Grady Sizemore sics his lawyers on a blogger

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The Diamondhoggers blog put up a couple of those oh-so-sexy photos of Grady Sizemore yesterday.  Last night, Sizemore’s lawyers sent them a cease and desist letter, threatening suit if they don’t take them down.  I haven’t practiced law since last Friday, but I suppose I can brush off the rust and parse this bad boy:

“It has come to our attention that you are posting a number of photographs of Mr. Sizemore that are his property. The photographs, which were stolen from a personal computer . . .”

Oooh, clever lawyer.  Stolen from “a” personal computer. Not “Mr. Sizemore’s” personal computer. A small distinction, but one that had to be made because every single article on the topic has reported that the pics were stolen from the computer of one Brittany Binger — Grady Sizemore’s girlfriend — after Sizemore sent them to her.  Which means that the photos aren’t Mr. Sizemore’s property. Unless Grady gave them to Binger on a lease with an option to buy.  If a letter should be coming from anyone it should be coming from Binger’s lawyer. Maybe Sizemore has a copyright complaint as the photographer, but I don’t think that’s what is really animating this letter, do you?

“. . . the posting of pictures known to be stolen is an invasion of Mr. Sizemore’s property and may be actionable at law. Such posting, therefore, subjects the Website, you, your employees and principals, and all individuals/entities associated with this activity to serious potential liability.”

Oh noes!! Not Serious Potential Liability!! Is that like Double Secret Probation?

Look, the key word here is “may.” The law on this varies from state to state, but to sue someone for invasion of privacy, there has to be some sort of an intrusion on one’s private affairs or the revealing of one’s private information, with “private” being defined (roughly) as “stuff no one knows,” not “involving one’s privates.”

Setting aside the fact that these pics were all over the Internet before Diamondhoggers posted them, if I was defending the case I’d feel pretty comfortable arguing that Grady lost any claim to privacy the moment he hit “send” and transported the pics over any number of servers and to any number of potential recipients, intended or otherwise.

“We trust that you can appreciate the serious nature of this situation . . .”

Serious? sorry, I saw the pics and there’s nothing serious about them. They’re absolutely hilarious.

“We ask that you preserve any records associated with the submission of the photographs to you in anticipation of a criminal complaint to be filed with local law enforcement.”

Great moments in boilerplate threat-letter language. I’m not sure where the writers of Diamondhoggers live, but I’m guessing that it’s in a jurisdiction where law enforcement officials don’t give a diddly durn about Grady Sizemore’s girlfriends’ pictures being reposted on the Internet. What, you think McNulty, Bunk, Freamon and Pryzbylewski are sitting in the dingy offices of the Nudie Internet Pic Takedown detail just waiting to spring into action?  If anyone goes after anyone for this it will be feds going after the person who hacked the computer in the first place, and even then, this sort of thing isn’t high on anyone’s list.

“Should you fail to comply immediately with the terms of this letter, we will be forced to explore all available remedies against the Website and you.”

Sorry, your threat letter pretty much constitutes all the remedies there are.

Look, it’s obviously a crime to hack someone’s computer, and if Sizemore’s girlfriend’s computer was hacked, whoever did it should have their butt in a sling (and if they’re liable to anyone it’s his girlfriend, not Sizemore).  But these poor bloggers didn’t hack anything. They merely posted something that about umpteen hundred other websites posted yesterday, long after the initial crime — assuming there even was one — took place.

A cease and desist letter like this — coming from the legal arm of Sizemore’s agents, by the way — is an exercise in P.R. damage control, and a hamfisted one at that.  Sizemore showed some bad judgment in taking these pics of himself and sending them into cyberspace. Anyone who has been alive for the past decade or so knows that what happened with them — their ultimate release to the public — was inevitable.

Most people in Sizemore’s situation would probably take this as a learning experience, hope it all dies down quickly and move on. Sizemore decided to release the legal hounds to harass bloggers.  Which is a pretty weak move on Grady’s part in my mind.

Sports teams do not “heal” cities or nations

Associated Press
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story today in which he talks to Cleon Jones, Ken Harrelson, Art Shamsky and others from the 1969 Mets about their Amazin’ World Series title run. The story is tied to the upcoming commemorations of the 50th anniversary of that phenomenally unexpected and improbable season.

