Tag Archives: Baseball

1, 2 3 Bites You’re Out: The Possibility of Liability Stemming from Baseballs Contribution to America’s Obesity Epidemic

October 5, 2015


By Cole Rodocker – Thompson Rivers University 3L JD Student

Mom, Apple Pie and Baseball. All quintessentially American, all extremely bad for your health. With governments across the world encouraging participation in sport as a way of battling obesity, it should come as no surprise that many would push their aspiring Ryan’s and Ruth’s towards baseball, a sport more wholesome than most, cheaper than most, and far less susceptible to traumatic brain injury.

Unfortunately, the great American past time may in fact be doing more harm than good to the spectators it entertains and the children playing the sport itself. The result of a mostly sedentary sport and food provided at baseball games may beg the question as to whether more should be done by the MLB in order to facilitate the health of its players and fans. If a football player can sue for inevitable head trauma, why can’t a baseball player or fan sue for a concentrated push towards obesity? The MLB has been sued on numerous occasions over other health related safety concerns, claims that baseball has made someone fat may be right around the corner.

Baseball is well known for its feats of agility and raw power. Baseball is also known as being an extremely slow game for fans and players alike. With television viewership tanking, the MLB has implemented new procedural rules in order to eliminate some of the downtime, thereby speeding up the game without changing any of the fundamental rules. That being said, sitting down is inevitable; this goes for the players as well. During a game with a low score line, players in the outfield might languish until their turn at bat arrives, only to be quickly struck out and find themselves on the pine until they are forced into the field again. Recent studies have shown the catastrophic effects of sitting for more than 8-12 hours on the human body, an effect that in many instances is not even mitigated by regular exercise. The 7th inning stretch may need to be augmented by a 3rd, 5th, and even 9th inning stretch in order to combat the perils of sitting too long.

Even if one trains and strives to be the best they can be physically, baseball stadiums themselves may be a significantly to the increasing waistlines of North Americans. No one has ever asked to have a salad bought for them in lieu of peanuts and crackerjacks. Local sport concessions are predominantly full of less perishable foodstuffs such as soda, candy, hot dogs, etc, which are terrible for players and fans alike. Larger MLB stadiums have begun to diversify their food offerings, yet many of them are known for colossally calorific creations that might make skinnier fans shake their heads in disbelief. The Arizona Diamondbacks are known for the “D-Bat Dog”, a monstrous 18 inch long corn dog stuff with peppers, bacon and cheese, while the Tampa Bay Rays are known for a 4 pound burger which weighs in at over 8000 calories. For those with a sweet tooth, the Texas Rangers have you covered with the “Fried S’mOreo” which, unfortunately, requires little explanation.

As a corpus of law, “obesity litigation” has been generally unsuccessful, especially now that legislation is in place across more than half of the United States that prevents chain restaurants from being sued precisely because they made someone fat. Proving that a customer was duped into thinking something was healthy when it is in fact not has been successful in multiple instances, not the least of which was a recent class action lawsuit against Nutella. Baseball stadiums would be wise not to misjudge the perceptions surrounding the food they sell.

Thankfully, many stadiums also contain healthier options, not the least of which is the widely acclaimed “Veggie Cheesesteak” served up by the Philadelphia Phillies. The MLB is also a major partner in President Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign aimed at engendering better health for children through sport and improved diet. This will hopefully have its desired effect, but it should come as no surprise that the MLB would be so keen to partner in such an initiative. The sport itself and its various trappings create fertile ground for lawsuits concerning baseballs effect on obesity, especially in children participating in programs such as Let’s Move. While the MLB is not solely to blame for the obesity epidemic, it should certainly consider doing more at the grass roots level to both save itself from future litigation, as well as truly enhance the lives of its players and fans.

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Baseball player injected with stem cells returns to the mound

June 2, 2011


Even though the world failed to end as predicted on May 21st, it appears now the stars are in a positive alignment. In the last 48 hours, the NHL has returned to Winnipeg, the Vancouver Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals by scoring with 19 seconds left in the game, and my 8 year old son’s soccer/football team (the Black Knights) whom I coach won 5-2. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

Meanwhile, in other sports news …

The New York Times recently reported (read article here) that Major League Baseball (MLB) is conducting an inquiry into a medical procedure performed on Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon. The procedure involved stem cells being injected into his damaged shoulder and elbow.

MLB’s executive vice-president for labour relations, Rob Manfred, said players are required to disclose their health history on a standard form and that failure to do so could be viewed as a breach of a player’s contract.

