Category Archives: MLB

Does A Federal Lawsuit Pave The Best Path For Alex Rodriguez To Get Back Onto The Baseball Diamond?

After an arbitration panel upheld 162 games of a 211-game suspension previously levied by MLB, Alex Rodriguez sued MLB, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball and MLBPA.  In the lawsuit brought in federal court, Rodriguez raises three claims:  breach of the duty of fair representation by MLBPA, breach of the collective bargaining agreements by MLB and vacatur of the arbitration award.  Overall, Rodriguez seeks the court to overturn the arbitration decision and award whatever other relief is just and equitable.

In the wake of MLB’s investigation into him for alleged illegal performance enhancing substance use, Rodriguez has levied most of his disfavor of the process against MLB.  Rodriguez and his legal team have publicly challenged MLB’s suspension of Rodriguez and its subsequent legal maneuvering during the arbitration process.  Surprisingly, though, in his lawsuit, Rodriguez takes a bigger swipe at a different entity: MLBPA.

The bulk of the 77-page complaint filed by Rodriguez takes aim at what he alleges to have been the union’s breach of its duty of fair representation during the grievance process.  According to Rodriguez, MLBPA refused to act upon his request that it object to MLB’s alleged breaches of the Joint Drug Agreement and Basic Agreement.  Additionally, Rodriguez requested MLBPA to intervene in and seek dismissal of MLB’s state court proceeding in Florida against Tony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis.  According to the lawsuit, MLBPA refused to do this.  Furthermore, Rodriguez alleges that MLBPA made derogatory public statements about him and points to comments made publicly by former MLBPA executive director, Michael Weiner, in this regard.  Due to these issues, Rodriguez sought to select the arbitrator of his choosing to hear his grievance.  MLBPA denied him this request and instead selected an arbitrator of its choosing–as is normal procedure–for the three-member panel.  In his lawsuit, Rodriguez objects to this.

Under federal law, a labor union–like MLBPA–owes its members certain duties.  One of those duties is the duty of fair representation.  Under the duty of fair representation, MLBPA is required to represent the interests of all of its members without discrimination.  To show that a union acted discriminatorily, more than negligence or ineptitude in its representation of a member must be shown.  Rather, the totality of the circumstances must show that MLBPA violated its duty of fair representation by arbitrarily or in bad faith discriminating against Rodriguez in the representation of him throughout the grievance process.

In his lawsuit, Rodriguez raises allegations in an attempt to argue that MLBPA acted discriminatorily in its representation of him throughout the grievance process.  Overall, Rodriguez’s argument is that MLBPA did not want to risk its reputation and good favor with MLB and the arbitration panel in fighting Rodriguez’s case.  Rodriguez points to alleged incidences of this conduct as behavior which amounted to the requisite discriminatory conduct to be violative of the duty of fair representation.

Given the claims Rodriguez’s lawsuit brings and the goals of the lawsuit, the question becomes, did Rodriguez bring his claims in the right forum?  While Rodriguez names as defendants MLB, MLBPA and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, a review and understanding of applicable precedent demonstrates that the party against whom he has the strongest claim is MLBPA.  This is due to the fact that in labor disputes, courts rarely intervene and/or find in the favor of a plaintiff unless an employer (here, MLB and the Officer of the Commissioner of Baseball) act arbitrarily or capriciously or in disregard of their own rules or the law.  Although Rodriguez has asserted that MLB and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball have acted in disregard of the Joint Drug Agreement and Basic Agreement, given the flexibilities present in those documents, his arguments against these parties are arguably his weakest.  Negating the argument that MLB and the Officer of the Commissioner of Baseball acted arbitrarily or capriciously is MLB’s allegedly uncovering of significant evidence that Rodriguez allegedly used performance enhancing substances.  The evidence MLB allegedly holds and legal precedent make it unlikely that a court will find against MLB and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.

That then, leaves the MLBPA.  Given the duty of fair representation, it appears that the strongest claims in Rodriguez’s lawsuit are those raised against MLBPA.  As such, was a federal lawsuit the best route for Rodriguez to bring these claims?  It turns out that another avenue may have presented a more timely disposition of Rodriguez’s claims.  That avenue is an unfair labor practice filing alleging that MLBPA breached its duty of fair representation by discriminating against Rodriguez throughout his grievance against MLB.

Due to Rodriguez’s main goal in bringing his lawsuit appearing to be returning to the baseball diamond, time is arguably of the essence when it comes to the resolution of his claims.  Given the motions and discovery processes in federal court, it could easily be over a year before Rodriguez’s lawsuit is resolved.  An unfair labor practice, however, could see disposition in a more timely manner.  The issue with this route, though, is the remedies available to Rodriguez.  The filing an unfair labor practice charge against MLBPA would unlikely bring about the result Rodriguez is seeking of having his MLB suspension shorted so that he can return to play this year.

While the legal minutiae is tough to sort through in this case, one thing is certain:  The road for Rodriguez back to the baseball diamond is one that will span over a year.  Whether serving a suspension or battling in court, this matter is not one that will disappear soon.

