Courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Trickle-down effect


As I said yesterday, the Alex Rodriguez situation has no real direct effect on the Baltimore Orioles. It does however stand as another unfortunate incident for MLB regarding performance enhancing drugs. And perhaps the worst part is that it’s not over, as Rodriguez will be filing a lawsuit against the league today in federal court. On a side note, it saddens me that a player – especially one of Mr. Rodriguez’s capability – is willing to in effect risk taking down the entire sport just for his own sake. I believe that it’s indicative of the fact that as a society we try to now put far too much emphasis on individuals as opposed to doing what’s best for the group or majority.

All of that aside, the Yankees are obviously don’t have to pay Rodriguez in 2014 as it stands right now. Everything points to the fact that the Yankees seem to be done with Rodriguez, and they have no use for him moving forward. However, does that salary coming off the books make it easier for them to go after Japanese superstar Masahiro Tanaka? I would say no, because in theory Rodriguez’s salary is only going to come off the books for one season. Unless Tanaka’s willing to sign a deal only for one year, I don’t think one issue will have a  bearing on the other. If the Yankees want Tanaka, they’d have to simply bite the bullet and come up with the money to sign him.

But there’s another point to this which could have a reaching affect on the 2014 season. With ARod going to court to settle this matter, the court could potentially defer his suspension until the case is settled. This would be similar to last year when Rodriguez was suspended, but of course didn’t have to serve his suspension (which has now been lowered to 162 games as of Saturday) until his appeal was heard – a courtesy afforded to ARod under the collective bargaining agreement. This might sound like a small point, however it actually makes a huge difference. First off, whether or not Rodriguez is eligible to play changes the aspect of what he’s trying to get from the lawsuit. Is he suing for the right to play, or just for his salary? But I would submit that from the Orioles perspective, Baltimore fans should hope and pray that the court in effect does “suspend his suspension” for the time being. I know what you’re thinking…”REALLY?!”

If this turns into a long drawn-out court case, it could very well push into the season. At the very least, I suspect that it would go into spring training which begins late next month. So if ARod is eligible to play, he would be reporting to NY’s spring training facility in Tampa with the rest of his teammates in a few weeks. Obviously if this goes on long enough, he would then have to break camp with the team and come north to begin the season. Would that not be a distraction for one of the Orioles’ division rivals? Furthermore, Rodriguez would also eat up a roster spot, and thus not allow the Yankees to pursue a more permanent option at third base for the season.

Obviously the fallout here could in theory be that Rodriguez starts the season with the Yankees and the court finds in his favor. I think that’s a long shot, but it’s certainly possible; and that would of course mean that Rodriguez himself would be the permanent option at third base. However the scenario I laid out above would also mean that manager Joe Girardi would have a decision to make on a daily basis; play ARod, or find a way to keep him on the bench? For the record, as big of a distraction as he would be, he’d also be a very expensive bench-warmer.

Orioles fans and fans of other teams probably have very little sympathy for NY given the fact that they gave Rodriguez one of the most ridiculous contracts in league history. But this shows how small ripples can trickle down and make a big difference in baseball or in any sport. I think it would be in the best interests of teams like the Orioles to have this carry on for some time, because as I said it would be distracting to a division rival and it wouldn’t exactly paint them in a positive light. However more importantly than any of that, it would be in the best interests of the game for this to be over quickly so we can all move on.

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