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The new PED evidence is sexy, but they can’t void A-Rod’s contract, and probably can’t even suspend him. Yet.

Jan 29, 2013, 9:35 AM EDT

a-rod getty wide Getty Images

UPDATE:  I missed this on my first reading of the JDA, but Section G provides for suspensions by the Commissioner for “just cause.”

A Player may be subjected to disciplinary action for just cause by the
Commissioner for any Player violation of Section 2 above not referenced in Section 7.A
through 7.F above.

The question, then, is what constitutes “just cause.” While I think this would give MLB some justification to attempt to move, I stand by what I said below: there would be significant pushback on whether this news report is “just cause,” and A-Rod or others would fight any action based on it alone.  This will require greater evidence and information, and likely someone — be it the players or the doctors who prescribed or someone else — to put more meat on the bones of this report.

9:35 AMThe Miami New Times story implicating A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and others with a PED clinic in Miami is big news. It sheds a lot of light on PED use by major players and the overall availability of PEDs in baseball.  The pipelines like BALCO and now Biogenesis are a pretty big deal, and they’re certainly something MLB has an interest in investigating and news organizations should have an interest in reporting.

But let’s be clear about one thing: this news should not and likely will not have any direct, immediate bearing on A-Rod or any of the other players named as far as immediate discipline.

The Joint Drug Agreement (“JDA”) provides one means and one means only for suspensions: positive drug tests.  Now, those drug tests can be scheduled or random. Or they can be instituted based on “reasonable cause.” From page 12 of the JDA:

In the event that either Party has information that gives it reasonable cause
to believe that a Player has, in the previous 12-month period, engaged in the use,
possession, sale or distribution of a Performance Enhancing Substance (including
hGH) or Stimulant, the Party shall provide the other Party, either orally or in
writing, with a description of its information (“Reasonable Cause Notification”),
and the Player will be subject to an immediate urine and/or blood specimen
collection, or a program of testing, as determined by the IPA, to commence no
later than 48 hours after the Reasonable Cause Notification was provided.

Nowhere in the JDA does it provide for suspensions or any other kind of discipline based purely on non-testing evidence like reports, tips or the like.  What’s more, there is an appeal process involved where the player subject to reasonable cause testing can dispute whether there was, in fact, reasonable cause.

As this relates to A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and the others named in the report: MLB could very well demand a drug test from them within 48 hours of learning this information (and remember we don’t know whether MLB is learning this today or knew already).  That’s it.  If I’m representing those players, though, I argue strongly that a newspaper report like this is not “reasonable cause” and make an arbitrator figure that out.  That’s how it would play out.

What will not happen is MLB summarily suspending any of these players, the Yankees voiding A-Rod’s contract or anything else.  Such steps would be outside the scope of the league or the team’s power and it would result in major litigation.

Against that backdrop, if anyone — like, say, a columnist or reporter who wants to pile on A-Rod — starts beating the “void the contract” or “suspend him for life” drum in the next couple of days, they’re full of it or they’re being emotional or they’re grandstanding and no matter which of those it is, they should not be taken seriously.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Still, grandstanding is fun. And we can HOPE there’s a way out of this contract, even if there isn’t, short of him voluntarily retiring.

    And as far as the grandstanding, just wait for the “WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?!” crying…

    • Alex K - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      The “WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS” crying is my favorite kind of crying. I can’t wait for someone to explain how everyone is a bad parent and because a baseball player used illegal drugs my kid will do the same.

      • Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        If my son can make $250M playing baseball (and allow me to retire early), do whatever it takes, kid.

        /not serious
        /seriously

      • Alex K - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        So what your saying is I should start pumping my son with steroids?

      • dxtheking - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        How’s that first ballot HOF for arod working for you now Alex K. LOL

      • Alex K - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        I stand by everything I said. He is still one of the 10 best players in MLB history.

  2. jarathen - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Grandstanding is the best.

  3. pharmy - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    So how does this go again? Every time we see a PED bombshell we can expect 6 more years of BBWAA sanctimony?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      Ned, Ned Ryerson!

    • mashoaf - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:38 AM

      The older BBWAA have to die out at somepoint… and hopefully fresh blood that still write about baseball will be injected into the BBWAA.

  4. skeleteeth - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    “… I argue strongly that a newspaper report like this is not “reasonable cause” and make an arbitrator figure that out…”

    But if this legit reporting based on info gleaned from the DEA or parties involved, which MLB directly contacted themselves, wouldn’t that count as reasonable cause?

    • townballblog - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Sure, if MLB received the information from the DEA then it constitutes as reasonable cause. However, I think the Craig mentions that this information was leaked to the Miami New Times… I think the fact that we are first learning about this from a newspaper’s anonymous source and not MLB/DEA themselves could provide…..

