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.

Rob Manfred blames Bryce Harper for going unsigned

Bryce Harper
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.

No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.

Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:

Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.

Manfred didn’t stop there, however.

An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?