Mandel’s Musings: Give Alex Rodriguez His Day in Court with Full Transparency On Baseball and Horowitz Decision

Published on: 13th January, 2014

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Rodriguez hopes to convince Federal Court to stay MLB's suspension  | read this item

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New York — Where is the evidence that Alex was a PED user? I repeat, where is the evidence he used PEDs, other than when he admitted to using them in the early part of this millennium?

Whether or not we believe he used his entire career or at any other point is completely irrelevant. The court of public opinion is irrelevant.

Let’s find out exactly what Frederick Horowitz, baseball’s hired arbitrator, based his 162-game suspension on, when every other baseball player (who tested positive for PEDs) got 50 game suspensions. Where is Rodriguez’ positive test results? Why is the word of a criminal who sold steroids to teens and college athletes better than Alex’ word? Did Bud Selig have a vendetta out against Alex? Was Rob Manfred’s “agreement” to pay $125,000 to this “Robby” character a form of an illegal bribe? Give Alex his day in court. Let’s get to the real facts. If Alex used, suspend him for the 50 games, as stipulated by baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement for first-time violators.

As reported by the NY Times today:

Lawyers for Rodriguez went to federal court in Manhattan on Monday to try to halt his season-long doping suspension.

In the court filing, which named Major League Baseball and the players union, Rodriguez’s lawyers sought to vacate his ban for the 2014 season and accused the players union of breaching its duty to represent Rodriguez fairly.

The filing, provided by Rodriguez’s lawyers, also accuses Horowitz, Major League Baseball’s chief arbitrator, of exhibiting “a manifest disregard for the law” and claims that he was not impartial and that he refused to hear evidence in Rodriguez’s appeal of the suspension imposed against him last year.

The legal maneuver came two days after Horowitz upheld most of that 211-game ban, reducing it on Saturday to 162 regular-season games and the postseason in 2014.

Lawyers for all sides appeared in front of William H. Pauley, the federal judge presiding over the case, on Monday morning, as he heard a request by Rodriguez’s lawyers that portions of the proceedings be kept confidential. Pauley, according to a transcript provided by Rodriguez’s representatives, denied the request, noting that M.L.B.’s commissioner, Bud Selig, had appeared on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to discuss the case on Sunday evening.

Document: Alex Rodriguez Sues Major League Baseball

“Given the intense public interest in this matter and Commissioner Selig’s disclosures last night on ’60 Minutes,’ it’s difficult to imagine that any portion of this proceeding should be under seal,” Pauley said, according to the transcript.

As a result, Horowitz’s written decision, which had been confidential, was released in Monday’s court filing, for the first time giving some clues as to his rationale for issuing the season-long ban.

In it, Horowitz wrote that the evidence showed that Rodriguez committed three distinct violations of the doping rules. He said testimony he heard from Anthony Bosch, who ran the South Florida anti-aging clinic at the center of the banned drug inquiry, was “direct, credible and squarely corroborated by excerpts from several of the hundreds of pages of his personal composition notebooks.”

Horowitz also said there was reason to believe that Rodriguez had interfered with M.L.B.’s investigation.

“Based on the entire record from the arbitration, M.L.B. has demonstrated with clear and convincing evidence there is just cause to suspend Rodriguez for the 2014 season and 2014 postseason for having violated the J.D.A. by the use and/or possession of testosterone, IGF-1, and hGH over the course of three years, and for the two attempts to obstruct M.L.B.’s investigation,” Horowitz wrote.

In his decision, Horowitz rejected the claims by Rodriguez’s representatives that M.L.B. investigators had acted unethically, including paying for information and, in one case, becoming intimate with a witness.

“Also unfounded are the charges of improper conduct by M.L.B. investigators during the investigation,” Horowitz wrote.

Rodriguez has repeatedly denied that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with the Yankees, and after Saturday’s arbitration decision he vowed to continue fighting his suspension in the courts.

But he is likely to face obstacles in getting a judge to intervene on his behalf, legal experts say. It is unusual for a judge to halt an arbitrator’s decision in a situation like this, where the sides have a collectively bargained process for handling disputes.

“It’s incredibly difficult,” said Andrew Torrez, an employment law expert with the firm Zuckerman Spaeder, adding, “Only if the arbitrator conducted the hearing in a way that was fundamentally unfair to Alex Rodriguez is there likely to be any chance of overturning the arbitration award.”

For example, Rodriguez’s lawyers will need to convince the judge that Horowitz was biased, did not allow relevant evidence to be heard or had exceeded his authority, Torrez said.

It was unclear what, if any, the request to vacate the decision would have on a suit Rodriguez’s lawyers filed in October, which accused M.L.B. and Selig of interfering with Rodriguez’s business relationships and engaging in a “witch hunt” as they investigated him for using banned performance-enhancing substances. That case is pending.

Rodriguez hopes to convince Federal Court to stay MLB's suspension

Rodriguez hopes to convince Federal Court to stay MLB’s suspension

What has become apparent is that Horowitz’s much anticipated ruling is hardly the end of the increasingly bitter dispute between M.L.B. and Rodriguez.

On Sunday, Selig and Rob Manfred, the league executive who oversaw the case, appeared on “60 Minutes” and spoke about various aspects of the investigation. They appeared with Bosch, who said during the program that he had personally injected Rodriguez.

M.L.B.’s participation in the program drew the ire of the baseball players association, which accused baseball officials of trying to “pile on” Rodriguez and breaching the confidentiality of the arbitration process. The union said it would explore legal options.

Joseph Tacopina, who also appeared on the program, issued a lengthy statement late Sunday, calling Selig and Manfred’s participation “an unparalleled display of hubris and vindictiveness.” He promised that Rodriguez would “continue to fight to vindicate his rights — among the fans, and in a genuine judicial forum.”

M.L.B. defended the appearance of its officials, saying it had notified the union that it intended to “respond to all of the attacks on the integrity of our joint drug program.”

But even before the sides were trading tough words over the “60 Minutes” episode, Rodriguez had long been signaling that he would keep the battle going, regardless of what Horowitz decided. As his proceedings wound down in mid-November, he stormed out of the hearing room at M.L.B. headquarters in New York, angry that Horowitz did not require Selig to testify. Neither Selig nor Rodriguez wound up taking the stand during the hearings, which lasted about 12 days.

Horowitz, who took nearly two months to make his decision in the case public, gave enough credence to baseball’s case to issue Rodriguez the longest doping suspension in M.L.B. history.

 

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