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Filed under Civil Lawsuits, MLB, MLBPA

A-Rod’s Legal Lineup

By:  Jonathan Gordon, Ruling Sports Contributor (Twitter:  @JonathanCGordon)

On Friday, it was announced that Alex Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner, and Bud Selig for, among other things, attempting to “destroy [his] reputation and career.” The full lawsuit can be found here. (For what it’s worth, this might be one of the more entertaining and colorful lawsuits you’ll ever read.)

[Update: Rodriguez also filed a lawsuit against the Yankees doctor and a hospital. That lawsuit was drafted by different lawyers than the ones representing him against Major League Baseball and Selig.]

As it appears in the suit, Rodriguez is being represented by a diverse and well-accomplished team of five lawyers. Combined, the team specializes in legal issues pertaining, but not limited, to: criminal law, prosecution, criminal defense, litigation, financial services, and sports law — all relevant and important issues in Rodriguez’s case. While Rodriguez may also be seeking advice from other lawyers and individuals, the following five lawyers drafted the contract and appear to be Rodriguez’s main representation.

Joseph Tacopina (Tacopina, Siegal, & Turano) – Perhaps the most well-known lawyer on the team, Tacopina is no stranger to the spotlight that comes with representing Rodriguez. Most recently with A-Rod’s drug suspension and appeal, Tacopina has spent a fair amount of time in the public enthusiastically defending Rodriguez and voicing his displeasure with Major League Baseball. Labeled as the “hottest young criminal defense lawyer” in New York, Tacopina has been quite successful as a litigator and defense attorney.

James McCarroll (Reed Smith) – McCarroll is Chairperson for Reed Smith’s Investment Management Group and also serves as a partner in the firm’s Financial Industry Group. While he deals mainly with hedge funds and investment banks, McCarroll also represents various high net worth individuals and public figures. McCarroll’s areas of practice also include employee benefits.

Casey Laffey (Reed Smith) – Also from Reed Smith, Laffey is an expert in litigation and resolutions. Specifically, he is a member of Reed Smith’s Commercial Litigation and Financial Services Litigation Departments. As listed on the firm’s website, Laffey’s areas of practice include: litigation and dispute resolution, commercial litigation and disputes, financial services litigation, securities litigation, and others.

Jordan Siev (Reed Smith) – Siev is the last of the partners from Reed Smith. Like Laffey and McCarroll, Siev specializes in financial and commercial litigation.

[Reed Smith was recently ranked 16th in Law360’s 2012 Global 20 Rankings.]

David Cornwell (Gordon & Rees) – Cornwell is a partner in the firm’s Sports, Media, and Entertainment office. Cornwell provides a unique perspective in that he once worked with and for a major commissioner. Cornwell began his career as an Assistant Legal Counsel in the NFL, where he represented former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Cornwell also went on to work with NFL Comissioner Paul Tagliabue on various issues.

While the MLB is sure to have an impressive team of lawyers on its side, Rodriguez appears to have an extremely qualified and successful team speaking for him on his behalf. Just as the lawsuit covers a broad range of issues, so too do Rodriguez’s lawyers.

When he steps to the plate, A-Rod will be going up with a big bat. Five, to be exact.

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Jonathan Gordon is a junior at the University of Notre Dame with plans of attending law school. The founder of Sports Analytics Blog, Jonathan invites you to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Why The Raiders May Hold The Keys To The A’s Leaving Oakland

Earlier today, the NFL sent out a press release notifying members of the media that the October 6 San Diego Chargers versus Oakland Raiders game would be postponed by seven hours and begin at 11:35 p.m. ET.  Other than the obvious–that this move may make this week five match-up the latest game in NFL history–other implications possibly arise from this move by the NFL.

As the press release continued, the reason for the game delay was made known.  The NFL wrote, “The move was made in response to today’s announcement by Major League Baseball of its ALDS schedule which has the Oakland A’s hosting a game on Saturday, October 5 at 6:07 PM (PT).  The Raiders share the O.co Coliseum with the A’s and the Coliseum requires time to convert back into a football stadium in order to host the game.”

What the NFL didn’t note in its release, is that the Raiders and the A’s are the only NFL and MLB teams respectively that share the same coliseum on a full-time basis.  What the release also didn’t note is the looming issue facing Oakland:  That one or both of its franchises may be hitting the road for new homes.

The Raiders’ current lease agreement is set to expire after the 2013 season.  To date, the Raiders have not announced where they will play beginning in 2014.  However, reports indicate that the team has expressed interest in building a new stadium on the current stadium’s site.  While this proposal is attractive to the city of Oakland, as it keeps the Raiders in town, it is problematic, as construction of a new coliseum could push the A’s out.

Like the Raiders, the A’s are in the last year of their lease with the coliseum.  It is no secret that the A’s wish to leave Oakland and relocate to San Jose.  However, territorial rights that the team previously ceded to the San Francisco Giants have prevented MLB from approving this move.  This, in turn, has resulted in litigation against MLB from parties including the city of San Jose.  Needless to say, from a legal and team perspective alike, the A’s way to San Jose is not clearly paved.

