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Will the MLBPA fire arbitrator Frederic Horowitz?

Jan 14, 2014, 6:23 AM EDT

Horowitz AP

The neutral third arbitrator who handles PED appeals, as well as grievances brought by players, serves at the pleasure of both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. They can fire him for any reason. They can fire him for no reason. All that need happen is written notice from one side or the other.

We most recently saw this in 2012 when Shayam Das, the arbitrator who had been in place for 13 years, was fired by Major League Baseball. The reason? Their dissatisfaction with his ruling in the original Ryan Braun suspension and appeal, which baseball sharply criticized. Das’ firing led to the firing of Frederic Horowitz, who issued the ruling in the A-Rod case Saturday.

So: will the MLBPA fire Horowitz now? My guess is yes.

It’s not a slam dunk, of course. The MLBPA is in a slightly different position than was Major League Baseball at the time of the Das position. Yes, they opposed Horowitz’s ruling, but they also — according to the ruling itself — agreed with the manner in which Horowitz approached parts of his decision. Specifically, Horowitz claims the MLBPA agreed that his discipline should come at the Commissioner’s discretion under the “just cause” provisions of he JDA and not under the 50/100/lifetime ban provisions. And, of course, they are now being sued by Alex Rodriguez, placing them in an odd tactical position between MLB and the player.

But, the MLBPA’s concessions aside, the arbitrator did just hammer a player with more or less unprecedented discipline. For political purposes alone, one has to think that the union may want to retaliate for that and/or for MLB’s firing of Braun.

If I’m a betting man, I say that the union fires Horowitz within a week or so.

  1. vallewho - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    firing and hiring…yeah, it’s early.

  2. uyf1950 - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    Will the MLBPA fire arbitrator Frederic Horowitz? Who could or would blame them. When MLB didn’t like the decision of the arbitrator in the Braun case they fired him, turn about’s fair play.

    • Old Gator - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      Yes, it will be a matter of tit for tat, and baseball players are notorious tat men.

  3. stoutfiles - Jan 14, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    How can you get a completely neutral arbitrator if he’s fired for making an unpopular decision? It always seemed like he pulled those numbers out if his ass and now it’s obvious he picked that suspension to please MLB, thinking that was the best route to take to keep his job.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jan 14, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      If they’re under threat of firing from both sides, it pretty much evens out. They have zero incentive to be in the bag for one side or the others. That’s basically the definition of neutrality.

      • lirianod - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:34 AM

        Please correct me if i’m wrong, but I don’t think the MLBPA has ever fired an arbitrator and the arbitrator is paid by the MLB. If the person that pays you has had a history of firing those who disagree/overturn their judgement wouldn’t you even subconsciously try to please them?

        I think with the coming contract negotiations with MLB and MLBPA will be very interesting.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        You may wish to correct some typos, sir. You have “Das’ firing led to the firing of Frederic Horowitz” when I believe you mean “hiring”.

        Also, “the union may want to retaliate for that and/or for MLB’s firing of Braun.” when I believe you mean firing of Das.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        That doesn’t lead to neutrality it leads to someone trying to please both sides equally, which is not the job of the arbitrator. I’m obviously not privy to the evidence against A-Rod, but let’s say he in all reality felt that it’s unethical to give A-Rod anything more than the 50 games for a first time offender. He couldn’t do that because in all reality it likely means that a pink slip from MLB is coming shortly behind it.

      • dlf9 - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM

        lirianod ~ MLBPA has not fired any “permanent” arbitrators (Das, Nicolau, Seitz, Bloch, Getz, Roberts, Eischen, etc.) but has fired several of the salary arbitrators who hear the Super 2, 3, 4 & 5 year cases. Also the arbitrator is paid by MLB and MLBPA in equal amounts for each case.

      • lirianod - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        Thank you dlf9 for the clarification!

  4. stex52 - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    I think you are right. The MLBPA seems to have pretty much rolled over during this entire process. They will want to assert themselves in some small way.

    • stex52 - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      Okay, I’m going to change my opinion. I just read how ARod is going to sue the MLBPA and disparaged Anthony Weiner.

      I think that changes the outlook a bit.

      • dlf9 - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM

        Is there anyone who doesn’t disparage Anthony Weiner? A congressman who sends racy texts and pictures of his junk deserves mocking.

        Or perhaps you meant Michael Weiner, the late head of the MLBPA.

      • stex52 - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:05 PM

        Oops, yes. Perhaps I do.

  5. beachnbaseball - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    The MLBPA endorses the arbitration process yet disagreed with the length of the suspension Horowitz imposed in his decision. So, yes; the MLBPA could fire Horowitz.

    However, seeing that Rodriguez has now decided to sue the MLBPA for not representing him fully in his appeal I think the MLBPA will retain Horowitz just to stick it to Rodriguez for his frivolous lawsuit.

    • pastabelly - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      Agree, I think the players support Horowitz’s decision and firing him sends an inconsistent message. The MLBPA should pick and choose its fights. This just isn’t the right one.

      • lirianod - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        They don’t support the decision, they respect the process and the decision.

      • NatsLady - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Agree. I don’t think the MLBPA will fire Horowitz. It creates an unworkable system if each time a decision is made a guy is fired. They are going to have to change the system, though, perhaps giving the independent arbitrator a term of office or something like that.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:42 AM

      However, seeing that Rodriguez has now decided to sue the MLBPA for not representing him fully in his appeal I think the MLBPA will retain Horowitz just to stick it to Rodriguez for his frivolous lawsuit.

      Which is precisely why Arod is suing the MLBPA as well. It’s the job of a union to protect all it’s members, not just the ones it agrees with. And as Craig has mentioned in another post, but taking this decision it’s very possible the union has conceded a ton of power to the commissioner without getting anything in return.

