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Odds are against Alex Rodriguez in federal court, experts say



By RONALD BLUM

NEW YORK (AP) - The odds are against Alex Rodriguez in federal court as he tries to overturn his season-long drug suspension.

For the past five decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has set narrow grounds for judges to consider when evaluating lawsuits to overturn arbitration decisions. That position was reaffirmed in 2001 when it ruled against Steve Garvey in his suit against the Major League Baseball Players Association stemming from the collusion cases of the 1980s.

"I don't think he has very much of a chance," said Stanford Law School professor emeritus William B. Gould IV, the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. "There are many cases that are appealed from arbitration awards, but the case law at the Supreme Court level makes success very much a long shot."

The Joint Drug Agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association gives the sport's three-person arbitration panel - the independent arbitrator plus one representative of management and the union - jurisdiction to review discipline resulting from violations.

The union filed a grievance after baseball Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games last August, and arbitrator Fredric Horowitz presided over 12 days of hearings last fall and cut the penalty Saturday to 162 games plus the 2014 postseason.

Rodriguez is expected to sue under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, also known as Taft-Hartley, which allows actions for violations of collective bargaining agreements.

"There are very specific and narrow grounds for overturning an arbitration award," said Jeffrey Kessler, a partner at Winston & Strawn who has represented players and unions in many sports. "Either there has to be a showing of partiality by the arbitrator, or there has to be a showing that there as a manifest disregard of some settled legal principle, or there has to be a fundamental denial of what's called arbitral due process - the procedures were completely defective - or it could be in a collective bargaining context a decision that's contrary to what we call the essence of the CBA. So basically there are four targets and they have to hit one of them, and they're not easy."

Garvey had sought about $3 million from the $280 million settlement in the collusion cases. While the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for Garvey and overturned the decision by arbitrator Thomas Roberts, the Supreme Court reversed.

"Established law ordinarily precludes a court from resolving the merits of the parties' dispute on the basis of its own factual determinations, no matter how erroneous the arbitrator's decision," the court wrote in an 8-1 decision.

Rodriguez's lawyers are expected to request a preliminary injunction and attempt to depose Selig - Horowitz refused to compel Selig to testify at the arbitration, and Rodriguez then walked out of the hearing. MLB may attempt to quash a subpoena and force a judge to rule.

"There's a good arbitrator there, and I'm sure he was very careful to pay attention to the record," said George Nicolau, baseball's arbitrator from 1986-95. "No court is ready to overturn that, I think, based on longstanding decisions."

The Supreme Court ruled in 1960 that "the refusal of courts to review the merits of an arbitration award is the proper approach to arbitration under collective bargaining agreements. The federal policy of settling labor disputes by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards."

In that case, United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., Justice Stephen O. Douglas wrote "an arbitrator is confined to interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreement; he does not sit to dispense his own brand of industrial justice."

That case was cited by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 1976 when it refused a request by MLB to vacate the decision by arbitrator Peter Seitz overturning baseball's reserve clause in the Andy Messersmith-Dave McNally case.

A-Rod's Suspension Reduced to 162 Games

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pg453 January 13 2014 at 2:30 AM

I think Rodriguez, Braun and all the others that got caught Beaking The Rules of MLB should be Removed from MLB Completely. I am sick to death of watching and listening to these Lying Cheating Phonies , who have gotten Rich by Lying and Cheating, make the most stupid excuses and phoniest apologies for what they did, the ONLY thing they are sorry for is that they Got Caught, and if they had not been caught, they would NEVER have fessed up and they would still be doing it. Worst of all is the Message they are sending to the Kids in America and around the world, That Crime Pays Big Time and Cheaters Are Winners. They Must Be Stopped. I have been a Yankee Fan All my life, but I will Never Go To or Watch another Yankee game as long a Rodrigues is part of the team...

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LilAnnie2012 January 13 2014 at 2:18 AM

The MLB has laws for players for a reason! If one player gets away with breaking their laws...all will follow. If he's guilty....he's guilty. The end. He has to pay the price like any player would. He's not royalty in the MLB!

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LilAnnie2012 January 13 2014 at 2:12 AM

I'd just sit it out and count my money! Take a vacation....look for a better deal! A-Rod can spend thousands on lawyers, time, stress and tears or sit it out. He's rich enough! Not like he'll be losing sleep over unpaid bills! Like us hard-working people with no-contracts, no big homes, cars, or bank accounts with a balance in 9 figures!!! So "Booooo......Hooooo!" I love baseball! Think they get paid too much! Spectators...listen up....YOU don't get million dollar contracts!

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USUCK2MUCHO January 13 2014 at 2:01 AM

Armstrong also said he was innocent. Kind of makes you wonder who is telling the truth, Selig or A-Rod?

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bearckr0831 January 13 2014 at 1:49 AM

All it has been is a witchhunt for Commissioner Selig. I'm not saying that A-Rod is innocent, I'm saying that there is a lot more players out there that are known for doing the exact same thing, and all they got was a slap on the hand.It's not right. There has to be more behind it than what we know. Selig is out to destroy A-Rod, and with him retiring, finishing off A-Rod would be a feather in his cap. Selig should have been made to testify, what does he have to hide ?

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oscararriaga1 January 13 2014 at 1:45 AM

if he is a drugee,,,,let him loose his strips....what kind of sample is he for our children,adult's and the world if we accept him in our national pass time game...throw the bumm out Period

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randmhunley January 13 2014 at 1:45 AM

they should throw him out of baseball all together
DRUG ADDICT,addicted to cheating and greed
he is a king of baseball cheaters
PETE ROSE FOREVER
A- cheating -ROD NEVER

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settingson3 January 13 2014 at 1:35 AM

Welp, if A Rod had a goal of being in the 800 club, ain't no way he will ever reach that now. Won't count and no HOF anyway after his first conviction. At this point I think he just wants the $25 mill he is loosing out on from the suspension.

Nothing like a cheap rich guy.

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Menchi January 13 2014 at 1:12 AM

Man, so much hate mail for A-Rod. Guilty or not, fact is if you and I committed the same crime we should both get the same punishment whether I lie about doing it or not. Say what you want about his arrogance, his character, or whatever but he should have received 50 games just like the rest of those Roiders. And if you think his credentials should be erased then do the same for Bonds, Mcguire, Sosa etc.

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1 reply to Menchi's comment
settingson3 January 13 2014 at 1:36 AM

I'm ignorant, is first offense 50 games?

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leearlenew January 13 2014 at 1:07 AM

So ends the story of Chuckaluck.

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