It is perhaps of no surprise that the Raiders desire to build a new stadium.  Originally opened in 1966 and most recently renovated over a decade ago in 1996, the Raiders and A’s have both recently raised concerns over the current state of the Oakland Coliseum.  The concerns were punctuated this season by sewage overflows the stadium’s visitor dugout and coaches’ bathroom.  Perhaps, though, the current state of the stadium was best described by current MLB commissioner, Bud Selig, when he referred to it as “a pit.”

The surprise, though, arguably lies in the Raiders’ willingness to rebuild on the current coliseum’s location.  In making the desire to move to San Jose known, the A’s have continuously lamented over the fact that the Oakland Coliseum is not surrounded by a vibrant downtown community.  The argument, from the A’s perspective, is that if the team played in a stadium surrounded by a downtown, ticket sales would increase, as fans would be more easily able to pop into the ballpark.

That argument aside, with the Giants’ territorial rights holding up a move to San Jose, reports indicate that the A’s have begun negotiating a new lease agreement with the Oakland Coliseum.  While some may see this move as the A’s waiving the white flag and succumbing to life in Oakland, the Raiders may slowly riding in as the A’s knight in shining armor.  The shield that the Raiders hold in this case, is that team’s desire to build a new facility on the current coliseum site.

The A’s have made it clear that they have no desire to rebuild or build a new stadium on the current coliseum site.  Thus, if the Raiders’ new stadium plan is approved the possibility exists that the A’s will be left without a place to play when construction is ongoing.  Thus, if this situation arises, might MLB be more inclined to allow the team to move to San Jose?

Who knew that the postponement of an NFL game could be the first move in a potential chain of events that may pave the way for an A’s move to San Jose?

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Filed under Arenas, Civil Lawsuits, Contracts, MLB, NFL

What Yasiel Puig’s Failure To Be Named To The All-Star Game Roster Means To His Career

By:  Kristopher Colley, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter:  KCMasterpiece52)

The influx of young talent that Major League Baseball has been blessed with the past couple of seasons has been something to marvel at. Young stud after young stud, the MLB is loaded with exciting youth. The abundance of young talent and faces sprinkled around the league is just what MLB needed to recover from the embarrassing and tragic period, known as the Steroids Era.

Lately, it seems like year after year, there is a new youngster taking the league by storm. In 2012, fans were amazed with the heroics of two young prospects: Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Both players breathed life into motionless and struggling franchises. Each of their wins over replacement, WAR, topped the league by a significant margin and Harper’s Nationals bolstered the National League’s best record to make the postseason for the first time since the team moved to the nation’s capital in 2004. Like Troy Tulowitzki in 2007, Evan Longoria in 2008, and Buster Posey in 2010, Trout and Harper energized dormant franchises and made them relevant again.

This season, one rookie has taken over in a way that the others have not; and that is with pure excitement, a distinct love of the game, and flash. His name is Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is a 22-year-old phenom from Cuba, who is the newest player in a historic lineage spanning from the island nation into the big leagues. Puig has blazing speed, a trusted glove, an absolute cannon for an arm in right field, and hits hard line-drives all over Dodger Stadium while also being able to hit for power. In sum, Puig is the five-tool prospect that scouts would sacrifice their entire career to find.

His numbers–59 hits, 19 runs batted in, 8 homeruns, .391 batting average, .422 on-base percentage, and .616 slugging percentage, make him seem like he is entering his prime rather than rounding out the first couple of games of his rookie season. He has been the most talked about player of the 2013 season, already being compared to greats Joe DiMaggio and young Sammy Sosa. Puig was also in the center of the most argued debate of the first half of the season: whether Puig deserves to be named an All-Star after only playing a limited number of games.

Puig has only played in 38 games this season, but within those games his team has gone from the highest paid doormat team in league history, to what many thought they would be at the beginning of the season:  a contender.

Last Friday it was announced that Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman edged out Puig to win the final fan vote for the All-Star Game. This final tally left Puig off of the team and when it was announced Freeman could not play Tuesday night, Puig was once again excluded, this time by rival San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in favor of Braves catcher Brian McCann. Both of these moves miss the point of the All-Star Game, to showcase the league’s best players and the players that the masses want to see. There is no other player that the fans want to see this year more than Puig.

The question, then, is when it comes to the All-Star Game, is the rest of the league out to get Puig? Or do the Giants just hate the Dodgers that much? Or, does the league, fans and Giants’ manager see his numbers as being skewed because of his lack of games?  Regardless, something that cannot be viewed adversely is his undeniable talent. The kid is good.

The second half of the season will be filled with interesting stories, but Puig’s progression will top the list. He can carry the Dodgers into the postseason, and set untouchable rookie records.  He will achieve all of this, though, without being named to the All-Star Game roster.  Yet, if he can continue building impressive stats and take the Dodgers to the postseason, it is possible that not making the midseason classic will only be a small blemish on an otherwise incredible season for Puig.

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The Chicago Cubs Face Serious Backlash In Building A 6,000-Square-Foot Jumbotron At Wrigley Field

The Cubs want only what almost every other MLB team already has:  A Jumbotron.  Part of a proposed $500-million renovation plan to the 99-year-old Wrigley Field includes placing a 6,000-square-foot video screen in Wrigley’s left field.  Along with enhancing the viewing experience of Cubs game attendees at Wrigley Field, Cubs officials assert that the Jumbotron will provide another key element:  revenue.  Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts recently asserted that advertising placement on the Jumbotron could create up to $20 million annually in revenue. This revenue would help pay for the costs of the proposed $500 million renovation.

