(Image: AP/Richard Drew)
Earlier this week, disgraced New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez sued MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig for the “witch hunt” that resulted in his 211-game PED suspension. Since a suspension for the entirety of next season may effectively end the injury-plagued 38-year-old Rodriguez’s career, he has nothing to lose. Although it’s hard to imagine many fans have much sympathy for Rodriguez, one hopes his lawsuit might finally force Selig to come clean about the tactics MLB has employed in its pursuit of PED users.
The PDF of A-Rod’s summons/complaint can be read here. At just over 30 pages, it’s a scintillating read. The best part is Rodriguez’s complaint helpfully lists in one place a number of the “improper practices” MLB has undertaken in the name of its drug war – many of which occurred during the sham lawsuit MLB filed against Biogenesis earlier this year. A few juicy excerpts:
Page 13: MLB has relentlessly harassed individuals by cancelling and re-noticing depositions countless times. For example, Lazaro Collazo has been served with at least four notices and re-notices of subpoenas for videotaped deposition.
Page 15: [O]n June 10, 2013, attorneys for defendant Marcelo Albir sought discovery of documents related to MLB' s investigation of Biogenesis, as well as depositions of MLB officials involved in the investigation. Rather than reveal any facts about its investigation – except those that they controlled through leaks to the media – the Commissioner voluntarily dismissed his suit against Albir…
Page 16-17: [Porter] Fischer filed a complaint with Boca Raton, Florida police regarding a March 24, 2013 theft of Biogenesis-related documents from his car. In the police report, Fischer described several meetings with Ed Moldonado, Tom Riley and Dan Mullin – investigators employed by MLB – who offered him a job and up to $125,000 for the client files prior to this incident. Shortly after the theft, MLB stopped contacting Fischer about the documents.
Page 17: Dan Mullin of MLB purchased what were represented to be these stolen documents for $150,000 in cash, which was handed off in a bag at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida area restaurant.
Page 18: [A]ccording to at least one individual who claims to have knowledge of Mr. Bosch's deal, MLB is paying Mr. Bosch a total of $5 million (in monthly installments) in order to buy his cooperation.
The complaint includes a number of other allegations about intimidating witnesses, and reviews in loving detail MLB’s “rampant leaking” about a drug testing process that was always meant to be confidential.
Of course, not everything alleged in a lawsuit filing turns out to be true, but a lot of these details have been publicly reported with little clarification, justification, or explanation by Selig. Fischer’s story that MLB offered him $125K has been floating around since July. As far as I can tell, MLB and Selig never denied any allegations about payoffs and intimidation – at least not until Rodriguez filed his lawsuit. And even the league's statement on the lawsuit notably focuses on derogating Rodriguez instead of unequivocally denying its most salacious claims.
In a report yesterday, MLB’s COO Rob Manfred said, “The lawsuit is completely flawed legally and it contains numerous factual inaccuracies, and Rodriguez’s side knows they are inaccurate.” Not only is that a less than full-throated denial (“factual inaccuracies?”), it’s pretty rich that anyone in MLB would play the “flawed legally” card after its Biogenesis lawsuit.
Rodriguez may be no hero, but if this lawsuit compels Selig to defend the lengths MLB has gone to shame players for doing something the league didn’t even test for in earnest until 2004, baseball fans will be grateful. If Rodriguez’s lawyers go the extra mile and harass Selig with frivolous deposition notices and document requests, hopefully the irony won’t be lost on anyone.