Monday, 19 August 2013

Say it ain't so, Joe

The definition of a "sports lawyer," some may say, is simply an attorney who represents an athlete in whatever the capacity. Thus, enter into the fraternity Joe Tacopina, who the New York Post once called "The most hated lawyer in New York." Tacopina received such high praise by getting off certain notorious alleged rapists, cop killers, other scoundrels and low lifes the Post had already decided were guilty and thus not worthy of a real trial.

Tacopina's latest client is none other than Alex Rodriguez, the so-called "Bernie Madoff of baseball." Every time we think Joe has reached bottom, he dredges a little more from the pond.

And, of course, like any good high profile media mouthpiece, Tacopina had to enter the fray with a bang. What he has alleged, however, is far more scandalous than the offense his client is accused of committing. Tacopina has asserted that, in no less than last year's playoff series against the Tigers, the Yankees inserted an ailing A-Rod in the lineup because they wanted him to suffer a career ending injury.

In a recent article, Tacopina told the The New York Times that the Yankees "rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer."

Let's get this straight. It wasn't that the owners had a callous disregard for a player's condition but continued to play him because it was their best chance of winning. That one is old hat, having been voiced by such notables as J.R. Reed and Bill Walton. No, what Tacopina is saying is that the Yankees chose to play a position player they knew gave them less chance to win in the hope that it would rid them of having to play him next year. Bear in mind, this is the New York 27 World Championships Yankees we are talking about for whom winning it all is the only thing that is supposed to matter.

Like any good defense lawyer, Tacopina has no evidence for such a claim, at least none that he is bothering to share. If it were true, it certainly would be a more serious violation than ingesting banned performance enhancing drugs. It would be the equivalent of throwing a bout because the bosses had money on the other guy. It would make Joe Girardi the Joe Jackson of Managers.

Which brings me back to the idea of a practitioner of sports law. What separates it from other fields is both context and consequence. While the interests of the individual client remain paramount, the issues invariably resonate through the past and are sure to be heard going forward.

A-Rod claims not to have heard or read what his attorney has claimed to be facts. He should have read the playbook

No comments:

Post a Comment