Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Blue Jays throw one-hitter against Yankees

    Aug 30, 2014, 4:29 PM EDT

    94676dc1dc0beb29ee4c0171e07ca158 Getty Images

    Drew Hutchison and Aaron Sanchez shut down the Jacoby Ellsbury-less Yankees.

  2. Report: White Sox expected to target Victor Martinez this offseason

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Victor Martinez AP AP

    The White Sox are reportedly interested in signing Victor Martinez away from a division rival.

  3. Astros claim right-hander Samuel Deduno off waivers from the Twins

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT

    Samuel Deduno Getty Getty Images

    Deduno has split this season between the starting rotation and the bullpen, putting up a 4.60 ERA and 74/41 K/BB ratio in 92 innings over eight starts and 22 relief appearances.

  4. Bryce Harper is 15th player in MLB history to reach 50 career homers before age-22 season

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    Bryce Harper Getty Getty Images

    Bryce Harper hit one of six home runs for the Nationals last night in an 8-3 victory over the Mariners. In doing so, he joined some impressive company.

  5. The Dodgers took the shift to the extreme last night

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    dodgers shift

    And wouldn’t you know it, it worked.

  6. UPDATE: Hot-hitting Jacoby Ellsbury out Saturday with ankle injury

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT

    Jacoby Ellsbury AP AP

    Ellsbury injured his left ankle on a slide into home plate on Friday night.

  7. UPDATE: Steve Pearce considered day-to-day after MRI shows no tears in abdominal

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:36 AM EDT

    Steve Pearce AP AP

    Pearce owns a surprising .289/.354/.532 batting line with 16 home runs and 37 RBI over 85 games this season.

  8. Settling the Score: Friday’s results

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT

    Albert Pujols AP AP

    A quick recap of a busy Friday around MLB, including an AL West showdown.

  9. Hyun-Jin Ryu set to return to Dodgers’ rotation on Sunday

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Hyun-Jin Ryu Hyun-Jin Ryu

    Hyun-Jin Ryu will return to the Dodgers’ rotation on Sunday after recovering from a strained glute.

  10. Video: Eric Campbell steals home against the Phillies

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Eric Campbell, Juan Lagares Eric Campbell, Juan Lagares

    Eric Campbell stole home against the Phillies, helping the Mets improve to 12-5 against their NL East rival this season.

  11. Rangers tie a major league record, use their 59th player of the season

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    rangers logo

    The injury-ravaged Rangers managed to tie a major league record for all the wrong reasons when they called up Ryan Rua from Triple-A on Friday.

  12. Royals designate Bruce Chen for assignment

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Bruce Chen Bruce Chen

    A day after Bruce Chen allowed six runs in the 10th inning of the Royals’ loss to the Twins on Thursday, the Royals designated the lefty for assignment.

  13. Mariners end Jesus Montero’s season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Jesus Montero Getty Getty Images

    The Mariners have ended Jesus Montero’s season so he can address his “non-baseball issues”, a day after he went after a scout who was heckling him.

  14. Daniel Murphy could miss most or all of the rest of the season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Daniel Murphy Getty Getty Images

    The Mets could be without Daniel Murphy for most or all of the rest of the season, as the second baseman deals with a strained right calf.

  15. Joey Votto is still feeling discomfort in his quad

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT

    Votto Getty Getty Images

    Joey Votto hasn’t been progressing as well from his quad injury as the Reds would have liked.

  16. The Cardinals activate Yadier Molina

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    yadier molina getty Getty Images

    He’s in the lineup tonight, batting sixth against the Cubs.

  17. Troy Tulowitzki says he’ll retire before he switches positions

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Troy Tulowitzki Troy Tulowitzki

    Whether this will turn into a Michael Young situation or a Derek Jeter situation is an open question.

Featured video

Who are the favorites for Rookie of the Year?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Soler (3621)
  2. Y. Molina (3402)
  3. R. Castillo (3279)
  4. D. Wright (2300)
  5. D. Murphy (2186)
  1. S. Doolittle (2135)
  2. B. Colon (2129)
  3. B. Posey (2128)
  4. D. Ortiz (2094)
  5. T. Lincecum (2032)