NEW YORK – Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez sued Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in an effort to overturn the season-long drug suspension imposed last weekend by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Here are five things to know about the complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan:
WHAT IS RODRIGUEZ CLAIMING? His lawsuit accused the Major League Baseball Players Association of "bad faith," said its representation during the hearing was "perfunctory at best" and accused it of failing to attack a civil suit filed by MLB in Florida state court as part of its Biogenesis investigation. His lawyers criticized Michael Weiner, the union head who died from a brain tumor in November, for saying last summer he recommended Rodriguez settle for a lesser penalty if MLB were to offer an acceptable length. The suit claimed Major League Baseball engaged in "ethically challenged behavior" and was the source of media leaks in violation of baseball's confidentiality rules. It said Horowitz acted "with evident partiality" and "refused to entertain evidence that was pertinent and material." And it faulted Horowitz for denying Rodriguez's request to have a different arbitrator hear the case, for not ordering baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to testify and for allowing Biogenesis of America founder Anthony Bosch to claim Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions during cross-examination.
WHAT WAS THE REACTION? Former major league All-Star Tony Clark, who took over from Weiner as the union head, issued a statement saying "it is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez has chosen to sue the players' association. His claim is completely without merit, and we will aggressively defend ourselves and our members from these baseless charges. The players' association has vigorously defended Mr. Rodriguez's rights throughout the Biogenesis investigation, and indeed throughout his career. Mr. Rodriguez's allegation that the association has failed to fairly represent him is outrageous, and his gratuitous attacks on our former executive director, Michael Weiner, are inexcusable. When all is said and done, I am confident the players' association will prevail."
WHAT DID THE ARBITRATOR FIND? Horowitz, in a decision made public as part of the lawsuit, concluded Rodriguez used testosterone, human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 in 2010, 2011 and 2012 in violation of baseball's Joint Drug Agreement. He wrote MLB was justified in citing violations of the collective bargaining agreement because Rodriguez "played an active role in inducing Biogenesis of America founder Anthony Bosch to issue his own public denial on Jan. 29" and "attempted to induce Bosch to sign a sworn statement on May 31" saying he never supplied the player. Still, Horowitz cut the suspension from 211 games to 162 plus the 2014 postseason.
WHAT'S NEXT? MLB and the union will file answers, and Rodriguez's lawyers may ask for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the suspension, which starts with the Yankees' season opener on March 31. Rodriguez's lawyers may attempt to depose Selig and others, but MLB could ask U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos to quash any subpoenas. It's not clear whether the legal process will take weeks or months. Supreme Court decisions have set narrow grounds for judges to vacate arbitration decisions, instances such as corruption or not following the rules agreed to by the parties.
WHAT IS THE JUDGE'S BACKGROUND? Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1960, Ramos is a graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn from 1992-02, between stints as an associate at Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett, and a partner at Day Pitney, where he was a member of the white-collar and internal investigations practice group. At the U.S. Attorney's Office, he became deputy chief of the narcotics section. In 2009, he was the court-appointed defense lawyer for Oussama Kassir, a Lebanese-born Swede convicted of 12 charges of plotting to help al-Qaida recruit and then sentenced to life in prison. Ramos served for eight years as commissioner of the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption following his appointment by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The judge was nominated for the bench by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December 2011.