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A-Rod’s lawsuit: dropping bombs, but maybe he has a grander tactical plan

Oct 4, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT

I finally finished reading A-Rod’s lawsuit against Major League Baseball.  If you haven’t read it, go here. It may be one of those most over-the-top, Earth-scorching lawsuits I’ve ever seen. Certainly in a sports context.

It’s Alex Rodriguez attempting to put Bud Selig and Major League Baseball on trial for Collusion against free agents in the 80s, the Steroids Era — which A-Rod claims was largely authored by Bud Selig — and generally for trying to destroy Rodriguez’s career, reputation and earning potential. It did so, he claims, by paying off witnesses, leaking the details of the Biogenesis investigation to the media and singling him out as the target of a vendetta. The complaint reads like acid in places, is hilarious in others and basically attempts to put baseball on trial for everything bad it has done since Selig has been around.

But so much of that is just noise and red meat for the press. A lawsuit is only as strong as its legal claims, and it’s worth noting that the legal end to all of these allegations is pretty small: two simple legal counts for tortious interference. One in which he alleged that Major League Baseball’s actions have caused him to lose out on business and endorsement deals and another in which he alleges that Major League Baseball is trying to interfere with his contract with the Yankees.

As we noted back in March when MLB filed its tortious interference suit against Biogenesis and again when San Jose sued MLB on tortious interference grounds back in June, such claims are often hard to establish. In order to prevail, you have to show the following:

  • that you had a contract with a third party (or that prospective contracts were in the offing);
  • that the defendant knowingly induced the third party to break the contract;
  • that the defendant had an improper motive or means for doing so; and
  • that you were harmed by such actions

In the Biogenesis suit, MLB’s harm, as stated in the complaint, was laughable. In the San Jose suit, San Jose’s contracts are imaginary, not real. In this case A-Rod can make valid claim to real contracts — his Yankees contract chief among them — and harm that will result from his suspension. But what I’m struggling with is how he will establish Major League Baseball’s improper motive and means.

Even if we think MLB has overreached — which I do — MLB has been acting and continues to act in furtherance of a valid drug enforcement regime. In collecting evidence, issuing discipline and suspending players, MLB has been fulfilling its legal obligations under the CBA, so the very act of the proceedings against A-Rod are, at least on the surface, valid. Maybe they secretly harbor a vendetta, but they have total deniability of that in saying that their motive here is to police PED use by baseball players.

So then we go to means. As A-Rod’s lawyers so helpfully remind everyone at paragraph 37 of the complaint, I personally think that the way in which MLB has gone about gathering evidence is bogus. The main tool they used — the Biogenesis lawsuit — is clearly a sham, designed to get documents and not actually redress injury.  But that’s just my view. The court handling that case has validated the suit by refusing to dismiss it and by continuing to let major league baseball collect evidence and depose people. I think the court was wrong to do so, but it’ll be hard for A-Rod to get this court to rule that an active lawsuit is a tortious act in and of itself.

So then we get to the leaks. Again, I think there have been all kinds of loose lips in this case, but how will A-Rod establish that Major League Baseball has violated the confidentiality provisions of the CBA and JDA? Calling reporters to the stand and having them explain who at MLB told them what? We’ve seen that kind of drama before. Reporters will not burn their sources. And even if they did, are we really so naive as to think that only MLB has leaked things? I think we can confidently say that lots of different parties with lots of different agendas have leaked things. As such, it’d be hard for A-Rod to get a lot of traction here.

A final hurdle — although it may very well be a threshold issue in this case — is whether a court should actually hear this case in the first place. The JDA and CBA say that disputes between Major League Baseball and players should take place in arbitration. Obviously this suit is A-Rod’s way of saying that he no longer has to do that because MLB, in his view, has misbehaved. But a court may not buy that and may refuse to hear the case, saying it’s a matter of arbitration. If that happens, the lawsuit ends before it begins and A-Rod is back in the arbitration room every day.

What’s more — and this could loom pretty significantly — the players union itself, who is A-Rod’s nominal defense in the arbitration, has a vested interest in protecting the integrity of the arbitration process. The MLBPA, therefore, may feel obligated to break with A-Rod now and tell this court it shouldn’t hear the case because the arbitration must be respected. This would be a very big deal.

