Alex Rodriguez sues Major League Baseball, Selig


New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has sued Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig and accused them of trying to destroy his reputation and his career.

The embattled third baseman, who was suspended for 211 games for his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, claims the league and commissioner are engaged in “vigilante justice” and are interfering with his lucrative contracts and business relationships.

MLB and Selig are trying to make an example of Rodriguez, the lawsuit said, “to gloss over Commissioner Self's past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances in baseball … and in an attempt to secure his legacy as the 'savior' of America's past time.”

Filed in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Thursday, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

MLB responded to the lawsuit by issuing their own statement, denying the allegations made by Rodriguez and accusing him of trying to circumvent the grievance process of the league and its players.

“For the more than four decades that we have had a collective bargaining relationship with the Major League Baseball Players Association, every player and club dispute has gone through the jointly agreed upon grievance process,” MLB said.

“This lawsuit is a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program, and it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

In August, MLB suspended Rodriguez through to the end of the 2014 season. He was one of 13 players suspended for alleged links with the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic in Florida that is accused of supplying players with performance-enhancing drugs.

Rodriguez, 38, has denied wrongdoing and appealed the ruling. He continued to play – to cheers and jeers – for the rest of the season, which ended for the Yankees last week when the team failed to make the playoff.

Hearings on Rodriguez's appeal began this week, but a decision is not expected until later this month or next.

The lawsuit claimed MLB also improperly collected evidence against Rodriguez, including buying what were described as stolen Biogenesis-related documents for $150,000.

A 14-time All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez is the only player challenging his penalty.

He claimed in the lawsuit that by publicly leaking information into its investigation, MLB has prejudiced his appeal, tarnished his character and damaged his efforts to land lucrative endorsement contracts.

“MLB's public persecution of Mr. Rodriguez has known no bounds,” the lawsuit said. “MLB has permanently harmed Mr. Rodriguez's reputation.”

The other players accepted offers of 50-game bans, but the player known widely as A-Rod received a stiffer punishment because he was accused of other offenses, including lying to the investigators.

“While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint, none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue,” MLB said in their statement on Friday.

“Whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation.”

Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Julian Linden; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Maureen Bavdek and Gene Cherry

Braun issues apology for doping in MVP season


Banned Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun acknowledged on Thursday he used performance enhancing drugs during his National League Most Valuable Player season in 2011.

“During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used,” Braun said in a statement published on the Brewers' website.

“The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately,” he added.

Major League Baseball (MLB) in July suspended Braun for the rest of the season, at least 65 games, saying that he had violated the league's joint drug prevention program.

No details were given of the offence committed by Braun but he had been suspected of procuring performance enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, the now-shut Florida anti-aging clinic that was investigated by MLB.

Previously Braun was suspended for 50 games by MLB after he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels during the 2011 sseason but that ban was overturned in February 2012, after he successfully appealed claiming his tests were mishandled.

After winning that appeal, Braun made critical comments about the collection of his urine sample and the collector, saying that he viewed the process as “suspicious”.

On Thursday, Braun revisited his comments and said he was embarrassed by them.

“I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance.

“I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality.”

Braun said he was now in the process of trying to understand why he responded the way he did, acknowledging there was no excuse for it.

“For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth.

“I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of – and the punishment for – my actions,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami, Editing by Larry Fine

Braun said specimen collector was anti-Semite to drum up support in ’12


Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun during his appeal of a drug suspension in 2012 told players on opposing teams that the collector of his urine sample was an anti-Semite.

Braun, the son of an Israeli-born Jewish father, was suspended in July for the remainder of this season for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic, which provided performance-enhancing drugs to more than a dozen players.

The 2011 Most Valuable Player had been suspended in 2012 for using performance-enhancing drugs, but successfully appealed the 50-game ban and denied he ever used PEDs.

Braun called at least three veteran players to lobby for their support ahead of his appeal of the 2012 suspension, ESPN reported.

