At some point in the next few days, we should have some sort of clarity about Joe Girardi’s situation. The Yankees have made him an offer, and Girardi has said he doesn’t want his managerial free agency to drag on, so some sort of answer should be coming soon. Until then, it’s hard to get away from the Alex Rodriguez situation. It’s hard to move on from yesterday’s wild series of events — two lawsuits filed by a player currently appealing a 211-game suspension — and I thought Bob Nightengale did a nice job giving his take on the situation, so let’s start our day with Nightengale’s story from today’s USA Today.
Rodriguez filed a suit against Major League Baseball, accusing the league of engaging in “tortious interference” in an effort to force him out of the game.
Rodriguez holds back no punches in his suit, accusing Selig of having direct knowledge that players widely used performance-enhancing drugs during baseball’s ugly steroid era.
He authorized illegal payments of $5 million to Biogenesis director Tony Bosch for his cooperation.
MLB is cheating the government in taxes.
And yes, they are in collusion with the New York Yankees to end his career.
Rodriguez’s lawyers are claiming that MLB is trying to make an example of Rodriguez “so as to gloss over Commissioner Selig’s past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances in baseball (not to mention his multiple acts of collusion), and in an attempt to secure his legacy as the ‘savior’ of America’s pastime.”
Yes, so much for any ideas that Selig would enjoy a quiet weekend watching postseason baseball in his Milwaukee home.
“This lawsuit is a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program, and it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” MLB said in a statement.
“While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint, none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover-up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”
If Selig thought he would receive a Mariano Rivera sendoff with lovely parting gifts in his final year as commissioner, he may be spending his days entangled in the court room, fighting off Rodriguez’s blood-seeking attorneys.
“Taking down Mr. Rodriguez,” according to the suit, “would vividly demonstrate that Commissioner Selig had learned from the errors of his previous explicit or tacit tolerance of steroid use.”
Simply put, Rodriguez and his attorneys are claiming that Selig knew all about the widespread steroid epidemic that was rampant for nearly 20 years, but by nailing Rodriguez and Braun, it’s simply a desperate attempt to protect his legacy.
Rodriguez is attempting to shatter it.
Take a look at these passages from the lawsuit: “Prior to becoming the Commissioner, Selig was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. As owner of the Brewers, Mr. Selig was part of a scheme to collude with the other owner of Major League teams to keep ballplayers’ salaries down, and to enrich themselves. From 1985-1987, Selig and the other owners secretly agreed to limitations on the length and size of the contracts they would sign with Major League ballplayers. In 1986, this resulted in a 16% drop in the average free-agent salary, while MLB reported revenue increases of 15%. Selig and the owners were ultimately caught, censured by then-acting commissioner Fay Vincent, and ordered to pay a $280 million fine to the players.”
Yes, guilty as charged, Selig can say, which was proven in court.
And there’s this: “Mr. Selig’s tenure as Commissioner is as scandal-ridden as his term as owner, plagued by some of the most contentious and damaging failures in baseball history. For example, early in his tenure, Mr. Selig presided over the 1994-1995 strike, which resulted in the first cancellation of a World Series since 194. This 232-day strike caused substantial damage to baseball’s reputation and resulted in long-lasting declines in game attendance and team revenue.”
Yes, true, the World Series was cancelled, although the Major League Players Association certainly played just as significant a role.
Now, for the real juice, if you’ll pardon the expression:
“More relevant to this action is Commissioner Selig’s dubious record concerning the use of PES [performance-enhancing substances] by Major League ballplayers. … Selig, known in the press as the “Steroids Commissioner,” deliberately turned a blind eye to prolific steroid use because of the overwhelming positive publicity generated by the record-breaking competitions of [Mark] McGwire, [Sammy] Sosa and [Barry] Bonds.”
Certainly, there was no blind eye when it came to the Biogenesis investigation, but the way the lawsuit portrays Selig, you’d think he should have been starring in “GoodFellas,” with mafia-style tactics and covert operations procuring documents from Biogenesis, led by vice president Dan Mullen.
“From the start of their investigation,” the suit says, “defendants have engaged in vigilante justice. They have ignored the procedures set forth in baseball’s collectively-bargained labor agreements; violated the strict confidentiality imposed by these agreements; paid individuals millions of dollars and made promises of future employment to individuals in order to get them to produce documents and to testify on MLB’s behalf; bullied and intimidated those individuals who refused to cooperate with their witch hunt; and singled out plaintiff for an unprecedented 211-game suspension – the longest non-permanent ban in baseball history.
“Moreover, when plaintiff sought to defend himself against defendants’ scorched earth investigation, defendants falsely accused Plaintiff of interfering with their investigation by attempting to tamper with witnesses and evidence, and increased the length of his ban based on such spurious allegations.”
It gets better.
“Dan Mullin of MLB purchased what were represented to be these stolen documents for $150,000 in cash, which was handed off in a bag at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida area restaurant. Upon information and belief, neither the recipient of the cash, nor MLB, filed the required IRS form 8300 for a cash transaction in excess of $10,000. Failure to do so is a federal offense. MLB’s conduct may also fall under the Klein conspiracy theory of criminal liability.”
Now, for the down and dirty:
“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.”
So much for the postseason drama on the baseball field. If the networks want a hike in ratings, take those cameras to the courtroom, and show the rest of the playoffs and World Series on tape-delay.
Oh, and if you want a little comic relief from the mud-slinging, try this on for size:
Rodriguez, suspended 211 games in his role with Biogenesis, insists that the lawsuit has nothing to do with his penalty, which he’s now appealing in front of arbitrator Fred Horowitz in the Major League Baseball offices.
“The entire legal dynamic is very complex, and my legal team is doing what they need to in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “The matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration.”
Sure, and the federal government is shut down because President Obama wants to give his buddies a long weekend, too.
Rodriguez, who still is owed $86 million by the Yankees, not only is fighting to collect the rest of his paycheck, but claims that Nike and Toyota ended negotiations with him for potential sponsorship contracts.
Crazy, but we always had the sense that famous shoe companies and car manufacturers have always hired or fired clients to protect their image.
Come to think of it, never once have we even seen Selig in any tennis shoes, let alone a pair of Nikes.
Rodriguez vowed to USA TODAY Sports in August that he would put an end to the mud-slinging to stop the distractions, but now that the season is over, and the Yankees are sitting home, the gag order has been formally lifted.
The Yankees will dominate the news as if they’re still in the World Series hunt. A-Rod is making sure that he’s the center of attention, turning the appeal hearing into a circus side show.
Major League Baseball informed him that he and his lawyers can avoid the media, fans and protest groups outside their headquarters by entering through the loading dock, and taking a back elevator upstairs to the offices.
Uh-uh. A-Rod insists on going through the front doors, in front of the cameras, and waving to the crowds, making sure he grabs everyone’s attention.
The Yankees will dominate the news as if they’re still in the World Series hunt. A-Rod will be the center of attention. And the front and back pages of the New York tabloids will be filled with nothing but the latest allegations.
Ah, nothing like October baseball in New York, where A-Rod once again goes down swinging.
Associated Press photos