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Read the letter Major League Baseball shouldn’t have sent to A-Rod’s attorney

Aug 19, 2013, 2:45 PM EDT

Rob Manfred

This morning on the Today Show, Alex Rodriguez‘s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, reiterated his stance that he would “love nothing more” than to discuss the case against Alex Rodriguez, but can’t do so due to the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. He was then presented with a letter from Major League Baseball which offered to waive the confidentiality provisions. It made for some awkward moments for Tacopina and some fun TV at least.

The Wall Street Journal has a copy of the letter and reproduces it here. It’s from MLB’s Rob Manfred and it’s just as confrontational in prose as it was in its use on the Today Show. And having read it, I am even more of the view that Major League Baseball is being roped into a P.R. battle that it doesn’t need and probably shouldn’t want.

The only purpose of Manfred’s letter is to try to score some points on Tacopina and, by extension, Rodriguez, in the wake of Tacopina’s media offensive. That it came from Manfred and not legal counsel — which MLB should be using in its case against Rodriguez — is evidence of that.  It strikes me as a letter Manfred himself dashed off or dictated with a cackle. And he certainly got his intended response on TV today.

But what does this get the league? For as loud as it has been, A-Rod and Tacopina’s offensive hasn’t changed many minds. And it doesn’t change the evidence. And by delving into the fray like this, putting the Confidentiality provision in play, one wonders if it doesn’t potentially weaken claims MLB may have against A-Rod in the arbitration about his own efforts to publicize or leak information that should otherwise be confidential. Might Tacopina use this letter to argue that MLB doesn’t care about those rights? That it has waived them or is, at the very least, selective as to when it believes they are relevant?

It’s not much, but it’s more than a fighter like Tacopina needs to grab onto and start punching. And it’s just going to add to the circus and the mess which MLB seemed to so want to avoid when it set out to discipline the Biogenesis players.

Most lawyers would counsel their clients to avoid this sort of bomb-throwing. Is anyone counseling Major League Baseball to do that?

  1. jeffbbf - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Or maybe…just maybe…MLB has nothing to hide. It’s possible.

    • dnc6 - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      You would think people with nothing to hide aren’t paying off drug dealers.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        Payoffs are all about concealing information. (Which is what Alex Rodriguez is accused of attempting to do.) MLB bribed drug dealers to acquire information. There’s a difference.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        If their best defense is that they only bribed the drug dealer, MLB may have some credibility issues. I still think MLB has overplayed its hand to the point where ARod may have a decent lawsuit against them once this is all over. MLB’s leaks of damaging information has certainly harmed his reputation, and their continued confrontational style in all of this could eventually lead folks to believe there was malicious intent to all of the leaks.

        In the meantime, MLB should certainly save any additional bombshells for the arbitration or other court proceedings.

      • jwbiii - Aug 19, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        And being able to prove a pattern of malicious intent could prove quite expensive for MLB and the Yankees.

    • fanofevilempire - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:26 PM

      It’s also possible they don’t have shit and from their stupidity they have displayed
      I believe the case will be won by his Lawyers.

  2. dondada10 - Aug 19, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    And who’s going to win this P.R. war? A-Rod’s lawyers, by a mile. They’re playing him like a puppet in an effort to milk him dry. He probably could have gotten off easy with a 100 game suspension. He was petulant about it, probably because his lawyers were telling him to be in their own best interest.

    • fanofevilempire - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      How do you even know what you are saying is true, just because you type them and
      hit post doesn’t make it true.

  3. chiadam - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Next they will argue over whose dad can beat up the other’s dad.

  4. weaselpuppy - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Annnnnd this is why our society is so litigious (because it is set up to be that way by the legal industry/judiciary). People with law degrees anal-yze every stinking nuance of every syllable to the point of tortured logic and monetary exhaustion.

    Lest you think I am just lawyer bashing, I’ll present a recent example. A just released decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals proves this point better than my rhetoric.

