October 27th, 2015

Talkin’ Baseball — and the New York Mets

Michael Sergio, after he fell from the upper deck at Shea Stadium during game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Michael Sergio, after he fell from the upper deck at Shea Stadium during game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Over the years, I’ve hijacked my law blog to talk baseball on occasion. Why? Because I can. It’s my blog and I make the rules.

The first time I did it, I discussed the Supreme Court’s fantasy baseball team and the problems they had on recusal when a fantasy baseball case came before it.  I candidly admit it was great fun to write that post.

The Mets take the field in 30 minutes for the World Series. The last time they won, in 1986 against the Red Sox, I was at all four games in Shea Stadium.  It isn’t as easy to sneak in as it used to be (statute of limitations has passed, thank you very much) but I do have legit tickets for game 5 on Sunday, assuming there is a game 5 of course. (My game 6 tickets against the Cubs went unused due to the sweep.)

Without further ado, Talkin’ Baseball on a personal injury law blog (feel free to cue up the music as you read):

Baseball, Poetry and Crocuses (Pitchers and Catchers Report Next Week!)

False and Misleading Headlines (Youth Baseball Edition)

April Fools’ Day Quiz, Justice Alito, and Baseball

25 Years Ago Today — Game 6, 1986 Wold Series

Opening Day – An Interview with 1986 Shea Jumper Mike Sergio

R.I.P. Jane Jarvis, Shea’s Queen of Melody (And a Lesson For Lawyers)

 

February 3rd, 2014

Baseball, Poetry and Crocuses (Pitchers and Catchers Report Next Week!)

OldBaseball

An old baseball of mine, that I had stitched back together to keep the leather on.

I found an old baseball of mine a few years ago. The white stitches that replaced the red originals were still in it from my childhood repair work. Throwing grounders in the street tended to chew things up.

We didn’t have megastores 40 years ago where you could buy them cheaply by the dozen. A baseball was precious. This one now sits on my desk in one of those plexiglass cases usually reserved for famously autographed balls.

While the calendar claims it’s winter, and Super Bowl conversation buzzing about, appellate lawyer Jay Breakstone sees spring. Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training next week, and the SCOTUS fantasy baseball league is getting ready to draft. He guest-blogged baseball a few years ago, and now returns.

Who says lawyers can’t write like poets?

————————————

Everyone in my neighborhood knows that I am the lunatic who walks down his driveway every morning in his bathrobe to get the newspaper.  It matters not whether there’s snow on the ground or it’s raining cats and dogs.  Going out like that in the morning is my way of thumbing my nose at the seasons.

It says that I am alive and have not succumbed to winter’s cold.  It shows that I believe that the sun will come up tomorrow, that there’s a bright golden haze on the meadow somewhere and that baseball will soon be here.

It’s not so much that baseball starts in the spring that makes it so life-affirming, but that baseball starts before spring that is.  Baseball assumes, when pitchers and catchers report in mid-February, that the snow on the ground or the chill in the air is just a temporary affliction that time will heal.

The fact that I walk down the driveway every winter morning in my bathrobe to pick up my newspaper, encased in a plastic bag to protect it from the snow and the ice, means nothing to baseball.  Baseball knows that somewhere, spring awaits.  It knows it before the crocuses stick their necks out of my flower beds and it knows it before that first morning that I can go down my driveway barefoot without freezing my toes off.

Baseball is eternal; a child’s game played by men as if they were boys.  There is no time clock in baseball; it is only played in one season – Baseball Season – and games end whenever they end, or when someone’s mother calls them home for dinner.

There is no death in baseball; fathers are fathers and sons are sons and they remain that way forever.  There is nothing outside of baseball; it has it’s own rules and traditions, none of which makes sense in the real world, because baseball doesn’t live there.

Finally, there are no green vegetables in baseball, only Cracker Jacks and peanuts in the shell that you get to throw on the floor and no one yells at you.

JayBreakstone

Jay Breakstone, lawyer and wordsmith.

No matter what happens – – no matter what Congress does or doesn’t do, no matter if global warming has us frying or the polar vortex has us freezing, no matter which Kardashian suffers a urinary tract infection or if Jimmy Fallon succeeds or fails – – no matter what, on March 31st the Mets will open their season against the Washington Nationals.  A day game.  A place for men to play hookie, once more, and for the world to be re-born, once again.

The magic words?  Batter up!

(Jay Breakstone  is the author of MondayMonday, his weekly ruminations on NY appellate practice and life.)

 

January 15th, 2014

False and Misleading Headlines (Youth Baseball Edition) – Updated

An unhappy Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays throws his helmet in 2013.

An unhappy Brett Lawrie of the Toronto Blue Jays throws his helmet in 2013.

Headlines make a difference, as headlines can skew the viewpoint of the reader before the facts are even read in the article. That is, if the article is even read. Many folks, of course, just skim.

And so it is with KCRA in Sacramento, CA.

The headline reads:

14-year-old Little Leaguer sued by coach for celebrating win

The problem? That isn’t really why anyone was sued. An actual reading of the article reveals that the defendant, a 14-year-old, threw off his helmet as he raced home with a winning run. But the helmet hit the coach and caused a torn Achilles tendon.

The kid, in other words, wasn’t sued because for celebrating, but for causing an injury to his coach.

As per the article’s actual text:

In legal papers filed in court, the teen’s former coach, Alan Beck, contends the boy “carelessly threw a helmet, striking Plaintiff’s Achilles tendon and tearing it.”

Whether the underlying facts support the suit or not, I have no way of knowing. All we have now is a legal pleading and a short news story.

