A furious Alex Rodriguez stormed out of his appeal hearing with Major League Baseball early Wednesday, then went on WFAN and denied any wrongdoing in the Biogenesis probe while attacking commissioner Bud Selig and MLB.
Just before noon, Rodriguez left the arbitration hearing in Manhattan after chief arbitrator Fredric Horowitz denied Rodriguez's attorneys' request to have Selig testify about the 211-game suspension handed down Aug. 5 by MLB.
Later, during a radio interview with Mike Francesa, Rodriguez denied, for the first time, using performance-enhancing drugs or obstructing MLB's investigation into the former anti-aging clinic in Miami.
MLB said the hearing is set to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday. Joe Tacopina, Rodriguez's lead attorney, told ESPN Radio's Michael Kay that the legal team had not decided if they would attend. The Major League Baseball Players Association assailed Horowitz's decision but said they still would appear.
"I lost my mind," Rodriguez told Francesa. "Banged a table and kicked a briefcase and slammed out of the room, and just felt like this system . . . I knew it was restricted and I knew it wasn't fair, but what we saw today, it was disgusting. And the fact that the man from Milwaukee that put the suspension on me, with not one bit of evidence -- something I didn't do -- and he doesn't have the courage to come look at me in the eye and tell me this is why I did 211 [games]?"
When A-Rod found out Selig would not testify, "I exploded, much worse than Paul O'Neill on any of his explosions with the coolers. I was very upset. I probably overreacted, but that just came from the heart. I thought rightfully so this should end with Selig on Thursday and me on Friday under oath, put your money where your mouth is. Or we can go to Milwaukee and we can do it there."
Rodriguez said he would not return to the hearing.
"For me, I'm done," he said. "I don't have a chance. I think you let the arbitrator decide whatever he decides. I'm sure Selig and whoever will be the beneficiaries of that decision. My position doesn't change. I didn't do it."
Rodriguez challenged Selig, saying, "I know you don't like New York, but you've got to come face me. This is my legacy. I'm part of history. You tell me why I should serve one inning. 'Cause you're retiring next year? That's not fair . . . "
On his relationship with Selig, Rodriguez said, "He hates my guts . . . One hundred percent this is personal."
Asked if he did the right thing by walking out, he said, "I have no regrets. I did the right thing and I'll do it again. The bottom line is I've worked for 20 years, I've dedicated more than half of my life to baseball. Whether you like me or not, what's wrong is wrong and the system is wrong. And whether you're in federal court or state court or in kangaroo court we're in today, players need protection."
In summing up his client's emotions, Tacopina said, "Today the dam broke."
Tacopina also lashed out at MLB's investigation, saying its evidence in the drug probe was "not worthy of belief. It's Tony Bosch saying, 'I gave him [Rodriguez] this.' A-Rod didn't do what he is being accused of doing."
Tacopina also reiterated for the third time that Rodriguez did not take steroids in the period covered by the investigation: "Absolutely not."
Tacopina said in an email to Newsday that the case is headed to federal court in Manhattan, where Rodriguez already has filed a lawsuit against MLB, claiming in court papers last month that MLB was on a "witch hunt" to push him out of the game. That matter, which MLB asked to be removed from state court, is pending.
MLB released a statement in response to Rodriguez's leaving the hearing.
"In the entire history of the Joint Drug Agreement, the commissioner has not testified in a single case. Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter.
"MLB selected [chief operating officer] Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the Players Association have no right to dictate how Baseball's case is to proceed any more than Baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today's antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez's continuing refusal to testify under oath."
Tacopina said Horowitz's denial came because he "believed MLB that Selig was not a necessary witness."
Manfred, under Selig's direction, was in charge of the Biogenesis probe. Tacopina said in the radio interview that Selig was solely responsible for imposing the discipline on Rodriguez and that it is "unfathomable" that he didn't testify.
Tacopina said he planned to have Rodriguez as the last witness Friday after MLB waived the CBA-required investigatory interview. Tacopina said Selig didn't have the "courage" to face Rodriguez in the hearing room.
If no other evidence is to be presented by Rodriguez's side, the hearing would likely end with Horowitz then making his decision to uphold, overturn or alter the suspension based on evidence to date. Horowitz will have up to 25 days to render his decision.
Lawyers from the Players Association could wrap up the case if Rodriguez's legal team bows out.
With Mike Rose