Which — now that I think about it — could be A-Rod’s plan. Well, his plan in addition to simply excoriating Bud Selig and Major League Baseball in as loud a voice as possible. The plan is this: Force his union representation to take a stand against him. That, in turn, blows up the arbitration which cannot go on if the union and league are now on the same side of a critical issue. With the arbitration in limbo, A-Rod and MLB are back to square one, A-Rod is eligible to play and there is no basis for denying him his paychecks. If such a thing were to happen, MLB may not want to proceed with a new arbitration. It may try to reach out to make a deal.

All of that is wild speculation, of course. But this is a wild case. And with it the Biogenesis matter, which we thought was nearing its end, may still have many twists and turns before its final resolution.

  1. bgrillz - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    N-U-T-S….he is purely bananas. He’s a sociopath, and a narcissist. What a train wreck!

    • danrizzle - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      That’s a very disgusting comment.

      • ilovegspot - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        He kisses mirrors. Google, there are pictures. Does it get any more weird than that? FKN Freak!

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      He is a guy who doesn’t want some lackey for MLB owners (Bud) arbitrarily cancelling tens of millions of dollars of his guaranteed salary, and lots more dollars of endorsements and advertising.

    • jbo29j - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Ya he kissed a mirror. Of course it was for a photo shoot but let’s just ignore that.

  2. skids003 - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    If he has a “grander tactical plan,” you can bet someone besides him thought it through. He’s looking for a deal to finish his career and break the HR record. Guy is a nut.

    • historiophiliac - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      You mean “centaur.”

      • ilovegspot - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM

        mirror kissing centaur….

  3. gloccamorra - Oct 4, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Part of a diversionary tactic, as part of a grand plan, has to assume it’ll work, doesn’t it? Based on this, I’m ready to assume A-Rod took as much care in choosing his lawyers as he did choosing his “suppliers”.

    • billybawl - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Actually, the law firms he hired include some well known “big law” firms. Not my cousin Vinny types at all. At the very least, these are law firms that don’t subscribe to the “bad publicity is good publicity” model.

      • dlf9 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        Yeah, both Reed Smith and Gordon & Rees are AmLaw100 firms not known for frivolous cases … even if this one may be one if the real goal is winning the newly filed case rather than some tangential issue.

      • racksie - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        No they subscribe to the ” It’s a thousand dollars an hour and we will spends thousands of man hours on this case” philosophy. In other words, they will take the case case because he can afford to pay them.

  4. dlf9 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    In collecting evidence, issuing discipline and suspending players, MLB has been fulfilling its legal obligations under the CBA, so the very act of the proceedings against A-Rod are, at least on the surface, valid.

    The complaint alleges that the defendants continued to try to gather evidence after the suspension was handed down. As a general rule in labor arbitration, after acquired evidence cannot be used to support a disciplinary determination. Of course this is a pretty minor point in an overwrought complaint, but (ignoring the substantive arbitrability questions Craig correctly notes) this seems to point to actions by the defendants that have little to do with investigation or imposition of discipline.

    • billybawl - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      Many labor arbitrators will exclude such evidence, but some will use it to limit damages, aka “well he would have been terminated on this date anyway based on later acquired evidence.” Also, MLB had evidence before they handed down the discipline. But they could try to use after-acquired evidence to rebut claims raised by A-Rod’s defense. It also would tend to pin down potential witnesses so they aren’t influenced by A-Rod’s defense team.

      • dlf9 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        I’ve been reading through Fred Horowitz’s published cases; I haven’t seen any where he has used after acquired evidence in this fashion. It also seems to me that the position you describe is a minority position as the discipline generally has to stand or fall based on what was known to the decision maker at the time of the imposition of discipline.

  5. dlf9 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Pure acid having no purpose in the complaint:

    “Mr. Mullin’s actions should come as no surprise as- despite his role as an
    investigator for MLB in this matter- he engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship
    with a witness whom he himself interviewed about the Biogenesis matter.” §52 of the complaint

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Am I the only one who envisioned Mike Ehrmantrout from Breaking Bad when they describe MLB’s “investigators?”

  6. billybawl - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Regarding his Yankees’ contract, seems that would be covered by the CBA and the claim for tortious interference would be preempted by federal labor law. Translated: it gets tossed because the issues would be part of the arbitration.

