On the last scheduled day of the hearing to appeal his 211-game suspension, embattled New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and his legal team escalated their fight against Major League Baseball to a new level. A-Rod's camp's filed a lawsuit against MLB, naming Commissioner Bud Selig a co-defendant and calling the entire Biogenesis saga a "witch hunt" and a "scorched earth investigation."
Among the claims in the suit: MLB paid an investigator $150,000 for stolen records and paid Biogenesis clinic owner Anthony Bosch $5 million to "buy his cooperation." All of it is deemed “tortious interference" in the suit, which says MLB's goal was taking down A-Rod, evading baseball's collectively-bargained agreements and making Selig look like the "savior" of baseball.
The New York Times broke the news of the lawsuit and its story had this statement from A-Rod:
“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. This matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration. I look forward to the arbitration proceedings continuing, and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters.”
A-Rod's legal team, which includes "the most hated lawyer in New York" Joe Tacopina, filed the suit with the Supreme Court of New York. It opens with the following passage. (You can read the entire suit at the Times' website)
Major League Baseball ("MLB"), Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" Selig ("Commissioner Selig" or "Selig") and other officials at MLB (collectively, the "Defendants") have - throughout at least all of 2013 - been engaged in tortious and egregious conduct with one, and only one, goal: to improperly marshal evidence that they hope to use to destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez, one of the most accomplished Major League Baseball players of all time. Commissioner Selig and MLB persistently have employed powers not available to them under the collectively-bargained agreements between MLB and its union in order to make an example of Mr. Rodriguez, so as to gloss over Commissioner Selig's past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances ("PES") 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.
The lawsuit is right about this: the feud between A-Rod and MLB has been playing out all year. There have been threats of a lifetime ban for A-Rod, plenty of headlines in the tabloids and eventually the 211-game PED suspension handed down in August. A-Rod was allowed to finish the 2013 season because he filed an appeal.
The suspension, if upheld, would keep A-Rod out of baseball until the 2015 season. He would forfeit $25 million in salary in 2014. He's scheduled to make $21 million in 2015. After A-Rod's appeal hearing ends on Friday, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has 25 days to make a ruling about MLB's suspension.
Friday's lawsuit shows, however, that A-Rod still isn't willing to go down without first swinging hard at MLB and Selig. The language of the lawsuit viciously takes aim at both. There's a section, for example, titled "Disastrous Tenure of Commissioner Selig." Here is perhaps the juiciest section.
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.
Major League Baseball issued a statement on Friday about the lawsuit, denying the allegations and insisting it is A-Rod's lawsuit that violates the terms of baseball's CBA. The league also said none of what it's in the lawsuit is relevant to whether A-Rod used PEDs.
“For the more than four decades that we have had a collective bargaining relationship with the Major League Baseball Players Association, every player and club dispute has gone through the jointly agreed upon grievance process. 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.
“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.”
So while Friday might be the last day of A-Rod's appeal hearing, it's just the first day of a whole new fight between baseball and its highest-paid player.