- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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Are you a male who'd like to make $100 the sleazy way? Then I have a deal for you, but you have to act by June 25.
Of course, you'll have to cash in your basic moral decency to do it and incur the wrath of every woman in your life -- including your mom -- and feel worse about yourself than Sanjaya's barber. But we're talking $100!
Here's how to do it, but I wouldn't let the wife read this:
It so happens that on May 8, 2004, the Oakland A's had a Mother's Day promotion. There was a fight-breast-cancer 5K run before the game, free mammograms and the first 7,500 women through the gate got floppy plaid sun hats from Macy's. Nice day for the ladies.
Except that last part really hacked off a man named Alfred G. Rava. He was incensed that men weren't getting a floppy plaid sun hat for Mother's Day. He was so mad about it that he sued.
It gets worse. He has nearly won. A judge has given preliminary approval to a $510,000 settlement -- roughly half to lawyers and the rest to the "victims" -- the poor, downtrodden gender-disadvantaged waifs like Rava who didn't get their floppy Mother's Day hats. This is where you come in.
If you can prove you were one of the first 7,500 people there that day, you get $50 in cash, two-for-one A's tickets and a $25 Macy's coupon. It won't be hard. All you have to do is (A) state under oath that you are a male, (B) show some kind of receipt for your ticket and (C) swear you were there early. That's good enough. There's no video, and nobody's going to spend $5,000 deposing you about $100.
So how many guys have lined up to get their rightful floppy-hat-equivalent payment that was stolen from them by those selfish Mother's Day-manipulating women? "Well, I haven't taken a single call so far," said the 1-888 operator at the firm handling claims. "And I'm here just about every day."
A's fans are not just ignoring Rava in droves; they're pissed. "The entire settlement should be donated to the Breast Care Center at UCSF," says A's fan Ben Huber. "No good deed goes unpunished."
Isn't it good to know that most American males still have a spine? Save for (cough, cough) one.
Turns out Rava is a lawyer. In fact, this is not his first men-inism lawsuit. He's been part of more than 40 male anti-discrimination lawsuits, sometimes as the plaintiff, like in Oakland, and sometimes as the plaintiff's attorney. He has sued Club Med for a ladies-only promotion. He's sued the Angels for giving away a $1.45 tote bag to women in 2005. He has sued restaurants and nightclubs and theater companies. Mr. Rava gets incensed a lot.
Oh, and he doesn't even work in Oakland. He works in San Diego. Gee, I wonder what a sue-happy lawyer from San Diego would be doing at an A's-Twins game the very day that they were holding a women-only giveaway? I called and asked.
But Rava wouldn't say.
"Season-ticket holder?" I asked.
Rava wouldn't say.
"You went to a game on Mother's Day, to a game that was promoting breast cancer awareness, and you felt victimized by not getting a floppy plaid sun hat?"
Rava insisted it was a fishing hat.
And he thinks the fact he didn't get one is offensive. Not just to him, he says, but to the state of California, "which has a very strong policy against discriminating on the basis of sex."
"Look," Rava says, "if ESPN were giving away free autographed Nolan Ryan baseballs to men only on Father's Day, would that be fair?"
"These weren't autographed baseballs. They were women's sun hats. Plaid, floppy sun hats."
Rava: "Fishing hats."
I'm surprised he didn't want his free mammogram, too.
Personally, I find Mr. Rava as odorous as a bag of dyspeptic hamsters. He's a greasy manipulator who has found a small leak in American law and stuck an open wallet under it. When they wrote California's Unruh Civil Rights Act in 1959 -- the act Rava cites in his suits -- they never thought soulless creatures like him would someday slink about the earth.
We are not a collection of legal briefs, appellate rulings and city ordinances. We are people. We are grandfathers and sisters and uncles and girlfriends, all woven into the fabric of this wonderful thing called sports. And if once in a while we want to do something nice for each other -- and not want anything for ourselves -- is that so wrong?
What are you going to do, sue?
Yes, Al Rava is going to sue and keep suing. What's next, Mr. Rava? Kids' Helmet Night? (Age discrimination!) Wheelchairs along the rail with a view? (Health discrimination!) Mullets Get in Free Day? (Clean-hair statutes!) Lawyers like Rava suck the fun out of everything.
What's amazing is that Rava's own mother died of breast cancer at age 53. How would she feel about his crass-action lawsuit?
"I am sure my mom would be proud of my lawsuit against this major league baseball franchise that denied male and female consumers under 18 years of age free fishing hats based on sex and age," he says.
Sun hats, tool.
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