NEW YORK -- After weeks of listening to the righteous indignation of New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and his snarling pack of lawyers as they declared again and again that Rodriguez would not accept missing even one inning for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal, and after seeing A-Rod go on to pursue a scorched-earth policy that many outside observers flatly warned him was doomed to fail from the start, Rodriguez finally conceded the obvious on Friday afternoon.
His last-ditch attempt to play in the 2014 season ended in total capitulation.
Rodriguez withdrew his lawsuits against Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig, and his own players union that had only served to make him an even bigger pariah among many of his peers than he already was.
And after weeks of grandstanding vows to fight to the end, he and his team backed down in the meekest way possible, by resorting to one of the oldest tricks in the P.R. playbook. They waited till a late Friday afternoon, before everyone headed off for the weekend and a headline-hogging competing distraction like the Winter Olympic Games was set to begin, to let the news drop that he would no longer fight his 162-game suspension that will keep him out all of the 2014 season and cost him $25 million in salary and an estimated $10 million or more in legal fees.
Rodriguez also no longer plans to report, as threatened, to Yankees spring training.
A-Rod's attorney, Joe Tacopina, confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that a notice of voluntary dismissal was filed in both cases Friday afternoon.
No explanation was given and no further details were supplied.
But really, none was needed.
Rodriguez never should have filed the lawsuits in the first place. That's always been clear. You couldn't find a legal expert who said his attempt to overturn a punishment -- the intent of which, if not the specific length, had been collectively bargained.
But whatever Rodriguez's motivation was to thrash on -- blind rage, bad legal advice, or merely a desperation to exhaust every last hope that he could still play in 2014 because, as he often put it, "I'm fighting for my [baseball] life here" -- Rodriguez finally realized all the money or wishful thinking in the world couldn't get him out of this self-created jam.
Baseball believed he was a recidivist liar and PED user. And the league seemed to have a point. Both of Rodriguez's decisions to back down -- first when he stormed out of the hearing before arbitrator Frederic Horowitz that reduced the 211-game suspension he had fought since August to 162 games plus the 2014 playoffs, and then again with Friday's withdrawal of his lawsuits -- spared him from being forced to testify under oath. Something he clearly seems interested in avoiding.
But anyone paying close attention knew Rodriguez began dropping clues the fight might be up weeks ago. Instead of trying to talk everyone into believing he was innocent because he's still never failed a drug test, he shifted. He seemed to be trying to talk himself into believing that though he'll be 39 when he returns, missing the coming season won't be the sure career death sentence he sometimes has seemed to fear it might be.
The first giveaway came last month on a trip to Mexico during which he spoke in past tense about his still pending suspension, as if he knew defeat was near.
"I think that in the year 2014, the league could have done me a favor because I've played 20 years without a timeout," Rodriguez told reporters. "I think 2014 will be a year to rest, mentally, physically prepare myself for the future and begin a new chapter of my life."
Baseball and Selig often did look as if they were dead set on making a supreme example of Rodriguez because he'd been exposed as a two-time liar about his PED use. But that doesn't change the fact that his demonstrably questionable behavior is what gave them the opening in the first place.
Now Rodriguez supposedly "disappears" from baseball for a year. But don't be surprised if he somehow finds a way to stay in the news. He always does. He'll probably resurface somewhere, throwing off more fake sunbeams about how restorative this "timeout" will be, when the truth is seeing his career and legacy come to this has to be killing him deep down inside.