    US vs Gary Ermoian No. 11-10124, has been adjudicated and found that because the word “proceeding” was incorrectly interpreted by the lower court, the case is reversed and won’t be re-tried. Long story short, a Sheriff’s deputy in central CA calls his PI buddy, leaking that a FBI raid is coming down on a motorcycle gang shamming as a mechanics/chop shop, and said PI calls his buddy the leader of the gang/shop to “clean up” his inventory as the FBI is on their way (yes I know, this sounds like an episode of Sons of Anarchy, weird how life and art imitate each other). And of course the leader’s phone was tapped, so it all rolls back on the leakers and everyone gets busted.

    Predictably, the law team for the defendants microscopically analyze the documentation and find the word “proceeding”…and through tortured logic, in the appeals process, make it their main focus. You can read the whole case if you like, but in the end, we have judges quoting Webster’s and case law to determine that the prosecutors should have used the word “investigation” instead of “proceeding”, and thus everyone goes free.

    Dirty cop, dirty PI, motorcycle gang and all their activities OK, public screwed. Why? Because THEY SAID SO.

    Pathetic. Same here….instead of producing salient content, we get musings about over-anlayzation and implications because that’s how we train the legal profession…

    • chiadam - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      I was just going to say that.

    • herkulease - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      That case only dealt with an obstruction of justice charge on Ermoian and a co-defendant.

      It doesn’t even touch the motorcycle club/gang members who were charge with something entirely different. They make no judgement saying its ok or otherwise. They only mention the gang activity merely for history and context.

      By the way,those guys end up pleading out and served jail time. Others non gang members who were charged were acquitted by jury.

      http://www.modbee.com/2013/08/14/2863488/federal-appeals-court-overturns.html

      • dadawg77 - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        It really wasn’t a “microscopically analyze” work as they were charge with obstructing justice by obstruction a federal proceeding. Thus a real need to define what a federal proceeding is. Since a FBI investigation was ruled not to fall within the strict legal definition of the word, they couldn’t be convicted of the crime.

    • emoser - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Your rambling summary of that case seems to go into detail on everything except for how the definition of “proceeding” was relevant. Wasn’t that your whole point?

  5. clarenceoveur - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    A-Rod’s lawyer asks to wave confidentiality, MLB says “fine” and then A-Rods lawyer doesn’t take him up on it. And now he’s going to spin that to A-Rod’s advantage how? By blaming MLB for offering him exactly what he asked for?

    Maybe you’re right though, this sort of logic worked for Sideshow Bob when he ran for mayor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vey7GKNpl4Q

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

      Not saying it’s to his advantage. Saying there is no upside to it for MLB and some downside to it. And if you don’t think stuff like this sometimes comes back to bite the people in MLB’s situation, you’re nuts.

      • cameron poe - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        Craig I feel like you are completely glossing over the fact that this lawyer was presented with what is essentially new material on live TV this morning. What was he supposed to do? Irrationally lose it and sign away just to prove a point, all the while throwing the client under the bus? Come, on. This is a ridiculous way of thinking. You and I both know any lawyer worth his salt would not sign something he had not thoroughly read and examined. The only lawyers that sign things without reading or examining them work in DC and we all know how that is working out for their clients (the American people).

        It took you what 6 hours between your posts to read this article and come to a conclusion on it? And this lawyer was expected to make a decision on live tv this morning, spur of the moment? Ridiculous.

        All these articles about the lawyer getting burned and what not are just silly. He did his job. He had a plan of what they were supposed to talk about on air this morning and he stuck to that plan. He didnt get burned. He simply asked Lauer if Lauer would allow him to read it before commenting. A concession Lauer was not willing to make.

        So in the end what really happened was a hack journalist striving for more ratings because his public image is going straight down the drain due to very public disputes with coworkers and a television station that can not keep a show on for an entire season (which I may point out owns this site) tried a cheap tactic. Now I dont expect you to go AWOL Craig and get all crazy about this. But you are toeing the company line mighty tight right now. Come one. Give us some real unbiased journalism and condemn the Lauer thing for what it was (a cheap trick heavily lacking in journalistic integrity) and let’s move on.

        No one is defending ARods actions. But the smarmier the tactic to catch him the less smarmy he looks in comparison.

      • clarenceoveur - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        There is probably no upside other than a “gotcha” moment….but A-Rod’s lawyer really shouldn’t have been blindsided seeing as the Yankees already said they want everything out in public.

