Thursday, July 17, 2003
Updated: July 18, 3:38 PM ET
Out of order! This court is out of order!
By Ira Fritz
Special to Page 2
You know there's something wrong with the Home Run Derby when the highlight of the event happens to be A-Rod's highlights - or "frosted tips."
On Thursday, Pete Rose finally gets his day in "mock" court as a jury of his peers determines whether or not he belongs in the Hall Of Fame. On Pete's side is none other than Johnnie "It's an Outrage" Cochran. If he can somehow do for Pete what he did for O.J., then Pete may very well get away with mur&I mean, with gambling on baseball, and he'll be deemed fit for the Hall.
On the other side of the courtroom sits a formidable foe in Alan Dershowitz. The Harvard law professor will be arguing that the doors to the Hall should remain closed to Charlie Hustle . . . even though Pete's probably got a few close friends and associates who know how to pick the lock, anyway. No word yet on which side Pete placed his bet.
|ESPN's mock trial debating whether or not Pete Rose should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame sparked ten more important mock trial ideas.|
A case like this really gets you thinking. What other cases are out there that ought to find their way into a court of law? The possibilities are endless. Fortunately, we're the most litigious society on the planet. So, in the spirit of the day, we've come up with a few more trials perhaps coming someday soon to a courtroom near you.
Should Gaylord Perry be in the Hall of Fame even though he's a self-admitted spitballer?
First of all, Cooperstown needs at least one guy named "Gaylord," and since he's the only one right now, this case should really never go to trial. If it did, Perry would likely "grease" the hands of the jury and the judge and he'd win the case, anyway.
Witnesses for the prosecution would include the thousands of hitters he faced in 22 years in the bigs who were sprayed by his illegal "stuff" as it crossed the plate. Next up would be all the catchers who spent an hour or two after every game disinfecting their hands from whatever the heck he smeared them with. Other expert witnesses might include sex shop owners and colo-rectal surgeons who supplied him with the various lubricating tools of his trade. If cheaters are to be banned from the Hall, then the Hall might end up looking more like a mere foyer, because Gaylord is certainly not alone when it comes to bending the rules on the diamond. The verdict: Perry stays.
Was Jeff Kent really Turtle-Waxing his car when he broke his wrist last year? Or was he popping wheelies on his motorcycle?
|Which event caused Jeff Kent to break his wrist? A. Washing his truck or B. Riding his motorcycle...you be the judge.|
Yes, Bonds is the best home run hitter in baseball, but he's hardly the undisputed biggest star in the game that every fan clamors toward.
Not sure how someone breaks his wrist washing a truck, unless of course the giant soapy sponge he's using comes to life and attacks him. Jeff might have come up with a more believable story here, like he broke his wrist in a fight with Barry Bonds. Actually, he could combine the two stories and say he broke his wrist trying to wash Barry Bonds. Now that would be more believable and certainly something the Giants' lawyers would probably not want to ask too many questions about.
Since no reliable witness came forward to say that he saw Kent pulling a Fonzie on his hog in the parking lot of the Giants' spring training facility, the jury would have no choice but to buy his version. The only story with less credibility -- and this might make a great trial of its own -- is Wade Boggs missing a few games in '86 for wrenching his back while putting on cowboy boots. If he'd said Mistress Margo liked it when they were role-playing and he dressed up as the Marlboro Man, perhaps the Wade-man gets away with it.
Red Sox fans vs. Bill Buckner. The charge: endless pain and suffering.
Red Sox fans need a way to find some closure. If over a decade and a half of therapy isn't cutting it, then putting Buckner on trial is the only way. Nothing personal against Buckner -- seems like a nice enough guy -- but he needs to pay for his crime. The case against Buckner is pretty cut-and-dried. The defense will claim that his injury was so bad he was practically crippled, thus preventing him from making the play. But that won't work, because the ball was hit so weakly that a handicapped person in fact actually would make that play. Raymond Burr, FDR, even Itzhak Perlman with a violin in one hand and a bow in the other easily fields that dribbler. And if he, in fact, was as incapacitated as his lawyers would argue, then shouldn't he have said, "Hey, Skip, in case you haven't noticed because that huge schnoz of yours is in the way, I can barely walk, let alone bend over . . .maybe you want to put Dave Stapleton in there?" Heck, the Red Sox would've been better off with Jean Stapleton at first base. Dingbat scoops that right up, steps on the bag for the unassisted put-out and history is forever changed . . . at least until the Mets win it the next inning.
Jerry Seinfeld vs. the rest of the cast of "Seinfeld." The charge: embarrassment perpetrated on Jerry with the shows the rest of the cast has foisted on us since "Seinfeld" bowed out.
OK, it isn't sports. But it's a case that desperately needs to be tried. Did these three people learn anything at all from being part of one of the greatest shows in TV history? "The Michael Richards Show" was so horrific a local cable access channel wouldn't even pick it up. The peacock then came right back at us with the brilliant "Watching Ellie," a show so vile it actually made people long for "The Michael Richards Show." In fact, studies have proved that watching it causes severe retinal damage in laboratory rats, and several rodents even committed suicide before the first commercial break. And thanks to the "Bob Patterson" debacle, Jason Alexander is now forced to whore for fried chicken on TV every five minutes, just to make ends meet.
The verdict: Guilty.
The cast's sentence is a nationally televised formal apology to Jerry and the rest of the country for their crimes, and four million hours of community service picking up trash on the side of the 101 Freeway. In addition, they're each banned for life from doing anything on TV again unless Jerry is in it, produces it, or says it's OK.
Jesus vs. Deion Sanders. Jesus says he never gave Prime Time the OK to stiff that auto mechanic.