Given the enhanced viewing experience and revenue generation it would create, what’s not to like about the proposed 6,000-square-foot Jumbotron being placed in Wrigley’s left field?  As it turns out, there is nearly as much not to like as there is to like.

The biggest opponents to the placement of the jumbotron are a group of rooftop owners whose buildings surround Wrigley Field.  For over two decades, these rooftop owners have been a thorn of sorts in the Cubs’ side.  The contention between the rooftop owners and the Cubs began when rooftop owners began selling packages to view Cubs games from the rooftops, while also providing amenities like food and beverages and telecast views of the games.  Many of these ticket packages exceeded $100 in costs, with the Cubs receiving no cut of the money.

After another renovation proposal was rejected, wherein the Cubs sought to add additional bleacher space to Wrigley Field, in 2002, the ball club sued a group of the rooftop owners.  The lawsuit, in federal court, asserted four causes of action:  copyright infringement, trademark infringement, misappropriation and unjust enrichment.  In its lawsuit, the Cubs noted that the rooftop owners created million-dollar businesses by charging individuals for entry onto their rooftops to watch Cubs games.  The Cubs asserted that the rooftop owners’ businesses were built on the backs of the millions of dollars the Cubs invested in building a team and maintaining Wrigley Field.  Not only did the rooftop owners not provide the Cubs a cut of their revenues, but they had not obtained copyright or trademark licenses from the club, which the team asserted were necessary for the rooftop owners to profit off of selling opportunities to view the games.

The Cubs’ lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement, in which the rooftop owners and the team signed a 20-year agreement, whereby the owners give the Cubs 17 percent of their gross revenue annually.  This gross revenue amounts to an estimated $2 million per year.  While this settlement agreement provided the Cubs with an additional $2 million in revenue and at the time, a solution to one of the team’s greatest dilemmas, it may now create new problems for the ball club.

The rooftop owners who were part of the settlement agreement assert that building a Jumbotron that blocks their view amounts to a breach of the settlement agreement.  The owners claim that if the Jumbotron blocks their rooftops’ view, it will dismantle their businesses.  This is because the rooftop owners assert that without a clear view into Wrigley Field, patrons will not pay to watch the games from their rooftops.  Thus, the rooftop owners assert that any action taken by the Cubs to thwart their view into Wrigley Field during the term of the 20-year settlement agreement constitutes a breach of the settlement agreement.

The terms of the settlement agreement were reached out of court, and thus, are private.  Hence, it is unclear what licenses, rights or assurances the Cubs granted the rooftop owners.  Knowing what, if any, licenses, rights or assurances the Cubs granted the rooftop owners is necessary to determine whether the rooftop owners could file a lawsuit to successfully block the team from building the Jumbotron.

Given the lucrativeness of the rooftop owners’ business, it is unlikely that they would settle a lawsuit on this matter quickly or for a small amount of money.  From all accounts, it is clear that the Cubs want a Jumbotron, and at that, one big enough to be taken seriously in the age of mega Jumbotrons.  Given this, it is possible that said Jumbotron will block some of the rooftop owners’ views into Wrigley Field.  If the Cubs want the advertisement revenue that comes along with the proposed Jumbotron, depending upon the terms of the previous settlement agreement with the rooftop owners, there is a chance that the team will have to shell out serious cash to the rooftop owners.

While the rooftop owners continue to pose a threat to the team’s renovation plans, perhaps another factor presents a bigger obstacle to the Cubs.  That factor would be Wrigley Field’s recognition as a historic landmark by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks in 2004.  As a result of its status as a historic landmark, renovations to Wrigley Field must be approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.  Given the historic nature of Wrigley Field, there is a chance that the commission would reject a plan to modernize the field by adding a 6,000-square-foot Jumbotron.  A potential argument exists that addition of the Jumbotron, which would bring Wrigley Field up to par with other, more modern baseball stadiums, would impact its historical nature.  Thus, while the Cubs’ proposal has received support from a number of essential Chicago politicians, perhaps the biggest hurdle the team’s plans face is convincing the commission that addition of the Jumbotron does not thwart the historic nature of Wrigley Field.

Over the coming months, the Cubs face some serious battles in their plan to renovate Wrigley Field.  While chairman Ricketts has asserted that if the team’s renovation wishes are not met, it may be forced to move, such a decision will not come without a full economic analysis of alternative stadium locations.  Although the Cubs have built a legion of loyal fans over the years, the team’s home at Wrigley Field remains an important component to its economic success.  As the team has only three post-season appearances in the last decade, it’s safe to say that many who attend Cubs games do so based upon the lure of visiting the second-oldest ballpark in MLB.  Uprooting the team over the potential inability to construct a Jumbotron then, arguably poses a great risk to continued ballpark attendance.  Thus, it is to be seen, whether that is a risk the Cubs are willing to take.

