Perfection is perfectly simple; fouling things up requires true skill.
~ Douglas Horton
Mistakes are part of the human experience, and we all make more than a few along the rocky and sometimes elusive path to maturity. The trick is, of course, to learn from them, which most of us do. Some errors, however, have repercussions as severe as avalanches, smothering dreams, expectations, salaries and personal reputations.
Strike 3 Y’er Out
Yankee star, Alex Rodriguez, is not the first athlete to fall from grace and he certainly won’t be the last. Standing in the same shameful shoes are, among others: National League MVP Ryan Braun, who was suspended from the Milwaukee Brewers for drug violations; and biker, Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France medals for similar doping offenses.
A three-time American League Most Valuable Player, this talented athlete may well face a suspension throughout the 2014 season due to his connections to the now defunct Biogenesis clinic in Florida which supplied him with performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Legally, the nature of his suspension and his current contract present some sticky issues.
How Much We Talkin’ Here?
Rodriguez’s lawyer, David Cornwell, told the media that his client wasn’t interested in a settlement and that an appeal is imminent if a suspension will be handed down. There is that elephant in the room, which concerns the three years and $61 million remaining on his contract, which comprise the 61 million reasons why the Yankees don’t want him back.
Even if he is banned until 2014, he would still lose his pay for the rest of the season, which translates into many, many smackeroos ($29 million, plus $25 million for next year.) The Yankees would certainly benefit from this arrangement, as they are desperately seeking to reduce their payroll costs. The real question is: Can a team terminate a player’s contract because of the use of performance-enhancing drugs?
Legal Side of Things
Michael McCann, director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law states:
“If Rodriguez receives the longest drug-related suspension in the sport’s history, the Yankees may seek to void his contract, something Rodriguez would oppose… In all likelihood, it would end with some kind of buyout rather than either side entirely winning…”
According to McCann, paragraph 7(b) of baseball’s standard player contract, while the language is broad and not specific as to any offense, states that a team has the right to terminate a deal if a player does not demonstrate “good sportsmanship and good citizenship.” These terms are vague, and creating a defense backed by this clause hasn’t been very successful in the past. Whenever a player has brought the issue before the grievance powers-that-be, the team usually capitulates and some kind of buyout arrangement is reached.
Another possible legal maneuver concerns allegations of misrepresentation. The Yankees could argue that Rodriguez wasn’t being truthful about his abilities and high level of success at the time he signed the original contract with them back in 2008. In other words, they were not getting what they were promised. They could further legally argue that if they had known, they would not have hired him.
Another allegation could include the supposition that the use of PEDs has taken a toll on the health of the player in question and that injuries could result from the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which are known to weaken connective tissue, rendering athletes more vulnerable to some injuries.
The Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) is a formidable adversary to teams attempting to take action against its players however justified their motivation. This union is considered the most potent within the sports world and among the most powerful in all of North America.
The End is Near
In summation, the fate of Alex Rodriguez is still to be determined. Whatever the end result, his life and career will never be the same again, perhaps shedding light on the reason why it’s called dope.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Austin Faux works for Eshelman Ohio Lawyer Group. I love baseball and love writing about America’s greatest past time. I’m also a Boston Red Sox fan so I don’t mind writing about the Yankees hurting. When I’m home I’m helping my beautiful wife relax, playing with my two wonderful kids, and I’m messing with my nerd podcast, “I Am A Super Nerd.”
Additional Photo Credits: Wikipedia