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.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.