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Odds are against Alex Rodriguez in federal court, experts say


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

Join the discussion

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mrbuffalosabre January 12 2014 at 8:27 PM

Hey A Rod. Like the saying goes if you don't want to do the time don't do the crime!!!! Man up and make it easier on yourself.

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rickraggio January 12 2014 at 8:54 PM

A-FRAUD, you ar a pathetic loser. Cut your losses and retire NOW. You are the greediest athlete ever in professional sports period.!!!!!!!!, Try being a real man for a change and admit your guilt like the other players do. Quit whinning

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1 reply
dhartson rickraggio January 12 2014 at 9:41 PM

these players drives me nuts!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
calderasf January 12 2014 at 1:32 PM

How can you sue when you signed a contract that provides mediation to solve issues not courts.

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jjstorey1 January 12 2014 at 9:03 PM

So what I don't understand is why can't Nim-Rod, I mean A-Roid see that he will never be in the HoF because of all of this? Even if by some super ice cold day in Hell he is found innocent, he'll never be selected because of the doubt. He's as bright as a strand of Christmas lights or for those that voted for Obama. Half of the lights don't work and those that do, aren't all that bright.

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1 reply
Steve jjstorey1 January 12 2014 at 9:39 PM

A Rod never tested positive. One man' s word against him. I would hope that that would not be enough to convict anyone in any kind of court. Obama is guilty of doing a good ( not perfect) job. He and I are two of the bright lights!

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bringitonwow January 12 2014 at 9:07 PM

After the 60 minutes piece, it looks like A Rod intended to cheat and not be caught. His argument that he was not caught, ie never tested positive, ignores the fact that he paid a person to help his cheating not be detected by conventional testing. That is why he got the long ban. A Rod should take his $500 million nest egg and disappear.

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mrbigoldguy January 12 2014 at 9:11 PM


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1 reply
Kevin mrbigoldguy January 12 2014 at 9:26 PM

you need to be jailed for being Bi

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Avril January 12 2014 at 1:09 PM

Commit the crime - do the time. People should accept the responsibility for all that they say or do and make full amends. I think they should fire the guy permanently.

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rcbusic January 12 2014 at 1:01 PM

So the court ruled that facts should have no standing in an arbitrated case? I guess it takes lawyers to thwart justice.

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ramrod1130 January 12 2014 at 9:13 PM

ARod, you just won't give up will you ? But I think judging by the number of other pro players that got hooked on that drug, you might still have a chance of a lessor ban. That's probably what you are hoping for. Come on back to the Mariners. They could use you.

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1 reply
Kevin ramrod1130 January 12 2014 at 9:25 PM

bud selig is a piece of monkey feces....thats all that needs to be said....he has brought baseball to its lowest ebb. even lower than pete rose. End of subject

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2 replies
Jim Moore Kevin January 12 2014 at 9:31 PM

No, Kevin ... not end of subject ... not even close

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Steve Kevin January 12 2014 at 9:35 PM

Pete Rose's mistakes pale in comparison to what has been going on since. The Dodger pitcher who tested positive for drugs FIVE times. Now players play for 15 or so years then put on 40 pounds of muscle. Leave Pete alone

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lovett53 January 12 2014 at 5:05 PM

alex rodrigues is a cheater pure and simple hes been caught 3 times and this 4th should have banned him for life

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
mcgrawnrh lovett53 January 12 2014 at 6:31 PM

wish that would happen, but it won't.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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