For all their successes throughout the decades -- and public personas aside, they're both among the most successful people on the planet -- the one thing both Bud Selig and Alex Rodriguez have proven lousy at is public communication. These are powerful and extremely talented men whom the public often views as neither. When the public image and the private reality of a person are so diametrically opposed, you have a communications problem.

On Wednesday the two men, never much pals in the first place, secured their roles as fervent enemies. Furious that an arbitrator in their labor disagreement would not call Selig to the stand, Rodriguez stormed out of a hearing, vowing not to return, before heading to WFAN Radio to rant and rave about Selig. You can watch the interview here, or you can follow along in tweets (sure!) here, but basically A-Rod went nuclear on Selig, MLB and pretty much the entire baseball world. "What we saw today was disgusting," Rodriguez said. "The man from Milwaukee that put this suspension on me with not one bit of evidence, for 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]?' I shouldn't serve one inning. And this guy should come to our city -- I know he doesn't like New York … the embarrassment he's put me and my family through, and he doesn't have the courage to come see me and say 'This is why I'm trying to end your career.'" Yeah: They're not going to be friends after that.

Any notion that this could be a sober, rational airing of grievances on both sides exploded on Wednesday, but it was probably never possible in the first place, with these two men. There has been so much baggage with both of them, and so much misdirection, that the motives of each side -- their cases -- have been obscured.

Both Selig and Rodriguez have sane, legitimate points of view that have been completely lost in this firestorm. Neither one of them has been able to get them across, though, to each other, or to the public.

So let me try.

Bud Selig

I have been commissioner of baseball for 22 years, and the game is better off than it was in 1992 in almost every appreciable way. The game is more profitable, more massive by every measure, from viewers (domestically and, especially, internationally) to attendance to global interest. I entered into a poisonous labor situation, and after weathering the tragic cancellation of the 1994 World Series, I have navigated baseball through two decades of labor peace; in this regard, we have the best union-management relationship in North American professional sport. The petty ownership spats of the past that led to chaos throughout the sport have been obliterated. Everyone's on the same page.

{realted}Innovation and a willingness to be open to new revenue streams, particularly being ahead of the game in understanding the potential of, has put millions in the league's and the teams' coffers, further abetting competitive balance. For all the talk of me being stodgy and conservative, I've been quite radical, from realignment to the wild card to interleague play to the World Baseball Classic to instant replay. Fans love these changes. I've been a terrific commissioner who has ushered the game into a new, better era.

But I'm associated with the steroid age as much as I am any of the great things I've done for the game. This is unfair. So in the last few years, with the help of the players union, I've done what I can to correct this. We've increased testing. We've cracked down on users, particularly repeat offenders. We've been aggressive in pursuing all possible leads, not just relying solely on a testing system that we trust but believe can be manipulated by individuals motivated enough to do so.

We've had success in this. When people talk about the Steroid Era, they're not talking about right now. There is no perception anymore that everyone is on steroids like there was in the late '90s and early-to-mid-aughts. The users are still there, but they're seen as the anomaly rather than the norm. You can argue about my methods, but do not argue with the results: The PED issue is less of a problem, in matters of public perception, than it was a decade ago. I know no one believes me on this, but I really do plan on retiring after the 2014 season, and this is something I want settled. I want this to be a positive part of my legacy, rather than a negative one.

And so now we have A-Rod. A-Rod is the guy who has always gotten away, the one who always slips through the cracks. We have substantial -- overwhelming -- anecdotal evidence that A-Rod has been using PEDs for more than a decade, but he has never once been punished for it. Alex Rodriguez has made more money from baseball than any player in the history of the sport, and we believe that he has done it almost entirely while using PEDs. What kind of message does that send? It undermines everything I'm trying to do: If you use PEDs your whole career, the result will be untold millions. I cannot let that stand. He cannot get away with it.

So, the Biogenesis business. Is Tony Bosch the ideal witness here? Of course not. He's shady, he keeps pretending he's a doctor, he's only trying to save his own skin. But if A-Rod only trafficked with those with pure souls, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. (This also seems to apply to Miami, I've found, in general.) We have documents that show A-Rod not only ordering PEDs, but helping other players get them as well. And the minute the Miami New Times published its story, A-Rod tried to obstruct our investigation, tried to buy both Bosch and the papers that incriminated him. He's trying to wiggle out of this, the way he always has in the past. I'm not going to let him.

