New York Yankees and the Wild Card

I just noted  that the NY Yankees are 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card race in the American League.  This team has been playing better since the Alpha player, Alex Rodriguez,  has returned to the pack. 

The schedule works for the Yankees in the final 35 games. They play twenty games against the teams ahead of them, Boston, Tampa Bay and Baltimore and fifteen games against teams that are in last place in their respective divisions. These teams are San Francisco, Chicago White Sox, Toronto and Houston. Boston has six such games, Tampa Bay three, and Baltimore six  games. If the Yankees win half the games against the better teams and dominate the bottom teams, a very likely outcome, they will be the second wild card, at least. NY is 12-1 against Toronto this year, for example.

This will be a shocking outcome to the Alex Rodriguez drama, as it will be the his return that made the difference. If Jeter can also play, watch out.

The Truth About MLB Free Agency

My friend, Murray Chass, (www.murraychass.com) has posted an article in the New York Times that properly describes the history of MLB free agency. I was involved in this matter as well. The historical error often cited in this matter is that the Flood v. Kuhn Supreme Court case was important, and, as Flood lost the case, it was important only in that it gave MLB a false sense of security in the court process. The Jim “Catfish Hunter” case is also erroneously cited, but that was a breach of contract case and had nothing to do with labor law.

The error in the Messersmith/McNally case was that MLB did not understand the role of the arbitrator, Peter Seitz, and the deference shown arbitrator decisions by federal courts. Baseball always thought it could have a decision overturned if it was adverse to them. MLB was wrong.

Arbitration is a contractual relationship between the parties where they agree that a conflict will be decided by an arbitrator according to rules that are, in the case of labor matters, collectively bargained. This agreement controls the outcome and it can be reversed only if the arbitrator can be shown to have acted badly by not disclosing conflicts of interest, bias, or a flagrant disregard of the law. The test is whether “the decision draws its essence from the contract.” Not a hard test, as history has proven.

None of these factors were present in the Messersmith/McNally case and Peter Seitz’s decision that created free agency was upheld by the federal court of appeals sitting in Kansas CIty. The rest is history, but MLB’s failure to understand labor law would again bite it when it failed to properly declare impasse in 1994, the year of no World Series, that lead to then Judge Sonya Sotomayor’s decision against it in a labor case in March 1995.

We are now looking at the arbitration of the Alex Rodriguez 211 game suspension and will find out if anything has been learned.

Review & Outlook: The Die Harder States – WSJ.com

This is an important story about tax policy in Minnesota and other states that is directly damaging to the states. It deals with estate and gift taxation that causes people with resources to leave the states mentioned.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323639704579013040148683248.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

“Why the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Are Politically Sustainable” and “Immigration and The Mexican View of Our History.”

I was surprised this morning to note that two posts had been linked-to from outside the US. The first of these Here deals with why the low KIA totals in those wars are the result in equipment improvements that keep soldiers alive but allow grevious injury.

The other post is “Immigration and the Mexican View of Our History.” Here Most Americans are ill informed of this history which is viewed by Mexicans the way a person from Alabama views the Civil War. This was explained to me by a Mexican lawyer in Mexico City. Take a look to better understand the Mexican point of view.  If this link doesn’t work, see ARCHIVES for May 3, 2013.

Tomorrow, I will be back on the baseball beat, as I want to see how the Royals do in Detroit and whether the Dodgers will lose again.

August 17, A Review

I was thinking about the date today and that it means there are two weeks of August left, but that only two weeks of August and then a serious month, September, arrives, when the NFL starts and MLB finishes the regular season.  As the Vikings have lost two pre-season games, I will join my fellow fans by ignoring that fact. Denial is big around here.

