Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit against Major League Baseball may face an uphill battle, said several attorneys who have reviewed the complaint. The suit comes as he appeals a 211-game suspension for alleged violations of baseball's drug program and Basic Agreement.
The action, filed late Thursday in New York State Supreme Court, seeks unspecified damages for engaging in a "witch hunt" to force Rodriguez out of baseball. "It's not just the money, it's about holding those responsible and accountable," Rodriguez attorney Joe Tacopina said Saturday. "It's more principle-based than anything. I think when the facts come up, people's eyes will go from being shut to wide open."
Rodriguez launched a separate suit against Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad and NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Medical Center, alleging they misdiagnosed his hip injury in 2012. Ahmad's mother, who lives in Northport, expressed doubt Saturday that her son would comment. A hospital spokeswoman refused comment "due to pending litigation."
Rodriguez's suit against baseball has the deeper implications. "They still have to wade through their failure to exhaust their administrative remedies," New Jersey attorney John Furlong said of the arbitration process, which is scheduled to resume the week of Oct. 14. "Look for MLB to seek prompt dismissal of the complaint."
Washington attorney Stanley Brand, who in 2005 represented MLB in connection with the congressional investigation into its steroid policies, added, "This has little or no chance of succeeding or providing any traction for a defense. I suppose it falls under the 'best defense is an offense' category."
Manhattan attorney Stephan Kallas, a legal analyst who is covering the arbitration hearing for multiple radio outlets, said, "The reason this might be premature is that he hasn't missed a day with the Yankees yet. He hasn't missed a paycheck. He has no damages right now. I would think part of the way [MLB] is going to try to dismiss it is for that reason. However, the suit is couched intelligently, I think. It's a lawsuit for tampering with his contractual relations. I think it is related to the arbitration in this sense. This is a big public relations battle in the view of A-Rod and his lawyers. They now have their story out.''
Manhattan criminal defense attorney Todd Spodek believes the suit has merit, saying, "Mr. Rodriguez has been singled out due to his stature in MLB. I think Mr. Rodriguez is using this opportunity to move from being on the defensive to being on the offensive. By bringing this lawsuit, he is putting a spotlight on MLB's practices and simultaneously garnering public support for his position.''
But Spodek said the suit will hinge on proving "MLB intentionally procuring a breach and [financial] damages. It's a high burden, but again, I don't think the sole reason to bring this suit is to recover damages . . . If you have the [financial] means to bring the suit, your ultimate goal might be a better deal later or to deflect negative public attention. Yes, it inflames [MLB]; however, in weighing the pros and cons of filing this suit, I think the pros far outweigh any cons. What does A-Rod have to lose here?''
Rodriguez attended the first five arbitration hearings, mingling with fans and staying afterward to sign autographs. He even came back at 8:30 one evening to participate in a candlelight ceremony in front of MLB headquarters on Park Avenue, where a group from Hispanics Across America spent the week displaying signs supporting him.
"Truth is that I'm feeling really humble, really happy with the support,'' Rodriguez told ESPN Deportes on Friday. "It's truly been a difficult week . . . Truthfully, with the support, I'm feeling really proud and I'm feeling really happy with the love and energy that they've given me . . . We're in a process. The process has to be respected.''