      • paperlions - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        They can only represent someone that will let them represent him. The union’s job is to make sure their members are treated fairly, not to make sure they skate for PED use or to indulge their stupidity. They advised him what they thought was fair and an appropriate course of action. ARod wanted no punishment for using PEDs and decided to go his own way. When you reject someone’s help because you don’t agree with them, that is on you….especially, when the reason for disagreement is self delusion.

      • NatsLady - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

        They did represent Rodriguez. Apparently they took a look at the evidence and recommended he accept a plea bargain (perhaps more than once. Perhaps at the 50-game stage and the 150-game stage). Lawyers do that all the time, and, in fact, it’s MIS-representation if they don’t let the client know there is a plea option on the table and the risk of not taking it.

  6. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    You need a couple of edits there – chief. “Hiring” of Frederic Horowitz (the firing hasn’t come yet), then later MLB fired Das, not Braun.

    As is always the case in these situations (regardless of who is ticked), the sides should be careful what they wish for. But yea, no side in any sport has ever lost a big arbitration then behaved like an adult, so yea, walking papers will probably come

  7. csbanter - Jan 14, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    Do you think MLB is holding its breath that some Big Papi exposé doesn’t surface while A Rod mess plays itself out ? It would be awfully embarrassing for Selig and co.

    • lirianod - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      That would be hilarious.

  8. sincitybonobo - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    “While the length of the suspension may be unprecedented for an MLB Player, so is the misconduct.”

    The MLBPA certainly could fire Horowitz, but I would advise them not do so. Picking the correct battles is crucial to an organization’s success. The union, rightfully, is concerned with MLB’s tactics to assure Bosch’s cooperation. But, ARod blew off the advice of MLBPA leadership and counsel to cut a deal and he received a stiffer penalty as a result.

    It should be noted, that Horowitz actually reduced ARod’s suspension by 54 games. Firing a guy who reduced your member’s penalty even after said member stormed out of the hearing in a tizzy doesn’t seem like the smartest move.

    • gerryb323 - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Do you honestly think that the arbitrator reduced the suspension? I mean, yes, 211 to 162 is a reduction in games. But we all know the suspension was “through the 2014 season”. Well, the suspension is still “through the 2014 season”. Sounds like an affirmation to me, and indeed that’s how a lot of news outlets have billed it.

    • yournuts - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      Can you explain to me why the misconduct is unprecedented? I mean the rules clearly state that for the first offense it isn a 50 game suspension right? So Arod never failed a drug test, disagreed with the decision, went to arbitration and was refused his rights to call Bud Selig as a witness. All the rest of it is MLB’s buying stolen material and hiring a drug dealer who they were trying to sue but decided to sleep with and base their case on.

      PLease explain why his misconduct is unprecedented?

      • yournuts - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:27 PM

        Gerry, I should explain, I am a Yankee fan that loves having Arod’s salary off the books so we can move forward but I also see and smell something fishy going on. It just doesn’t seem fair to me when I heard how this case unfolded.

      • gerryb323 - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        No, I agree with YOU 100%, and that’s coming from a Red Sox fan. The original post pulled the unprecedented language. I think A-Rod hurt himself more through the process, angered the arbitrator and so the arbitrator decided to essentially uphold the suspension. He backed into a justification to suit his conclusion and in doing so has given crazy power to the commissioner that, frankly, neither side suspected he had. Crazy.

  9. sincitybonobo - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM

    Also, if Horowitz were fired by the MLBPA, wouldn’t that fit into the narrative of ARod’s lawsuit against MLB, thus helping him?

    If so, I’ll take the “No”- and lay the points

    • paperlions - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Won’t matter. One side can disagree with an arbitration decision and fire the arbitrator without the feds stepping in and deciding to vacate a process that was conducted under a privately negotiated agreement. Just because you don’t like a decision, doesn’t mean their is a legal basis to over turn it.

  10. eshine76 - Jan 14, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    If the union wants to fire Horowitz, they will likely wait until after the federal judge rules on ARod’s case. ARod hasn’t done them any favors in this process, so I can’t see them giving ARod’s team any ammunition, real or perceived.

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Why don’t they use an actually independent arbitration service, like AAA or JAMS? This “in house” stuff, especially the appearance of a panel when it is really 2 stooges and one quasi-independent employee, does not seem to achieve the neutrality they are supposedly looking for.

  12. righthandofjustice - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    I don’t think MLBPA wants an arbitrator who clearly asserts (a) MLB can do anything, including illegal activities at any cost, to achieve their goals, (b) the burden of proof is on the accused player(s) and (c) players are punishable by just declaring not guilty before his hearing but MLB is absolutely free to bypass the CBA and attack the players in public media and pronounce them guilty no matter what.

    Tony Clark is new to the job so he may be hesitated to fire Horowitz but I think eventually he will have to. This is not only about A-Rod. There will be B-Rod, C-Rod, D-Rod… in the future that the MLB clowns may go all out to get. Clark should not put the players he represents to play and live under a dark cloud.

    • gerryb323 - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      Not to mention: (d) MLB can use its investigators to “purchase” evidence and (e) MLB can file frivolous lawsuits in order to “persuade” testimony…

  13. cackalackyank - Jan 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    If the losing parties keep firing the arbitrator, pretty soon no one is going to take the job. It will more or less end the arbitration process. If the arbitration process ceases to function it will start an endless parade of litigation. Constant litigation will draw unwanted attention to the operation of MLB and its player association, from the Government. I really do not think either side wants that. I think the dismissal of the arbitrator should only be if both parties agree it should happen.

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