Editor's Note: The following post is a part of the 2013 Purple Row Writer Search -- our quest to find some great new contributors to Purple Row.
The Background I
Everyone knows the allegations. According to the MIAMI NEW TIMES, an alternative newspaper, Alex Rodriguez and other major league players received PEDs from Anthony Bosch, who ran a "wellness clinic" in South Florida, near the residence of A-Rod. Bosch and Rodriguez have denied all allegations. Major League Baseball (MLB) is investigating the allegations. It is not known whether any government agency is also conducting an investigation. The some in the media and fans, including Yankee haters and Yankee lovers, have called for the N.Y. Yankees to void the remaining years of Rodriguez's 114 million dollar contract.
The Yankees, in 2004 attempted to void the contract of Jason Giambi, former Rockies managerial hopeful, for use of PEDs, arising out of his admissions before a San Francisco Federal Grand Jury that he had used them in the past. This attempt was unsuccessful. "The language in Giambi's deal would not allow the team to do it".
The Background II
The attempt to void Giambi's contract occurred before the Congressional investigation in 2007 which led to the creation of a new drug policy by MLB in 2008. It was surmised that the new drug policy was an attempt to appease Congress and thereby ward off further interference in baseball by that body. The Basic MLB-MLBPA agreement was last agreed to in 2010. The Drug Policy is an attachment to the Basic Agreement.
Has the new drug policy or they amended Basic Agreement done anything to enable MLB or the Yankees to better attempt to deal with Rodriguez, if the Miami New Time's allegations are found to be true in whole or in part?
The Basic Agreement provides that contractual disputes between a Team and a Player are subject to a grievance procedure. The procedure involves many steps and rules, and which could eventually end up in arbitration
"Grievance" does not mean a complaint which involves action taken with respect to a Player or Players by the Commissioner involving the preservation of the integrity of, or the maintenance of public confidence in, the game of baseball. The Commission is the only party to hear such complaints unless he defers them to the Club to which the Player (s) are involved. The Commissioner makes the decision based upon evidence produced at a hearing overseen by the Commissioner. His decision is binding, Is the Commissioner restrained from utilizing any remedy he wishes?
In the Joint Drug Agreement, the modes of discipline are provided, depending upon the drug involved.
For Performance Enhancing Drugs,
- First violation: 50-game suspension
- Second violation: 100-game suspension; and
- Third violation: Permanent suspension from Major League and Minor League Baseball; provided, however, that a Player so suspended may apply for reinstatement to the Commission.
For Stimulant Drugs,
- First violation: Follow-up testing pursuant to Section 3.D.2 above;
- Second violation: 25-game suspension;
- Third violation: 80-game suspension;
- Fourth violation, up to permanent suspension.
All of the above penalties are subject to arbitration review. Each offense may be for either use or possession.
It appears clear that MLB, by agreeing to the Joint Drug Agreement which specifies penalties limits the Commissioner to only those penalties.
What can the Yankees do?
The basic player contract, that is the contract signed by the player and his club provides that a club may terminate a player's contract if the player: " fails, refuses or neglects to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the Club's training rules". There are other provisions of the player contract which are reserved to the Commissioner This one isn't. Since the Standard Player Agreement is attached to the Basic Agreement, it appears as if it is provision of the Basic Contract.
The quoted language above appears difficult to prove in the case of the allegations of the New Miami Times.
Rodriguez's agent is now claiming that the hip injury is caused, not by a playing field injury but a congenital condition. What are the club's "Training Rules"? Are their any provisions in Arod's contract that are not standard and which deal with his use of drugs that we are unaware of? After the Giambi loss, it would appear that it would be negligence on the part of the Yankees not to insist on supplemental provisions that would void his contract. To my knowledge, his contract, except the colossal benefits, have not been disclosed. Did the Yankees, by failing to attempt to void his contract after his admission of PED use in 2002-2003 forfeit their right to right to void his contract now. Are they now seeking enforcement because he has turned "non-productive".
The Rockies organization is not immune to player's involved in drug abuse:
- Catcher Eliezer Alfonzo was suspended 100 games, but on appeal, he had the suspension overturned due to a chain of custody argument.
- LHP Joe Torres was suspended 50 games.
- Rockies infielder Omar Quintanilla was suspended 50 games.
- Matt Herges and Glenallen Hill admitted to using after being named in the Mitchell Report.
The PED controversy will become more loud for quite a while. I apologize to those who have gotten tired of this stuff, but, unless these potential cases and other are handled right, baseball will receive another black eye, and another union fight will be on its hands.