At the very least, Alex Rodriguez has two strikes against him in the courts and on the field, according to someone who is well versed in the collective-bargaining process and in dealing with veteran ballplayers.
While many have speculated that Rodriguez would have a hard time appealing arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's ruling before a federal judge, former Mets general manager Jim Duquette cited chapter and verse. Shortly after the decision was announced Saturday, Duquette checked the Basic Agreement and tweeted that the appeal would be "in violation of Article XI-B, 'Procedure.' ''
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He pointed out that the article "clearly states 'the decision shall constitute full and final and complete disposition of the grievance.' ''
In a later telephone interview, Duquette, who is a host on Sirius XM Radio's MLB Network channel, said, "It doesn't preclude him from challenging the decision in front of a judge, but is what the judge is going to use in rendering his decision, making it very, very unlikely that the judge would overturn the ruling.''
What's more, Duquette said, Rodriguez's statement Saturday could be seen as a violation of Article XII E, 3C, which says a player will be suspended for "making public statements that question the integrity of . . . the commissioner and/or commissioner's office personnel.'' That theoretically could allow Major League Baseball to slap an additional penalty on Rodriguez, although Duquette said, "I don't think that's likely.''
If Rodriguez does not win in court and does not play this year, Duquette said, he could face the toughest obstacle of all: Father Time.
"Hitting is about timing and staying sharp. That's hard to do even in the prime of your career. Alex will be taxed,'' Duquette said. "Let's face it, he missed two-thirds of the season last year. So over a two-year span, he will have played two months.
"You have to train for timing. How do you train for live major-league pitching on your own? Even for the best players, when they get to his age, the game gets harder even when they're playing every day. It's going to be a very difficult thing to overcome. To me, it's very likely we've seen the last of him.''