The Twins have been playing well since the All-Star Game, but are still well out of the race. However, the Division is competitive, if having Kansas City 6.5 games out in third, makes it competitive. The Royals won a double header in Detroit yesterday with pitching, and that is how to beat the Tigers. Kansas City Royals Emerge was posted on June 18 and discusses how this team is rapidly learning how to win. I think it is good enough now to beat the Tigers and that will be the best baseball story of the season. That is, unless you look at the Dodgers, who were in last place in June and have won 41 of 49 games since.  This is the triumph of baseball culture as this team played horribly, but the long season allows for a rebound and what a rebound it has been!

I mentioned the difference between baseball and the games that watch a clock in MLB, Where You Have to Give the Other Guy a Chance that quotes Earl Weaver.

This is the year that I became fixated with the Miami Marlins. Yes, the team that is 28 games behind the Braves. I have watched it play close games and lose and it is now playing close games and winning its share. When young, poorly performing teams show a habit of tenacity and relentless pursuit of wins, it often becomes a habit of winning. Not this year or maybe next, but keep your eyes on these players in Miami. This style of play indicates good management at all levels and that augurs well for the future.

Remember that there are two weeks left of August, but then it is September and it becomes serious. Stay tuned.

Human Growth Hormone, Testosterone, Biogenesis and the MLB Supplement Game

MLB is trying very hard to rid itself of performance enhancing drugs. It has banned a long list of steroids and other products. Recently, Commissioner Selig has suspended 13 players for between 50 games to 211 games for Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman. These suspensions were based on evidence of drug use obtained from the records of Biogenesis, a Miami Youth Clinic.

Last night at dinner with my friend, Jeff Husband, I decided to get the story from him. Jeff is a noted orthopedic surgeon at Tria and one of the leading hand surgeons in the country. (I learned that from another friend who told me she had been operated on by the “leading hand surgeon, Jeff Husband”.) I asked Jeff just what it was that Biogenesis was giving these players. He then explained the Human Growth Hormone (hGH) and testosterone therapies that Biogenesis offered. He said this sort of therapy was common.  For example, hGH had legitimate uses but he was not sure of the beneficial effect in athletics. For a description, look here.

For testoterone, again the benefits are increased strength, lean body mass, and endurance, but the potential side effects, he mentioned many, were very dangerous. For a description look here. However, it seems that players are very eager to take these supplements to enhance performance, and they think it works. What is it that the players seek that causes them to risk life, health and their careers by using these products?

The simple answer is “Youth.” We all think of that and recall some point in our lives that we would like to return to, but most of us recognize that there are benefits to maturity, as well, and we bask in those benefits. For a baseball player, that point in time is when they were 27 and they were at the peak of their perfomance. If they can maintain that level for just a few years, they will have signed a multi-year, mega-million dollar contract, and can then stop using. It is a very enticing prospect and one that is hard, if not impossible, to resist.

Jeff and I are not immune to that prospect, and, some years ago, we started using a product called Protandim. My introduction to Protandim occured while lawyering a stock trade for one of the inventors of the product.  I found it to be beneficial. Then the stock deal tanked and I ended up defending a client in a suit brought by the inventor. Now Protandim was supposed to be a magical combination of herbs and spices, that working synergistically, cured all ills, The formula was secret as to the ratio of the various ingredients, but they were listed on the package.

During the pre-trial discovery process, I deposed the inventor and came away with the impression that there was no way this fellow was ever going to invent anything of scientific merit. I then looked at the product and investigated the ingredients, mainly Turmeric, see here . I found that the beneficial effect of the product was due almost entirely to the large amount of Turmeric, an Indian spice in the Ayurvedic tradition, that it contained. I now know others who have discovered Turmeric.

The point of this story is to point out that the search for youth is not just for athletes, but for all of us. Protandim is sold in a multi-level distribution program that is very popular.

A quick search of the web disclosed a multitude of such products, each offering the benefits that the baseball players were seeking from hGH and testosterone at clinics like Biogenesis. The search will continue as it always has, I only hope for good outcomes and the avoidance of the dangers of overuse, which are ever present. Sports must maintain its vigil, abusers suspended and others educated. I hope for sucess in this area soon.