Shyam Das

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Shyam Das

Biographical Information[edit]

Shyam Das was Major League Baseball's arbitrator from 1999 to 2012, ruling on grievances stemming from the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as well as on all salary arbitration cases that reached the final stage (most cases were settled well before). He was jointly paid by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Shyam Das studied history as an undergraduate at Harvard University, then social sciences as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, before earning his law degree from Yale University. After working briefly in a private law firm, he was a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School from 1971 to 1977, when he became self-employed as an arbitrator, working from his home in Haverford, PA in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. He is a member of the American Arbitration Association and of the Federal Conciliation and Mediation Service, among a number of professional associations in the fields of arbitration and mediation. His work in baseball constituted only a small fraction of his professional activity.

Among the most famous cases on which Das has ruled was the reduction of the suspension handed to pitcher John Rocker after he made remarks demeaning to a number of groups in an interview to Sports Illustrated following the 1999 season; it was in fact his first decision as MLB's arbitrator. He later greatly reduced the punishment handed to P Kenny Rogers after he shoved two cameramen in 2005. Also famous was his decision to throw out the results of a positive drug test by reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun in the spring of 2012, because proper protocol had not been followed. He had managed to keep his function for over a decade by being perceived as fair to both players and management, but the Braun decision changed that, as MLB felt compelled to issue a public statement critical of his ruling. After that, it was clear that his days in the position were numbered, and indeed, he was fired by MLB on May 14th, when another drug-related suspension, to Eliezer Alfonzo, was overturned for reasons identical to Braun's. Players Union representative Michael Weiner immediately expressed disappointment at the Commissioner's decision to terminate Das's mandate. He was succeeded by Fredric Horowitz.

Even after his dismissal, Das continued to be active in baseball. In March of 2014, he issued a ruling in a grievance filed by agent Scott Boras against Carlos Beltran, who had the support of the MLBPA. Boras wanted to receive 5% of the value of the two-year contract Beltran had signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 season, because he had prematurely terminated his engagement with Boras's agency. Das ruled that the clause in the representation contract was unenforceable, as a player had a right to decide to change agents without facing massive penalties.

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