The American surgeon who performed the procedure, Dr. Joseph R. Purita, is a proponent of using human growth hormone in such treatments, but he has insisted that HGH was not used in Colon’s case. HGH is banned in baseball and by WADA.

Kris and I have written extensively about the interface of technology with sport which has been pejoratively described as technological doping. We’ve tried to wrap our heads around what performance enhancement means and distinguishing between different kinds of technology-inspired performance.

To this end, we’ve definitionally proposed that performance correction returns an athlete’s performance to its pre-existing condition, performance optimization enables an athlete to make the best use of their ability, and performance enhancement allows an athlete to do what would not otherwise be conceivably possible and thereby exceed genetic potential.

Lasik surgery which returns an athlete’s visual acuity to a normal range is an example of performance correction. Examples of performance optimization include exotic energy drinks and protein shakes, massage therapy, and training with a heart rate monitor. Genetic manipulation, blood doping and EPO are examples of performance enhancement which are regarded as illegal.

Dr. Purita insists that no HGH was administered (“There is no smoking gun here” he is quoted as saying) and hence Colon would not be in violation of the MLB’s anti-doping policy. It appears equally improbable that Colon would receive anything more than a slap on the wrist for breach of contract by not disclosing the procedure on his health history form.

But the question left unanswered is whether this stem cell surgery is tantamount to other medical procedures such as EPO and blood doping. MLB President Bob DuPuy has properly characterized (read article here) those performance enhancement techniques as improper if they undermine the integrity of the sport, affects the fairness of competition, and tilts the playing field.

Is a technique which ‘turns back the hands of time’  – and makes a 37 year old pitcher who once won the American League Cy Young Award for best pitcher but whose best years were clearly behind him – and returns him to the mound with a 95 mile per hour fastball legal? Is this an instance of science enabling Colon to do what would not otherwise be possible or is it an example of modern medicine prolonging the career of an athlete through technologically-inspired means?

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‘Pukemon’ baseball fan jailed over vomit attack on off-duty police officer

August 3, 2010



The Canary reported on 31 May 2010 about the strange case of Matthew Clemmens who pled guilty to charges of simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment for his conduct when he vomited on an off-duty police captain and his 11 year old daughter in the stands during a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game on April 14.

Matthew Clemmens mugshot

After Clemmens’ friend was ejected for spitting, Clemmens was sitting alone behind the victims when he answered his cellphone and allegedly said, ‘I need to do what I need to do. I’m going to get sick’ whereupon he then put his fingers down his throat and puked on Michael Vangelo and his daughter before punching Vangelo four or five times to the face.

Clemmens apologized profusely to Vangelo in court but Common Pleas Court Judge Kevin Dougherty was not impressed. Dougherty J stated that Clemmens had ‘invaded the opportunity to enjoy the American pastime of baseball’ and, as if to impart some judicial baseball wisdom before announcing the sentence said, ‘You struck out.’

Dougherty J sentenced Clemmens to one to three months in jail, two years of probation, 50 hours of community service which he sagely suggested cleaning toilets at Citizens Bank Park, and to pay $315 in restitution – the cost of the Vangelo’s five tickets – which the police captain plans to donate to charity.

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Truth is stranger than fiction in America’s favorite pastime

May 31, 2010

1 Comment


From the annals of truth is stranger than fiction come three recent instances from America’s favourite pastime – baseball.

Firstly, Philadelphia police deemed it sufficiently reasonable to deploy a conducted-energy weapon (TASER) on a 17 year old Steve Consalvi who – in keeping with the time honoured tradition of goofballs – ran onto the Philadelphia Phillies field.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqtPUhYdz6M

This would not have happened in Canada. Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport after he was tasered five times by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (an autopsy was unable to determine if he died from excessive force or excited delirium) in circumstances which involved minimal threat to public harm not dissimilar to that at the Phillies ballpark. Mr. Dziekanski’s death initiated a public inquiry headed by Thomas R. Braidwood, QC, a lawsuit against the police officers, an out-of-court settlement between the RCMP and Dziekanski’s mother Zofia Cisowski. and restricting the use of TASERs such that they can only be fired in situations where a subject is causing bodily harm or will imminently cause bodily harm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPe_hf7aBXM

The Philadelphia Police Commissioner defended the actions of his officer. The police department’s internal affairs unit is investigating.

The intentions of those who wish to disturb a game are not always innocent however. A father and son (one of whom was carrying a pocket knife) stormed onto the field and assaulted MLB Kansas City Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa in September 2002. The most notorious attack of an athlete by a fan occurred during a tennis match in Hamburg, Germany when Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by an obsessed fan.

