Another day, another wrinkle in the Alex Rodriguez-Biogenesis-MLB-Yankees-Hip-Injury Saga. Some days, there are multiple wrinkles. It’s not easy to keep it all straight.
The main event, of course, is Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension. MLB handed down that suspension on August 5. Rodriguez appealed the suspension two days later, and the matter is now pending before baseball’s arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez may continue to play while the appeal is pending. No hearing date has been set. MLB is pressing for a hearing by the end of August; Rodriguez and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association — which is supporting A-Rod’s appeal — seem less interested in a quick resolution.
Five days after MLB suspended Rodriguez, the Yankees notified their $275 million third baseman that he would be disciplined for seeking a second medical opinion on an injury without permission. The nature of the discipline hasn’t been disclosed. You can be sure A-Rod will file a grievance.
You may recall that just before MLB handed down its PED-related suspension, Rodriguez asked Dr. Michael Gross to look at his recent MRI. Gross then appeared on New York sports radio station WFAN and said the the MRI didn’t show an injury sufficient to keep Rodriguez off the field. But the Gross interview on WFAN — and the Yankees subsequent decision to discipline Rodriguez for having Gross look a the MRI — was just an opening act in what looks to be a drama production that will last longer than the Shakespeare Company’s production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
Last week, Rodriguez added a new lawyer to his team, and Joseph Tacopina wasted no time in going on the offensive against the Yankees and MLB. In an interview with the New York Times, Tacopina accused the Yankees of playing A-Rod in last year’s postseason while withholding information about the extent of his hip injury. Tacopina also claimed that the Yankees were in cahoots with MLB to run A-Rod out of baseball, so the team could get out from underneath the $86 million it still owes A-Rod after this season. According to Tacopina, Yankees President Randy Levine told Dr. Bryan Kelly — a prominent orthopedic surgeon was to operate on A-Rod’s hip — that he never wanted to see A-Rod on a baseball field again. Levine called all these allegations “specious and completely false.” MLB Vice President Rob Manfred called collusion allegation a “red herring.”
Michael McCann, director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute and a legal analyst for Sports Illustrated, reflected on these attacks and counterattacks and suspects A-Rod and his lawyers are laying the groundwork for a broad legal attack to be launched as part of A-Rod’s appeal from the suspension, or in a separate grievance to the arbitrator, or directly in court. McCann theorized that A-Rod’s lawyers were prepared to charge the Yankees with fraud in the handling of his hip injury, and against the Yankees and MLB for defamation (in charging him with using PEDs) and with collusion (to push him out of the game).
No sooner than McCann’s column hit the interwebs yesterday, ESPN reported that Rodriguez was preparing to sue the Yankees and team doctor Chris Ahmad for malpractice in diagnosing and treating his hip injury. To date, no lawsuit has yet been filed. But as Howard Megdal wrote this morning for Capital New York, the malpractice suit — if it’s filed — could be the biggest development in this saga:
A lawsuit, and one that involves the Yankees, would open both sides up to discovery. If Rodriguez’s camp successfully involves M.L.B. in their case, it could do the same to M.L.B., which has a history of trying to avoid such things by settling cases. It allows the three-headed battle between Rodriguez, the Yankees and M.L.B. to get exponentially uglier, with all sides appearing to have ample money to fight and enough acrimony to see it through. This is a far less controlled environment. This is where the action ultimately may be.
You know who else may see some action? Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Yesterday afternoon, Louise Meanwell (yes, that’s her name), filed a motion in New York state court in Manhattan, charging that Joseph Tacopina — A-Rod’s new lawyer — has a conflict of interest. Meanwell purportedly had an affair with Cashman and was then charged with stalking the GM. She claims a conflict because divulged secrets she learned from Cashman to Tacopina’s law partner Stephen Turano.
Meanwell says she paid Turano $10,000 and gave him “intimate details” of her relationship with Cashman and their conversations, and claimed the GM told her he knew about Yankee players’ steroid use but had a “win at any cost attitude” and was “ambivalent’’ to drug use “so long as nothing came back to the Yankee organization.” Her lawyer, Peter Gleason, said Meanwell, as Cashman’s former lover, could be called to the stand in the A-Rod case.
Tacopina denied the allegations and called Meanwell’s motion “the most ridiculous” he’s ever seen. The Alex Rodriguez-Biogenesis-MLB-Yankees-Hip-Injury Saga sure is crazy, and is likely to get much, much crazier before it’s over. To help you keep track of where things currently stand, I created the Alex Rodriguez Legal-Morass Flowchart. Decisions that have been made and claims that have been filed are noted in rectangles. Potential claims, grievances and lawsuits are shown in ovals.
Don’t get too attached to this flowchart, though. It’s likely to change in a day or two.