SBD/May 15, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB, Union Part Ways With Arbitrator Who Overturned Ryan Braun's 50-Game Suspension

Das held the position of MLB-MLBPA Arbitration Panel Chair for nearly 13 years
Less than three months after MLB objected to the overturning of Brewers LF Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension "for a positive drug test, Shyam Das, the arbitrator in that case, was fired, "according to a source cited by Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Das was the longest-serving arbitrator in that role, a position that "serves at the discretion of the league and the players union." Either side had the power to "terminate his contract." Das said in an e-mail, "I had the distinct privilege to serve as Chair of the MLB-MLBPA Arbitration Panel for almost 13 years. I have the greatest respect for the representatives of both parties I worked with during that period, and I wish the parties well in their ongoing relationship." A source said that the Braun decision was "only one of several factors" that led to Das' dismissal (N.Y. TIMES, 5/15). The AP's Ron Blum noted MLB and the union "will now try to select a successor." If the two sides cannot agree, the CBA "calls for them to ask the American Arbitration Association for a list of 'prominent, professional arbitrators.'" The sides would then "alternate striking names from the list until one remains" (AP, 5/14). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes Das has "drawn the ire" of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig before. In '00, Das reduced MLB's suspension of then-Braves P John Rocker "from 45 days to 14, and also cut his fine from $20,000 to $500 for controversial comments" Rocker made to SI. Five years later, Das ruled Selig's punishment of then-Rangers P Kenny Rogers, who shoved two cameramen, "was too harsh, trimming Rogers' suspension from 20 games to 13." Das also is arbitrating a hearing between the NFL and the NFLPA "regarding the New Orleans Saints bounty case." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello in an e-mail said MLB's dismissal of Das "has no impact on us. We will withhold comment until there is a ruling" (USA TODAY, 5/15).

ABIDING BY PRECEDENT
: The AP's Mike Fitzpatrick noted MLB also dropped the 100-game suspension imposed on Rockies C Eliezer Alfonzo "for a positive drug test because of the same procedural issues that came up in the Ryan Braun case." In both cases, a dispute arose "over the storage and shipment" of the urine sample. A source said that Alfonzo "is eligible to play immediately." Alfonzo became the "first player suspended twice for performance-enhancing drugs under the MLB testing program when the commissioner's office announced the 100-game penalty last September" (AP, 5/14). 
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