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The DEA’s Investigation of the San Diego Padres and Chargers

By: Andrew Riley, Ruling Sports Intern, Twitter: @buriedtalents

Recently, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ended their two-year investigation into the medical staffs of the San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres. The investigation focused on the integrity and reporting requirements of the supply chain for the prescription drug program. As a result of this investigation the pharmaceutical supplier for both teams, RSF Pharmaceuticals, has surrendered its federal registration needed to continue operation. Moreover, the DEA stated that the teams are now in compliance with regulations. There is no indication, as of today, that there will be charges or sanctions against either team under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). A general overview of the relationship between the pharmacies and the teams will be described, followed by analysis of the applicable law, and the potential implications of this investigation.

The DEA investigation focused on five entities involved in the supply chain of prescription drugs in the San Diego area. The entities were RSF Pharmaceuticals, RSF Manufacturing, Sportpharm Pharmaceuticals Inc., the San Diego Chargers and Padres. Allegedly, RSF Pharmaceuticals would buy the drugs from a wholesaler; the drugs would be transferred to RSF Manufacturing where it was stamped with the Sportpharm label; Sportpharm would then ship the drugs to the purchaser, in this case the Chargers and Padres medical staff.

Reports suggested that the investigation was initiated when former San Diego Chargers safety, Kevin Ellison, was found to be in possession of 100 pills of painkillers during a traffic stop in May of 2010. However, the complaint against RSF Pharmaceuticals states that the investigation actually began a month earlier when a phone call was allegedly received describing the alleged activities. The investigation concluded that the painkillers Ellison had in his possession were not from the San Diego Chargers.

The DEA began its investigation was because RSF Pharmaceutical was a registered company with the DEA, however it had not recorded any sales or movement of drugs under its current registration number. Moreover, neither RSF Manufacturing, nor Sportpharm were registered with the DEA or the Pharmacy Board of California. The CSA requires that every manufacturer, wholesaler, or dispenser needs to be registered with the DEA. Also, every time dangerous drugs are transferred to a manufacturer, wholesaler, or dispenser, it must be registered with the DEA and all information associated with the exchange needs to be recorded and filed where it can be easily audited.

Another issue reportedly spurring the investigation was that the doctor for the Chargers, Dr. Chao, allegedly accepted a large number of prescriptions dispensed by RSF Pharmaceuticals, wherein he was allegedly listed as the user. Such a practice is not allowed under state law. 

The purpose of the CSA’s registration and reporting requirements is to ensure that dangerous drugs do not reach the illicit market. To explain further, the purpose for maintaining a closed supply chain is guard against diversion. At the core of all the regulations, including the registration and reporting requirements, is to lessen the chance of abuse of dangerous drugs. There is less of a chance of abuse if the drugs are kept in the closed supply chain and used for a “medical purpose”. The DEA uses a broad definition of “medical purpose.” The effect of using a broad definition makes recreational or illicit use to be classified as a non-medical purpose but allows for discretion in instances when there are reporting indiscretions but the drugs are still likely being dispensed to those within the supply chain. For example, a shipment that is diverted from the closed supply chain will likely be dispensed on the black market from a dealer for illicit purposes. Whereas, where there are reporting irregularities a doctor is still dispensing prescription drugs for those who, presumably, require it for their health. This explains why the DEA is willing to work with the teams to ensure compliance in the future as oppose to seeking punishment.

What is the significance of this investigation to the sports world? For teams, it could be as simple as enforcing the importance of maintaining proper records so that there is no significant loss of revenue to lawsuits or fines, as well as to avoid potential issues that could interfere with daily operations of the organization. For example, if the organization is no longer able to dispense medication to its players, then players’ ability to play and their health could be hampered. At the other end of the spectrum, the reporting shortages of prescription drugs, for the NFL in particular, may affect the current concussion lawsuits against the NFL. Without delving too much in to the intricacies of that litigation, at its core, the suit alleges that the NFL was negligent when it hid brain injuries from the players.  Hiding the brain injuries caused further problems later in life for the players. What if there was another possible cause to either the brain injuries and the problems later in life, such as prolonged use of painkillers for example. Potentially, it could mean that the players (plaintiffs) could not establish a proximate cause to their injuries, which would be fatal to their case. If the issue of the case against the NFL involved broken legs instead of brain injuries then it would be much easier to determine proximate cause since broken legs are obviously impact injuries. Brain injuries, however, are not clear. The number of ex-athletes who have donated their brain for research, and how much money the NFL has donated to the cause demonstrates this concept. Alternatively, painkillers have be researched and tested significantly and warn against many of the symptoms complained of by players after extended use.

The investigation by the DEA against the Chargers and Padres for non-compliance of reporting requirements for prescription drugs can impact the above theory because if the supply chain ends at the team doctor then it will be difficult to track which players may have received a significant amount of painkillers. If it were impossible to track those who may have used certain drugs for a significant length of time then it would be difficult to conclude that the extended use of painkillers was a possible cause of the brain injury.

Ultimately, the significance of this investigation may simply rest in the importance of being diligent in the reporting standards and not have any impact whatsoever on external litigation. If so, taking the proper steps to ensure that no dangerous drugs enter the illicit market is an adequate reason to promote compliance.

