Monday, January 13, 2014

Has A-Rod Gone Mad?

The arbitrator's decision was announced recently and Alex Rodriguez will have to serve 162 games of his original 211-game suspension. This means he is out of action for all of next year.

A-Rod plans to go into federal court today to challenge this decision. This is completely futile, and will serve nothing more than to enrich his attorneys and to prove what an ass he is. The collective bargaining agreement between the players association and MLB provides for binding arbitration. There is no appeal from the arbitrator's decision. This, after all, is the provision that got the players free agentcy back in the mid-'70's, when an arbitrator ruled that baeball's infamous reserve clause, binding a player to his team for life, was illegal.

MLB did not appeal from this decision, recognizing that it would be futile in light of the CBA provision mentioned above. Yet, A-Rod seems to think the rules do not apply to him. His attitude is reminiscent of Lance Armstrong, who adamantly denied doping, and vilified and even sued those who dared to contradict him. When he finally came clean, and an interviewer asked him "did you sue" so-and-so, he lamely replied, "I probably did; we sued so many people."

It is interesting that A-Rod has never denied using PED's under oath. This is only because he walked out of his arbitration hearing the day before he was scheduled to testify. His supposed reason for walking out was disgust that commissioner Bud Selig was not going to testify. This is ludicrous on the face of it. Bud Selig has never testified at an arbitration hearing. His testimony is not needed and would prove nothing. The issue is whether the punishment issued by MLB has a basis in fact. It is completely reasonable that MLB would present the witnesses who have first-hand knowlege of the relevant facts. Selig's testimony would have been superfluous.

The Yankees win here, because they save the $27M salary they would have been on the hook to A-Rod for next year. This gives them a good shot at getting below the luxury tax threshold for next year, saving the extra expense for the luxury tax they have been paying year after year.

The bad news is that the Yankees are on the hook for the following three years, at $27M per year. Why clubs give out long-term contracts like this is inexplicable to me. All the stats show that long-term contracts given to players in their 30's rarely pay off. 90% or more of the time they turn into disasters for the clubs who are foolish enough to agree to these contracts.

One might reasonably ask whether the Yankees couldn't simply terminate the contact, given A-Rod's violation of the drug policy. This would be in line with basic contract law, which says that if one party violates a material term of the contract, then the other party can void that contract. The reason this is not an option is that the CBA specifically bars teams from retaliating in this way for a violation of the drug policy. So, the same CBA which A-Rod challenges by his federal court action, also protects him from the last three years of his contract being cancelled. Poetic justice here would call for an order from the judge releasing the Yankees from their obligations under the rest of the contract. A-Rod is now so universally despised that nobody would shed any tears were this to be the result of his idiotic lawsuit.

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