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What happens next in the A-Rod saga?

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We know what MLB has done (dropped the hammer). We know what Alex Rodriguez will do (appeal). So what happens next?

A-Rod plays

Technically, Rodriguez’s suspension does not go into effect until Thursday. This is due to certain procedural provisions built into the disciplinary rules which call for a certain amount of time for a player to be given official notice of the discipline and to prepare his response. As we know, Rodriguez is allowed to play pending appeal. If he were to lose his appeal, every game he plays during the appeal’s pendency will be tacked back on to the end so that he serves his full time. So if he loses, A-Rod will be out of baseball into 2015.

The Arbitraion

The appeal will be held before independent arbitrator, Fred Horowitz, who was hired by agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ union to hear such appeals. The schedule is in flux, as arbitrations tend to follow a relaxed procedure compared to formal cases in courts of law, but most experts believe that the appeal will be heard sometime in September.

At arbitration, both Rodriguez and Major League Baseball will be able to put on evidence, just like any court case. It is presumed that Anthony Bosch and/or Porter Fischer of Biogenesis will testify. Major League Baseball, which has suggested that its evidence against Rodriguez is quite strong, likely has other witnesses and reams of documents as well. It is not certain if Alex Rodriguez will testify, though it is uncommon for players to do so at arbitration.  Rodriguez’s main argument could likewise sidestep his actions altogether and focus instead on the notion that, whatever he did, 211 games is too severe a sanction.

Horowitz can do any number of things with Major League Baseball’s decision. He could sustain the suspension as-is. He could reduce it. He could overrule it in its entirety.  The parties could settle before an arbitration begins. Or during it.

After the arbitration

No matter who wins and who loses, the arbitration is likely to be the final word. It is technically possible for a losing party to appeal an adverse arbitration decision to a regular court of law, but it is extraordinarily difficult to do so — one usually need prove that the arbitrator wildly exceeded his legal authority — and such moves are rarely successful.

In essence, once the arbitrator renders his decision — which could take any amount of time given how much discretion the arbitrator has to do his work — the case will be over.

Wild cards

It has been suggested that perhaps Rodriguez could file a lawsuit outside of the arbitration process. Such a move was far more likely when Major League Baseball was considering going outside of the Joint Drug Agreement and trying to keep A-Rod off the field during his appeal. Now that they have declined to do that, it’s highly likely that no court would entertain an A-Rod lawsuit unless and until the arbitration was over.

The Money

If the 211-game suspension is holds, Rodriguez can expect to lose around $34 million of the roughly $100 million remaining on his contract. Doing the math, that’s a bit over $161,000 a game. Even with some expensive lawyers working with the meter running make shaving every game off that suspension highly desirable for Rodriguez.

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.