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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thurm: Rodriguez Arbitration Decision A Clean Sweep For MLB

And I thought this was fast stacking!

Wait a second. The Players Association argued that the maximum penalty was 50 games as a first violation, but that Section 7.G.2 provided the “governing framework”? And that Section 7.A. — which does contain the 50-100-lifetime penalty scheme — doesn’t apply when there has been “continuous use or possession of multiple substances”? Frankly, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it makes me wonder if the Players Association didn’t clearly articulate its view of the governing agreements or the arbitrator misconstrued the union’s position.

Moreover, the arbitrator’s interpretation of Section 7.A. omits a key portion of the language. He points to the first part of the section that talks about a player “who tests positive for a Performance Enhancing Substance” (his emphasis) and concludes that the section couldn’t apply to a situation involving evidence of multiples uses of a PED. But he completely ignores the second part of the section: a player who otherwise violates the Program through the possession or use of a Performance Enhancing Substance will be subject to the 50-100-lifetime regime (my emphasis). What does that language mean if it doesn’t apply to players found to have used or possessed PEDs absent a positive drug test?...

In other words, 50-game suspensions can be stacked one on top of the other when MLB has evidence that a player used one or more PEDs on multiple occasions.

Think about that. When a player tests positive for a PED, and it’s the first violation, he is suspended for 50 games. But how many players use a PED only one time and that just happens to be when he is tested? Isn’t is more likely that a player who tests positive for PEDs had used on multiple occasions over an extended period of time?

And yet the arbitrator’s decision grants MLB broad powers to discipline players much more harshly when the league’s own testing program fails and the league develops independent evidence of use.

Whatever you think of Alex Rodriguez, Tony Bosch, and the entire Biogenesis mess, it’s hard to accept such an absurd legal result.

The District Attorney Posted: January 14, 2014 at 02:07 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, legal, ped, yankees

Passan: Alex Rodriguez flails in his final, desperate swing

Guys, I’m serious, Neifi Perez is going to have a legacy.

When Neifi Perez tested positive three times in a short period for the same drug, it counted as three positive tests, even if it was for the same substance. Shyam Das, the arbitrator at the time, held that each positive test was a violation subject to separate discipline. This, union sources said, infuriated the MLBPA to the point that in the next round of collective bargaining, the joint drug agreement included a provision that a player could not be penalized more than once for the same PED but could be subject to multiple penalties if one test showed testosterone and another two weeks later human chorionic gonadotropin.

From the start, MLB argued that the Neifi Perez precedent allowed the league to pursue what amounted to three separate cases against Rodriguez. Moreover, rather than the standard punishment based on rule 7(A) of the JDA, which outlines the standard 50/100/lifetime punishment, Rodriguez would be subject to rule 7(G), a catch-all standard that dealt with violations of the program outside of the typical positive test.

It’s an important distinction. While much post-decision curiosity focused on the league’s seeming rewriting of the JDA, the union agreed 7(G) was the proper rule to mete out discipline, lest Rodriguez be punished under 7(A) and get 50 games for HGH, 100 for testosterone and be banned for life because of IGF-1.

The broadness of 7(G)‘s “just cause” standard allowed MLB to pursue the awkward 211-game penalty and for Horowitz to hand out the largest non-lifetime ban of any kind in baseball history due to “the most egregious violations of the JDA reported to date.”

Even without a single positive test, MLB used 7(G) to argue Rodriguez’s continuous use of PEDs more than covered the threshold of a non-analytical positive, a position Horowitz agreed with thanks to the testimony of Bosch and the messages that corroborated his testimony. It was far from a safe case. Whereas with positive drug tests and 7(A) discipline the league almost always wins, sources from both sides of the case believe enough burden and risk exist with 7(G) to prevent the league from taking the Rodriguez precedent and turning it into a new standard meant to abuse the JDA.

Not only would it ruin the begrudgingly respectful labor relationship that has kept baseball work stoppage-free going on two decades, it would apply to every case the sort of comportment – not just using PEDs and lying about it but obstructing the case – that simply has not existed before.

The District Attorney Posted: January 14, 2014 at 01:24 PM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, legal, ped, yankees

Monday, January 13, 2014

A-Rod sues MLB and union to get ban overturned; arbitrator’s decision attached

Here’s the filing.

Alex Rodriguez has turned on his own union.

In an effort to nullify the 162-game suspension he received on Saturday for his alleged involvement with Biogenesis, the Yankees’ beleaguered superstar filed a new lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Monday that names both Major League Baseball (and commissioner Bud Selig) and the MLB Players Association as defendants…

The lawsuit details several complaints in which Team A-Rod alleges the union, long viewed as one of the most effective and powerful unions in the United States, declined to intervene on A-Rod’s behalf. Among them are the failure to stop MLB’s lawsuit against Anthony Bosch, which led to Bosch cooperating with MLB; a refusal to let Rodriguez select his own representative (instead of the PA’s general counsel David Prouty) to the three-person arbitration panel; a lack of effort to halt media leaks about A-Rod’s case and public comments made by Michael Weiner, the former executive director of the Players Association who died on Nov. 21, that implied Rodriguez’s guilt in the matter…

The suit also alleges myriad transgressions by Fredric Horowitz, the independent arbitrator, during the 12-day hearing.

