Passing Judgment: Law & Order – AROD

A-RodThe ongoing soap opera involving Alex Rodriguez took another interesting turn last week when he filed two lawsuits in New York.  The first lawsuit was filed in New York County against Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig asserting claims for tortious interference with prospective business relationship and tortious interference with existing contracts.  The second lawsuit was filed in Bronx County against Dr. Christopher Ahmad and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center asserting claims for medical malpractice and lack of informed consent.

Some would say that the best defense is a good offense, and Rodriguez has certainly gone on the offensive with the filing of these lawsuits.  He claims that MLB and Bud Selig have gone on a “witch hunt” to try and destroy his reputation and career through the investigation into Anthony Bosch’s Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami, FL.  He also claims that Dr. Ahmad missed a superior labral tear at the left hip in 2012 which allowed Rodriguez to further injure himself and increase the necessity for additional surgeries.  Apparently this is the excuse why A-Rod couldn’t hit water if he fell off a bridge during the 2012 playoffs.

It should be noted that these lawsuits are devoid of any claims for defamation, slander or libel.  In other words, Rodriguez does not affirmatively deny any of the allegations or evidence that has been presented against him.  Based on the evidence gathered by MLB, Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games in the beginning of August.  While every other player implicated in the Biogenesis scandal received 50-game suspensions with plea agreements (besides Ryan Braun who was suspended for 65 games), A-Rod was the lone player who appealed and was able to play out the rest of the season.

The appeal of his suspension should be resolved later this fall, but these new lawsuits ensure that this situation is far from over.  MLB responded on October 3, 2013 with the following statement:

“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.”

While most litigation does end up settling before ever seeing a courtroom, I don’t see these lawsuits going away any time soon.  The defendants in both suits could file motions to dismiss in the very early stages, but chances are that they will be defeated.  That doesn’t necessarily give merit to his claims, but it does pose a risk to MLB to have proprietary and confidential information released and disclosed via discovery.  That is something that MLB does not want.

Granted, MLB and the Commissioner’s Office may not have done everything kosher in terms of whom they have aligned themselves with and how they obtained certain information.  But the fact remains that Alex Rodriguez is a known cheater who has been apparently caught doing it for a second time.  And he has not denied it either.  Any financial ramifications that stem from Rodriguez’s use of banned substances in violation of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program are his own fault and no one else’s.  Not his cousin, not his doctor, not Anthony Bosch, not the Yankees, and not even Roger Clemens.

After Barry Bonds irrevocably tarnished his legacy and bastardized the record books, the hope was that Alex Rodriguez would wipe those stains away and restore honor and credibility to some of baseball’s most revered records and statistics.  But that turned out to be farce when A-Rod was forced to admit he used steroids during 2001-2003 when he was in Texas.  In 2009, he denied that had ever done it since then.  But that was all a lie too.  Rodriguez has set himself apart from Barry Bonds because he just can’t help himself.

I don’t think Alex Rodriguez is a bad guy.  I don’t even condemn him for using whatever substances he was using.  Despite it being illegal, harmful and against the rules (since 2003), I can understand why athletes want to get whatever advantages they can in order to succeed at a specialized skill that has a short career life.  I do not endorse their use nor do I exonerate anyone who has used.  But using performance-enhancing drugs doesn’t by itself make Rodriguez a bad guy.  Some cheaters have managed to restore their reputations by admitting fault, coming clean, and pursuing redemption.  Players like Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte sought redemption and finished out their careers beloved by fans and likely forgiven.  They may not be forgiven by the Baseball Writers of America for Hall of Fame election, but generally speaking all has been forgotten.  Not so with Rodriguez.

Over the years, A-Rod has done things to enrage the fans, his teammates, fellow players, management and all of baseball.  From slapping Bronson Arroyo’s glove, calling for a popup while running the bases, crossing over the pitcher’s mound jogging off the field, announcing he was opting out of his contract during the 2007 World Series, bitching about Joe Torre batting him 8th during the playoffs, and trying to hit on women in the stands during the 2012 playoffs, there are plenty of reasons to dislike A-Rod.  You would think he’d recognize all of this and try to restore some credibility with a semblance of honesty and humility.

A-Rod is a flawed human being who is constantly in need of love, admiration and support.  He has been gifted with once-in-a-generation talent yet has only managed to become a tragic hero reminiscent of a Shakespearean character.  He has almost unlimited financial resources to afford four separate law firms to represent him in these two lawsuits.  He is taking the advice from people who are looking to make their own money off of A-Rod.  And along the way, he has completely flushed his own legacy and reputation down the toilet.

Alex Rodriguez mirrorNo matter what happens with these lawsuits or the appeal of his suspension, Alex Rodriguez will go down as arguably the most controversial baseball player in the history of the game.  He was once regarded an iconic player with his own ticket to Cooperstown punched.  But history will show that Alex Rodriguez is simply a flawed man who never grew up.  Instead of kissing himself in the mirror, he should step back and take a look at what has become of his legacy…or lack thereof.

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