Six weeks ago, after five days of arbitration hearings, Alex Rodriguez filed a dubious lawsuit that made wild claims against Major League Baseball. On Wednesday, he erupted, leaving an arbitration hearing in anger over a development that could not have been a surprise to him or his legal team. Thursday, his legal team vowed to release all evidence and take the case to federal court.
Were these dramatic actions an attempt to embarrass Major League Baseball over his 211-game suspension and to recapture a fraction of Rodriguez's legacy? Were they part of a grand strategy that would somehow surprise MLB and send the Lords of Baseball to Rodriguez begging and pleading for a settlement?
If Rodriguez and his lawyers believe that any of the above will actually happen in the pending grievance arbitration or in a later lawsuit, they should be looking hard at Obamacare and its increased benefits for the treatment of mental illness.
Most players, agents and sports lawyers understand that a grievance arbitration is good for players and bad for team owners. One of Marvin Miller's earliest and most important goals as he established the most powerful labor organization anywhere was to obtain grievance arbitration rights for his players. Miller knew that the path to free agency and to other major benefits would involve grievance arbitration.
Curt Flood went to court in his heroic attempt to establish free agency. He lost. Dave McNally went to grievance arbitration in his attempts to establish free agency. He won. Rodriguez, who has benefited more from free agency than any other player, should know that he is better off in arbitration than he is in any courthouse.
Rodriguez's best chance to make a dent in the 211-game suspension was to present a solid case to the grievance arbitrator. Ask Ryan Braun. When he and his lawyer, David Cornwell, who also represents Rodriguez, presented a factual and legally compelling attack on the collection procedures used in Braun's urine test, Braun scored a major victory.
Ask Latrell Sprewell. After he twice attacked coach P.J. Carlesimo during a practice, the Golden State Warriors voided his $23.7 million contract, and the NBA suspended him for a year. When he presented his arguments in a reasonable fashion to the grievance arbitrator, he emerged victorious with his contract reinstated and a 68-game suspension.
It appears that Rodriguez has somehow reached the conclusion that he has a better chance in court than he has in arbitration. It is a sign of desperation. The evidence in the arbitration must be piling up, and Rodriguez's attempt to attack MLB's investigative procedures must be falling flat.
But, unless Rodriguez can show that arbitrator Frederick Horowitz is corrupt or egregiously incorrect in his reading of the law, any lawsuit that Rodriguez files will come to an early end. Horowitz is skilled and experienced and enjoys a gilt-edged reputation for integrity.
Rodriguez can file lawsuits in federal court or in state court. The result will be the same. Even with the existence of a New York law that allows a judge to review an arbitrator's decision, the burden is on Rodriguez to show corruption or other compelling evidence of error. It is unlikely that the case will even reach the stage where it will be presented to a jury for a decision.
If Rodriguez does somehow succeed in pushing the case to a trial, it will be with significant risk. He will be forced to explain under oath a positive drug test in 2003, his consultations with Dr. Anthony Galea, and whatever he was doing with Biogenesis and Tony Bosch.
It's hard to believe, but a trial of a Rodriguez lawsuit against MLB would be more embarrassing for Rodriguez than what he has already done to himself.