The other lawsuits and legal memorandums around baseball

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the first installment of "The Five," which will hopefully become a regular feature around here. The goal is to list five things/players/teams/plays/events/whatever in a specific category. It's code for "Power rankings that don't take nearly as long." They're 17 percent the effort, but I'll include twice the Willie McGee jokes to make up for it.

And for this first installment, we're going to look at the Yankees' curious legal battle. If you're not aware of what's going on, it's kind of beautiful:

A panel of trademark judges in Washington, D.C., earlier this month denied a request from a private entrepreneur, known as Evil Enterprises, Inc., to register the trademark for the phrase "Baseballs Evil Empire."

Part of the Yankees' argument: a concession that in the baseball world, they are, in fact, the "Evil Empire." In its legal papers, the team referenced a number of articles from the past decade using the term in connection with the Yankees, and conceded that the team has "implicitly embraced" the "Evil Empire" theme by playing music from Star Wars during their home games.

Wow, that's ballsy of the Yankees to act against a company that … say, what does Evil Enterprises, Inc. do, anyway? Google?

Screen_shot_2013-02-25_at_2


Huh. Spreading malware is pretty evil, alright. But they have a ways to go if they're going to catch up to putting Wade Boggs on a police horse to taunt Boston fans.

Here, then, are five other legal matters going on around the baseball universe. You'd think these things are rarer than they actually are, but baseball teams take this very seriously. It's about protecting a brand, an image. Here are some excerpts from the legal proceedings.

1. Astros (suing an unnamed independent-league team)

When (redacted) attempted to trademark the term "Let Them Play!" as a slogan for their upcoming baseball season, they encroached on the Astros' long-established relationship with the movie Bad News Bears II: Breaking Training, which was partially filmed in the Astrodome.

… could hurt plans to market the team based on a "lovable loser" strategy, in which humorous "errors" are made to the amusement of the crowd …"

...

… ruins a planned promotion in which Jose Altuve was to run around, with security guards chasing him, as the crowd chanted and cheered …

...

… I actually think that Scott Baio's cousin is actually pitching for the real Astros, too. Hold on, Your Honor. Lemme check …"

2. Rangers infielder Mike Olt sending a cease-and-desist letter to Red Sox infielder Brock Holt

While Holt and Olt both made their debuts in 2012, the petitioner Olt came up in August, whereas the respondent Holt came up in September. Olt drove in his first run with a sacrifice fly on August 4th, and when he returned to the dugout, he raised both of his arms above his head and said, "Mike Olt!"

However, the records show that when the respondent drove in his first run on September 2, he stood on first base, looked toward his first base coach, raised his arms aloft, and shouted, "Brock Holt!"

The petitioner asks that the respondent immediately cease and desist his actions, and that failing to do so could cause confusion among the general public.

3. Red Sox suing TrekWeb (independent Star Trek site)

… while it's likely that the heading "pitchers of red-shirt uniforms" label on the unofficial Star Trek fan site is a typographical error, the Red Sox maintain that they have an exclusive claim to the idea of "pitchers wearing red uniforms," which is a trope used in the television show to designate representatives who will almost certainly be sacrificed or killed. Fans have grown accustomed to saying, "Oh, look. The Red Sox are going to use a pitcher with a red uniform again. He's going to get killed, watch," and until the proprietors of TrekWeb correct this oversight, there could be confusion with the brand the Red Sox have carefully established over the last two seasons.

4. Pirates responding to a lawsuit from James Cameron

Baseball writers have used the term "Baseball's Abyss" before, and the efforts by Mr. Cameron to trademark the term runs contrary to the brand the Pirates have built up …

… for years the Pirates have cultivated the term in a general sense -- baseball's abyss, meaning a bottomless pit of baseball hell, from which no actual baseball can escape. But for the last two seasons, they've actively embraced a different connotation: Baseball's Abyss, in which the first half of their season is thrilling, fresh, and exciting, even if a little slow at times, but the second half is filled with unfathomable crap and nonsense that makes you wonder why you spent so much time following the whole mess. The Pirates would also like to suggest that the phrase "I wish I had the last three hours of my life back," would also be implicitly covered with the "Baseball's Abyss" claim.

5. Dodgers responding to the Yankees

You want to claim the term "Baseball's Evil Empire"? Okay. But I would like to point out that we are building an actual Death Star. Like, a literal Death Star. A satellite in space that has training facilities, cafeterias, dormitories, and lasers. Lots of lasers. Why? Because we can. And we won't have a Francisco Cervelli-shaped thermal-exhaust port like you will.

So trademark what you need to, and yell at Alex Rodriguez because he's not the Chosen One, and get him fixed up with all sorts mechanical doodads. But calling yourself an evil empire is one thing. Actually carrying out the evil is another. We're prepared. Are you?

That's a nice Robinson Cano you've got, by the way. Shame if anything happened to him.

Note: The last entry wasn't anything said in a court of law, but rather a series of increasingly unhinged gchat messages from Stan Kasten to Hank Steinbrenner.

More around MLB:

Baseball players running into each other

Dissecting Loria's letter

Classic MLB videos you might have missed

Picking a new name for the Atlanta Braves

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