He won the appeal after proving that the specimen collector, identified as Dino Laurenzi Jr., broke the chain of custody of the sample by storing it in his refrigerator and not sending it out for 44 hours.

According to ESPN, Braun in  his calls to the players also said Laurenzi was a Chicago Cubs fan, a division rival of the Brewers, implying that the sample collector would be working against Braun.

Braun has been referred to as “The Hebrew Hammer.” His mother, Diane, a Catholic, has said, “He’s totally not Jewish.”

“I heard some organization started called him ‘The Hebrew Hammer.’ I said, ‘Oh no.’ My mother would be rolling over in her grave if she heard that.”

Praise for Selig and no sympathy for drug cheats


From the ballparks to the anti-doping war rooms of those leading the battle against performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball's crackdown on drug cheats was hailed as an MVP moment in the fight against doping on Monday.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), that not long ago labeled MLB's anti-doping efforts “a joke”, praised commissioner Bud Selig's get-tough stance.

And the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) viewed the unprecedented suspension as a dramatic shift in the doping culture.

“All clean athletes won an MVP award today, as this is a strong and powerful message that their rights and the integrity of the game will be protected,” USADA chief Travis Tygart told Reuters. “When truth and integrity are upheld that's a good day for clean athletes.”

Following an exhaustive MLB investigation into players linked to Biogenesis, the now-shut Miami anti-aging clinic accused of distributing performance enhancing drugs, Selig dropped the hammer on the drug cheats.

He handed out bans to 13 players, including a record 211 game suspension to baseball's highest paid player, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

“WADA commends the actions taken by the MLB in suspending 13 players associated with the performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) scandal concerning the Biogenesis Clinic in Miami,” WADA said in a statement.

“As we have said previously, non-analytical methods are proving to be an increasingly effective means of helping uncover those athletes who have committed foul play and breached anti-doping rules.

“The MLB has approached the matter in a professional manner throughout, and we look forward to maintaining our close relationship as we move forward in our efforts to protect clean athletes and advocate doping-free sport.”

The 14 players caught in the MLB drug sweep, including Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP who earlier accepted a 65 game suspension, received little sympathy from fellow players although the players' union said it would back Rodriguez's appeal of his ban.

As the suspension announcement approached, the Twitter-verse exploded with reaction, most of it directed at the drug cheats for the damage they have done to the great “American Pastime”.

“Today is a sad day for MLB, the fans of this great game, and all players who may have been negatively affected by others selfishness,” tweeted Tampa Rays Evan Longoria.

“Ultimately, although today will be a day of infamy for MLB, it is a tremendous step in the right direction for the game we love.”

Tygart singled out Selig for particular praise and Rodriguez for scathing scorn for appealing his suspension and failing to face up to his punishment.

Long accused of turning a blind eye to doping, Selig has seen the light after a series of drug controversies that have badly tainted the sport, and evolved into an anti-doping hardliner.

“I commend the commissioner for his leadership on this issue,” said Tygart.

“Obviously they learned in the late 90s and early 2000s this (doping) is the biggest threat to sport and to have the commissioner of one of most popular pro leagues in the world to take a firm stand and support it is really refreshing and give all clean athletes hope.

“They absolutely did the right thing, when you are between a rock and hard place and you do the right thing that is true leadership.”

Reporting by Steve Keating; by Julian Linden

10 anti-Semitic twitter reactions to Ryan Braun’s suspension


Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun on April 1. Photo by Darren Hauck/Reuters

“Ryan Braun Jew” is a trending topic on Twitter this afternoon. We have compiled some of the results for you:

How do you spell chutzpah? R-Y-A-N B-R-A-U-N


It wasn’t so long ago that Ryan Braun was just a rookie phenom, racking up numbers that had Jewish sports junkies rushing to put the Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger in the pantheon with Greenberg and Koufax.

These days, not so much.

The news this week is that Braun has accepted a suspension from Major League Baseball for the rest of the season, all but admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs. I say “all but admitting” because in accepting the time he still hasn’t explicitly acknowledged the crime.

