By Steve Kallas
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By now you have heard or seen Alex Rodriguez’s appearance with WFAN host Mike Francesa just a short time after he walked out on his own arbitration. When arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ruled on Wednesday that Commissioner Bud Selig did not have to testify in the arbitration, A-Rod “lost his mind” and stormed out of the arbitration.
BUT WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE A-ROD’S LAWYERS?
While one of A-Rod’s lawyers appeared with the slugger on Francesa’s show, when Mike tried to pin him down as to what happens next, he gave the host the obligatory “we will weigh all of our options,” or variations of that theme.
A-Rod’s lawyers should return to the arbitration on Thursday or Friday and continue until the end, with or without Selig’s testimony. While Selig absolutely should testify, it could be a grave mistake for A-Rod’s legal team to walk away from it now. (A-Rod, of course, was never required to attend; rather, he chose to, as is his right.)
If A-Rod and his team end the arbitration now, one of the biggest problems for A-Rod — if and when he goes to court to contest the arbitrator’s decision, assuming there is one — is that a federal judge will look very unkindly at a plaintiff who walked out on his own arbitration because a ruling on a potential witness went against him.
IT’S INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT TO OVERTURN AN ARBITRATOR’S DECISION
If and when A-Rod goes to federal court with respect to his arbitration, his attorneys will have an incredibly difficult hill to climb. By walking out on the arbitration now, that will probably be viewed by a federal judge as a negative action by A-Rod.
How can a federal judge, who will essentially review the arbitrator’s decision to see if it was rendered in “manifest disregard” of the law, be inclined to decide for a party that ended his own appeal?
This would be a huge strike against A-Rod and his legal team.
BUT THERE IS AN ‘ALICE IN WONDERLAND’ ASPECT TO THIS ARBITRATION
Down is up, up is down. There are bizarre things happening at 245 Park Avenue. You have an arbitrator — Rob Manfred of MLB — who comes down off the panel to testify and then goes back up on the panel to, what, judge the credibility of other witnesses?
Manfred later made public comments about some of his own testimony. Does that hardly-adhered-to “gag order” apply to a witness who is also an arbitrator? Or an arbitrator who is also a witness? Is that even legal? It offends many notions of basic justice. Just because “this is how we’ve done it for decades” doesn’t make it right. Or even legal, for that matter.
What about this dopey “collectively-bargained” absurdity where A-Rod was supposed to give baseball some kind of pre-testimony interview, where, if MLB thought he was lying — which, of course, they would think — they could add more games to his suspension?
Are we still in America?
It makes no sense, even if it was collectively bargained for. Who was asleep at the wheel when this happened? The best you could hope for, if you are a player, is that the players’ got some incredible thing on their side for giving MLB some, arguably, unconstitutional right to add penalty on top of penalty on top of penalty.
Hard to believe a court would uphold a double (triple?) penalty for the same alleged behavior — lying about steroid use.
So, despite the above absurdities, A-Rod’s lawyers, if not A-Rod, should continue the fight and prepare themselves for an almost impossible appeal — in federal court — to win.
If they end the fight prematurely, that could really hurt them down the road.
We will just have to wait and see what happens.
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