The charge: Blasphemy.
Tough case for Deion. Sure, we all know he's found Jesus Christ. He reminds us of that all the time, especially in the way he acts, talks and dresses like a pimp. But did Jesus really approach him the way Deion says and tell him that He's crunched the numbers on His own and thinks a discount on Neon's classic car repair is in order? Hmmm. Whatever really happened, no jury will want to find against Jesus in a He said/he said case of this nature. And besides, at most, Jesus told Deion to pay in cash and try to get a break on the tax.
The verdict here is for Jesus. Punishment for Deion is eternal damnation and a 1982 Plymouth K-car to spend it in. And if this guy ever really does find Jesus, he better run in the other direction.
U.S.A. vs. the refs from the 1972 U.S.A./U.S.S.R. Olympic basketball gold-medal game. The charge: Cheating, Commie style.
These refs were so guilty of fraud on behalf of the Soviets that they make Stalin look like a fine, upstanding gentleman. It's clear when you watch the end of that game that these bozos were going to give the Russians as many chances as it took to get the game-winning basket. First, it was a missed time-out between Doug Collins' free throws. Then the clock wasn't set properly. What was next? The ball didn't have enough air in it? The Soviet point guard's shoes weren't properly tied? Someone in the stands was talking loudly and it disturbed the Russian shooter? If this case was heard anywhere but in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the judge would immediately find in favor of the Americans and give them the gold they deserve. Sure, this could lead to new problems between the two nations and maybe even destroy the vastly-improved relationship that has now developed between old enemies. But in the spirit of the Olympics . . . screw 'em.
Utah Jazz vs. Michael Jordan. The charge: MJ allegedly pushed Bryon Russell with the force of a freight train before he hit the winning shot during the '98 NBA Finals.
|Sure Jordan may have pushed off Bryon Russell, but that means MJ would have had one less of these parties.|
If Mike had picked him up over his head and thrown him to the floor Hulk Hogan-style it would have been less obvious. Forget about charging him with an offensive foul -- how about first-degree aggravated assault? Bryon's lucky he didn't land on the scorer's table. On the face of it, it's open-and-shut against Mike. But there's more to it. The defense has a star witness who changes the entire complexion of the case against Jordan: the Commissioner himself, Mr. David Stern. Stern would take the stand and simply tell it like it is. After all, he's under oath.
"A foul on Michael? Surely you jest. The only person allowed to call a foul on Michael was Michael. Wanna hang around in the three-second lane for three days? Make yourself at home, Mike. Hand-checking? Our rules said Mike could do it to the point where the State would declare him and his opponent common-law partners. It's all good just as long as he stayed out there every single night mooing like the giant NBA cash cow he always was. Sorry, Bryon, you should've just stayed out of the way."
The verdict: Please.
The Oakland Raiders vs. The Immaculate Reception. The charge: Frenchy touched it.
It's been over 30 years since the play happened, and Frenchy Fuqua is still pleading the fifth. He ain't talking except to say that the ball did not bounce off him -- which would've made Harris' catch illegal -- but instead off Jack Tatum, who was concentrating so hard on removing Frenchy's head from Frenchy's body that his testimony is inadmissible. Jack says there is no way the ball could have possibly hit him based on the juxtaposition of his body and Fuqua's. Some in attendance that day still insist they heard two shots and saw someone running from a grassy knoll behind the stadium parking lot. This has never been confirmed.
Lawyers for the Raiders will argue that any play involving a man named Frenchy certainly is cause for serious suspicion. Now if it had been Frenchy from "Grease" involved in the play, both sides could call Rizzo and perhaps Kenickie to the stand and really get to the bottom of this. The verdict: a Pittsburgh victory . . . and Frenchy protects his good name.
Jets fans vs. Rich Kotite. The charge: being the worst coach in NFL history.
|Rich Kotite may get a break from being the worst coach in NFL history because of leaders like former Lion head coach Marty Mornhinweg who partied too hard with Eminem to lead the Lions to the playoffs.|
OK, OK. There is room for plenty of healthy (or unhealthy) debate here thanks to Marty Mornhinweg, Ray Handley, Bruce Coslet, and several others. But Jet fans clearly have a rock-solid case here. The witnesses against Kotite pretty much boil down to any living, breathing human being who has even a first-grade knowledge of football and had the misfortune of watching the Jets go a combined 4-28 under him in '95 and '96. The witnesses for Kotite will get lost on the way to the courtroom, anyway, so they'd never actually be able to testify. Kotite likely won't rely on anyone on his defense team, instead planning his entire strategy alone, thus finding himself 28 points down before the first recess.
People with brains vs. the guy who invented The Wave. The charge: Ruining the enjoyment of the game for
This guy needs to do some serious prison time. Somewhere along the way, the line between observing a ballgame and participating in it got blurred, and The Wave moved right in to exploit it. Who cares if our pitcher is trying to concentrate and work his way out of a bases-loaded jam? Who cares if we're down by seven runs in the eighth inning? Who cares if our star shortstop just landed on his head after the runner trying to break up the double play took him out with a nasty slide? We paid good money to completely ignore the game and just keep doing The Wave all day. And doggone it, that's exactly what we're going to do.
The prosecution will call as its first witness PATSAW (People Against The Stupid-Ass Wave). They can prove, with the help of stat-genius Bill James, that The Wave in fact hurts the home team's performance, particularly in late June with a left-hander on the mound, the score tied and a player of Dominican descent in scoring position.
The defense will argue . . . aww, who cares what they argue.
The verdict: Give me a G, a U, an I, an L, a T, a Y. What's that spell? Guilty!