As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have  made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it is has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers  organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in  Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.

What makes his non-admission admission particularly lame and weasely is how lame and weasely his response was to his failed drug test back in 2011. First he (successfully) challenged his suspension on technical grounds and then turned that victory-by-technicality into an unabashed declaration of innocence.

Chutzpah.

Just man up already and admit what you did. Until then, you’re not even in the same league as Shawn Green and Ian Kinsler. And no more calling you “The Hebrew Hammer” either.

Lance Armstrong and the disease of wild narcissism and ruthless ambition


Lance Armstrong proved surprisingly poor at backpedaling. His stone-faced, reluctant regret made many who watched the interview wonder if this was an illness. Why did this man mow down associates, besmirch employees, lie, cheat and bully his way to the top of a sport he is now insouciantly tearing down around him?

One way to understand disease is to map its contagion. So let’s look for Armstrong’s ailment throughout our society. In sports, Barry Bonds was headed for the hall of fame. But that was not enough. So the year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were in a (steroid fueled) home run derby, Bonds began to dope as well. Five neck sizes later, his head swelled in every literal and metaphorical sense, people began to suspect. Of course Bonds was not alone; he is just a standout in a widespread scandal of those for whom good enough was not good enough. A keen diagnostician begins to detect signs of Armstrong illness.

Corporations are another place to look. CEOs now command salaries not twice as much as workers, which used to be the case, but 20, 30 and even 40 times as much. Even with this steroidal salary rage, there have been a string of indictments for misdeeds on Wall Street, because apparently hundreds of millions of dollars are no disincentive to cheating to make money.

The disease is a compound of wild narcissism and ruthless ambition. It threads its way unchecked through our social and political life. Music is a fertile breeding ground: Songs that once spoke of yearning or searching have turned increasingly to boasting and strutting. Awards shows proliferate as self-celebration becomes the preferred mode of public presentation. Turn on the radio at random: The socially conscious ode has given way to the sexually flamboyant shout-out. Sometimes it seems that the whole world is doing an end zone dance.

The illness is not ambition. Ambition is the engine that drives achievement. But Armstrong and Wall Street and sports figures and so many other areas parade before our weary eyes the wreckage of ruthless ambition. The greater good is a sucker’s succor feeding the individual good. Why don’t I want a background check if I sell a gun individually? Because it is me, that’s why! Any infringement on my autonomy, no matter how considerable the benefit to society, violates the code of ruthlessness that dictates that my good supersedes others. Ego needs are their own justification. The new motto is Ego ergo sum.

The biblical counterexample is worth remembering. When God chose Moses to lead the Jewish people, it was not because Moses leapt in the air, in the manner of Shrek’s donkey, yelling “Pick me! Pick me!” Rather Moses repeatedly protested his unworthiness. His humility qualified him for leadership. Self-effacement no longer gains traction in our age of wild narcissism. Television ads proclaim the perfection of each candidate. Our candidate is ideal and our positions unassailable. Partisan unwillingness to concede any wisdom to the other side reminds us of the great axiom of the age: anyone else’s triumph diminishes me.

As income disparities rise and social mobility freezes, good fortune is reinterpreted as merit. I am on the top of the heap not because I was born with certain attributes to certain parents but rather because I am, quite obviously, great. There was a generation (think the Kennedys, the Bushes) when enviable advantages of birth were a call to public service. Jacob Astor, one of the richest men of his day, deliberately stayed on the Titanic as it sank to give way on the lifeboats to women and children. How many modern hedge-fund tycoons would emulate him? Now riches are a call to steroidal self-regard. In the storm of the “I” no community can exist. We are alone together.

Lance Armstrong is the ugly face of American exceptionalism. This blessed country became prosperous with the ethic of individual work benefitting the larger community. Teamwork overrode stardom; the soloist paid obeisance to the band; public service was about being vessels, not victors. Now the plural is invoked to evade responsibility; so Armstrong cannot recalled who “we sued” as though he was part of the law firm of Armstrong and cannot be expected to remember all the small fish caught up in the netting of his litigation.

