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.

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Bartolo Colon Watching the Eclipse Is Your Moment of Zen

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A Solar Eclipse

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.

Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.