Mar 22, 2013, 7:44 AM EDT
And should probably cause the lawyers who file it to be slapped with sanctions, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
In case you missed it, the backstory here is that Major League Baseball plans to sue Biogenesis today in an effort to obtain the documents it has thus far been unable to obtain and which it needs to punish ballplayers like Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez for taking performance enhancing drugs.
There are, however, a few slight problems with this strategy. The largest being that this is a transparent and cynical attempt by Major League Baseball to obtain documents to discipline its employees, not an attempt to vindicate an actual legal injury, and courts do not like to be used in such a fashion.
Baseball has loudly lamented that it (a) has no way of getting the Biogenesis documents; and thus (b) has no way of punishing the ballplayers named in the documents. For them to now, suddenly, tell a judge that this is really about redressing some legal injury it suffered at the hands of this little clinic is laughable in the extreme. If someone had handed them a box of documents last week they would have never considered suing Biogenesis. They are now suing with the sole intent of getting documents. Which is problematic because the purpose of the legal system is to redress legal injury, not to be used as a cudgel in some employment dispute involving non-parties to the lawsuit or to help sports leagues with their public relations problems.
Baseball’s lawyers probably realize this, so they will not be so dumb as to put the real purpose of the lawsuit in the complaint. They will assert some legal claim in the suit — maybe tortious interference with a business relationship? — and claim they were damaged. Indeed, an expert cited in the New York Times story about all of this lays out how that might look:
“If I sold drugs to a baseball player, the league might say it damaged the good will of the league and its ability to make money and prosper,” Eckhaus said. “That’s probably a good claim.”
This would be a fun deposition:
Defense lawyer: Mr. Selig, your claim asserts that baseball has not been able to make money and prosper as a result of performance enhancing drugs like those alleged to have been given to your players by my client, yes?
Selig: Yes sir!
Defense lawyer: Can you tell me, Mr. Selig, how baseball’s revenues, profits, attendance, TV ratings and popularity have been negatively impacted as performance enhancing drugs?
Defense lawyer: Mr. Selig, you’d agree with me, wouldn’t you, that since the mid-1990s through the present day, baseball has had unprecedented financial success, yes?
Defense lawyer: And that this period, often called The Steroid Era, is when performance enhancing drugs proliferated?
Defense lawyer: And that now baseball is experiencing a mind-boggling windfall due to television dollars and exploding franchise values?
Selig: … well, um, that may be true. But Mr. Lupica is really, really upset.
It’s total nonsense to suggest financial damage here. If baseball asserts in its complaint that it has suffered financial damage due to the actions of Biogenesis it is lying. If it does not assert financial damage the complaint will be thrown out for failing to state a legal claim.
And it may be total nonsense for Major League Baseball to articulate a theory of recovery even if some damages claim can be cobbled together. I no longer have access to my magic legal research resources, but I’d be rather surprised if there is any kind of rich case history in which companies have been allowed to sue drug dealers for selling to its employees. Employees are not the company’s property. They have no standing to assert such claims. Baseball would have a better claim against the NFL for damaging its brand than it would have against Anthony Bosch. The Beatles would have just as good a claim against Yoko Ono for breaking them up than Selig would have against Biogenesis.
Baseball is having a highly-publicized, real time temper tantrum. It has been impotent in its attempts to obtain the Biogenesis documents and it casting about for any way to obtain them. That it is now looking to waste scarce legal resources in an ill-conceived lawsuit to do what it has been unable to do otherwise is every bit as shameful as it is unlikely to succeed. If they get a bored judge who doesn’t care about such things maybe this has some legs for a while. If they get a judge like most judges I’ve ever known — ones who do not abide nonsense like this — they could very well find their lawsuit dismissed with a quickness and their lawyers sanctioned as a result of the frivolity of the claims they are about to assert.
But hey, there’s part of me which actually wants this thing to go forward. Because if baseball is going to disingenuously claim that it has suffered financial damages as a result of all of this, it will have to turn over financial documents to prove that such damages exist. Tell me: when was the last time baseball was eager to do that?
