Alex Rodriguez AP

New York Daily News trying to paint A-Rod as a deadbeat regarding his legal fees

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The New York Daily News has a story up today in which they try to paint Alex Rodriguez as a deadbeat for unpaid legal fees. Specifically, they have a source telling them that “A-Rod hasn’t paid millions of dollars in legal bills he owes.” Even more specifically “Rodriguez has paid some of the bills, the source said, but he still owes his attorneys and private investigators as much as $3 million for the work they did.”

Setting aside for a moment that that construction — “he has paid some of what he owes but not all, so he may be a deadbeat” — could apply to every person with a car payment and a mortgage, this is beyond silly. Multi-million dollar legal bills are not like your electric bill. They’re not typically turned around ASAP lest you start getting late notices. There is always negotiation about specifics of the charges. At least if the client is being prudent there is.

Giant corporations review their bills because — this may be a shocker to you — not everything that appears on an attorney’s bill is always legitimate. Indeed, a big reason businesses get into trouble is simply cutting checks to their attorneys without scrutiny or negotiation for whatever the attorneys say is charged. That’s how double billing and all manner of attorney shenanigans happens. And that’s from even the most respectable attorneys. If I got a bill from Joe Tacopina, I’d be inclined to go over it a bit.

A-Rod dropped his case against Major League Baseball on February 7. It’s now March 20. If he was given a final bill for services after that it’d probably be no more than a month or so since he received it. To butcher a quote, A-Rod is not just a businessman, he’s a business, man. If he doesn’t have someone close to him whose job it is to make sure he’s not getting fleeced, he’s doing it wrong. And while A-Rod does a lot wrong, parting with his money willy-nilly doesn’t seem like one of them.

But I suppose that’s all just speculation. Let’s see what the attorneys who are allegedly being stiffed say:

In a statement to The News, Tacopina denied he has had problems collecting his fee from Rodriguez.

“I have absolutely no fee dispute whatsoever with Alex,” Tacopina said. “He has been entirely fair and responsible with respect to the payment of my fees.”

Hmm. Maybe it was one of his other lawyers:

Cornwell declined to comment for this story. Reed Smith partners Jordan Siev and James McCarroll, and Davis, did not return requests for comment.

Rodriguez also allegedly owes money to Guidepost Solutions, the private investigation firm that worked for Rodriguez last year. A Guidepost spokeswoman said the firm had no comment.

Guess not.

I have no doubt that A-Rod has not remitted his outstanding legal fees in full. But at this point in any case Microsoft, General Electric and Exxon-Mobil hasn’t paid outstanding legal bills either. He paid a retainer early or else these guys whouldn’t have lifted a finger. As the Daily News itself notes he has paid some amount of the bills, which suggests that he paid monthly bills as they rolled in. There is likely some haggling going on and maybe a bit of foot-dragging occurring over the final balance. Haggling and foot-dragging the likes of which occurs in every single case of size ever. News flash: people hate paying lawyers.

But hey, if it gives the Daily News yet another chance to paint A-Rod as a terrible awful monster, no need to dwell on these sorts of details.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.