The District Attorney Posted: January 13, 2014 at 06:03 PM | 78 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, legal, ped, yankees

Judge denies Alex Rodriguez’s request to seal arbitrator’s decision

Following the precedent set in The World v. The Seinfeld Finale.

A U.S. District Court judge rejected Alex Rodriguez’s request Monday to file a redacted version of a complaint to overturn the arbitration award that would have sealed arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s written decision on why he hit Rodriguez with a season-long suspension…

“Given the intense public interest in commissioner’s Selig’s disclosures last night it’s difficult to imagine any portion should be under seal,” Pauley said, citing First Amendment considerations and ruling that A-Rod would have to file an unredacted version of a complaint to overturn the arbitration award.

According to attorneys Jordan Siev and Jim McCarroll of the Reed Smith law firm, Rodriguez will file a complaint in the next few hours that is separate from the existing lawsuit Rodriguez has already filed against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig.

The complaint will seek to overturn the arbitration award and the historic suspension. “It’s an attack on the arbitration,” Siev said as he left the courthouse.

The District Attorney Posted: January 13, 2014 at 03:40 PM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, legal, ped, yankees

Posnanski: The 60 Minutes Report

Maybe Dusty Baker should have looked in Bosch’s eyes?

The 60 Minutes report (Part I and Part II), in case you have not seen it yet, will make you dislike everyone more. Everyone. No matter how much you may dislike Alex Rodriguez, Tony Bosch, Bud Selig or Rob Manfred, it is guaranteed that by the end of this thing your opinions of them will have dropped substantially. You will like your dog less after seeing this thing.

Is it worth the trip?

Baseball decided: Yes. Absolutely it’s worth it. Why? Well, for an answer to that, you have to wait all the way to the end of the 60 Minutes report…

If 60 Minutes was doing a commercial for PEDs, they could have hardly done better. In fact, they would not be ALLOWED to run that as a commercial because they did not list off the side effects. I’m constantly reminded of Buck O’Neil’s lament: If baseball leaders want kids to not use these drugs, why do they keep going on and on about HOW WELL THEY WORK?...

Pelley and 60 Minutes point out that… Rodriguez took…at least one of these gummies… April 6, 2012. Opening Day. Pelley says that Rodriguez had a “great game..”... The report doesn’t really mention that Rodriguez went one for his next 16, hit one home run in his first 13 games and hit just .272 with 18 home runs the whole season, probably the worst of his career up to that point.

In fact, the report doesn’t mention that since working with Bosch — based on Bosch’s own recollection — Rodriguez has hit .269/.356/.441 with 41 home runs in three seasons. His body has fallen apart….

Fortunately, Major League Baseball’s Rob Manfred brought some integrity to the proceedings. He said that he ordered that baseball pay $125,000 for Biogenesis documents from someone that identified himself as “Bobby.”... Manfred made it very clear that extraordinary efforts were made to authenticate these documents. A lot more effort, you would assume, than spent finding Bobby’s last name…

So what point of all this again?

Scott Pelley ends the report like so: “And Bud Selig has announced his retirement from the game. Part of his legacy is the establishment of the toughest anti-doping rules in all of American pro sports.”

There it is. Bud Selig, who has been commissioner over the worst drug scandal to ever hit American sports, who presided over a game that ten years ago DID NOT TEST for drugs, got 60 Minutes to put that line at the end. Part of his legacy is this glorious chapter of buying papers from Bobby, threatening and paying off Boesch and nailing Alex Rodriguez.

Then report ended and only then, if you watch the Internet videos, do you get the biggest lesson of all. You get to see who sponsored the report.

Viagra.

The District Attorney Posted: January 13, 2014 at 01:19 PM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, ped, television, yankees

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Robothal: A-Rod case a window into future labor strife for MLB

You gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the fillies.

While serious [Collective Bargaining Agreement] talks are likely more than two years away, sources say that the union already is preparing for management to pursue an aggressive, ambitious strategy… The players, to be sure, are more vulnerable than in the past — and both sides know it.

