Costas: 'Baseball made a wise move' by letting A-Rod appeal ban

Rodriguez will face “wild booing’’ when makes his 2013 debut for the New York Yankees Monday night, Bob Costas predicted on TODAY Monday morning. 

Rodriguez was one of 13 Major League Baseball players suspended for receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a Miami clinic, the league announced later in the day. Rodriguez received a 211-game ban from the league, which would be effective on Aug. 8 and last through the end of the 2014 season. He is appealing the ban, the league said, and is eligible to play until an appeals verdict is rendered.

"It’s possible though that A-Rod’s side could drag out the preparations long enough that he could play in the 50 or so games remaining this season, and then the arbitrator would decide in the offseason to uphold the suspension for 2014,'' Costas said on TODAY. 

While allowing Rodriguez to appeal means that his story will remain in the headlines, Costas believes MLB was smart to give him a chance to plead his case. 

“I think that baseball made a wise move because they took some of the distractions off the table,’’ Costas said. “It was widely assumed by all of us that (MLB commissioner) Bud Selig would suspend A-Rod under the terms of both the joint drug agreement and the collective bargaining agreement through the integrity-of-the-game clause, and if he did the latter, that it would’ve foreclosed the possibility of an appeal. That would have created perhaps some sympathy for A-Rod, because his camp could claim that he was being treated unfairly and being denied due process."

Rodriguez is still owed nearly $100 million on his contract by the Yankees, and multiple reports have indicated the team is trying to find a way to use the suspension to avoid paying him or reach a buyout. After a rehab start with the Double-A Trenton (N.J.) Thunder on Friday, Rodriguez told reporters that "there is more than one party that benefits from me not stepping on the field. It is not my teammates, it is not the Yankees. People have been trying to get creative trying to cancel my contract."

“Now Selig takes himself out of it as a distraction,'' Costas said. "He removes, or at least blunts, the criticism that this is all about the contract and the Yankees recouping as much of the money as possible." 

Rodriguez, who underwent offseason surgery on his hip and has not played for the Yankees yet this season, completed a rehab stint with the Trenton Thunder on Sunday. He is expected to join the Yankees for their game in Chicago against the White Sox on Monday night, where he can expect the “wild booing’’ Costas predicted. If Rodriguez does play the rest of the season, it also means he will be questioned by reporters about his PED use at every turn, keeping the story in the headlines.

“There’s no question about that, but baseball didn’t want to open up the possibility of being sued outside their own disciplinary process, which includes an arbitrator,’’ Costas said. “Let’s say A-Rod’s camp decides to declare all-out war, and they might have if they had no other ability to appeal, and it goes into a court of law, then it gets extremely messy.

“Baseball knows that, especially on the road, A-Rod is going to be booed, that it’s going to be a circus tonight in Chicago, but if A-Rod is smart about this, his comments are going to be as conciliatory as possible and he’s going to keep saying, ‘We’ll just let the appeal play itself out. I’ll tell my side of the story during the appeal.’ That will hopefully, at least from his standpoint, take some of the circus atmosphere down a notch.”

On Monday MLB announced suspensions for 12 players besides Rodriguez connected to PED use through their involvement with the anti-aging Biogenesis clinic in Miami. The bans to the other players linked with Biogenesis are effective immediately, which knocks out those players for virtually all of the remaining games this season.