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Monday, October 7, 2013

Rodriguez Sues MLB, Yankees’ Doctor

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is pictured during a minor league baseball rehab start with the Trenton Thunder, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 in Trenton, N.J. (Rich Schultz/AP)

New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is pictured during a minor league baseball rehab start with the Trenton Thunder, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 in Trenton, N.J., following hip surgery. (Rich Schultz/AP)

This weekend, the Oakland A’s beat the Detroit Tigers 1 to 0, and the Boston Red Sox bested the Tampa Bay Rays 7 to 4 in the American League. In the National League, the Dodgers won against the Braves 13 to 6 and the Pirates took the Cardinals 5 to 3.

But New York Yankees fans might have been paying more attention to Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuits.

On Thursday, the Yankee’s third baseman announced that he’s suing Major League Baseball and MLB commissioner Bud Selig over his 211-game suspension for taking performance enhancing drugs, claiming MLB is trying to ruin his career.

Then on Friday, Rodriguez filed a suit against the Yankees’ doctor and New York Presbyterian Hospital for mishandling his medical care.

David Epstein joins Here & Now to explain the lawsuits.




From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Robin Young. It's HERE AND NOW.

So in American League playoffs, Oakland and Detroit are tied one game a piece. Boston is up 2-0 in its series with the Tampa Bay Rays. In the National League, the Dodgers are up 2-1 over the Braves, and the Pirates are also leading the Cardinals two games to one.

But if you're a Yankees fan, you're probably more focused on A-Rod's lawsuits. On Thursday third baseman Alex Rodriguez announced he's suing Major League Baseball over his suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs. On Friday he announced he's suing the team's doctors.

David Epstein is sports science reporter for Pro Publica. David, start with the first lawsuit against Major League Baseball. What is A-Rod saying?

DAVID EPSTEIN: Well, he's basically saying that Major League Baseball and its commissioner went outside of the collectively bargained process that allows the league to discipline players to try to sort of impose its own form of discipline by going outside the bounds of arbitration and basically pressuring people to give information about A-Rod in a manner that is aggressively beyond what's normal.

YOUNG: In other words, he's saying that he was targeted more than others?

EPSTEIN: He's saying that he was targeted in a way that oversteps the collectively bargained process through which players are disciplined.

YOUNG: Well - but he's not saying that he didn't deserve that targeting, that he didn't do what he was accused of doing. What is Major League Baseball saying in response?

EPSTEIN: Major League Baseball is denying that they paid people for information in a way that might have biased them against Alex Rodriguez, and that's sort of what they're sticking to right now.

YOUNG: OK. Well, then to the second lawsuit. In this case he's suing doctors. He's saying they didn't tell him how bad his hip was after MRIs showed that he had a hip injury.

EPSTEIN: Yes. So last fall he was examined and didn't find out right away that he had sort of a new hip injury. And he's not only saying that, you know, he wasn't told about this injury that showed up on MRI, this tear in his hip, but that there was sort of a conspiracy between the team doctor and team to not tell him about it so that he might further injure himself basically and then be unable to play. And then the Yankees could collect - conceivably collect some insurance money rather than having to pay his contract directly.

YOUNG: But let's be clear. In either of his lawsuits, is Alex Rodriguez suing the Yankees?

EPSTEIN: He's not suing the Yankees, which is really interesting, just the team doctor, and maybe that's because if he hasn't torched every bridge already, maybe he wants to leave that one a little bit intact in case there's some possibility of him returning to play for them.

YOUNG: Well - so what is your sense that either of these lawsuits will be successful?

EPSTEIN: I think, from the sports lawyers I talked to, that the most likely scenario here is that these lawsuits will be dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Alex Rodriguez could file them again later. But at the moment they are what a lawyer would call not yet right. Meaning that because the internal process in Major League Baseball - the arbitration process - hasn't been exhausted, a judge is unlikely to allow these lawsuits to go forward until that arbitration process is completed.

YOUNG: And just if you could look into your crystal ball - whether Alex Rodriguez, what do you think the end of the story is?

EPSTEIN: I think the suspension is going to get knocked down a little bit just because it's - 211 games, I think, seems a little subjective and arbitrary, whereas the agreement between the union and the players sort of allows for suspensions usually in 50-game increments. So I do think it will come back. That said, I think it's likely that he's going to miss all of next season. And I think, you know, you might even see the Yankees buy out his contract.

One thing that hasn't been talked about at all is that if he hits six more homeruns, they owe him another $6 million, and then he - it's an incentive. And then he has other homerun benchmarks at each of which the Yankees would owe him six million more dollars. So there's a lot more money on the table than people have been talking about, and I don't think the Yankees are going to want to face paying that. So if he misses an entire season, I think they might be willing to just buy out his contract.

YOUNG: David Epstein, sports science reporter for Pro Publica. Thanks so much.

EPSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

YOUNG: OK. Let's take a break. When we come back, will the sky fall if the debt ceiling is not raised? That's next. HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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