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NCAA and Major Professional Sports Leagues Seek to Prevent Sports Betting in New Jersey

On Tuesday, the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the State of New Jersey’s “plan to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license and authorize gambling on amateur and professional sports.”  The lawsuit names New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie, the state’s Director of Gaming Endorsement and the Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission as defendants.

On January 17, 2012, Governor Christie signed into law N.J.S.A. 5:12A-1, which according to the lawsuit, “purport[ed] to permit wagering at casinos and racetracks on the results of certain collegiate and professional sports or athletic events.”  According to the lawsuit, the act signed into law by Governor Christie violates federal law.  In particular, the plaintiffs assert that allowing gambling on amateur and professional sports in New Jersey violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, and contravenes the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.  The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act generally outlaws sports betting, save for certain exceptions, which the plaintiffs argue do not apply to New Jersey’s law.  Notably, those exceptions are:  that New Jersey conducted sports gambling activity prior to the law’s enaction in 1992, New Jersey authorized sports betting in a one-year period following the law’s 1992 enaction or the gambling relates to pari-mutuel animal racing and jai alai games.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit comes just three weeks before the public comment period for comments on proposed regulations concerning the licensure and operation of sports gambling in New Jersey expires.  The timing is notable, because according to the lawsuit, once the regulations are in place, New Jersey casinos and racetracks will be able to allow their patrons to gamble on sporting events.

Ultimately, the plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that New Jersey’s sports gambling law and its regulations violate Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in that the New Jersey law allows sports gambling in contradiction to the federal law.  Additionally, the plaintiffs seek an injunction preventing the implementation of New Jersey’s sports gambling law and regulations.  The plaintiffs are also seeking costs, attorney’s fees and other relief as the court finds appropriate.

The defendants will now have to file an answer in federal court responding to the allegations in the complaint.  Given the nature of this matter, one can expect that it will not be settled out of court.  Rather, those planning on placing bets in New Jersey during the football season will more than likely have to hold onto their money, as the legal process will likely drag out to determine whether New Jersey’s sports betting initiative violates federal law.

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Filed under Gambling, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL

Examining the MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline

By: Andrew Riley, Ruling Sports Intern (Twitter: @Buriedtalents)

As the MLB non-waiver trade deadline approaches, there has already been a number of major transactions. The trade deadline marks the moment teams decide to either swing for the fences for a championship this year or to sacrifice bunt for a better chance next year. The closer the deadline gets, teams are classified into buyers or sellers based on their current record or the general sense of how possible it is to reach the playoffs. As a seller, a team has likely come to the conclusion that they are missing a too many crucial pieces needed for a championship team. As a result, based on many factors from both a talent and a financial standpoint, the team decides it is willing to field offers for current talent with the hopes of acquiring a useful player down the road. A buyer on the other hand, feels they are close to fielding a championship team and need one more arm or bat to put them over the top to achieve success. A buying team will then be willing to part with a less active but high valued talent, like a prospect, to obtain the final pieces. The significance of the non-waiver trade deadline is that the players involved in trades do not have to be put on waivers before being traded.

After the July 31st trade deadline trades may still occur, however the players must clear waivers first. When a player is waived, every team is afforded the option to pick that player, and his contract, to be a member of that club. Three things can occur if a player is picked up on waivers. The first option is that the waiving team and the receiving team can negotiate a trade for the waived player. The second option is that the waiving team can cancel the waiver and the player remains on the waiving team. Third, the waiving team does nothing, allowing the receiving team to get a free player without having to give up any talent of its own. Due to these limitations the possibility of being able to obtain top players lessens significantly after the non-waiver trade deadline. For this reason, there always seems to be a scramble near the deadline for top players. Which teams are scrambling this year?

BUYERS

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers have persevered through a decimated pitching staff the first half of the season. The Rangers have had ten different pitchers start games this year due to the injuries of Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz, Roy Oswalt,, Alexi Ogando, and now Colby Lewis. Even without the injuries, the Rangers were lacking a true number one starter and there have been reports that they are interested in some pitchers available. The most prominent pitcher available is Zack Greinke. Greinke is arguably one of the top pitchers in the game and would be exactly what the Rangers need. Greinke is the only true number one left after the Phillies extended the contract of Cole Hamels. After Greinke and Hamels, the quality of the pitchers brought up in trade rumors is at least one tier below. Some names include James Shields of the Tampa Rays, and Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates quietly let it be known that they plan to make a run this year with the acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez from Houston. Currently they are in position of grabbing one of the Wild Card spots. The success of the Pirates can be narrowed down to the emergence of four players. Andrew McCutcheon is performing like the player that many scouts projected him to become. Despite a low batting average, Pedro Alvarez has hit twenty homeruns and many of them were timely enough to result in walk-off wins. James McDonald has struggled lately but has pitched masterfully during the first half of the season. The resurgence of A.J. Burnett has been a pleasant surprise and has eleven wins to his credit. The Pirates currently sit two games back of the Reds, but like the Rangers they lack a true number one starter. Rodriguez is hardly a number one starter but he is a significant upgrade and could provide the wins they were looking for. The question remains as to whether they will make more trades or they feel they have already filled the gap.

