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People continue to assume A-Rod is going to simply walk away from $114 million

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More for the “Oh, won’t that nasty old A-Rod just go away, please” file. This from the Daily News. Let’s do this in call and response form:

Alex Rodriguez is unlikely to ever wear the pinstripes again, sources familiar with the Yankees’ situation with their troubled third baseman told the Daily News …

Unless someone from the Yankees says “we’re going to release A-Rod” there is no support for this whatsoever.

“I don’t know why he would want to go through the pain of rehabbing and trying to play up to the caliber of player he was, and come back to a game where nobody wants him,” said a baseball official.

I can think of 114 million reasons. Plus the fact that his entire identity is tied up in being a professional athlete and most professional athletes don’t make sober assessments about when their careers are over. They have their careers forcibly taken from them, often hanging on too long and requiring that teams release them.

Even before the latest steroid allegations surfaced, Yankee officials had already privately begun preparing for the likelihood that Rodriguez would never finish out the mega-deal he signed in 2007.

Yet publicly they all said that his rehab would be six months and that, while it could be longer, it was unlikely. And his doctor said that his hip was less damaged than anticipated. Indeed, no one said A-Rod was finished in New York until about ten minutes after the Miami New Times story broke the other day.

Meanwhile, the Rodriguez scenarios include: (1) A-Rod being forced to retire because of the injury, enabling the Yankees to collect 85% of the insurance on the contract, which would leave him with a paid-up deal that comes off the Yankee books and subsequently lessens their luxury-tax burden.

See yesterday’s commentary about the likelihood of the Yankees being able to collect on an insurance claim for A-Rod.  In any event, even if his hip ended his ability to play baseball — which no one other than columnists have suggested — he would not retire. He’d sit on the DL for five years, just like Albert Belle did, collecting his money. Also: an insurance scenario would not give the Yankees luxury tax relief.

(2) Rodriguez completes the rehab but continues to play in a diminished role, is unhappy with his level of play and decides to voluntarily retire. In that case, the Yankees would engage him in settlement talks.

Again, there is zero incentive for A-Rod to voluntarily retire. If the Yankees don’t want him, they can cut him and he can go play elsewhere while still collecting all the money he’s owed. If no other team signs him, he gets $114 million from the Yankees for sitting on the beach and doing nothing.  There is no reason in the world why he should or would engage the Yankees in “settlement talks.” Unless the writers of this column can come up with one, their suggestion is nonsense.

If Rodriguez is found to have been involved, he could face a 50-game suspension by MLB, or worse: If he was not truthful when baseball officials interviewed him several times over the past years about his involvement with steroids and human growth hormone, commissioner Bud Selig would have the power under the collectively bargained drug agreement to increase the suspension.

The commissioner’s power comes from a paragraph in the joint drug agreement that says anything not covered under the listed penalties can be covered by the discretion of the commissioner.

I have read the Joint Drug Agreement up and down, backwards and forwards, and I cannot find a clause that says this.  If I missed it, someone point it out to me.  If there is something in there to this effect, someone is going to have to tell me how A-Rod’s alleged acts — taking banned PEDs — is “not covered under the listed penalties.”  Like I said earlier today, A-Rod is a player like any other. Just because he makes a lot of money and is hated does not make him eligible for greater discipline than anyone else.

All of this is wishcasting by Yankees sources. Or, more likely, Yankees sources attempting to communicate to A-Rod through the media, telling him that he is unwelcome and hoping he decides to do the highly irrational thing of walking away from $114 million.

Unless and until someone from the Yankees, anonymously or otherwise, suggests that they are going to simply release A-Rod outright, there is every reason to think that he will play for them again.  He will do his rehab and get himself in a position to play if he is able, if for no other reason, than to force the Yankees to play him or release him.  In no event does it make any sense whatsoever for him to retire or to enter into negotiations with the Yankees for a buyout.

We get it, Yankees. You don’t want to pay A-Rod the silly contract you gave him.  But no matter how much you beef about it now, you’re gonna end up paying the guy.

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams homered in the 16th inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night for St. Louis’ season-best fifth straight victory.

It was the second consecutive game that the Cardinals won in their final at-bat. They beat the Padres on Thursday after scoring a run in the ninth inning.

Adams homer came with one out off Bud Norris (5-9), who gave up six runs as a starter in an 8-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

Seth Maness (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for St. Louis, which was playing its longest game of the season.

Jedd Gyorko hit a two-out homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to tie the game 3-3.

Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick homered for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has lost four of six. The red-hot Turner has seven homers and 17 RBI this month. He hit two homers in a 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday.

Turner blasted his career-high 18th homer of the season off Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Corey Seager had four hits and drove in the first run of the game. He had hit in seven successive at-bats before flying out in the ninth.

