Joe Tacopina

A-Rod’s lawyer was totally owned on the “Today Show” this morning.

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A-Rod’s combative new lawyer, Joe Tacopina, was on the “Today Show” this morning. He repeated some of his recent talking points about how he and A-Rod would love to talk about all of the stuff that has gone into the Biogenesis case and his defense but that he is prohibited from doing so by the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. Then Matt Lauer said this about a letter he just received from MLB:

“They sent us a letter saying that if you’re willing to sign this letter, that they are willing to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug and Prevention Program, that they’ll be allowed to talk about everything and you’ll be allowed to talk about everything.  They said that would include all prior violations of the program committed by Rodriguez, all documents, records, communications, text messages and instant messages related to Rodriguez’s treatment by Anthony Bosch.”

Tacopina offered to read the letter. Then stumbled this out:

“Listen. We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez under this JDA drug program, nothing more.”

That, my friend, is a pretty good ambush.

Of course, one has to ask whether anyone really needed to add ambush tactics into what has been going on here.  It’s already a giant circus thanks to Rodriguez’s attorneys’ tactics and the whole drama with the Yankees about A-Rod’s injuries unfold over the weekend and this kind of thing makes it into even more of one.  Major League Baseball has the upper hand given its suspension of A-Rod, its reportedly strong case against him and public sentiment being overwhelmingly on its side.  Why it feels it should get into the mud with a guy like Tacopina — who lives in the mud 24/7/365 —  is beyond me. I’d take the high road if I was MLB.

Of course I’m not MLB so this sort of thing is as entertaining as all get-out.

Beyond that, Tacopina went on the offensive, saying the Yankees haven’t been truthful about A-Rod’s injuries, both this summer and last fall during the playoffs. He also attacked Anthony Bosch. As I’d say with MLB, I’d ask why Tacopina thinks it’s best to wage his battle in public rather than in private. Winning in the court of public opinion — if this is what he’s trying to do — is pretty meaningless when there is a real court or arbitration that actually matters coming up. But again, we’re dealing with a guy who lives for this stuff for whatever reason.

Are the current Collective Bargaining Agreement talks too friendly?

Scott Boras
Associated Press
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Baseball’s current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1. There have been comments from both commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA director Tony Clark suggesting that progress was being made and there has been no suggestion thus far that there are sticking points which could lead to a work stoppage. Heck, even a few acrimonious rounds of negotiation before it’s all said and done seem unlikely.

That’s good news for fans, but it’s not making certain agents happy. Smooth labor sailing likely means a new CBA that is pretty close in most terms to the current CBA. Agents — especially agents who represent veterans — don’t like that because they believe that the current rules regarding free agency, draft pick compensation, luxury taxes and qualifying offers penalize the players they represent. Today Ken Rosenthal has a story about that anger, talking to both anonymous agents and super agent Scott Boras about how baseball’s middle class is disappearing and baseball’s median salary goes lower and lower.

Major League Baseball counters that while the median salary is going down, the average salary is going up. And baseball is right about that. But it’s also the case that the average is propped up by a handful of superstar contracts while the somewhat less lucrative but still nice mid-level contracts for mid-level veterans are disappearing. The financial landscape of the game is morphing into one with a small upper class with nine-figure contracts and a large lower class of pre-arbitration players and veterans on shorter, smaller deals, squeezing the old veteran middle class out of existence.

Sound familiar?

Baseball, of course, is not the American economy. There are some good reasons why those mid-level contracts have gone away. Specifically, because they tended not to be very good deals for the teams who signed them. At the same time, baseball is far better able to tweak its rules to spread the wealth than the U.S. government can, and those rules — like the qualifying offer and luxury tax — have had a harsh impact on a lot of players.

There’s not a clear answer on what the best system is for free agents, draft pick compensation, draft bonus pools and the like actually is. I tend to favor the fewest restrictions on a player’s right to negotiate freely with teams, but I’ll also acknowledge that there is a less than perfect market at play in baseball given revenue disparities between teams and the need to maximize, within reason, competitive balance. It’s not an easy trick even before you get into the B.S. team owners tend to spew about pocketbook matters.

But it’s also the case that an all-too-friendly relationship between the union and the league — one in which a given set of rules is rubberstamped from CBA to CBA — is not an ideal situation. No one wants acrimony, but the fact is that the players and the union are slicing up a pie. If the person you’re slicing up a pie with is all-too-happy to keep slicing it the same way, it probably means that they’re getting a bigger piece than you. Maybe, if it’s your job to grab a bigger piece?

The agents Rosenthal talked to, who represent a good chunk of MLBPA membership, certainly think the union should be doing some more grabbing. I wonder if their clients do too.

Four baseballs autographed by Jose Fernandez wash ashore

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is just . . . ugh.

WSVN-TV in Miami reports that a black bag containing Jose Fernandez’s checkbook and four baseballs signed by him washed ashore on Miami Beach. Probably a bag to keep stuff dry while out on the water.

The bag was given to a lifeguard. Hopefully the bag finds its way back to Fernandez’s family quickly.