Judge: A-Rod can release decision

Updated: January 13, 2014, 3:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's lawyers were given the go-ahead by a federal judge to make public the arbitrator's decision that led to the season-long suspension of the New York Yankees star in his planned lawsuit seeking to overturn the discipline.

During a short hearing in federal court in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III brushed aside concerns from the Major League Baseball Players Association that revealing portions of the intended suit and Saturday's decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz might violate confidentiality provisions of the sport's collective bargaining agreement.

"We're thrilled," said Jordan Siev, one of A-Rod's lawyers. "We want the entire record to be public. We want everyone to be able to see exactly what Bosch said."

The decision came a day after the founder of a now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic said during a "60 Minutes" interview he administered an elaborate doping program for the 14-time All-Star starting in 2010. MLB commissioner Bud Selig told the program that Rodriguez's actions were "beyond comprehension."

"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. "Mr. Rodriguez is directed to file his unredacted complaint with the attached exhibits."

Rodriguez's lawyers had feared filing the complete versions might lead to additional discipline from MLB.

"In an abundance of caution, so as to not run afoul of the agreements, we brought this application," said Siev, a ReedSmith lawyer. "We're perfectly content to unredact and file the entire complaint."

Pauley said there was a presumption in federal courts that the public should have access to documents. He said the presumption of access could be overridden if there was evidence the courts were being used improperly to force otherwise confidential information to be made public.

"There's no evidence here of any bad faith," he said.

Howard Ganz of Proskauer, representing MLB, said the league was not seeking to seal any parts of the written decision, which has not been made public.

The three-time MVP was suspended for 211 games last August by Selig, and Horowitz presided over 12 days of hearings from September through November. Horowitz reduced the penalty to 162 games plus any postseason games played by the Yankees this year.

The brief court proceeding was scheduled so hastily that Joe Tacopino, a Rodriguez lawyer, and union general counsel Dave Prouty, participated by telephone.

Prouty told the judge the union wanted to redact any portions of the arbitrator's ruling that touched on subjects required to remain confidential under baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

"The players' association believes that those matters should stay confidential, that is, the decision and the underlying proceedings," he said.

Many legal experts have said Rodriguez doesn't have much of a chance for an injunction.

But Siev disagreed.

"We recognize the standard to overturn an arbitration is a high one," Siev said. "But we think this proceeding was so flawed from beginning to end, including obvious bias from arbitration Horowitz in favor of MLB, which is put forth in our complaint.

"The introduction of triple, quadruple hearsay, inauthentic documents, documents that were stolen not once, but twice that were presented out of order, that were presented in incomplete fashion that Bosch couldn't even identify -- all of this was relied on without question by (Horowitz). He denied our request to examine the actual Bosch Blackberries."

Siev said the arbitrator relied too heavily on the text messages "that you have heard so much about" found on those cell phones.

"MLB had two experts that were allowed to examine those Blackberries with unfettered access. We didn't get one," Siev said. "Of course, commissioner Selig testifying, we all know the backstory on that. He had no problem going in and talking to 60 Minutes [Sunday] or whenever it was done weeks ago or whenever it was this preordained result was cooked up.

"One thing that was very interesting was whenever we had discussions on ways to resolve this, MLB was adamant that they wanted 162 games. Lo and behold, where did this decision come out? It is all in the complaint."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand was used in this report.

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