Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked


October 9, 2013

Making Sense of A-Rod

Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News I-Team sorts through the baffling legal case of Alex Rodriguez.

Michael Gluckstadt

What on earth is Alex Rodriguez thinking? Whether it's kissing himself in the pages of a men's magazine, asking out a girl in the middle of a playoff loss, or reportedly commissioning a portrait of himself depicted as a centaur, it's always been damn near impossible to get inside A-Rod's head. And now that he's got his hands full with a record-setting suspension, arbitration hearings, and lawsuits upon lawsuits, it might be harder than ever.

Michael O'Keeffe. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News. (Cover photo of A-Rod courtesy of the <A href=''>Rubinstein</a> Flickr account.
"I think there has been a real change. Players in general are much less tolerant of doping than in the past."

Michael O'Keeffe. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News. (Cover photo of A-Rod courtesy of the Rubinstein Flickr account.

For all their talents, Michael O'Keeffe and the Daily News I-Team still couldn't tell you what A-Rod is thinking. But they can tell you everything you need to know about the numerous lawsuits and appeals Rodriguez is involved in. And they'll do it in a way that, unlike A-Rod's motivations, actually makes sense.

They're not The Avengers; they're The Explainers.

In the following interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, O'Keeffe speaks on behalf of the I-Team, discussing how the A-Rod affair stacks up against other media circuses they've covered (one rhymes with Plemons, the other, Farmstrong); why Rodriguez never says a bad word about Bud Selig out of his own mouth; and just what exactly it is the beleaguered superstar might be hoping to accomplish.

Gelf Magazine: Maybe this is oversimplifying things, but does A-Rod have a case?

Michael O'Keeffe: We haven't seen the evidence from either side in this case, so it is difficult to say. Our sources tell us MLB investigators gathered evidence that not only justifies the 211-game ban, but even a lifetime ban. Sources close to Rodriguez have told us they will present evidence that proves he did not receive or use performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis.

Gelf Magazine: What is he hoping to accomplish with these countersuits? Was the MLB surprised he pushed back so hard?

Michael O'Keeffe: These are not countersuits; MLB has not sued him. One of the lawsuits filed last week claims MLB is engaged in a witch hunt to destroy Rodriguez's reputation in order to build up Commissioner Bud Selig as a steroid-buster. The other suit is a medical malpractice case against the Yankees' doctor.
Legal experts we've spoken to say it is difficult to figure out what Rodriguez and his lawyers are trying to accomplish with the suit versus MLB. They filed the suit after Day Four of his arbitration hearing. Did they file the suit because the arbitration process is going badly for Rodriguez? Are they attempting to use the suit as leverage for a settlement? It's doubtful this suit will survive because Rodriguez—like every other member of the Players Association—has agreed to resolve disputes through arbitration. It seems to be designed to raise questions about MLB's conduct during its Biogenesis investigation in a very public manner. But ultimately, the only person whose opinion matters is arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.

Gelf Magazine: What happens if he's is put on the stand?

Michael O'Keeffe: That is another curious thing about this lawsuit versus MLB. If Rodriguez does not testify truthfully, or if his testimony contradicts previous statements he's made under oath (such as his appearance before the grand jury that indicted HGH guru Anthony Galea), he could be charged with perjury. At the very least, it exposes him to embarrassing questioning from MLB attorneys.

Gelf Magazine: Throughout this entire process, Rodriguez's interviews and press conferences have had a markedly different tenor than the statements and suits put forth by his lawyers. Why do you think that is?

Michael O'Keeffe: My guess is that his advisers want him to come across as a victim of an overreaching league, someone who would rather focus on winning a championship than on attacking Selig and other MLB officials.

Gelf Magazine: Do you think he'll play again?

Michael O'Keeffe: I think it will be hard for him to come back if he misses the 2014 season due to suspension. He will be pushing 40 and he is extremely injury-prone.

Gelf Magazine: What outcome are the Yankees hoping for in all of this? What exactly are they on the hook for?

Michael O'Keeffe: I don't know what they are hoping for in terms of outcome. If the suspension is held up and he misses 2014, the Yankees would still owe him approximately $61 million. Insurance would cover much of that if Rodriguez retired due to injuries. But as we've seen in the Lance Armstrong case, the insurance companies may try to get off the hook because Rodriguez violated baseball's drug policy.

Gelf Magazine: What do the other players make of all this? Some of them were making a stink about not wanting their union dues to go towards defending him.

Michael O'Keeffe: I think there has been a real change among players regarding steroids and other banned substances. Players in general are much less tolerant of doping than in the past. The Daily News has reported that even some of Rodriguez's own teammates are frustrated with him.

Gelf Magazine: How does the A-Rod affair compare to some of the other circuses you've covered?

Michael O'Keeffe: Rodriguez's tactics are remarkably similar to those used by Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens. In all three cases, you have rich athletes using the court system to attack accusers. It didn't work out so well for Clemens or Armstrong.

Gelf Magazine: What exactly is the Daily News I-Team? You guys sound a little like the X-Men.

Michael O'Keeffe: Like the X-Men, we are mutant superheroes.
Teri Thompson, who is now the sports editor at the Daily News, put together a team of reporters more than a decade ago that would dig deep into stories. I've been part of the team since its inception. Nathaniel Vinton and Christian Red joined us a few years after that. We come from different backgrounds and have different strengths that complement each other, and we frequently work with other reporters at the Daily News.
We're best known for our stories on doping, but we've covered a lot of ground over the years. I'm especially proud of the stories we've broken about sexual abuse in sports and fraud in sports memorabilia.
I'm very appreciative of the fact that the Daily News continues to support our work.

Gelf Magazine: Are there any stories that other publications have done lately that you wish the I-Team had uncovered? Manti Te'o? Something on concussions?

Michael O'Keeffe: We've done a lot on concussions, actually, as well as the struggles that many former NFL players live with as a result of their lingering injuries. I wrote quite a bit about how players deal with addictions to painkillers, too.
I see stories all the time that I wish I had broken—including Manti T'eo —but we can't be everywhere, even if we are mutant superheroes. There are a lot of great reporters doing a lot of great work these days.

Gelf Magazine: Do you still enjoy sports as a fan?

Michael O'Keeffe: Of course, especially baseball.

Michael Gluckstadt

Michael Gluckstadt is an editor at Gelf and host of the Varsity Letters speaking series.

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- Sports
- posted on Oct 18, 13
John Curtis

You're a #1 Yankee fan and know nothing about the A-Rod case. First of all you bring nothing to the table. You just repeat the same old BS that the large networks and news papers say. To gain some real creditability, try investigating and doing a little homework. For example, the on air predictions about A-Rod skills when he returned was pitiful and wrong. Second, the large networks and newes papers never note that A-Rod has passed all PED test given by MLB as agreed upon in the JDA and CBA unlike the others who got suspended. Finally, what MLB is doing to A-Rod is outside the JDA and CBA. To prove my point, what other player has ever got suspended for PED use outside a positive test by the JDA. For that matter, what other players have even been investigated for PED use outside the JDA and got suspended?  None, Na-da.
You need to do a little homework and earn your strips. MLB will have egg on their face in the A-Rod matter when it's all said and done. Oh, and so will You

Sent from John's iPad

Article by Michael Gluckstadt

Michael Gluckstadt is an editor at Gelf and host of the Varsity Letters speaking series.

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