Wednesday, December 18, 2002

The judge in the Barry Bonds record home run ball lawsuit couldn't make up his mind. He just ruled that the 2 fans fighting over the ball have to sell the ball and split the profits.

I thought that Popov deserved the ball. He caught the ball first, and only lost it because a crowd of people knocked him down and buried him. We don't know if Hayashi stole the ball from Popov, or was just the lucky recipient of the ball when it got knocked loose. Either, I say Popov got the ball first, and deserved to keep the ball.

Hayashi's best argument is that there is a baseball tradition of letting the final possessor of the ball keep it, even if there is a scuffle. But that unwritten rule was mainly for the convenience of stadium officials, who didn't want to arbitrate disputes. The Barry Bonds ball is unusual in that it is worth about $1M.

The judge acknowledged Popov had been "set upon by a gang of bandits who dislodged the ball." TV news video showed the ball in Popov's glove for at least six-tenths of a second before he was enveloped by a crowd. Both sides agreed the videotape showed the ball in Popov's glove.

Judge Kevin McCarthy is incompetent. It doesn't matter whether Hayashi was one of the bandits or not. Hayashi benefitted from the bandits.

George writes:
The judge did what he could under the circumstances. If he could, he might have taken the ball away from both of them for refusing to settle. If he gave the ball to Popov, then everyone who drops a foul ball will goto court. The decision was Solomon-like.

No, the decision was not Solomon-like. King Solomon's decision to cut the baby in half was a clever trick to get at the truth, and to award the dispute baby in its entirety to the rightful party. This ball decision is a cop-out. Why should Popov compromise with a thief? Yes, others who get robbed by a gang of bandits should be able to get a remedy from the courts. And it shouldn't take 15 months for the judge to decide, when everyone else was able to reach a conclusion after seeing a 10-second videotape. The trial told us nothing, except what was obvious the day of the Bonds home run.

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