Will it be tossed out on assumption of risk grounds? Perhaps. Throwing helmets isn’t exactly part of the game, but as you can see from the graphic above of Brett Lawrie throwing his helmet in 2013, it does happen on occasion.

But one thing is clear. The headline writer didn’t accurately tell you what the story was about.

Does this matter? You bet. Because headlines like this help to shape public opinion, and that public opinion affects how potential jurors will feel about cases before a trial even starts.

(hat tip, Conrad Saam)

Update (1/16/14):  CNN now has the story, with interviews with the parents of the kid being sued, bemoaning the suit, and the coach who brought the suit discussing his Achilles injury from a 6-foot tall, 180 pound kid, and the lack of apology. CNN harps on the amount sued for: $500,000. And that makes this a good time to remember that ad damnum clauses such as this are a very bad idea. They have, thankfully, been outlawed in New York.

The coach that sued says “it’s not about the money,” but the fact that there is a number in the complaint for the media to focus on takes that issue out of his hands.

While I don’t know if this suit will survive due to assumption of risk issues — and if California law is the same as New York law I think it will get tossed — it’s clear that the CNN focus is on money instead of safety. I wrote about that recently when Red Bull was sued for $85M — where I noted that it was a very poor move to put a number in the complaint, not only because it isn’t allowed but because it shifted the focus away from product safety.

 

 

April 1st, 2013

April Fools’ Day Quiz, Justice Alito, and Baseball

Justice Sam Alito (or not?)

Today is April 1st. It’s also opening day for most baseball teams. So if you’re a Mets fan like I am, it’s an interesting happenstance, no?

But if you came here hoping for an April Fools’ Day gag, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s just a quickie quiz on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and baseball.

Hoaxes have simply become too complicated and difficult for me to coordinate. The last couple of years I went through hundreds of emails setting up elaborate cock-and-bull stories. In 2011 it involved a 23-blog web ring. Last year I created a new web site just to hide what I was doing with over a dozen co-conspirators, since so many people were assuming I would use this site for trickery. If I did this again, my wife would kill me. Then she would divorce my rotting carcass. Even fun has its limits.

Also, it’s nice to retire before I go stale and start putting out lame crap.

But just because I’ve retired from gags doesn’t mean I can’t bring you a modest little quiz regarding law and baseball and focusing on Justice Alito pictured here at right on a baseball card from a fantasy baseball camp.

Or maybe it’s a fake card. This is, after all, April Fools’ Day and do you really believe anything I write? I can almost see your brain cells pulsing as you look to see who will get hornswaggled.

Cheating on this poll is easy, as anyone over the age of eight can use the Google. But if you cheat, a kitten will die and someone will turn you into an anti-kitten Facebook meme that will quickly devour the web because that’s what the web does best and it would really suck for you and then your spouse, kids and siblings would divorce your dead rotting carcass. I’m sure you don’t want to test that theory.

And you know I’m right, anyway, or you wouldn’t have read this far.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the poll.

Each question has a link. The link contains the actual answer. But you have to answer the poll first before you click the links to see if you were right. It’s all about the kittens, remember? If you didn’t remember the kittens from three short paragraphs ago then you’ve got bigger problems than I can deal with here.

But cheating is also about your soul. Don’t screw with your soul, it ain’t worth it for a little quiz, and someone might scratch “cheater” on your headstone one day, and that one day will probably be April 1st just for the karmic kicks.

In this quiz, everything below is true, except for one item. Which item below is false for SCOTUS Justice Alito?

1. He once went to a Philadelphia Phillies fantasy baseball camp that produced the baseball card you see above (link)

2. He was born on April Fools’ Day (link)

3.  Because he plays in a fantasy baseball league he recused himself on a case dealing with the sale of baseball statistics to statistical services for fantasy leagues (link)

4.  There is a website that compares all Supreme Court justices to people in baseball.  John Jay, for example, is compared  to the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Justice Alito  is compared to flame-throwing right-hander Jonathan Papelbon, because Papelbon was supposed to be the next Roger Clemens while Alito was touted at his confirmation as the next Scalia. (Papelbon is now with Alito’s beloved Phillies.) (link)

5.  His childhood ambition was to become commissioner of baseball. (link)

Which of the above statements is false?

View Results

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You didn’t cheat, did you?

 

October 25th, 2011

25 Years Ago Today — Game 6, 1986 Wold Series

Mookie Wilson races to first as the ball gets past Bill Buckner in the bottom of the 10th, Game 6, 1986 World Series.

On the Mets opening day this year, I did an interview with Mike Sergio, who parachuted out of the Queens sky to land in Shea Stadium during a ballgame. Not just any ballgame, though, as this was the start, quite fortuitously, of one of the most famous games in baseball history .

Today is the 25th anniversary of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, between the Mets and Red Sox. The Sox were up 3 games to 2, and this game was tied and went into extra innings. The Sox scored two in the top of the 10th and were one out from winning the championship. Then all hell broke loose:

Single by Gary Carter

Single by Kevin Mitchell

Single by Ray Knight (Carter scores)

Wild pitch by Bob Stanley, off the glove of catcher Rich Gedman (Mitchell scores to tie the game, Knight to second)

Mookie Wilson slow roller up the line, through the legs of first basemen Bill Buckner (Knight scores from second)

Game over.

This is a 3 minute clip by Major League Baseball of that most famous inning, which I watched from the upper deck of the stadium. (I had to sneak in, as management gave almost all the tickets to season ticket holders and league people. I’m confident the statute of limitations has now run on my transgression.)

Enjoy the clip. (Unless, of course, you are from Boston, in which case  you should be reading something else.)

(And if you want to buy the ball, it is being sold today on eBay with a starting bid of $1,000,000, with the auction ending at the precise time Wilson hit his slow roller down the line.)