug agreement, he will basically be taking him off the field before he can appeal — before the due process — and place himself in a position of being the judge and jury for Rodriguez, leading up to protracted arbitration.
From the players’ perspective, that is not ideal due process. The union, whether led by Weiner or somebody else, may decide to fight for that principle, which could lead to a messy labor battle, with new faces at the table.
I don’t think there’s any “may” about it. Such a move would be seen by the union as a power grab. Rank and file players could very easily see A-Rod as a different type of offender than they might be and be fine with harsh discipline, but I believe they’d feel threatened if Selig changes the procedures in place so radically in midstream. That could lead to the union joining in with any fight A-Rod mounts, which could involve a run to federal court for an injunction and litigation that has nothing to do with A-Rod’s drug use and everything to do with the Commissioner’s power.
The alternative: suspend him under the JDA, let the Yankees deal with the awkwardness of A-Rod still being around pending appeal, but declare total victory as Commissioner with the union giving you almost unprecedented backing.
Olney says Selig could use that as a basis for then demanding tougher penalties for first time offenders. Maybe that works, maybe it doesn’t. But it certainly puts him and baseball in the catbird seat, with A-Rod’s appeal being a relatively minor distraction rather than having Selig on the defensive with a big court battle in which arguments are made that Bud went too far.