      …..ah, never mind, just saw Craig’s update in which the commish can suspend for “just cause.” And I think they’re almost there.

  5. darthicarus - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    So Incarcerated Bob’s tweets aren’t always telling the truth?!?!?! I totally believed him that the Yankees were looking to void the contract. DAMMIT, and since I read it on the internets I thought it was true. DAY. RUINED.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      The Yankees, as he tweets, can be looking to void the contract. Doesn’t mean they will win. But they can do whatever they want and they have plenty of lawyers to look into loopholes to try to do it. Either way, just the idea that they would look into it is pretty big news, just like it was for Giambi…of course, they lost the Giambi attempt too so I agree with Craig that it’s likely going to fail.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:41 AM

        The Giambi situation was weird. The “threat” of voiding the contract made everyone act funny. It made Giambi not mention what he was “apologizing for” when he made his “confession” in front of the media, and I think the Yanks never went farther than “looking into” voiding the contract.

        Was basically game theory in action.

      • basedrum777 - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        I think they should at a minimum try to void the contract. They’d be better off even if they resign him to a more reasonable value…

  6. chacochicken - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    How is Frank Thomas going to handle this revelation?

    • sargespeak - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Frank Thomas pawn in game of life.

      • weaselpuppy - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        Awwww, Frank Thomas straight!

    • paperlions - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      By noting that everything about ARod is fake, so his numbers being fake isn’t a surprise?

      • historiophiliac - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:47 AM

        He’s not really a centaur OR a Caribbean chief??? :(

      • paperlions - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM

        May I recommend: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQao5wKCZlakeg65fI1SMlOfWv68oH3HZ6-U5DiFJ7QcHEynluo

      • chacochicken - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        Arod is more like a Unitaur than a centaur. He is one of a kind.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        Dammit, paper! I laughed so hard my boss poked her head in my cubie.

        Lemme guess: you probably have 50 of those, yes? All in brown, grey or blue? I guess I need one that says “I’m with Cacique” or something like that.

      • paperlions - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:10 PM

        Those are some pretty good guesses on color. Grey and blue are favorites, as are darker greens and earthy colors.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        Does “earthy” include ochre? Not so much?

      • paperlions - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Nope, not so much.

    • Ben - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      I’m mostly curious about the Frankie fanboys’ sanctimonious raging. Nelson Cruz was free of suspicion, until today. I’m not sure why we assume anyone is clean. Or even care, really.

  7. chomsky66 - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    Wasn’t Jordan Schafer suspended for HGH without ever failing a test?

    • chomsky66 - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Now that I read on it, he was in the minors — different circumstances.

  8. zacksdad - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    But wait, Baseball is clean now. But wait, they do testing for HGH.

    A-Fraud is up to his old tricks.

  9. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    I knew you would come through for us Craig! Thanks for the legal angle

  10. number42is1 - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    How stupid can people be that they actually believe that Arod took PEDs AFTER he was busted and when you know he was probably tested on a regular basis. I mean.. it is IMPOSSIBLE that the person keeping this book just wrote down Arods name in the place of someone else so as to hide their identity.

    • cosanostra71 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Because drug dealers’ first concern is discretion.

      • number42is1 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        No… keeping his costumers happy is. there is not a snow balls chance in hell that this is true

      • townballblog - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        A. These folks aren’t your typical drug dealers
        B. Some of these baseball players would pay a lot of money for discretion so yes, it is a concern.

    • townballblog - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      You have a valid point @number42is1. But if he would go throught eh trouble of covering up one person why not cover up all of them?

      • number42is1 - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        Listen… folks are quick to Jump on Arod as soon as ANYTHING negative is said about him. i cannot see him being SO stupid as to use PEDs again after being caught and holding a press confrence. all of a sudden a fucking NEWSPAPER puts out a reports and BOOM! THIS IS TRUTH!? give me a break. hey.. if he is guilty i will be the first one to admit i was wrong and rush the bum out of town, but i cannot see this being anything other than pure bullshit.

      • mashoaf - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:43 AM

        and why not have his cousin buy them for him…

  11. zipsports - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I do think the penalties for PED use have to be stiffer if MLB really wants to clean up the game. If I am 35 years old and my career is winding down and I have a chance to make an extra 10-15 million dollars before I retire, I would think about doping knowing that if I get caught it’s just a 50 game suspension.

