The media blitz surrounding Alex Rodriguez is in full swing, leaving us fans to try to make sense of the new pieces of information being leaked or, in the case of Rodriguez attorney Joseph Tacopina, blasted. Let's examine the most recent stories and figure out what, if anything, they mean.
Tacopina appeared on Today this morning and was confronted with a letter from MLB offering to waive the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement so that it could publicly release its PED case against Rodriguez. Tacopina refused.
While interesting, this is a publicity stunt. No attorney worth his salt would agree to disclosure. As a skilled defense attorney, Tacopina did the only thing he could do. MLB's tactic was to try to show that the last thing Rodriguez wants is a full public airing of the case against him. It wants to rebut claims that its case is weak. The trouble for MLB is perception: the public expects it to be the adult here.
Rodriguez has a tactical advantage here that he will not give up. His legal team can make all kinds of allegations against the Yankees, Team President Randy Levine and MLB. The CBA and the Joint Drug Agreement, however, severely limit how the they can respond. Basically, they can do little more than deny the allegations. Because the CBA and the Drug Agreement are designed to protect the player's privacy, they do not restrict Rodriguez in the way they restrict the Yankees, Levine and MLB.
Tacopina has to watch just how far he pushes this envelope. A provision of the Joint Agreement allows a team or MLB to release information "to the extent necessary to respond to any inaccurate or misleading claims" by a player that could "undermine the integrity and/or credibility" of the drug program.
The next development came from Outside the Lines, which reported that Rodriguez paid $25,000 to a Florida attorney to represent Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch and that Rodriguez sent an additional $50,000 to this attorney that she refused to accept. This new information doesn't help Rodriguez, but without more details we can't determine how badly it hurts him.
There are two possible explanations: Rodriguez and Bosch are so close that Rodriguez paid his legal fees, or Rodriguez was trying to thwart the MLB investigation.
If it's the former, it prevents Rodriguez from claiming no connection to Bosch. It may also alter Rodriguez's tactics at the arbitration hearing. Over the weekend, Tacopina said he is so anxious to cross-examine Bosch that he would do it for free. One envisions him hauling mud by the truckload to the hearing. His problem now is that if Rodriguez and Bosch were so close that Rodriguez paid his legal fees, some of that mud may splatter on Rodriguez. If Bosch is as bad a guy as Tacopina suggests, why were he and Rodriguez so close?
If it's the latter, it might be an attempt to thwart MLB's investigation. Under attorney-ethics rules, an attorney cannot communicate directly with a person represented by counsel. Once Bosch had an attorney, MLB's attorneys had to deal with him only through his attorney. There are certain pressure tactics that investigators can use against an unrepresented person that won't fly if the person has an attorney. However, no matter who pays the fee, the attorney's duty is to the client, not to the person paying the bill. It would be a stretch to think that Rodriguez's payment meant that he controlled Bosch's legal strategy. Further, since all people have the right to counsel, especially those at the center of a serious investigation like this, it might be difficult to convince an arbitrator that paying the retainer constitutes obstruction.
The next thing we learned this weekend is that Rodriguez is filing a grievance against the Yankees over their treatment of his injuries. Details are scarce, but one is tempted to tie this grievance to Tacopina's insinuation that the Yankees purposely mismanaged Rodriguez's hip injury last fall to keep him off the field, presumably so they could collect on their insurance policy on him.
This grievance, however, is likely to involve something much less scintillating. Recently, the Yankees reportedly fined Rodriguez $150,000 for violating the CBA by getting a second opinion from a Hackensack orthopedist without first notifying the Yankees of his intent to do so. That orthopedist then embarrassed the Yankees by claiming that Rodriguez's MRI did not show the quad strain that the Yankee doctors had diagnosed. Rodriguez could simply be contesting that fine. He may argue that because of the Yankees' alleged mismanagement of his injuries, he was justified in not notifying them before seeking a second opinion. If Rodriguez were to pursue Tacopina's recent allegations, he would more likely to so in a civil suit, not through a grievance.
Finally, we have reports that GM Brian Cashman is no longer comfortable speaking with Rodriguez beyond simple pleasantries. That is more amusing than significant. As anyone who has been a workplace supervisor knows, once an employee signals an intent to sue, you must tread very lightly around them so that something you say or do doesn't become grist for the litigation mill. Thus, it is to be expected that Cashman will treat Rodriguez like a live hand grenade.