Legal fun with Uecker, Steinbrenner and the Mets!

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Craig is our resident ex-lawyer, so normally I’d let him handle something like a baseball legal roundup. But since he isn’t on duty at this very moment, I’ll have to be the one to throw out these goodies for your consumption.

Don’t like it? Then tell NBC to rule out occasional sleeping, eating and pajama laundering in Craig’s next contract. Now that I’m done with my disclaimer, let’s examine an unusual amount of legal action to come down the line today. (I’m not touching the Dodgers stuff for fear of being called “irresponsible.”)

Item one: Uecker off the hook

Remember when Bob Uecker accused that woman (Mr. Belvedere fanatic?) of stalking him back in 2006? Well after Uecker’s suit was dropped (though the ex-player was granted a four-year restraining order) the woman, a Ms. Ann Ladd, decided to fight back, suing Uecker and the Milwaukee Brewers for defamation of character.

While you would think following Bob Uecker around against his wishes would do enough damage to one’s reputation, her suit was not rejected for that reason, but because she had waited past the two-year statute of limitations to file suit. She appealed based on the fact that “stalker” and “Ann Ladd” still appear together all over the Internet to this day. The appeals panel, however, ruled that Uecker was not to be blamed for the Internet.

Lesson: Clue Haywood probably could have sued Uecker for the “nose hair” comment.

Steinbrenner and the Mets after the jump.

Item 2: Steinbrenner stole my idea!

The New York Times reports that a federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by a former president of Madison Square Garden that claims Yankees owner George Steinbrenner stole his idea for the YES Network.

Bob Gutkowski, the executive who filed the suit in August, said that in meetings held over the course of several years, he suggested that Steinbrenner start his own television network and that Steinbrenner promised Gutkowski he would run the network or be part of it.

Gutkowski sought at least $23 million, or in baseball terms, two years of Javier Vazquez. Unfortunately for Gutkowski, he never got anything in writing, and according to the judge, his argument “alleges no plausible facts” to support his claim. That can’t be good.

Lesson: Steinbrenner is about as trustworthy as that Calvin Klein fellow.

Item 3: The Mets can’t even hire good security

The New York Daily News reports that a Mets security guard has pleaded guilty to stealing bases and seats from Shea Stadium and then selling them on eBay. At the time, the employee, a Mr. Gerald Tacopino, was doing something very important: Looking for looters.

Tacopino agreed to pay back the $842.50 he made selling the stolen items, and can’t enter Citi Field for a year.

Tacopino’s lawyer, Michael McClellan, said his client mistakenly believed the Mets had no use for the memorabilia.

“It was in a pile of junk,” McClellan said.

Lesson: Maybe he could have gotten away with selling Omar Minaya on eBay.

Are you on Twitter? You can follow Bob here, and get all your CTB updates here.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.