May 18, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT
With Johnny Cueto slated to return from a lat strain on Monday, the Reds have optioned left-hander Tony Cingrani back to Triple-A Louisville. Neftali Solo has been called up to take his place on the active roster. Cingrani was pretty impressive during his first stint in the majors, posting a 3.27 ERA and 41/9 K/BB…
May 18, 2013, 2:02 PM EDT
Nolan Reimold hasn’t played in a game in a week and now the Orioles have placed him on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain. Reimold has been nursing a hamstring issue since the first week of the season, but he has remained on the active roster until now. However, it’s likely a big…
May 18, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
The Yankees designated infielder Alberto Gonzalez for assignment this afternoon in order to make room for the newly-acquired Reid Brignac. Some thought that Ben Francisco‘s roster spot could be in jeopardy, as he’s hitting just .114 (5-for-44) in 21 games, but Yankees general manager Brian Cashman joked to reporters today that he’s keeping him around…
May 18, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
Matt Garza has been cleared to return from the disabled list and will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, according to CSNChicago.com. Garza didn’t throw a pitch after July 21 last season due to a stress reaction in his elbow and was forced to begin this season on the disabled list due to…
May 18, 2013, 11:50 AM EDT
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees have acquired infielder Reid Brignac from the Rockies. Colorado will receive cash considerations in return. Brignac was designated for assignment by the Rockies on Thursday after he batted .250/.294/.375 with one home run, six RBI and a .669 OPS in 53 plate appearances this season. Originally drafted…
May 18, 2013, 11:27 AM EDT
Curtis Granderson was moved to left field when he returned from the disabled list this week, but he’ll make his first career start in right field this afternoon against the Blue Jays. According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Granderson was “fine” with the latest move when they discussed…
May 18, 2013, 10:59 AM EDT
It turns out that Diamondbacks reliever Heath Bell made his return to Marlins Park on Thursday night, not for last night’s series opener. According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Bell said that he took in Thursday’s Reds-Marlins game from the stands. The D-backs arrived in Miami in the wee hours Thursday morning and Bell took…
May 18, 2013, 10:35 AM EDT
The Marlins signed veteran reliever Jon Rauch to a one-year, $1 million contract over the winter, but he has been designated for assignment after making just 15 appearances with the club. Duane Below has been called up from Triple-A New Orleans to replace him on the active roster. Rauch has really struggled in the early…
May 18, 2013, 10:09 AM EDT
UPDATE: Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post this afternoon that there’s no deadline for a decision to be made on Davis’ status. 10:10 AM: Ike Davis finally broke his 0-for-24 hitless streak yesterday with a single to center field in the sixth inning, but he’s still at risk…
May 18, 2013, 9:32 AM EDT
The Astros aren’t just losing a ton of ballgames, they are losing ugly. After Edgar Gonzalez pitched himself into a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth last night against the Pirates, he induced a fairly innocent looking pop-up to shallow right field which would have sent the game into extra…
May 18, 2013, 8:58 AM EDT
After tossing a one-hit shutout against the Angels in his last start on Sunday, Chris Sale got the best of them again last night. Sale struck out a season-high 12 over 7 2/3 scoreless innings as the White Sox topped the Angels 3-0 at Angel Stadium. The 24-year-old southpaw gave up just three hits and…
May 17, 2013, 11:55 PM EDT
MLB.com Twins beat writer Rhett Bollinger spoke to Twins assistant GM Rob Antony, asking how Rich Harden’s rehab was going. Antony replied, ”Slow. Not very well to be honest with you.” The Twins signed Harden to a one-year Minor League contract in December, agreeing to pay him $1 million if he made it to the Majors.…
May 17, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
Jose Reyes is making progress on an ankle injury suffered on April 12 against the Royals. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports the shortstop had a walking boot removed and talk part in stretching prior to tonight’s game against the Yankees. Another surprising piece of news: Reyes was expected to be out until the All-Star break, but…
May 17, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
You’re probably not going to see a prettier grand slam this season, folks. With his team down 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning against Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez, Braves left fielder Justin Upton crushed a 1-1 fastball deep to left field to give the Braves a 6-4 lead. ESPN Stats & Info reported…
May 17, 2013, 10:25 PM EDT
Phillies third base coach Ryne Sandberg is expected to be the next Phillies manager if and when the Charlie Manuel era ends. Sandberg started his playing career with the Phillies but went to the Cubs in the infamous Ivan de Jesus trade in 1982, arguably one of the worst trades in baseball history. With the…
May 17, 2013, 9:55 PM EDT
Recently, Padres third baseman Chase Headley said he won’t negotiate a contract extension with the team during the season. Headley is eligible for his fourth year of arbitration going into 2014, after which he would become eligible for free agency. Headley has, for a while, been one of the most bandied-about names in trade rumors,…
May 17, 2013, 9:20 PM EDT
At the end of March, the Diamondbacks unceremoniously signed first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to a five-year, $32 million contract extension. Just seven weeks later, that contract is looking like a steal. The 25-year-old entered tonight’s game with ten home runs and a 1.013 OPS, marks that not only put him near the top among first…
May 17, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT
Derek Albin at Pinstriped Bible looked at the numbers and concluded that Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki isn’t likely to be much more productive than he has been thus far in 2013. The 39-year-old has a .239/.280/.328 line in 145 trips to the plate, putting him on pace for the worst season of his career…
May 17, 2013, 8:15 PM EDT
The Pirates aren’t known as one of the more Sabermetrically-savvy teams like the Rays and Athletics, but they do have Dan Fox (formerly of Baseball Prospectus) as the director of baseball systems development. Thanks to Fox and others, the Pirates are able to use stat reports to prepare lineups and pitching match-ups with greater specificity. SB…
May 17, 2013, 7:45 PM EDT
Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says that although the Rays haven’t announced anything officially, prospect Jake Odorizzi is likely to replace the injured David Price in the starting rotation. The Rays placed their defending AL Cy Young award winner on the disabled list yesterday with a strained left triceps muscle, an injury they…
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