Rosenthal: Just when you thought we were done with controversies, look who’s back

So now, according to ESPN New York, Alex Rodriguez might drop his threat to take action in federal court if baseball sufficiently reduces his suspension.

In reality, A-Rod should realize — as baseball does — that the chances of his case even getting heard in federal court are remote.

Baseball is not going to back off its 211-game suspension over such a threat, especially now that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s ruling is near. Any discussions of “accepting” a reduced suspension are taking place within A-Rod’s camp — and, frankly, A-Rod probably should accept the number no matter what it is rather than spend millions in legal fees on a battle that would be extremely difficult for him to win.

See, A-Rod is part of the players’ union. The players’ union agreed through collective bargaining that an arbitrator would decide appeals of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs. And courts generally defer to the collective-bargaining process.

To get his case heard, Rodriguez would need to demonstrate that Horowitz exceeded his authority by interpreting the Joint Drug Agreement too liberally, according to attorneys with knowledge of the proceedings.

If A-Rod succeeded in that quest, he also could pursue an injunction that would allow him to continue playing for the Yankees. The case could take four to six months to get through the courts, and A-Rod would need to prove that he would be unjustly harmed by the delay, attorneys say.

Can Rodriguez pull all of that off? Baseball officials doubt it.

His leverage, if you want to call it that, might not be leverage at all.

Cooperstown controversy (continued)

As soon as the BBWAA announced its punishment for Dan Le Batard on Thursday — revoking his membership for one year, banning him from participating in future Hall of Fame elections — fans on Twitter started asking me questions.

Why not punish voters who cast ballots for undeserving players such as Armando Benitez and Jacque Jones? Why not punish blogger Murray Chass, a former New York Times writer who recently said that he will continue voting only to spite his critics? Or MLB.com writer Ken Gurnick, who voted only for Jack Morris this year?

Many fans also want to know: Why is it that writers are the only ones who vote?

That one is easy; the writers vote at the behest of the Hall, which is quite content with how the process works, no matter how much some fans scream.

MAYWEATHER-MAIDANA REMATCH

“We feel that giving the individual voter the opportunity to make his or her own value judgment is important,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson recently told the Los Angeles Times.

Le Batard turned his ballot over to Deadspin, which conducted a fan poll to determine which players would receive its votes. The fans’ 10 selections (Maddux, Thomas, Glavine, Piazza, Biggio, Martinez, Bagwell, Clemens, Bonds, Schilling) were entirely reasonable.

The BBWAA, however, viewed Le Batard and Deadspin as subverting the process. The ballot, after all, is an earned privilege. It is not open to anyone; writers must serve 10 years before they vote.

Some argued that a vote for Benitez or a ballot with only Morris also subverts the process. As I’ve written previously, I don’t believe voters should be punished for their selections.

At the same time, I want all of our voting members to reveal their ballots. Greater transparency would eliminate most of (if not all) of the silly votes; voters would need to defend their actions.

I’ve tried to explain my votes the past few weeks and suggested reforms to the process in my previous column. Any further complaints, direct them to the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA is empowered by the Hall, not the other way around.

Tanaka: Open to all!

When the Chicago White Sox confirmed exploratory discussions with Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka in Los Angeles on Thursday, it was the strongest indication yet that the new maximum posting fee of $20 million will encourage virtually all teams to bid.

NINE TIMES SPORTS FIGURES BLEW UP ON MEDIA

The White Sox are not an obvious suitor for Tanaka; they are not an economic powerhouse, not expected to contend in 2014. Yet, like most clubs, they can afford the new, restricted fee — particularly when, as I reported earlier this week, the $20 million will be broken down in installments of $13 million the first year and $7 million the second.

Will the White Sox get Tanaka? Probably not, considering that the pitcher’s known suitors include the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Cubs, Diamondbacks and Yankees. But the idea for the White Sox, at least, is tantalizing. Tanaka, 25, could be the centerpiece of a new core that already includes Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, center fielder Adam Eaton and right fielder Avisail Garcia, not to mention left-handers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

Tanaka’s agent, Casey Close, has told clubs that he wants the bidding to remain extremely confidential. The White Sox acknowledged that general manager Rick Hahn, club president Ken Williams and manager Robin Ventura attended the meeting with Tanaka and his representatives, but they offered no further comment.

Tanaka, according to a source, also underwent a physical at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic in Los Angeles on either Wednesday or Thursday. Close’s intent, the source said, is to get one medical report on Tanaka and distribute it to all clubs.