    But the lawsuit isn’t about merits — it’s about leverage, PR, etc.

    • dlf9 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      Even if it isn’t covered by the CBA (I agree that it is) and even if it isn’t preemempted by federal labor law (I suspect it isn’t), the part about the Yankees contract is purely speculative as there can be no Tortious Interference claim without actual rather than anticipated damages. Yep, this part goes out on 12b6.

      • anxovies - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        It will survive a motion to dismiss because it states a claim for tortious interference and the allegations in the complaint must be considered as true for the purposes of the motion. The CBA has nothing to do with his endorsement agreements with Nike, etc. As far as his contract with the Yankees, only the team and ARod have privity unless MLB signs as a party. Even then, a party to a contract may interfere with agreements between other parties.

  7. chip56 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Craig,

    Alex is going to drop this as soon as it is pointed out to him that by going forward with this lawsuit he’s giving MLB an opportunity to actually put everything they have about him out in public.

    They’ve been using that hammer against him since Tacopina made the dumb decision to go around talking about how he would love to waive the confidentiality clause if only MLB would let him, at which point MLB said, “sure, put your stuff out there, we’ll put our stuff out there and see where we stand.” Speaking of, I wonder if he’s had time to read that letter yet.

    • lazlosother - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      His lawyers would have already told him. A-Rod’s rep can’t get much worse. I think his motives are to make the worm pay, and to possibly exert leverage on MLB to deal, so that an ugly discovery process may be avoided.

      • chip56 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        If his motive is to try and scare MLB into a deal then he’s even more delusional than if his motivation is to try and “clear his good name.”

        MLB isn’t going to be scared by this suit. Again, all it does is give them what they want most; the opportunity to put all of the evidence they have against Alex out in the open. It’s actually worse for Alex to bring the suit than it is to just go forward with the arbitration process. In arbitration, theoretically, all of MLB’s evidence against him still remains confidential. In a lawsuit he has no such luxury.

      • lazlosother - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        I think the info on Alex will come out anyway, and at this point it doesn’t matter, he’s the MLB Anti-Christ. There are too many shady characters here (Bosch) and someone will talk. MLB however, may not want all the shady crap they did to come to light. then again, they may not care. It should be noted that MLB offered to provide what they have on Alex, not how they got it.

        It’s a long shot for Alex but he can only lose his attorney fees. I can’t think of why else he would do it. His legal team is not made up of people who would be described as delusional.

  8. chiadam - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Can’t MLB just suspend him pending the outcome of the trial, and then drag it out as long as possible?

    • rbj1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      No, there’d be a motion to suspend any punishment until after the verdict. Which most likely the judge would agree to and enjoin MLB from a suspension.

      • chiadam - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        hmmmm….easier to drop a piano on his head.

    • chip56 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      He’s already suspended pending the outcome of the appeal – if the appeal is suspended there’s not mechanism in place to initiate the suspension immediately except for Best Interests of the Game which doesn’t apply.

  9. pnw51 - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – Rule 12(b)(6): Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted

    So what if A-Rod drops all of these bombs from the past, an affirmative defense is the above, he has needs to state a claim for which relief can be granted. I would think all the stuff from the 1980s has had the statute of limitations run out already…

    • anxovies - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      He’s not suing for what happened in the 80s, he’s suing for interference with existing and prospective contracts.

  10. 2jivecrew - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    A-Rod wasn’t even playing in MLB in the 80′s. Sounds like a lot of smoke & mrrors to distract from his guilt.

    • chip56 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      His lawyers are racking up billable hours – that’s all this is.

  11. raysfan1 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Nice job MLB scheduling the arbitration during the playoffs. There is actual, live baseball going on right now, but it is being dwarfed by Rodriguez and his legal wrangling. Yes, this suit being filed is on his legal team, but it has been widely speculated that it would happen after the arbitration hearing, and the timing of the hearing is MLB’s.

    • chip56 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      They opened the hearing last week but it won’t continue (after today) until November.

  12. chip56 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    My guess is that sometime this winter Alex will also resign from the players’ association (ala Barry Bonds) and file suit against them alleging collusion with MLB.