The union is under new, less experienced leadership. It seems willing to relent further on drug testing. It also is facing a management team that has set caps on domestic amateurs, international amateurs and the posting fees for Japanese players, gaining control over labor costs in virtually every area but the final frontier — major-league salaries… Now more than ever, they need to fight for due process and protect their rights…

The “injustice” of his suspension, [Alex] Rodriguez said, was “MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.’‘

Rodriguez’s concerns are extreme. The clubs might seek to convert guaranteed language to non-guaranteed in the contracts of players who are caught using PEDs, but they will never get away with abolishing guaranteed contracts. They also might seek harsher penalties than the current 50-100-lifetime formula for positive tests, but will never get away with lifetime bans for first-time offenders… The point is, there are battles ahead…

The union lost one of its greatest minds when its executive director, Michael Weiner, died of brain cancer on Nov. 21. Weiner’s replacement, Tony Clark, is the first former player to hold the position — a position once occupied by Marvin Miller and Donald Fehr.

Clark could prove a worthy successor — he is extremely intelligent, a natural leader. Kevin McGuiness, newly appointed as the union’s chief operating officer, is a 30-year veteran of the Washington D.C. lobbying scene, a “serious piece of manpower,” according to one player advocate. But few would dispute that the union, without Weiner, will be weaker initially.

Of course, the owners also will be under different leadership by the next round of labor negotiations — Commissioner Bud Selig has said he will retire when his contract expires in January 2015. The promotion of chief operating officer Rob Manfred, the owners’ longtime labor negotiator, might be the best hope for continuing the peace. A commissioner without Manfred’s background might be more inclined to flex his muscles, and what better way to do it than by taking on the union?

A storm is brewing, all right. And while it will have nothing to do with Rodriguez, it will center around two issues with which he is quite familiar.

Drugs. And money.

The District Attorney Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: alex rodriguez, ken rosenthal, labor, mlbpa, ped

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Posnanski: Time For a Hall of Fame Stand

And I say to him, “Go get ‘em, Joey.”

[Ted] Williams [‘s Hall of Fame induction] speech did not instantly grant Negro Leaguers entry into the Hall of Fame. Not even close. But it brought the subject to the surface… Over time, the Hall of Fame became a leader in celebrating Negro Leagues baseball… the Hall of Fame has done as much as anybody to keep alive the memory of the Negro Leagues, exactly what Ted Williams had asked for in 1966 (and exactly what my friend Buck O’Neil — who has a statue in the Hall of Fame — had fought for most of his life)... I bring this up… because it was a case where the Hall of Fame, though it was not easy, took the lead.

It’s time for that to happen again. It’s time for the Hall of Fame to take a stand on the Steroid Era.

Right now, the Hall of Fame is passing the buck. They are letting an unwieldy group of more than 500 baseball writers who never meet as a group sort out the Steroid Era by secret ballot. That’s no way to do things. If it had been up to the BBWAA, Satchel Paige would never have been elected to the Hall of Fame. There’s almost no chance he could have gotten 75% of the vote. Josh Gibson would have had even less chance because he never played in the Majors. Oscar Charleston? Turkey Stearnes? Smokey Joe Williams? There’s no chance 75% of the BBWAA in the 1970s would even have HEARD of them.

If the Hall had not inducted them, they would not have been inducted. The Hall would have remained as racist as baseball in the 1930s and 1940s. And it would not have been enough for them to say, “Well, we turned it over to the BBWAA and this is what they decided.” The Baseball Writers are good at some things — like electing the truly great players — but this is not an organization designed to deal with complex issues like race or PEDs. The BBWAA craves leadership. The Hall of Fame is supposed to provide it.

So far, they have not. They Hall of Fame won’t say or do ANYTHING to clarify things. And because of that, we are no closer to a a logical narrative about the Steroid Era than we were five years ago. There’s no consensus about how much steroid and PED use ACTUALLY affected power numbers (not just talk but actual study of the subject), no consensus over why steroid use should be viewed differently than amphetamines or other drugs, no consensus about the role the people who run baseball played in the era, no consensus about anything really.

No consensus and no consistency. Tony La Russa is unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame as a manager, one of his greatest players Mark McGwire is not. Why? People openly (or subtly) accuse players of steroid use though they never failed a test, were never involved in a public scandal and never showed up in any of the wild accusations that were thrown around. How can the Hall of Fame just sit back and let this happen to the game it represents?

It’s actually kind of disgraceful. The Hall of Fame is meant to celebrate the game, but their silence on this issue leaves baseball and the Hall open to this annual flogging of the game and some of its greatest players.

It’s time for the Hall of Fame to create a committee of experts (former players, executives, scholars, ethicists) to look into the Steroid Era, to make recommendations how the museum should proceed. They should be open to all possibilities and apply science and philosophy and logic to this issue. They should be leaders in moving the game forward. It’s time to stop sitting back while baseball writers (including yours truly) scattershoot their own particular ethical standards and argue about Barry Bonds. This is THEIR museum. It’s time for them to tell everybody what it stands for.

The District Attorney Posted: December 29, 2013 at 03:18 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, joe posnanski, ped

 

 

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