Is 211 games more than the collective bargaining agreement calls for, when it comes to first-time offenders? Sure. But who are you trying to kid with that "first-time offenders" business? And I do have the power to go more than 50 games with A-Rod, thanks to the "best interests of baseball" clause of the Joint-Drug Agreement; if you don't believe me, just ask the head of the union, who admitted as much. Sure, I could have given A-Rod 50 games, or even 100, the price for a second offense; lord knows he's had at least two. But A-Rod is the last link to the previous age, the one who dances between the raindrops. Ryan Braun, we got him, and he accepted his punishment. Same with all the other Biogenesis guys. Only A-Rod, amazingly, claims he's the one innocent man here.

As always, he thinks the rules don't apply to him. The 211 -- an arbitrary number, sure; had we gotten him a week earlier, it would have been 218, a week later 204 -- is meant to be extreme. A-Rod has been an extreme abuser. He is an extreme case. He has been flaunting it, rubbing his PED abuse in our face for years. It's time to make an example of him. 

Oh, and as for this calling-to-the-stand business: I'm not going to be part of A-Rod's desperate attempts to turn this into a circus. I've had Rob Manfred, my chief operating officer, and Dan Mullins, my lead investigator, giving testimony all week. Trust me, they're operating under my name. I'm the guy in charge, but I haven't been digging into every document; they do that, and then report to me. A-Rod thinks I'm after him, and he's right. But I've got every right to be. Having me on the stand is just an attempt to turn this more into a fiasco. C'mon, have you seen the dopes representing A-Rod? I'm gonna sit there and have those idiots scream in my face? (Who knows, maybe they've paid protestors to rush in the room or something. Would you put it past them?) This is an arbitration hearing, not a reality show. There's a way these things are done. A-Rod knows this. He's just trying to wriggle out of this one more time, now using this fake outrage that I'm not testifying. Trust me, A-Rod: I'm there. I'm the reason you're there.

He knows he's losing. He knows we got him. So he's attempting to distract us with theatrics. I'm not going to let him. This time, I've got him dead to rights. I'm taking him down. He deserves it. He has it coming.

Oh: And I love New York. I have no idea where he came up with that.

Alex Rodriguez

You know when I first realized how much of a railroad job this whole business was going to be? Back in June, during my brief experiment with Instagram. (I still don't quite understand that, by the way. So basically you take high-quality pictures and make them small, boxy and muddled?) I posted a photo of Dr. Bryan Kelly, my hip surgeon, telling me I had the green light to play again. I was so excited. The only constant I've had in my life -- the only thing I've been the best at, ever -- is playing baseball, and I'd been too injured to do so for months. I wanted to get back to my team. I know I don't always get along with all those guys, but they know how much I love to play the game and appreciate what I bring to the lineup, I think. (Well, maybe not Jeter.) I was gonna get to play baseball again. That's awesome. Baseball is awesome.

So I told the world that Dr. Kelly -- wearing a Yankees shirt in the picture, I might add -- said I could play. And what was the response? My general manager telling me to "shut the f**k up." We have guys who love to sit out and collect their money while nursing minor injuries, and here I am, champing at the bit, and my boss is telling me to shut the f**k up because I'm excited about getting back on the field? That's when I knew. That's when it was clear how much they were going to fight me on this.

Let's be 100 percent clear about this: If I'm not making $25 million a year, none of us are in this position. Since I signed those contracts, I've been a target. Listen, I get it: Nobody cries for the guy sleeping on a bed of money under a picture of himself with a horse's body. But I didn't get that money out of charity: I got it because I hit, as well as anyone in baseball history. When I was winning MVPs and championships, the money was fine; I'd finally "earned" it. Now that I'm slowing down, now that it's inconvenient for them to give it to me, they're trying to take it away.