Sellers

Miami Marlins

The curious case of the Miami Marlins continues to baffle. The season began with such hope and optimism after the big name, off-season acquisitions of Jose Reyes, Mark Buerle, and Heath Bell. The Marlins currently sit seven games below five hundred and nine games back from one of the Wild Card spots. The initial perception was that they would be a buyer as the deadline approached, especially after the acquisition of Carlos Lee. However, their record has been on a steady decline since then and it appears the Marlins management are tired of the lack of performance, as demonstrated by the Hanley Ramirez trade. Reports have suggested that they will entertain offers from just about anyone with the exception of Emilio Bonifacio. It is unclear what went wrong at this point but it appears the Marlins are looking to regroup and try again next year.

Boston Red Sox

It is unclear whether the Red Sox are truly going to be sellers at this point but it would make sense for them to at least entertain the idea. It is no secret that the Red Sox are in the toughest division in baseball and it is highly unlikely that they will overtake the Yankees to win the division. The possibility to obtain a Wild Card spot seems just as unlikely with the Angels having turned around an abysmal start, the Athletics playing consistent baseball and the Detroit Tigers looking like they are prime for a win streak. This year is as good as any for the Red Sox to reconsider some of the personnel and decide whether they fit in the scheme that Buck Martinez has laid out for the team. The whole first half has been marred with controversy with Martinez being at the center of it all. This year is Martinez’ opportunity to make some changes to the roster and get players that are his type of players. Martinez could have input in acquiring players that will buy into his style of managing and who will not have the baggage from teams of the previous years.

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is both scary and exciting from a fan’s standpoint. The fan wants the best for their team but at the same time has developed a loyalty to the players he or she has watched for years. There would likely be an intense emotional reaction from a diehard fan if his or her favorite player were traded away. However, winning is a great cure for such things. In general a fan likely wants to know that their teams front office is trying to make the best possible decisions to win games, whether be immediately or eventually.

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The O’Malley Group: An Ideal Padres Purchaser?

By:  Andrew Riley, RulingSports.com Intern (Twitter:  @BuriedTalents)

Peter O’Malley is leading the efforts to purchase the San Diego Padres from current owner John Moores.  The Padres were put on sale earlier this year for the second time in four years. The first time the Padres were put up for sale was in 2008, instigated by the divorce of Moores and his wife of 44 years. A divorce, and the subsequent dividing up of 50% of the community property under California law, is akin to ones business partner taking half of the assets used in a joint venture and going home. Even the savviest businessperson would have to reassess his business. In this case it apparently made the most sense to sell the team. In 2008, Jeff Moorad, ex sports agent, was leading a group to purchase the Padres. The deal was all but complete, as far as Moores and Moorad were concerned, except for the MLB vote to accept the deal as the remaining hurdle. That hurdle turned out to be insurmountable and Moorad withdrew his bid in March 2012 with reports suggesting it was because he could not get the necessary votes from the MLB owners.

It’s now July 2012, and the Padres are again up for sale and the Peter O’Malley group have emerged as the frontrunner. The O’Malley group consists of himself, his two sons, two nephews, and pro golfer, Phil Mickelson. The group was recently awarded excusive negotiation rights and reports have already suggested the negotiations are in the details stage. Commissioner Selig has hinted, publicly, that even though a deal is not complete there is little hindering its completion and in effect has his blessing. Commissioner Selig stated that, ”San Diego fans and the club deserve great ownership,” Selig said on a conference call last week. “The O’Malley tradition is remarkable, going all the way back to Brooklyn and to Walter and on to Peter, and now you’re getting the sons and nephews involved.” The deal appears to be inevitable but one question still remains. Are the O’Malley’s suitable owners?

What makes a good owner? A good owner will be one who provides/maintains an overall high quality baseball product while keeping with MLB values. This could be measured by attendance, local reputation, a focus on winning, and business success. Success on the field (i.e. championships) helps the aforementioned categories however there are too many external factors to use it as a primary measure of the quality of ownership. To further explain, an owner who actively pursues to better the ball club via trades, signings, drafting strategy, is more likely to have a more successful Major League ball club. However, the creation of a winning team is not a mathematical equation where a definitive answer results. In baseball, injuries occur, slumps happen, and other teams go on remarkable winning streaks where you may be a victim, and all these affect your recorded success. In saying that, if such a record can be contributed to an owner, as it does with the O’Malley family, it may be an indicator of future success.

The O’Malley family history is strongly intertwined in baseball and Dodger history. The O’Malley family ran the Dodger organization from 1950 until 1997. One would be hard-pressed to find ownership with as much executive baseball experience as the O’Malley group. Peter O’Malley was the CEO of the Dodger’s from 1979 until 1997 before he sold the team. His son, Kevin O’Malley, and nephew, Tom Seidler, are current owners of the Visalia Rawhide, the Class A-Advanced affiliate to the Arizona Diamondbacks. If nothing else can be taken from the experience of the O’Malley family, they surely have baseball operations in their blood.