And that’s fine as far as it goes, but as so often is the case with nostalgic remembrances, it goes too far:

They will gather together in New York later in June, rehashing stories from 50 years ago, reminiscing about the year they turned the baseball world upside down, becoming perhaps the most beloved team in history.

The 1969 Mets.

The team that helped revitalize a city in ruins and heal a nation in turmoil, showing the world you can turn the inconceivable to the improbable to the possible to the incredible, in a way only sports can possibly do.

Now would be a good time to remember that the city the Mets allegedly revitalized found itself on the brink of bankruptcy in the early-to-mid-70s and experienced urban decay and spiking crime rates for the next 20+ years. It would also be a good time to remember that the nation the Mets allegedly healed witnessed the Kent State shootings a few months later, among other bits of strife for the next, oh, 50 years and counting.

Yes, I am being flip and superficial here, but I do so simply to illustrate how flip and superficial “[Sports Team] healed [City/Nation]” narratives invariably are.

We see these sorts of things whenever a team from a down-on-its-luck place has a title run. Detroit. Cleveland. New Orleans. The idea is generally a broad-brush paint job in which the source of strife — poverty, crime, economic strife, natural disaster, terrorism, etc. —  is detailed with the local sports team’s subsequent title run cast as a spiritual balm. The words “heal” and “uplift” are pretty common in these stories. Back in 2002 I wrote about a classic of the genre, a documentary about the 1968 Detroit Tigers, who allegedly healed Detroit following he 1967 riots. Anyone familiar with Detroit from 1968-on may understand that the claims of healing asserted therein were . . . somewhat overstated.

Whatever the details, most of these narratives have the same sorts of flaws. At best they overstate the significance of sports in society, presuming that happiness among ticket-buying sports fans — who are usually better off than your average city resident who may be the one in need of healing — means broad-based happiness among the populace. More commonly they simply ignore the actual city or society beyond anything but its most superficial markers. The pattern:

  • Montage of the strife in whatever its form (bonus if it’s from the 1960s and you can re-use some existing “turbulent 60s” b-roll;
  • A chronicling of the sports team’s run; and
  • A declaration that everything was better after that.

It’s not even a matter of correlation and causation being confused. There’s very rarely ever any evidence presented that the sports made the underlying problems any better. All one usually gets from these things is a sense that, at least to the sports commentator/documentarian telling the story and to the people who closely followed the sports team, things were good. Unless, of course, I missed the part about how LeBron James solved Cleveland’s declining population problems and how the 2010 New Orleans Saints solved the ongoing mental, economic and medical trauma of those displaced by Katrina.

Which is not to say that sports mean nothing in this context. Sports success can certainly make a lot of people happy, even people hit hard by adversity, temporarily speaking. People only tangentially-connected to the strife in question may, also, decide that a sporting event “healed” a city. For example, if something bad happened in your city but didn’t affect you directly, you may believe that the trophy-hoisting put a nice bookend on the trauma that was more directly felt by others. And, of course, individuals directly connected with the sporting events in question, like Cleon Jones in the Mets piece, can experience a more lasting change in their lives as a result of this sort of success that they might see as general uplift.

That’s not the same thing as healing, though. Because while you or I can close that chapter on it all when the game is over, survivors of traumatic events and victims of systematic oppression or chronic strife cannot and do not do so that easily. There were people still hurting in Detroit after 1968, in New York (and the nation) after 1969, in New Orleans after the Saints won the Super Bowl, and in Cleveland after the Cavs won their title. The very best that can be said of sports triumph amid civic adversity is that it’s a pleasant, albeit temporary distraction. But not everyone had the luxury of enjoying that temporary distraction and a distraction is not the same thing as a cure.

Why do sports writers and commentators do this? I suppose it’s a function of people believing that the world in which they operate is, well, the world. The entertainment writer sees everything as a Hollywood story, the political writer sees everything as a Washington story and the sports writer sees everything as a sports story. It’s an understandable loss of perspective and we all fall prey to it sometimes.

It’d be better, though, if we spent more time appreciating that our perspective on the world is not the only one. I won’t speak for the entertainment or political people, and I won’t speak for the way in which any other person may prioritize the world as they observe it. But in my world — sports — I think it’d be better if we did not ascribe outsized significance to the beat we cover. Doing so asks far more of sports than sports is capable of delivering and erases the ongoing pain and suffering of people for whom sports is no sort of cure.