NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez’s grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game suspension ended Thursday when both sides rested their cases, a day after the New York Yankees third baseman angrily walked out and decided not to testify in his own defense.
The sides set a schedule to file briefs and reply briefs next month, which will close the record and submit the matter to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
His decision on whether to uphold or alter the discipline for the 3-time AL MVP likely will be made in January, a person familiar with the proceedings told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Rodriguez’s lawyers already are vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court, where judges usually are reticent to overturn an arbitration decision unless there is a finding the arbitrator was biased, exceeded his authority or failed to comply with the rules agreed to by the parties.
The exact timing of a decision is uncertain. Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement states the arbitrator shall make “all reasonable efforts” to close the record in time to permit a decision within 25 days of the start of the hearing. But in this case, the hearing began Sept. 30, making that timetable impossible to meet.
After the arbitrator renders his decision, the written opinion is to be issued within 30 days. It is unclear if Horowitz will issue his written opinion simultaneously with his decision.
The timing of the case could complicate planning for the Yankees, who don’t know if they will have to pay Rodriguez his $25 million salary and are unsure whether they will need a different starting third baseman.
Rodriguez was suspended by MLB on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball’s drug policy and labor agreement stemming from the league’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida. The players’ association filed a grievance; because Rodriguez was a first-time offender of the drug agreement, the discipline automatically was stayed pending a resolution of the grievance.
Horowitz heard the case in a trio of four-day sessions, with management presenting its case from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and Oct. 15-18. Rodriguez’s side then took its turn during the first four days of this week.
While Horowitz had set aside six additional days for testimony through Tuesday, that time was not needed.
Rodriguez left in the middle of the 11th session Wednesday, furious the arbitrator refused to order baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to testify. Rodriguez and his lawyers then went on radio and television, accusing Selig of bias and the entire arbitration process of being flawed.
His lawyers returned without him Thursday to complete their case and MLB started and finished its rebuttal. At the end of the hearing, the sides learned union head Michael Weiner had died from the brain tumor he was diagnosed with 15 months ago.
Outside MLB’s offices, representatives of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, including state Sen. Ruben Diaz, held a prayer vigil to express opposition to Rodriguez’s discipline.
Rodriguez lawyer James McCarroll issued a statement Thursday pointing out that this case is the first grievance under the drug agreement involving discipline that didn’t stem from a positive test and involved “the commissioner’s discretion and decision-making.” While he said the commissioner in the past “was harshly criticized in the arbitrator’s decision for not voluntarily appearing at a grievance,” that statement appears to refer to arbitrator George Nicolau’s 1987 decision cutting Peter Ueberroth’s drug suspension of pitcher LaMarr Hoyt from one season to 60 days.
While Horowitz has issued an order for the proceeding to be confidential, Rodriguez’s lawyers have said they may release some of the evidence today. Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz said no decision had been made.
MLB players’ union head Weiner dies at 51: Michael Weiner, the plain-speaking, ever-positive labor lawyer who took over as head of the powerful baseball players’ union four years ago and smoothed its perennially contentious relationship with management, died Thursday, 15 months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was 51.
The Major League Baseball Players Association announced Weiner died at his home in Mansfield Township, N.J.
“Michael Weiner worked even thru his sickness. He didn’t look at it as an excuse to quit,” tweeted Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, the NL MVP. “He never gave up on us even when at his worst.”
As Weiner’s health deteriorated this summer, a succession plan was put in place. Former big-league All-Star Tony Clark took over Thursday as acting executive director and is to be approved as Weiner’s successor when the union’s board meets from Dec. 2-5 at La Jolla, Calif.
“Words cannot describe the love and affection that the players have for Michael, nor can they describe the level of sadness we feel today,” Clark wrote in a statement. “Not only has the game lost one of its most important and influential leaders in this generation, all involved in the game have lost a true friend.”
Selig called Weiner “a gentleman, a family man, and an extraordinarily talented professional who earned the trust of his membership and his peers.”
“Our strong professional relationship was built on a foundation of respect and a shared commitment to finding fair solutions for our industry. I appreciated Michael’s tireless, thoughtful leadership of the players and his pivotal role in the prosperous state of baseball today,” Selig wrote in a statement. “Michael was a courageous human being and the final year of his remarkable life inspired so many people in our profession.”
Despite the often bitter relationship between the union and management, Weiner was the rare labor official who could draw genuine praise from the other side.
At Weiner’s last public speaking engagement, a 25-minute meeting with baseball writers on the day of the All-Star game in July, he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to move his right side. Yet, he wanted to respond to questions about his illness and issues in the game and did so with the grace and humor he was known for throughout his life.
