In the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension being reduced to 162 games, he said that he plans to appeal the decision to federal court. This is not unexpected, but I also believe that it will be a waste of his time and his money.
Arbitration is chosen by parties for the express purpose of avoiding litigation. Courts are well aware of this. And in order to not undermine the integrity of arbitration awards, they very, very rarely overturn them. Indeed, The Federal Arbitration Act provides the grounds for review of an arbitration decision. Such review is limited to overturning awards obtained by corruption or fraud. Or where the arbitrator himself is shown to be corrupted or to have engaged in misconduct of some kind or has shown a “manifest disregard for the law.” Federal courts do not look at the facts and evidence anew and substitute their judgment for that of the arbitrator.
If there was any doubt about this at all, one merely peruse the trilogy of seminal decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter — Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co, Steelworkers v. Enterprise Car and United Paperworkers v. Misco — and they can see how tall and steep a hill A-Rod has to climb:
Federal courts should decline to review the merits of arbitration awards under collective bargaining agreements . . . The question of interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is a question for the arbitrator, and the courts have no business overruling his construction of the contract merely because their interpretation of it is different from his.
Collective bargaining agreements are governed by the Labor Management Relations Act. Under the LMRA, review of an arbitrator’s decision is even more limited. Courts cannot look at the case anew to decide if the collective bargaining agreement was followed or if the evidence was misinterpreted. They may only overturn the decision if the arbitrator clearly abused his authority and went way, way out on a limb. It’s hard to see A-Rod making that case here, even if a 162-game suspension seems a bit . . . random. Or, more to the point: calculated to have A-Rod gone for a certain length of time as opposed to reflecting the actual severity of the offense.
So go ahead, A-Rod: sue in federal court if you want. But you will waste your money. You will likely not get any help from the union — which, when MLB made noises about appealing the favorable arbitration ruling Ryan Braun received following his 2011-12 suspension, strongly stated such a move was ill-advised — and, most importantly, you will almost certainly lose.
Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports that the Giants have signed catcher Nick Hundley. It’s a major league deal worth $2 million.
Hundley, who is 33, but who seems like he’s been in the bigs for about 27 years, hit .260/.320/.439 with 10 homers in 83 games for the Rockies last season. Obviously he will be the backup given the presence of Buster Posey.
Major League Baseball has experienced inconsistent progress in its efforts at promoting diversity and social responsibility in recent years despite making it a league priority. Today it has announced several changes in its leadership structure in these areas, with Commissioner Manfred saying, “As the sport of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, we have a responsibility to uphold and honor their legacies, especially in ensuring that our sport and business practices are as inclusive, diverse and socially-conscious as possible.”
To that end:
- Billy Bean has been promoted to Vice President and Special Assistant to the Commissioner. This is a newly-created and elevated position in which Bean will continue his efforts at promoting human rights issues important to Major League Baseball, with a particular focus on LGBT and anti-bullying efforts. He has done such work since 2014 as its Ambassador for Inclusion, but putting him at the vice presidential level and having him answer directly to Commissioner Manfred increases his profile and that of his mission;
- Renée Tirado, has been promoted to Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion. Tirado had previously served as Senior Director of Recruitment. She will direct the implementation of recruitment plans and procedures to support MLB’s staffing objectives and will oversee MLB’s Diversity Pipeline Program. As you may recall, Major League Baseball has struggled mightily in these effort in recent years, and has admitted as much; and
- Melanie LeGrande has been promoted to Vice President of Social Responsibility. She previously served as MLB’s Director of Community Affairs. Her job will be to develop and enhance the initiatives that support MLB’s position in the community and oversee MLB’s community investments, nonprofit/non-governmental organization partnerships, large-scale disaster relief efforts and employee volunteer engagement.
Manfred said, “the promotions of Billy, Renée and Melanie reflect our commitment to have strong, innovative leadership in place that aligns our industry objectives with a desire to be effective corporate citizens.”
While all of these are current employees who have served in roughly similar roles. A business’ organizational chart says much about how much that business values various functions and initiatives. In keeping with Manfred’s comments, that all three of these people have been promoted to the vice presidential level is a strong signal from MLB about what it wants.
Now all it has to do is follow through and get what it wants.