Hence, what is reasonable use of force under these circumstances has about the same certainty as a low outside pitch on a 3-2 count and is very difficult to judge from the outside.

Next comes news that an amateur baseball player in Hamilton, ON has launched a $1.25 million lawsuit over a line drive that hit him in the head during a slow-pitch game because he was blinded by the sun. In allowing the case to go to trial, Mr. Justice James R.H. Turnbull of the Ontario Superior Court held that ‘the existing conditions were arguably dangerous’ in the absence of a sun screen. It is interesting that a judge would presuppose that an occupier’s duty of care owed to a baseball player extends to preventing a player from losing a ball in the sun and consequently being struck by it. Further, it supposes that the duty of the occupier – steel giant Dofasco in this case – outweighs the player’s assumption of those risks ordinarily inherent to the game. Reading into his ruling, the judge basically said that there is a legal duty to protect or warn players about those open and obvious risks which frequently occur during a baseball game. Into this untenable category Turnbull J lumps being blinded by the sun while trying to catch a baseball. In this light, the prospect of the plaintiff recovering damages appears exceptionally remote.


Lastly, 21 year old Matthew Clemmens pled guilty on 25 May to charges of simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment for his conduct when he vomited on a spectator and his 11 year old daughter in the stands during a Philadelphia Phillies game on April 14. The spectator was an off-duty police captain.


This couldn’t possibly have been made up.

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AIDS phobia!

February 16, 2009


ESPN report that: Ilya Dall, the ex-girlfriend of Roberto Alomar (former All-Star second baseman) has filed a lawsuit against the Alomar alleging that he insisted on having unprotected sex with her for four years despite having AIDS. Although Dall has not tested positive for either HIV or AIDS, she is seeking at least $15 million in damages because she is afraid that she may contract it, possibly, maybe, sometime in the future!

Dall apparently claims that Alomar tested positive for HIV after a test in February 2006, but this has not been confirmed. Indeed, Alomar denies the accusations as being filled with lies, and his father told ESPN that Roberto is not ill.

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3900719&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines ; http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/the_sporting_blog/entry/view/17182/roberto_alomar_sued_for_allegedly_having_aids,_unprotected_sex_with_girlfriend; http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/baseball/mlb/02/11/alomar.lawsuit.ap/index.html

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Bond’s Trial Update

February 16, 2009


More developments have been reported in the trial of Barry Bonds (7 times winner of Baseball’s Most Valuable Player Award). Bonds was implicated in the BALCO Scandal and subsequently indicted on 10 counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice following his grand jury testimony in 2003, where he denied receiving any steroid injections. The trial is due to start on March 2nd.

The latest news following last week’s controversy over whether Bond’s positive drug tests could be admitted as evidence (the government also laid out a series of positive tests from 2000 and 2001 that it hopes to enter as evidence. The positive test results, as well as doping calendars and drug ledgers, were discussed at an evidentiary hearing last week. Illston indicated she was likely to rule in favor of the defense, suggesting the evidence was mostly hearsay because it stemmed from material collected by Anderson).

is that the government has now released a list of 39 potential witnesses who are expected to testify that they either watched Bond’s receive steroid injections from his personal trainer (Greg Anderson), or that he discussed this matter with them. Anderson is also expected to be called to the stand, however the last time this happened, Anderson ended up spending 13 months in prison on contempt charges.

The next development should happen on Tuesday where the Judge will release her preliminary findings on the admissibility (or otherwise) of the evidence.

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3906484&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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6-OXO contains steroids

February 16, 2009


ESPN reports that: JC Romero (pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball team) has tested positive for androstenedione (an anabolic steroid). The substance was contained in an over-the-counter supplement called 6-OXO.

An arbitration panel of Major League Baseball (MLB) has now suspended JC for the first 50 games of this season for “negligence” in not checking out the supplement with their toll-free drug hotline run by the National Center for Drug-Free Sport. JC feels particularly hard done by as he maintains that he was not aware of the existence of the hotline until after he tested positive for the violation, despite efforts from MLB to bring it to player’s attentions.

“It’s for you guys to decide what negligence means,” Romero said. “But I [asked] my nutritionist and my strength coach I’ve been working with. I took my supplements to another person to make sure the label didn’t have anything that … had any kind of banned substance.”

Since JC’s violation, the MLBPA Players union has sent a memo to all baseball players warning them that the supplement would cause them to test positive for the steroid.

Although the suspension will cost Romero $1.25 million in salary, before you start feeling too sorry, just consider that 6-oxo is advertised as a ‘legal testosterone-booster’ and was apparently designed by Patrick Arnold (the same chemist who designed THG and was implicated in the BALCO scandal). Surely these two facts should have set alarm bells ringing?

