Manhattan Federal Judge Edgardo Ramos has granted Alex Rodriguez's PR rep Michael Sitrick a stay from the Nov. 22 court order requiring him to honor MLB's subpoena to appear before the arbiter who will determine A-Rod's ban for his alleged PED use and involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, according to Rich Calder of the New York Post.
This latest ruling allows Sitrick to avoid meeting with the independent arbiter by giving him the chance to appeal the previous ruling, a process which is likely to take longer than the suspension ruling. The judge also ruled against MLB's request to hold Rodriguez's PR man in contempt of court and fine him daily for pursuing appeal. Calder quotes Ramos explaining:
"It would be unseemly and unruly to hold him in contempt while he pursues his public right to appeal."
Sitrick, dubbed the "Wizard of Spin," might have been a key piece in Major League Baseball's case against the Yankees star if not for this ruling. The previous court order would have required the PR specialist to turn over documents the league believes A-Rod took from Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch in an attempt to obstruct the investigation. MLB also believes that Sitrick leaked Francisco Cervelli and Ryan Braun's connection to Biogenesis to divert attention from Rodriguez.
The ruling could seriously impact the league's case against Rodriguez, as Calder explains:
"The judge's ruling is a huge blow to MLB's case against Rodriguez because it's unlikely that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals would rule on the matter before the independent arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz, decides on the suspension as expected in early-to-mid January. In theory, the federal appeals panel could expedite the process, although such a move is rare."
If the court does not expedite the process, Sitrick and the documents he was originally compelled to provide will not factor into the arbiter's ruling. However, MLB lawyer Howard Ganz told Calder he did not think that would make it difficult for the arbiter to uphold the full suspension originally imposed by the league.
The full impact of this ruling and the extent of the evidence that it will keep from the arbiter is impossible to gauge at this point, but it is clear that evidence the league has worked hard to obtain for their case is now unlikely to be presented.