New York Mets v New York Yankees

Johan Santana sues the woman accusing him of sexual assault

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We lawyers call it a counterclaim. It’s a really fancy legal concept so I’m totally sure you wouldn’t understand. Anyway:

New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana has filed a counter-claim against the woman who says he sexually assaulted and impregnated her, accusing her of defamation and malicious prosecution.

In documents filed last week, Santana is seeking more than $15,000 in compensatory damages for what he says are false statements designed to ruin his reputation. The documents use terms such as “extortion,” “blackmail” and “sham rape claim.”

Background on all of this can be found here, here, here and here. As noted in those posts, the police dropped their investigation into the alleged sexual assault for “lack of evidence.”  Based on the police file released to the public, it appears the police simply didn’t believe the accusor’s story.

I think the interesting thing in this new story is the claim of extortion, in which Santana alleges that the accusor demanded money from Santana under threat of going public. Her lawyer, however, says that Santana’s lawyers came to her first and that there has been a negotiation about it.

Based on conversations I’ve had with lawyers who represent athletes and celebrities, the accepted practice among people in Santana’s position is to pay off the person and make the problem disappear. Really, even if there’s nothing to the claim — be it sexual assault or anything else — the cheapest, quickest, most p.r.-friendly way to make the threat of a lawsuit go away is to cut the check, get the person’s signature on a confidentiality agreement and go on your merry way.  Sure, this is troubling on some level, but I can see the cold hard logic to the strategy.

But what it also means is that, if you’re an athlete, and your lawyer takes such an approach,  it’s gotta be hard to make an extortion claim.  Because odds are that some amount of discussion of money has been had already, and if you’re talking money in the first place, it’s going to be difficult to distinguish between a negotiation and an extortion attempt in a subsequent litigation. As a result, unless the shakedown came really damn fast (i.e. before your lawyer could call hers), I would think that going after the person for extortion would be tough.

But then again, I guess we can go all game-theory here and say that Santana’s lawyers know that too, so this must be a really clear-cut case.  But then her lawyers know that they know that …

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.