lawsuit gavel

A-Rod’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, files an appeal challenging Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis lawsuit


Alex Rodriguez’s cousin Yuri Sucart has filed a writ with a Florida appellate court challenging the validity of Major League Baseball’s lawsuit against Biogenesis: the lawsuit which gave Major League Baseball the handle with which to turn Anthony Bosch and others as it pursued Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other ballplayers who were alleged to have done business with the Biogenesis clinic.

Sucart is not a defendant in that lawsuit, but Major League Baseball did seek to take his deposition and sought to obtain documents and his medical records.  Sucart challenged MLB’s right to do so, seeking an order from the trial court preventing the deposition from taking place. That effort was denied and now he has filed today’s writ with the Third District Court of Appeal.

The basis for the appeal, which NBC has obtained, includes some arguments which would relate only to Sucart, such as his rights under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and his standing as a non-party to challenge the trial court’s orders. But Sucart also challenges the very foundation of the lawsuit, arguing that the trial court has no jurisdiction to hear Major League Baseball’s case at all. The reason: the dispute requires the interpretation of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to determine whether it was breached and state courts are forbidden from interpreting a collective bargaining agreement by operation of the Labor Management Relations Act.

Major League Baseball will have a chance to respond to Sucart’s arguments.  It will likely be weeks, and possibly months, before the court rules.

Sucart’s attorney, Jeffrey Sonn of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida law firm of Sonn & Erez PLC, told NBC that if Sucart’s challenge is successful, it not only would mean an end to the Biogenesis case, but it could make waves for player-owner relations in baseball as a whole:

“In my opinion, if the 3rd district court of appeals agrees with our premise … I think the players would have a tremendous lawsuit against baseball for violation of their due process rights and other claims for violating the collective bargaining agreement. It would be tantamount to baseball knowingly violating the players’ rights. The bottom line is if you make a deal with the players, and you don’t like the deal, go renegotiate it. Don’t run to court. Don’t trample on people’s private rights.”

Sonn went beyond the implications of this writ, however, and offered an indictment of the CBA and Joint Drug Agreement overall, saying, “The method of the CBA, which basically holds you guilty until it proves you innocent, is antithetical to our justice system in that it holds you guilty until it proves you innocent. It is un-American.”

The overarching argument may be a moot one given that the MLBPA and all of the accused players with the exception of Alex Rodriguez have gotten on board with baseball’s Biogenesis investigation, accepting their punishment. With respect to Rodriguez, the evidence Major League Baseball will use against him at his upcoming arbitration has already been obtained.

But this appeal could test Major League Baseball’s ability to aggressively pursue similar cases under the theory it employed when it filed the Biogenesis suit. And, if successful, it could render any discipline it ultimately obtains against Alex Rodriguez the product of evidence that, were the law followed and the suit not filed, would likely have never fallen into baseball’s hands in the first place.

Royals will bring back Yordano Ventura to start Game 4

Yordano Ventura
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Thursday night’s rain delay cut Yordano Ventura‘s start short after just two innings, as the Royals opted to turn to reliever Chris Young instead of bringing the 24-year-old right-hander back out to the mound following the delay.

One benefit to that is what manager Ned Yost has decided to do now, which is use Ventura to start Game 4 on Monday. Had he thrown, say, 102 pitches instead of 42 pitches Ventura likely would have started Game 5, forcing the Royals to go four starters deep in their ALDS rotation.

Ventura struggled before the delay Monday, allowing three runs in two innings. However, he finished the regular season by going 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 68 innings over his final 11 starts, which was enough to convince Yost he was the right pitcher to start Game 1 rather than trade deadline pickup Johnny Cueto.

Playoff Reset: Four games in one day!

Cole Hamels

Oh baby.

There’s baseball from noon to midnight today, with a pair of Game 2s in the American League and a pair of Game 1s in the National League.

Tons of great starting pitchers–including the best in the world and a trio of big-name trade deadline acquisitions–and we’ll find out if a home team can actually win a game after starting the playoffs 0-4.

The Game: Texas Rangers vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Time: 12:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Channel: MLB Network
The Starters: Cole Hamels vs. Marcus Stroman
The Upshot: Stroman coming back from what was deemed a season-ending knee injury in spring training to start Game 2 of the ALDS is a helluva story and the Blue Jays need him to come up big after David Price failed to do his part in Game 1. Yovani Gallardo somehow wriggled out of trouble against Toronto’s scary lineup, but as a left-hander Hamels has an even tougher assignment versus the never-ending right-handed power. Assuming it’s all in the lineup, of course. There are big health question marks for both sides, as Adrian Beltre, Josh Donaldson, and Jose Bautista all exited Game 1 with injuries and their respective statuses could swing the balance of power in the series.

The Game: Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals
The Time: 3:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
The Channel: FOX Sports 1
The Starters: Scott Kazmir vs. Johnny Cueto
The Upshot: Two headline-grabbing trade deadline pickups with a lot to prove, as Kazmir and Cueto both struggled for their new teams. Cueto was bumped back to Game 2 after being acquired to front the Royals’ rotation and there was some speculation that Kazmir might not even have a spot in the ALDS rotation. Kansas City losing Game 1 last night and Houston having Dallas Keuchel waiting in the wings for Game 3 puts a ton of pressure on Cueto’s shoulders. Generally one of the toughest pitchers to homer against, he allowed 10 homers in 13 starts for the Royals and the Astros’ power-packed lineup will put him to the test all afternoon. Can the defending AL champs get off the mat quickly or will they head to Houston in need of a win to keep the season alive?

The Game: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The Time: 6:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jon Lester vs. John Lackey
The Upshot: Former Red Sox teammates Lester and Lackey square off in Game 1 of the first ever playoff series between two of the biggest rivals in baseball, with the Cubs fresh off their Wild Card game triumph over the Pirates and the Cardinals coming off an MLB-high 100 wins. Yadier Molina‘s ability to play through a thumb injury will be key for the Cardinals and it’ll also be interesting to see how much faith manager Mike Matheny has in Adam Wainwright to get late-inning outs as a reliever after returning from a torn Achilles’ tendon.

The Game: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Time: 9:45 PM Eastern
The Place: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Jacob deGrom vs. Clayton Kershaw
The Upshot: Quite a way to finish an entire day of baseball, as the Mets go looking for their first playoff win since 2006 and Kershaw tries to cement his legacy as an all-time great by dominating in the playoffs like he does in the regular season. And don’t overlook deGrom, because last year’s Rookie of the Year winner has a 2.61 ERA and 349 strikeouts in 331 innings since debuting last May. Among all starters with at least 300 innings during the past two seasons Kershaw ranks first in ERA and deGrom ranks fourth, with Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke in the 2-3 slots. This is a speculator pitching matchup.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.