Skip to content

A-Rod will try to appeal to federal court, but he’s not likely to have success

Jan 11, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT

In the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension being reduced to 162 games, he said that he plans to appeal the decision to federal court. This is not unexpected, but I also believe that it will be a waste of his time and his money.

Arbitration is chosen by parties for the express purpose of avoiding litigation.  Courts are well aware of this. And in order to not undermine the integrity of arbitration awards, they very, very rarely overturn them.  Indeed, The Federal Arbitration Act provides the grounds for review of an arbitration decision. Such review is limited to overturning awards obtained by corruption or fraud. Or where the arbitrator himself is shown to be corrupted or to have engaged in misconduct of some kind or has shown a “manifest disregard for the law.”  Federal courts do not look at the facts and evidence anew and substitute their judgment for that of the arbitrator.

If there was any doubt about this at all, one merely peruse the trilogy of seminal decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter — Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co,  Steelworkers v. Enterprise Car and United Paperworkers v. Misco — and they can see how tall and steep a hill A-Rod has to climb:

Federal courts should decline to review the merits of arbitration awards under collective bargaining agreements . . . The question of interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is a question for the arbitrator, and the courts have no business overruling his construction of the contract merely because their interpretation of it is different from his.

Collective bargaining agreements are governed by the Labor Management Relations Act. Under the LMRA, review of an arbitrator’s decision is even more limited. Courts cannot look at the case anew to decide if the collective bargaining agreement was followed or if the evidence was misinterpreted. They may only overturn the decision if the arbitrator clearly abused his authority and went way, way out on a limb. It’s hard to see A-Rod making that case here, even if a 162-game suspension seems a bit . . . random. Or, more to the point: calculated to have A-Rod gone for a certain length of time as opposed to reflecting the actual severity of the offense.

So go ahead, A-Rod: sue in federal court if you want. But you will waste your money. You will likely not get any help from the union — which, when MLB made noises about appealing the favorable arbitration ruling Ryan Braun received following his 2011-12 suspension, strongly stated such a move was ill-advised — and, most importantly, you will almost certainly lose.

Latest Posts
  1. Justin Verlander threw four simulated innings on Tuesday

    May 26, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    justin verlander getty Getty Images

    Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander took what might be the final step before a rehab assignment Tuesday afternoon at Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum …

  2. Jean Segura to return from fractured pinkie on Friday

    May 26, 2015, 10:32 PM EDT

    jean segura getty Getty Images

    Brewers shortstop Jean Segura appeared to be in for an extended absence when he landed on the disabled list May 14 with a fracture in the pinkie on his throwing hand …

  3. So that Juan Uribe trade to the Braves is back on …

    May 26, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT

    uribe getty Getty Images

    FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says the trade is done and is only awaiting approval from the commissioner’s office.

  4. Video: Hunter Pence hit a laser beam homer in Milwaukee

    May 26, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    hunter pence getty Getty Images

    Check out this laser shot that Hunter Pence crushed Tuesday night at Milwaukee’s Miller Park …

  5. Video: Josh Harrison recovers to make a sweet grab

    May 26, 2015, 8:13 PM EDT

    josh harrison getty Getty Images

    This wasn’t really a great catch by Josh Harrison because he bungled the route, but it did look cool …

  6. Ruben Amaro apologizes for comments about fans, admits he may have been late on rebuild

    May 26, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT

    amaro getty Getty Images

    Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com Monday that he is tired of fans who “bitch and complain” about the moves made by his front office. He went on an apology tour for those comments Tuesday …

  7. Matt Harvey fine to start Friday night against the Marlins after reports of “dead arm” problem

    May 26, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    matt harvey getty Getty Images

    Mets ace Matt Harvey had the worst start of his young major league career on Saturday against the Pirates, surrendering seven runs in four innings, and manager Terry Collins indicated a few days later that Harvey is fighting through a period of “dead arm.”

  8. Brandon Phillips reaggravated his turf toe

    May 26, 2015, 6:12 PM EDT

    brandon phillips getty Getty Images

    Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips missed back-to-back games earlier this month after being diagnosed with a painful case of turf toe in his left foot, and now the problem has resurfaced.

  9. Jonathan Lucroy expected to rejoin the Brewers on Monday

    May 26, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Jonathan Lucroy Getty Getty Images

    Lucroy finished fourth in the MVP voting last season.

  10. Charter Communications to offer Dodgers broadcasts to its customers in Southern California

    May 26, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT

    dodgers logo

    Charter Communications customers in Glendale, Burbank, Malibu and Long Beach will be getting the Dodgers’ network within the next few weeks.

  11. Casey McGehee accepts Giants’ demotion to Triple-A

    May 26, 2015, 4:37 PM EDT

    casey mcgehee getty Getty Images

    McGehee and his $4.8 million salary predictably cleared waivers.

  12. Royals lead the way in the first round of American League All-Star balloting

    May 26, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    All-Star Logo

    Five starting positions out of nine slots currently belong to Royals players.

  13. Johnny Cueto’s MRI comes back clean

    May 26, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Johnny Cueto Getty Images

    Good news for the Reds’ biggest trade chit — er, I mean, for their ace.

  14. Video: Suuuuure, pitchers use foreign substances because they just want a better grip

    May 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    will smith substance arm

    In other news, why do we take pitchers at their word when they claim that they’re not really trying to get something extra on the ball?

  15. Finger sprain sends Michael Morse to Marlins’ disabled list

    May 26, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Michael Morse Marlins Getty Images

    Signed to a two-year, $16 million deal this offseason, Morse has hit just .211 with two homers and a .557 OPS in 37 games.

  16. Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy has more arm problems

    May 26, 2015, 1:28 PM EDT

    dylan bundy orioles getty Getty Images

    Bundy was scratched from his scheduled start at Double-A.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Hamilton (3464)
  2. A. Pujols (3233)
  3. J. Lucroy (3190)
  4. Y. Puig (3010)
  5. D. Wright (2965)
  1. D. Travis (2933)
  2. B. Harper (2597)
  3. R. Castillo (2587)
  4. B. Zobrist (2402)
  5. C. Crisp (2398)