“I don’t know if I look at things differently. Maybe they just became more important to me and more conscious to me going forward,” he said. “As corny as this sounds, I get up in the morning and I feel I’m going to live each day as it comes. I don’t take any day for granted. I don’t take the next morning for granted. What I look for each day is beauty, meaning and joy, and if I can find beauty, meaning and joy, that’s a good day.”
Weiner first experienced weakness and tingling on his right side in July 2012 and was diagnosed with a glioma the following month. By June 2013, he had experienced a rapid increase in symptoms. As he sat in a wheelchair in foul territory at Citi Field the following month before the All-Star game, players lined up to speak with him.
Weiner’s voice had gotten raspy by early August, when he responded on behalf of the union to drug suspensions handed down to Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other players.
Known for wearing blue jeans and Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers to work, Weiner’s easygoing manner with players was a change from former head Donald Fehr’s more lawyerly approach. His style connected both with players and the students he taught during Sunday school at his synagogue.
Weiner was hired by the union as a staff attorney in 1988 and wound up succeeding Fehr in December 2009. Weiner became just the fourth head of the organization since 1966.
A longtime New Jersey resident and a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, Weiner clerked for U.S. District Judge H. Lee Sarokin in Newark before joining the players’ association. Once at the union, he became a key figure in the lengthy process to parse the $280 million collusion settlement among individual players.
Weiner also was a junior lawyer during the 7½-month players’ strike in 1994-95 strike and the negotiations that finally led to a new labor agreement in March 1997.
Following eight work stoppages in a 23-year span, baseball has since negotiated three straight labor deals without interruption.
Weiner headed talks for the last deal, in November 2011, which instituted a series of significant changes that included restraints on signing bonuses for amateur players and increased the number of free agents able to switch teams without requiring the loss of draft picks as compensation.
In addition to the labor contract, he headed the legal team that in 2012 convinced an arbitrator to overturn a 50-game suspension imposed on Braun, the Milwaukee outfielder who was the previous year’s NL MVP. The union argued his urine sample had not been handled properly.
Last summer Braun agreed to accept a 65-game suspension for his activities relating to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic and his public statements.
Following a line of leaders that began with Marvin Miller and went on to include the short reign of Kenneth Moffett and the long tenure of Fehr, Weiner was exceedingly conscious of the union’s history and traditions of player involvement. He appeared with Fehr and the then 95-year-old Miller at a 2012 discussion at New York University’s School of Law marking the 40th anniversary of the first baseball strike and the rise of the union.
His hair nearly gone from his treatment, Weiner returned to NYU in January for a memorial celebrating the life of Miller, who died two months earlier. He humbly referred to “our little sport of baseball.”
Weiner is survived by his wife, the former Diane Margolin, and daughters Margie, Grace and Sally. Funeral arrangements were pending.
Red Sox postseason share price drops to $307,323: A full postseason share for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox was worth $307,323, down from a record $370,873 for the San Francisco Giants last year.
The players’ pool dropped to $62.7 million from a record $65.4 million, Major League Baseball announced Thursday.
Boston split $22.6 million, voting 58 full shares, partial shares equivalent to another 14.9 and 21 cash awards.
A full share on the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals was worth $228,300, down from $284,275 last year for AL champion Detroit.
The players’ pool included 50 percent of the gate receipts from the two wild-card games and 60 percent from the first three games of each division series and the first four games of each league championship series and the World Series.
Full shares were worth $129,278 for the Tigers, $108,037 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, $37,316 for the Oakland Athletics, $35,559 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, $35,280 for the Tampa Bay Rays, $34,012 for the Atlanta Braves, $15,285 for the Cincinnati Reds and $15,107 for the Cleveland Indians.
Ortiz, Victorino shavings being auctioned off
BOSTON— It’s the ultimate display of Red Sox fandom: owning strands of David Ortiz’s World Series-winning beard.
The hairs that Ortiz and Shane Victorino shaved off earlier this month are being auctioned for a men’s health charity. Each “beard ball trophy” features a glass case holding a clump of whiskers and the razor used to trim them a few days after Boston clinched the championship.
The Red Sox were led to their third title in a decade by a roster full of bushy-bearded players, who grew their facial hair as team bonding. The public “shave offs” for Ortiz and Victorino raised money for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Even some rabid Red Sox fans may recoil at the thought of a “beard ball trophy.” Others clearly consider it a collector’s item. A few hours into the eBay auction Thursday, Ortiz’s was up to $740, Victorino’s to $460. The bidding ends Nov. 30.
Proceeds will go toward combating prostate and testicular cancer. The promotion is sponsored by Gillette.