This spells trouble. The prophet Micah’s advice for life: to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God, no longer tracks for our children. To do deals, to love spotlights and to swagger self-importantly – that is more near the lesson they are learning. Such lessons come with consequences.

At the founding of the republic Ben Franklin put it crisply: We must all hang together, he said, or we will all hang separately. The gallows may be gilded but wise old Ben is still right. Our greatness, after all, is dependent on our goodness. 


Rabbi David Wolpe is senior rabbi of Sinai Temple.

Baseball star Ryan Braun wins appeal


Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun won his appeal of his earlier positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.

The decision, announced on Thursday, means that Braun—the reigning National League most valuable player and the first Jew to earn that distinction in nearly five decades—will avoid a 50-game suspension.

Braun’s suspension was overturned by an an arbitrator in what is believed to be the first time a baseball player has successfully challenged a drug-related grievance. No reasoning for the ruling was given.

In December, it was reported that Braun, the son of an Israeli-born father and Catholic mother, had tested positive for elevated testosterone levels. Braun denied using performance-enhacing drugs.

“I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision,” Braun said in a statement reported by news agencies. “It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.”

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s vice president for labor relations, said his organization “vehemently disagrees with the decision.”

2011’s Top 10 Jews in the news (Like them, or not)


Last year, we started our ” title=”returned home” target=”_blank”>returned home with grace and a smile on his face.


” title=”as a victim” target=”_blank”>as a victim, but as an

” title=”left us this year” target=”_blank”>left us this year, but brought light to all our lives. Her music has defined our spirituality.


” title=”Charlie Sheen” target=”_blank”>Charlie Sheen. He saw a reckless villain and booted him, then took the heat.


” title=”touched our hearts” target=”_blank”>touched our hearts for her vulnerability and soul.


” title=”first Jewish MVP” target=”_blank”>first Jewish MVP in half a century, Milwaukee’s 28-year-old slugger was

” title=”Gone” target=”_blank”>Gone, but never to be forgotten!


” title=”foul-mouthed sleazeball” target=”_blank”>foul-mouthed sleazeball director was forced from the helm of this year’s Oscars show, the Academy turned to

” title=”escapades” target=”_blank”>escapades, already?


” title=”sexual assault charges” target=”_blank”>sexual assault charges were dropped and the former IMF head is now back in France. Still: shame on you, Monsieur DSK—and good riddance.


 

Report: Ryan Braun, baseball MVP, tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs


Ryan Braun, the first Jewish player in more than five decades to win one of baseball’s Most Valuable Player awards, has reportedly tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

The Associated Press cited an unnamed source who said that the case was under appeal to an arbitrator under Major League Baseball’s drug program.

Braun is disputing the results. According to USA Today, he dismissed the reports as “B.S.”

“There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program,” said a Braun spokesman in a statement published by ESPN. “While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated.”

Braun, the son of an Israeli-born Jewish father and a Catholic mother, was named the National League MVP last month. He received 20 of 32 first-place votes and 388 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp was second with 10 first-place votes and 332 points.

Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1963 was the last Jewish player to win the award. Other Jewish players who have been named MVP are Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers in 1940 and Al Rosen of the Cleveland Indians in 1953.

Braun batted .332 this season with 33 home runs, 111 RBI and 33 steals to help lead the Brewers to the Central Division title.

Some have taken to calling the Los Angeles-reared Braun “The Hebrew Hammer.”

“I am Jewish,” Braun said last year. “It’s something I’m really proud of. But I don’t want to make it into something more than what it is. I didn’t have a bar mitzvah. I don’t want to pretend that I did. I didn’t celebrate the holidays.

“It’s a touchy subject because I don’t want to offend anybody, and I don’t want groups claiming me now because I’m having success. But I do consider myself definitely Jewish. And I’m extremely proud to be a role model for young Jewish kids.”

This year Braun has been named twice to JTA’s weekly Friday Five list and also cracked the top five of the annual Forward 50 list.

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