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/spring2009/news/story?id=3907318&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines ; http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3813666


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Another doping case!

February 11, 2009


UPDATE: “US baseball star Miguel Tejada has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the use of performance enhancing drugs by other professional players…. Mr Tejada is due to be sentenced in March, just before the new season starts. As well as a maximum term of one year in jail, he could be fined up to $1,000 (£700). However, under sentencing guidelines he could receive a lighter sentence or probation.

US President Barack Obama expressed his disappointment earlier this week, saying: “I think it’s depressing news on top of what’s been a flurry of depressing items when it comes to Major League Baseball. If you’re a fan of Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an entire era, to some degree. It’s unfortunate, because I think there are a lot of ballplayers who played it straight.””

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7884446.stm


“Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada arrived at court Wednesday to answer charges of lying to Congress, the latest athlete to face criminal prosecutors over the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs in pro sports. Tejada faces as much as a year in jail if convicted on the misdemeanor charge of making misrepresentations to Congress. Under federal guidelines, he would probably receive a lighter sentence. The charge came in a legal document called a “criminal information,” which can be filed only with the defendant’s consent and typically signals an agreement to plead guilty.

 In the court papers, Tejada is charged with lying to investigators for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2005. Congressional staffers did not place Tejada under oath when they questioned him, but court documents say the investigators advised him “of the importance of providing truthful answers.”

Tejada “unlawfully withheld pertinent information from the committee because defendant Tejada, before and during his interview with the committee staff, then and there well knew that player #1, one of his teammates on the Oakland Athletics, had used steroids and HGH,” the papers state. During the interview, Tejada denied knowledge of an ex-teammate’s use of performance-enhancing drugs, though officials say Tejada bought what he believed to be human growth hormone from the player. The court papers, filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham, charge that during spring training in 2003, Tejada had purchased a substance believed to be HGH from the player, giving him payments of $3,100 and $3,200.

In the Mitchell report, which examined steroid use in baseball, Oakland outfielder Adam Piatt is cited saying he discussed steroid use with Tejada and provided Tejada with testosterone and human growth hormone.”

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3896877&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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Alex Rodriguez admits to steroid use earlier in his career

February 11, 2009


US  Baseball superstar, Alex Rodriguez has admitted to testing positive for steroid use in 2003 before Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced its anti-drugs regime (penalties were only introduced from 2004 onwards):

“According to Sports Illustrated magazine, Rodriguez – playing at the time for the Texas Rangers – was one of 104 players with positive results. Major League Baseball maintains that the 2003 tests were “intended to be non-disciplinary and anonymous”, and that the list should have remained confidential.” MLB have so far refused to comment on these allegations.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7880287.stm

Rodriguez himself is reported to have said that: “When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me, and I needed to perform at a high level every day. I started experimenting with things that, today, are not legal, that today are not accepted. “Back then, it was a different culture [surrounding drugs]. It was very loose. I was young and naive. I am sorry for my Texas years. I apologise to the fans of Texas.”

A transcript of the interview can be downloaded at: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3895281

Rodriguez was one of 104 major league players who tested positive for steroids in baseball’s first-ever drug-testing program in 2003. It was supposed to be a confidential test. But his test result was leaked to the media, and now the other 103 players are left to wonder if their test results will play out in the media, too. “The matter is still under appeal,” union executive director Don Fehr said, “so we have to assume that the law will be respected.”

Indeed, if prosecutors are allowed to use the list and bring players before grand juries and trial courts, additional stars might be forced to admit they used steroids. “It’s definitely not fair to just pinpoint one guy,” Boston’s Kevin Youkilis said of his Yankees rival. “I don’t know if somebody had it in for him. I don’t know what because it seems like just to take one name out of that whole group is a little odd to me. If he was named with 10 other players, would that have been fair? I don’t know? If they’d have listed all 104?”

Although the MLB agreed to destroy the results of the testing programme, these results were later seized by the government as part of its investigation into steroid distribution by BALCO, the Bay Area-based supplement company before they could be destroyed. Fehr later went to court and got three different judges to say that the government was wrong and, in fact, had violated the constitutional rights of the players and of the players’ association, and ordered it to give it all back. A three-judge panel in California overturned that decision 2-1, allowing the government to pursue all 104 players who tested positive pending further appeals. It is unknown how many of the BALCO 10 were included in that total. Then the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the panel’s decision, and began hearing arguments in the case late last December. Until they make their final ruling, there are 103 players wondering if their private records are safe.

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3898393http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3896888&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

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