Bud Selig, though, he's the one at the center of this. I am sure this has been frustrating for him, to have people blame him for the Steroid Era, to believe he turned a blind eye to a problem -- if you even consider it a problem -- so that his league could profit. But how is that my problem, exactly? Selig couldn't get Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire, so he's taking it out on me? I feel obliged to remind you here: I've never failed a sanctioned drug test. Oh, sure, there's the 2003 business, back when Major League Baseball vowed that all testing was anonymous, that it was "government-sealed," until, lo and behold, word leaked that I'd failed. How did word leak? Did the test results jump out a window at the MLB offices? They leaked it, to cause me damage. It worked: I've been drilled ever since. But now we're all supposed to trust their good judgment? 

We have this testing system, meant to keep the game clean. Trust me, I have urinated in a lot of cups over the last decade. Not a single one of them has ever come up positive. If one had, I'd have been suspended 50 games, as the rules say. But nope: Clean. Yet Bud still has this obsession with me, this need to take down one guy he hasn't been able to punish yet. Ryan Braun's won an MVP since I have, but this Biogenesis case is still about me. And certainly no reasonable person would say there's anything resembling hard proof I got drugs from Fake Doctor Tony Bosch. Where is the picture of me shooting up? Where's the results of my positive test? Where's the smoking gun? It is Tony Bosch's and Porter Fischer's word against mine. And why should anyone believe Tony Bosch? MLB has paid off his debts so that he'd agree to testify against me. He's a paid witness! You pay that sleazeball enough money, he'll tell you the moon's made of cheese.

And if there's no proof, how can you claim I tried to cover anything up, which is the basis for the extra suspension? Don't you have to prove I did something before you can prove I tried to cover it up? Basically, MLB is trying to suspend me twice for something they can't prove I did once. And don't use the other players, who accepted their Biogenesis suspensions, against me either. Did any of them say, "Yep, got my drugs through A-Rod. He put me in touch with Bosch. He's your guy?" Nope. No one said that. They accepted their suspensions for their own reasons. I'm fighting mine for mine.

Every angle you look at this, it's clear they're just trying to get me. Wanna say I'm a PED offender? (I'm not saying that, but let's accept the notion for the sake of argument.) Then give me 50 games. Oh, you're saying I obstructed the investigation, so I deserve more? Tell that to Melky Cabrera, who made up a fake Website to protect himself but still only got 50 games. 211 games? Where the hell is that number in the CBA? They pulled it out of their orifices, that's what they did. It's a completely random number created specifically to punish me. The only differences between me and the other Biogenesis guys -- if you accept the premise that I got PEDs from Tony Bosch, which I do not -- are that I'm Alex Rodriguez and therefore an easy target, and I didn't just roll over and accept the word of the Commissioner as gospel the way Ryan Braun and the others did.

This isn't about PEDs anymore: It's about control. Bud Selig wants unilateral power to punish players however he wants, even if it's inconsistent with the joint-drug agreement and even if he doesn't have proof, because he's retiring soon -- or so he says -- and wants to go out carrying one last big PED scalp. And the Yankees are happy to go along with it because they've decided that they liked the first half of my contract, but not the second half. They're all conspiring to this sham of an arbitration, in which I'm on trial but Bud Selig doesn't have to say anything. The guy is trying to ruin my career, my life. I have to fight to the death to defend myself, but he doesn't have to justify his actions. How fair is that? Don't I have the right to face my accuser?

I recognize that I am inconvenient for baseball right now. The game is trying to move away from the brawny home run hitter and the Steroid Era, and I'm connected to that time. It would be easier for MLB, and certainly for the Yankees, if I just went away, and they surely have done everything in their power to try to make me do so. But I love baseball. I'm really good at it, even now. And I'm under contract to play it for four more seasons. I intend to do so.

They want me out of the game. They think I'm an embarrassment. But I don't care. They're trying to get rid of me. I'm not going to let them.

* * *

Whatever side you're on, when you strip away all the theatrics, this is what each of them is trying to say. It is their case.

No one is hearing either side, or each other, and no one really wants to. This has turned into a bunch of people screaming, as it feels everything always does. It makes any rational observer want to close their ears. But don't. Like with almost everything else on earth, there are legitimate points to be made on both sides. Ignore the noise. Listen. Pay attention. And then decide for yourself.

* * *

Email me at, follow me @williamfleitch or just shout out your window real loud, I'll hear you. Point is, let's talk.

* * *

Note: Sports on Earth is co-owned by MLB Advanced Media