  13. garlicfriesandbaseball - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Reblogged this on Garlicfriesandbaseball's Blog and commented:
    GFBB Comment: Gee whiz ~ so much good info out there this morning. If you get a chance to read this article about Alex Rodriquez’s lawsuit, please do. It will be worth your time. Of particular interest is Calcaterra’s take on the possible reason A-Rod is REALLY filing the lawsuit and it involves the players union and arbitration. The article gives us a link to the actual lawsuit in its entirety and if you download it to your Kindle it will help you kill time as you’re sitting in traffic or waiting at the doctor’s office. Just saying …..

  14. spursareold - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Dumb. Now MLB can file discovery on his “interview” with the feds, and possibly add to his suspension if what he told them doesn’t match what he told MLB. They had no grounds before, but now they do, since he’s suing them.

    You have to learn to quit while you’re ahead, but you REALLY need to learn to learn to quit digging when you find yourself in a hole.

  15. happytwinsfan - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    i’m personally agnostic as to which side is right or wrong here, but reading the lawsuit i’m wondering how does that piece of hyberbolic crap pass as a legal document. it reads more like a pro A Rod fan rant then a legal document. it actually recites some of his carreer stats,as if the fact that he’s only six homeruns behind willie mays is of legal relevance to anything.

    if it doesn’t make the judge puke, i’m worried about our legal system.

    • stevem7 - Oct 4, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      I think you better be worried about our legal system because it was this same type of crapola, filed in a Florida courthouse that was just as full of hyberbolic crap that is the basis of this entire case. So you can’t excoriate one without doing it to the other.

      • righthandofjustice - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:02 PM

        Told you the biggest scandal in MLB was about to be revealed months ago. Told you A-Rod wouldn’t hire criminal lawyers for a JDA hearing or just a civil defamation lawsuit. Told you “some organization(s)” are going to be sued beyond redemption.

        OK, now Selig has to face at least 2 collusion charges, one against San Jose and one against A-Rod. Stay tuned for more victims who want a piece of Selig for a long, long time.

      • happytwinsfan - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        You’re right. but truth is i’m not worried i’m disgusted. don’t kill the ump, kill the judge!

    • righthandofjustice - Oct 4, 2013 at 6:08 PM

      An A-bomb from A-Rod!

      The media and their unethical reporters/writers will be next to get the lawyer letters if they can’t reveal those “anonymous sources” who kept talking trash.

  16. righthandofjustice - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    You want to know A-Rod’s grander tactics, right? Here is one of them:

    “7.MLB thus is trampling Mr.Rodriguez’s collectively-bargained rights- and, indeed, those of EVERY PLAYER in the league. The time has come for this egregious misconduct to stop, so current and future players may know that MLB cannot and will not commit willful torts against them, and otherwise trample their rights with impunity.”

    So is it a coincidence Pujols filed a lawsuit against Jack Clark on the same day? Is is a coincidence A-Rod’s cousin filed a writ to throw out MLB’s communist rules? Is it a coincidence MLB has to come out of nowhere to make a press release to announce Miguel Tejada was indeed not involved in Biogenesis case? Is it a coincidence Nelson Cruz said not to appeal was not his own decision?

  17. joestemme - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    F@#K A-Roid.

  18. anxovies - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Craig, I agree that the complaint is overwrought, but I think he has a case. There was way too much information put out there that violates the confidentiality provisions of the JDA and CBA. I am not as confident as you are that the journalists involved will be able to protect their sources. And frankly, I don’t think that some of them have the integrity to go to jail to avoid doing so.

    • righthandofjustice - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      It is more than a civil violation. It is a federal crime once when the government intercept this case.

  19. banggbiskit - Oct 4, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    Its pretty obvious that Great players such as Clemens, Bonds and A Rod have been “singled out” more so than people who used PED’s just as much, but werent nearly as good. So, we have to ask ourselves, is it only cheating if you’re really good? Or, can a player who is a borderline AAA/MLB player, take PEDs’ to get him from AAA to the ‘show”?

  20. go4two - Oct 5, 2013 at 6:32 AM

    Yawn !

  21. runthebases - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Seems to me, if A-Hole like lawsuits so much, he should be on the receiving end of one. Get everyone who attended Yankees games during his tenure and have them sue him for fraud. I’m sure there’s some sleazy lawyer that would spearhead a class action.

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