Updates from Friday, Feb. 7
Newsday's Jim Baumbach (via Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Shaikin) reports that A-Rod has dropped his lawsuits:
Baumbach tweeted a pic of the filing:
Today's arod filing. pic.twitter.com/UJqOuDLTj2— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) February 7, 2014
Updates from Tuesday, Jan. 28
Howard Ganz, an MLB lawyer, said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that Rodriguez's claims do not come "remotely close" to what is needed to overturn an arbitration decision in federal court.
Ganz's letter, dated Tuesday and filed Wednesday, said the lawsuit should be tossed because a court is not empowered to re-examine the merits of an arbitration decision.
Ganz said in the letter that the standard for vacating an arbitration award "is purposefully high and specifically designed to prevent courts from substituting their own judgment for that of the labor arbitrators selected by the parties."
Rodriguez's claims in his lawsuit were considered by the arbitrator and resolved based on evidence and arguments, along with the arbitrator's interpretation of collectively bargained agreements, Ganz said.
He also noted that Rodriguez did not deny engaging in the misconduct that was alleged during the arbitrator's hearing or in his lawsuit.
Ramos set Feb. 14 for a conference and directed lawyers for Rodriguez to respond to the league's claims in a letter of their own by Feb. 7.
The ongoing drama between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball has taken a new twist. The New York Yankees third baseman filed a lawsuit against the league and the players union on Monday, Jan. 13, according to the Associated Press on Twitter:
BREAKING: Alex Rodriguez sues Major League Baseball, players' union to overturn season-long suspension.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 13, 2014
Ronald Blum and Larry Neumeister of the AP provided a full report on the situation, including this excerpt:
As part of the lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the New York Yankees third baseman made public Saturday's 34-page decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who shortened a penalty originally set at 211 games last August by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for violations of the sport's drug agreement and labor contract.
CNN's Lateef Mungin and Steve Almasy provided details:
In the lawsuit, Rodriguez's lawyers say the actions against the slugger have been a "carefully orchestrated smear campaign" and the suspension should be vacated.
The lawsuit also alleges that the baseball union did not protect Rodriguez from continual leaks of "prejudicial information" from baseball officials.
The player's union has denied that allegation.
ESPN's T.J. Quinn quoted ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson's thoughts on A-Rod's chances:
My man Lester Munson, ESPN legal analyst, isn't mincing words: ARod's lawsuit has "zero" chance of success.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) January 13, 2014
On Jan. 11, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's ruling mandated that Rodriguez be suspended for the entire 2014 season, a reduced penalty after MLB had been seeking a 211-game ban based on evidence that Rodriguez not only acquired illegal performance-enhancing drugs, but also attempted to impede the league's investigation, according to MLB.com's Paul Hagen.
Yankees beat writer Daniel Barbarisi of The Wall Street Journal broke down Rodriguez's argument in a series of tweets:
MLPA executive director Tony Clark released the following statement regarding Rodriguez's lawsuit via MLB.com:
It is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez has chosen to sue the Players Association. His claim is completely without merit, and we will aggressively defend ourselves and our members from these baseless charges.
"The Players Association has vigorously defended Mr. Rodriguez's rights throughout the Biogenesis investigation, and indeed throughout his career. Mr. Rodriguez's allegation that the Association has failed to fairly represent him is outrageous, and his gratuitous attacks on our former executive director, Michael Weiner, are inexcusable. When all is said and done, I am confident the Players Association will prevail.
ESPN senior baseball writer Buster Olney responded to the news with a healthy dose of sarcasm:
MLB released the following statement in the wake of Horowitz's ruling on Jan. 11, per Hagen:
For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights. While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez has been at the center of the Biogenesis scandal since January 2013, when an investigation was launched into Anthony Bosch's anti-aging clinic in South Florida. Multiple professional players had been linked to the clinic, which was believed to be supplying synthetic testosterone and human grown hormone, according to documents.
Of those players linked to Bosch and the clinic, Rodriguez was the only one who appealed his suspension.
Unsurprisingly, Rodriguez's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, denied the allegations against his client when asked during a 60 Minutes interview that aired on Jan. 12 whether Rodriguez bribed Bosch in an effort to keep the evidence against him hidden, per ESPN.com.
"Absolutely not. He didn't bribe anyone. There was no allegation that he bribed anyone," Tacopina said. "And the notion that Bosch is now coming on a television interview without the benefit of cross-examination or an oath—is laughable."
While MLB's and Rodriguez's reputations are both at stake in this case, the bigger issue for now is the $22 million in 2014 salary that the slugger stands to lose if his suspension is upheld. Given the severity of the allegations and the hefty amount remaining on Rodriguez's current contract, the Yankees would certainly benefit financially from a long-term suspension.
If it stands, Rodriguez's 162-game suspension would be the longest drug suspension and non-lifetime ban in the history of Major League Baseball.