Kendrick’s solo shot in the sixth tied the game 2-2. He has hit in 14 successive games trying Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the longest current streak in the majors.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy allowed one hit and two runs over 6 1-3 innings, the longest of his four starts this season. He left with leg cramps. McCarthy struck out four and walked three.

St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore recorded his 28th successive scoreless outing by retiring two of four batters in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 41 of 42 appearances this season.

Minor League Players’ Wage Suit against Major League Baseball suffers a huge setback

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East
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A judge handed minor leaguers looking to hold Major League Baseball liable for underpaying and exploiting them a huge setback today, ruling that the case cannot go forward as a class action. Minor leaguers who want to sue over their pay and treatment still can, but they’ll have to do it individually. The ruling saps the minor leaguers of their leverage, as Major League Baseball would likely be able to fend off individual cases which, by themselves, might only amount to several thousand dollars per claim.

The background: in 2014, former Miami Marlins player Aaron Senne sued Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three major league clubs claiming that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was later joined by former Royals minor leaguer Michael Liberto and Giants farmhand Oliver Odle. Eventually others joined and the suit had been expanded to 22 teams as defendants.

The upshot of the case is that, while the minor league season lasts only part of the year, players are required to do all sorts of things outside of merely playing games for which they are not compensated. Training, meetings, appearances and the like. When all of that time is added up, the players claim, their already low salaries are effectively far below minimum wage in violation of the law. Major League Baseball has countered this by claiming that minor leaguers are basically part time seasonal workers — like landscapers and pool boys — who are not subject to federal labor laws.

Last year the judge gave the case conditional certification, allowing the players to try to establish that it should go forward as a class action. This would streamline the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective and give them the power of collective action by asserting hundreds or more similar cases into one proceeding. The judge’s ruling today, however, was that the cases really weren’t factually similar and thus collective action was not appropriate because figuring out how many hours each player worked and what was required of him varied too greatly among the players.

From his order:

“The difficulties associated with determining what activities constitute ‘work’ in the context of winter training are compounded by the fact that there appear to be no official records documenting these activities. Because it may be impossible to determine from official records the types of conditioning activities in which the players engaged, membership in the state classes based on winter training would depend largely upon the players’ ability to remember, with a reasonable amount of detail, what they did during the off-season (often for multiple years and for many, several years in the past) to stay fit.”

The judge said that, in light of this, each case would be unique and would require “individualized inquiries” to find damages and liability. That phrase –“individualized inquiries” — constitutes magic words which sink would-be class actions. If a company overcharges all of its customers by $8 due to an error repeated a million times, it’s easy to look at one set of facts and judge them together. If you had to look at a million different wrongs, that’s no class action. And so it is not a class action for the players.

As many courts who have dealt with these sorts of cases have noted, for many plaintiffs, a class action is the only practical method of adjudicating Fair Labor Standards Act cases because individual plaintiffs are frequently unable to bear the costs of separate trials. They are, by definition, (allegedly) exploited workers. They’re not going to be able to pay legal costs and fight off a multi-billion dollar business in order to collect the few thousand dollars they were underpaid. At the same time, however, the defendants have rights too and, if the facts of each players’ treatment truly differ (e.g. the Yankees make their minor leaguers do more than the Brewers do) it’s not fair to bind one defendant’s defense to the acts of another.

So, where does this leave the players? Not dead. Not yet, at least. Their claims have not been dismissed on the merits. They have only been denied the right to act collectively. The individual plaintiffs can now file separate lawsuits against their former employers and Major League Baseball under the same theories. It would be harder to land a big blow in such a scenario, but if enough do, it could end up being death by a thousand cuts for the clubs and the league. Their legal fees might go up and, eventually, if they lose enough of these cases, more might be filed. There are a lot of former minor leaguers, after all, and once there’s some blood in the water, more of them — and their lawyers — may enter the frenzy. Decertification is certainly a win for the league right now, but it’s not necessarily a permanent win.

There are likewise some other quasi-collective forms this case could take such as multi-district litigation in which the cases, while individual, are coordinated in a loose fashion. That could lead to some efficiencies for suing players even if it’s not as robust as a class action.

We’ve written quite a bit about minor league pay and treatment in this space by now, so you probably know where we stand on it. We believe that minor leaguers are exploited and underpaid and we believe that Major League Baseball has been happy to exploit and underpay them for some time. Ultimately we believe that this state of affairs cannot and will not persist and that eventually, somehow, baseball will either see fit to pay its workers fairly or, more likely, will be forced to do so by a court or by collective bargaining of some fashion.

Today, however, was a big setback for the minor leaguers. Today’s ruling will give Major League Baseball and its clubs more time and more comfort in which to underpay them. There’s no doubt about it.