        But whatever. I do disagree that there’s any real downside, they’re didn’t make the confidentiality offer in a vacuum, it was in response to them basically saying “I’d really love to get this info out there, but I can’t”. There’s no jury pool out there that’s getting effected and there’s no judge taking umbrage to it.

    • peymax1693 - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      I agree with Craig. If MLB’s case against A-Rod is as strong as claimed, there is no reason to get bogged down in a PR battle. By personally responding, Manfred does nothing to strengthen MLB’s case while simultaneously feeding into A-Rod’s narrative that MLB has a personal vendetta against him and that it subjected him to disparate treatment.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      He didn’t really ask to waive confidentiality. He said they would love to discuss it but they can’t because of the confidentiality provision. So while MLB got to feel smug for three seconds (and Lauer too, but that is no accomplishment) there are two things wrong with that idea. One, perhaps the confidentiality provision has merit beyond MLB looking to enforce it. It is in there for many reasons, and not only for the protection of MLB. Two, does MLB have the authority to waive rights granted in a collectively bargained agreement? The JDA is not some contract ARod signed with MLB: it was the result of hours of negotiation between the MLBPA, of which ARod is a member, and MLB. Without the MLBPA also agreeing to waive rights contained in the agreement, I think MLB was overstepping its bounds (yet again) by making such an offer.

  6. klbader - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    I agree that A-Rod’s attorney is changing any minds with trying to fight his case in the media. His main tactic is that, if he could talk about all the evidence, then it would be clear that A-Rod didn’t violate the JDA. But now he can’t say that.

    I think it also takes away the spin that A-Rod and his attorney were planning to put on this thing once the arbitration happens and A-Rod is still suspended (even if not for 211 games). They would have proclaimed A-Rod’s innocence, said that there was a flaw in the system, or the process. Now they can’t do that anymore.

    And I wonder, since I don’t think they can try to spin this thing anymore, might they be more inclined to drop the appeal or settle with MLB.

  7. myhawks1976 - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    or Maybe, just maybe Craig, MLB wants each side to lay its cards on the table. you know, so people like yourself who have speculated to no end what they have and what is appropriate can finally shaddup!

    just a thought…..

    • raysfan1 - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      That will happen at the arbitration anyway. Best for MLB to be tight lipped until then.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:30 PM

        ^^This. And MLB should know better.

  8. jm91rs - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    A lot of people think MLB has a hard on for getting A-Rod here. If they can release what they have I think they hope people will say “wow, they’re not just trying to make an example out of him, Alex really might be the devil”.

    I think PR wise most people are on MLB’s side, but those that think this is a witch hunt might be swayed if they see stacks of evidence. I personally don’t care, I enjoy following this drama.

  9. El Bravo - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I like this letter. I’m tired of this so-called confidentiality with respect to ARod. It has been bogus the entire time anyway.

  10. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 19, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Basically, MLB wants to discuss prior violations of the JDA. (Meaning there are prior violations, and MLB is also attempting to poison the well) Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer wants to limit the conversation to this particular charge. (That way they can avoid the appearance that Alex Rogriguez’s actions were part of a regular, ongoing violation.)

  11. Old Gator - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Oh, this just keeps on getting betterer and betterer. I shore does wish I wuz interessid.

  12. amhendrick - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    I think MLB sent the letter because they would also “love nothing more than to sit here and be able to talk about Alex’s testing results and MLB allegations and MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis as it relates to Alex and specific dates and specific tests.”

  13. righthandofjustice - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    It means nothing but MLB is just trying to seek public attention to intervene with the appeal process, a real detriment to a fair healing.

    Seeking the rights to publish the documents AFTER the healing is the right thing.

    • coloradogolfcoupons - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      @righthandofjustice :

      “It means nothing but MLB is just trying to seek public attention to intervene with the appeal process, a real detriment to a fair healing.

      Seeking the rights to publish the documents AFTER the healing is the right thing.”

      What ‘healing’ are you talking about, twice? His hip? His battered ego, pride, and reputation? His bacne and shrunken testicles?

      Or maybe you meant ‘hearing’? Well, NEVERMIND!