How do the O’Malley’s compare to the above factors? During the time the O’Malley’s ran the Dodger organization they were above the league average every year for attendance. From 1950 to 1997 the Dodgers won 6 World Championships, which one can infer there was an effective focus on winning. When the club was sold in 1998 to News Corp, the purchase price of $311 million was reportedly the highest ever for a baseball club. Therefore, one can again infer that during the stewardship of the O’Malley family the Dodgers, as a business, was a success. The fourth factor, regarding local reputation, is a little more abstract to determine, especially in the case of the O’Malley’s. History has shed a positive light on the contribution of the O’Malley’s on baseball and the Dodgers. However, if baseball fans in Brooklyn were polled the results may not be as positive since Walter O’Malley was responsible for moving the Dodgers to the west coast from Brooklyn. This is important because any time a sports team is up for sale there is major concern by the residents of the city, that the new owners have local ties. Peter O’Malley understood this when he was vying for a chance to repurchase the Dodgers a few months ago by declining financial investors who did not reside in Los Angeles. How will San Diego respond to the team being sold to an outsider?

The answer will likely depend on the efforts made by the O’Malley group to express their loyalty to San Diego. A local fan wants to see the passion for not only winning but also for their community in the leaders of their team. In this case the legacy of the O’Malley’s may hinder the acceptance by San Diego residents because there are not only questions of loyalty due to his connection to the Dodgers but they also have precedent of moving a franchise across the country. Peter O’Malley has expressed that his son Kevin and nephew Tom, who will be running the team, and will be moving to San Diego immediately upon the completion of the deal. This is a great first step, but efforts like this one will likely have to continue if they want the fans get over their hesitancy and fully invest in their leadership.

As expressed earlier, there is no equation that definitively results in a successful Major League Baseball Club. However, if it were possible to create an ideal Major League Baseball team owner, they would have an excellent reputation in baseball, proven track record of baseball business and on-field success, and who has an obvious passion for baseball. On paper it appears that O’Malley has put together a group with all the right components for success, but as all sports fans know playing the game proves the true character of the team.

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Lessons From the Roger Clemens Verdict

Four years after Roger Clemens voluntarily testified before Congress during a hearing on performance enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball, he was acquitted of all charges brought against him from statements he made during that hearing.  Indicted in August 2010 on two counts of perjury, three counts of making false statements and one count of obstructing Congress, the case against Clemens has proved to be a lengthy and unsuccessful battle brought by federal prosecutors.  Clemens’ full acquittal came in the prosecution’s second attempt to try the case, after the first trial was declared a mistrial when the prosecution played a video tape in open court with evidence that the judge previously ruled inadmissible.  The outcome of the Clemens trial should serve as a lesson to prosecutors and investigators in similar cases which may arise as to how cases must be prepared and argued.

There are several striking factors which led to a full acquittal of Clemens by the jury.  First, is the timeframe in which Clemens was brought to trial.  Clemens originally testified before the congressional hearing in February 2008.  This was before the economy collapsed later that same year and before millions of Americans would be displaced from their jobs and homes.  The economic and political climate has greatly changed in the United States has drastically changed since February 2008.  In February 2008, performance enhancing drug use amongst professional athletes was a pressing issue for the country, as demonstrated by the fact that congressmen sought the need to hold a large-scale, widely televised hearing on the issue.  However, in June 2012–when the case against Clemens finally ended–performance enhancing drug use amongst professional athletes is arguably of the least concern to American citizens.  Thus, the prosecution faced an upward battle in winning over the jury in this case.  Although before being sworn in as a jury member, jurors took an oath saying they could be impartial, it is likely that many held the belief that this case was unnecessary and was not serving a greater purpose.  Many likely believed that taxpayer’s dollars could be better spent and that government resources and time could better be devoted to lowering the unemployment rate and fixing the housing market.

The toughest battle a prosecutor can face is that of winning over the jury.  As a prosecutor in a criminal case, you face the burden of convincing a group of people who are strangers to you that the evidence you put before them proves the defendant’s guilt of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  This is an incredibly steep legal standard to meet.  When you are facing a jury skeptical about why the prosecution brought a case, it is even more so important that a prosecutor has a solid lineup of witnesses and evidence to present the jury.  In the Clemens trial, it is arguable that the prosecution did not have sound enough evidence to overcome juror’s possible perceptions that the trial was unnecessary. 

The weakness of the prosecution’s evidence is demonstrated by the fact that the only eye-witness they had to tie Clemens to performance enhancing drugs was Clemens’ former strength and conditioning coach, Brian McNamee.  Generally, one credible eye-witness would be enough to prove a case.  However, with an already skeptical jury and a hard-hitting defense attorney like Rusty Hardin, one eye-witness was not enough in this instance.  During cross-examination of McNamee along with presentation of his own defense witnesses,  Hardin was able to thoroughly destroy the credibility of McNamee’s account of events related to Clemens.  This largely led to the full acquittal of Clemens, as jurors were left without any other witnesses to provide an eye-witness account tying Clemens to performance enhancing drug use.

While to some, the Clemens trial stands as a symbol of the government prosecuting a case that taxpayers would prefer it didn’t, the case should actually stand as something larger.  What this case should stand for, is an example of the high burdens prosecutors face when bringing and trying a case.  Practicing prosecutors should learn from this instance to ensure that they work to bring their cases in the most timley manner possible and that when they do so, they have adequate enough evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

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