    • yankeepunk3000 - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      I kind of agree but with the suspensions we have now 50 then 100 then life seem OK right now, if A-rod was suspended then he would lose 50 games of pay. Even being injured it’s the money that’s important. He would lose I think any where from 5 -8.5 million for the 50 game suspension. that’s a lot of cash, so his contract goes from the 30 million to a less monstrous 22 million or 21.5 million. The Yanks might as well ask him to take the whole year to heal up and come back next year when this blows over a bit.

  12. heyblueyoustink - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    I’m Dead Sexy, you were crap.

  13. ezthinking - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Ironic that MLB and the teams affiliated TV and radio broadcasts peddle testosterone and the like during the ball games but the ball players can’t use it.

    Usually, if these things have real legal legs, the news gets the story after the arrests, not before. The problem may be that there whitepages.com has more than 100 people in Florida named Alex Rodriguez. I’m not saying he’s clean, but a name on a page – unless its Rumpelstiltskin – is rarely enough to salt away a conviction.

    On April 13, 2012, A-Rod was tying Griffey with his 630 HR in New York. The team was there until the 19th, then they went to Bos, and then Texas. Hard to be in a clinic in FLA as the doc wanted.

    This wild goose chase will likely end as they all do, ARod convicted in the public – no legal or MLB consequences.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      Not saying he is guilty or innocent, but he could have easily flown 2 hours each way from NY to Miami either the same day or at night and then back the next morning. He could have hired a private jet to do that for him without a problem. Or he could have just pushed it back a couple days and met with the doctor on the 22nd on the off-day between Boston and Texas.

  14. FinFan68 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    I still have a hard time understanding the need to create records or documentation of illegal or questionable activities. Street dealers wouldn’t create a client ledger or provide receipts.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      It’s finances. They need a way to keep track of who has paid for what and who hasn’t.

  15. theonlynolan - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Suspend him for 100 games. Not like it’ll matter since he can serve his suspension while he’s recovering from hip surgery. Yeah, he’ll lose out on 12 million dollars or so but so what. It’s the Yankees, 12 mil’s nothing to them & A-Rod’s raked in about 400 million during his career. 12 mil’s nothing.

  16. Old Gator - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Let’s hear it for the Macondo New Times! Can you imagine how leetle we’d know about anything down here if we had to depend on the Macondo Feeshwrapper and its clueless army of zomboid Jimmy Olsens to find (almost said “sniff,” nyuknyuknyuk) out stuff like this?

  17. mazblast - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    If I’m MLB, I invoke the “reasonable cause” provision immediately. If I’m Rodriguez and I have nothing to hide, I welcome a test.

    Yeah, I know. Not gonna happen. MLB will dither, the lawyers will get involved, A-Roid will skip a cycle.

  18. kevinbnyc - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    How long before A-Rod announces he’s in the BSOHL? Clearly he must be, pumping all this crap into his body.

  19. cur68 - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    I could give a crap about ARod. It bothers me that Nelson Cruz is on that list, though. I like Nelson Cruz.

    If that list remains uncorroborated by physical evidence, eyewitness accounts, &/or multiple statements from those in a position to know then this is all just so much hot air.

  20. lardin - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    RE: the update, Thats how Manny Ramirez was suspended. From Tom Verducci’s article today
    “In 2009, for instance, Manny Ramirez entered an appeal of a test that showed an elevated level of testosterone. When an investigation of that appeal turned up a prescription from a doctor for a banned substance, Ramirez dropped his appeal and accepted the 50-game suspension. Ramirez was not banned because of the test, which technically was not entered as a positive, but because of the records of his prescription for hCG, a female fertility drug often used to kickstart testosterone production after steroid cycles.”

    Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20130129/alex-rodriguez-steroids-hgh-gio-gonzalez-yasmani-grandal-melky-cabrera/#ixzz2JNuxdQWc

  21. krispc - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    So once they suspend A-Rod it doesnt start til he comes off the DL right? Can they bring him off the DL let the 50 games tick off then put him back on so he is ready to go once fully healthly ..

  22. ermur22 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    At least now he will never be in the hall of fame

  23. mogogo1 - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Wow, has baseball ever got a mess on their hands concerning PEDs. Will any of these guys ever make the Hall of Fame? Will the voters give some guys a free pass while others are barred forever? And what criteria would a reasonable person use to differentiate between these guys? I honestly have no idea how they should proceed.

    I’m dead-set against cheaters, but it was so incredibly widespread and we’re talking about a sport where guys were openly taking amphetimines dating back to the 50s and 60s and then guys like Tim Raines were sliding headfirst in the 80s to avoid breaking their cocaine viles. This has never been a particularly pure sport.

  24. klownboy - Jan 29, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Time for my Yankees to void A-Roid’s contract. He obviously juiced again, and his play has declined.

    http://wp.me/p1gCK6-zL

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