      • righthandofjustice - Aug 19, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        Anytime when trolling gets on spelling on this cyber world you know somebody is desperate.

        TL;DR

        XOXOXO

  14. northstarsmitty - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    This all makes no sense to me. I won’t even take the time to dig into this to learn more, because it is a waste of all our time. This is an image of what is wrong with baseball. The NFL wouldn’t do this. Baseball often has a behind closed doors approach but then there are times like these where they clearly want the public to assist with their opinion. I can’t even explain myself right, but it just seems clear that baseball goes back and forth a lot with thier authority and structure, creating a disorganized, unreliable league office perception

  15. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    MLB thinks they are Bobby Flay now. Who thought ARod would be the second biggest attention whore in all of this. Nicely done, Bud & Co.

  16. stevem7 - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Since the CBA and JDA are both agreements between MLB and MLBPA the two parties involved are not empowered to waive the confidentiality agreement. Manfred did not sign the letter “BY DIRECTION” which would indicate he is empowered to sign for MLB. Conversely, AROD and his attorneys are not empowered by the union to waive bargained rights. The TODAY show was nothing more than a media circus and should be views as very suspect as how did Manfred know where to send anything of that nature? No, this was a setup all the way and just shows the lengths to which MLB is willing to go to try and sell the fact that they are out to get Rodriguez.

    More than that, this is an attempt by MLB to try and get the JDA waived because under Section 7L of that agreement, MLB is not allowed to go for multiple violations because it failed to notify Rodriguez of the first violation before attempting to impose discipline for any 2nd and ensuing violations and they know it. So it’s more dirty, underhanded tactics by MLB.

    • coloradogolfcoupons - Aug 19, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      I really think they have TOO much evidence against Arod, including Arod hiring a defense lawyer for Bosch. If they have all this crap, there is no need for a 211 game suspension. Selig should have used his “Best interests of the game of baseball” powers and banned him for life right on the spot….no playing while suspended. If they have evidence like they claim that he used for many years, recruited players for the clinic, tried to bribe witnesses, all everything so far insinuated and leaked…this charade could have been prevented, and fought in the courts without the media circus following the Yankees around. But I guess Bud loves the attention in his penultimate year to drag all the way to the end of his term so he can improve his legacy. I wish they would have a pay-per-view legal debate with both hooked up to a lie detector, and each asked questions by the opposing counsel. I would pay to watch that on live TV

  17. righthandofjustice - Aug 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    This unprecedented move also backfired on the MLB as it can’t be more obvious that A-Rod is “the Pink elephant in the room”.

    Unfortunately to MLB, it scored negative legal points.

  18. missingdiz - Aug 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    I can’t believe I let myself get hooked into this thing again. Oh well, now that I’m here, I doubt MLB could win in an actual court of law. Bosch is too dirty. And so much has been stirred up so publicly, they’d have to hear the case in N. Korea to keep it fair. Maybe arbitration is a lot different, I don’t know. But I would think that if MLB was confident that it was going to win in arbitration, it would just be quiet and wait for it. I think they overplayed their hand. A-rod has nothing to lose by fighting back.

    • righthandofjustice - Aug 19, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      Arbitration is different than a trial in federal court. However, if A-Rod makes good on his promise to take it to the People if he gets suspended for 1 game (or 1 inning as his lawyer said), MLB will be liable for all kinds of damages. Retaliation is so obvious even a blind civilian can see and this is just the beginning of the charges.

  19. rayburns - Aug 19, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    I think this was MLB’s ‘Cashman’ moment…

  20. misterj167 - Aug 19, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Frankly I think all the parties involved are pretty much scumbags, but my opinion remains unchanged. The owners and the players made an agreement determining what the punishment was for cheating players. MLB is trying to go around that with the huge suspension.

    They’re coming down on A-Rod, who nobody (including me) really likes because, well, nobody (including me) likes him and they figure they can get away with it. And of course the losers are the fans who are just sick of this BS, and not just the ones who have a knee-jerk anti-player reaction.

  21. mrpinkca - Aug 19, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    I didn’t read this article–but the headline seems to imply that Major League Baseball has not handled this entire Biogenesis issue perfectly, and I simply can’t believe that would be the case.

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