Yanks could sue jersey-placing worker

A mechanical breakdown
Saber-Scouting on Scott Patterson

Isn’t amazing how Daily News writers go from moral outrage on the one hand to a different brand of outrage on the other all in the space of 800 words? Yesterday, Filip Bondy, writing about the Red Sox jersey fiasco at the new Yankee Stadium, did just that.

He starts:

The city of New York is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructural costs and is too generously ceding precious parkland to the Yankees, just to ensure that the new Bronx stadium will become a showcase profit maker for the extended corporate Steinbrenner family.

In return, the city probably should not be asking too much that the Yankees demonstrate a modicum of common sense befitting such fortunate business partners, when it comes to this expensive co-enterprise.

But on Sunday, we witnessed an inane spectacle that should wholly frighten any taxpayer or serious baseball fan. At the cost of about $30,000 and the wasted sweat of 5-1/2 hours’ toil, the Yankees directed construction workers at the site to drill for a tattered David Ortiz baseball jersey a Red Sox fan/construction worker had buried beneath considerable cement.

Got that outrage? The city is investing way too much money in the stadium, and the Yankees should show some common sense. That $30,000 of their own money they spent to dig up the jersey, that’s not common sense in Bondy’s word.

So what if the Yankees try to recapture those lost funds. Well, Filip Bondy, the construction expert and lawyer, thinks that deserves its own outrage:

Yankee officials are turning what might have been a dumb lark into something much darker. They are threatening to throw legal fees into the growing pot, by suing Gino Castignoli for his jersey burial.

“There are criminal issues and maybe civil,” said the ultra-serious Lonn Trost, chief operating officer for the club.

The Yankees will lose this case, I can promise you. No judge or jury, even in the Bronx, will find that a buried jersey, out of sight and structurally harmless, demands punitive damages. Castignoli did nothing that demanded $30,000 worth of repairs. If the Yanks pursue this civil case against the worker, then they will only look nastier, forfeit more money and (hard to believe) make greater fools of themselves.

I would believe that the Yanks could easily win this case. In what contract does it allow for workers to bury clothing in the Yankee Stadium foundation? In which employment agreement are construction workers allowed to act like total goof-offs? I’m not really going out on a limb when I say none.

While Bondy thinks the Yanks wasted their time and money, Buster Olney, among others, hit the nail upon the head this morning. The Yanks had to remove the jersey once they found out about it because otherwise, for as long as they played in the new stadium, the team struggles would be blamed on a Red Sox jersey buried in the stadium. As dumb as that sounds, it would just be another in a long line of absurd baseball superstitions. The jersey’s gone; the guy deserves to be sued; and we can all share in that special brand of outrage.

A mechanical breakdown
Saber-Scouting on Scott Patterson
  • Todd

    I saw that article this morning, and don’t really get it. Is there really any way the Yankees had to pay for that? Isn’t the construction company responsible for that? I can’t see how the Yankees couldn’t get them to pay for the extra work…. it certainly wasn’t part of the original project spec.

  • Adam

    gino should be sued if for no other reason than to show that it is not okay to do things like this and get away with it. say i dug up homeplate in fenway park, took a massive crap in its spot, then replaced the plate. it would be “out of sight and structurally harmless,” but still, i shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

  • http://justinyates.wordpress.com Yankee Psycho-fan-t

    I think the 30,000 should come out of the Gino guy’s paycheck. It’s defamation of private property! It’s like spray-painting, except this guy was dumb enough to admit that he did it, so now we know who to pen the clean-up costs on. If you spray painted the side of someone’s house you better believe that they are going to make you pay for the clean-up costs, if they don’t make you clean it up yourself. I think it would have been enough to make this guy search on his own for the jersey he buried and dig it up himself, and then put the pieces back together. That way he is humiliated in front of his peers and the costs come out of his own time. Only a Red Sox fan would do something this fucking stupid. I hope they make the guy pay the tax payers back, I don’t want to call for the destruction of this guys life but I don’t think a corporation exists that would let this guy get away scott-free.

    • Whitey14

      Could the following statement be any more ridiculous?

      “Only a Red Sox fan would do something this fucking stupid”

      Let’s see, maybe we could say, “only a new yorker”, “only an Italian”, “only a construction worker”, “only a guy with mob ties”

      None would be true, because even though this guy is apparently an armpit of the worst degree, he should in no way be held as the representative of Red Sox Nation, or new york, or any of the others I mentioned.

      Also, I honestly don’t care how this turns out one way or the other, but I have friend who is a contractor and he claims that his group leaves something behind at every site they work on or build. Whether it’s initials or footprints in the cement or signing their names on a beam. It seems trivial to me.

      I think the yankees are doing something extremely classy by donating to the Jimmy Fund and they are to be applauded for it.

  • nolan11

    I just wanted to compliment you on probably the best and most logical post I’ve ever read…. not to mention most hilarious

  • http://www.samiamsports.blogspot.com samiamsports

    A big part of this story that everybody is failing to see is that the Yanx are auctioning off this jersey and giving all the proceeds to the jimmy fund….Its funny how the media likes to bash and fails to see the good.
    I think that if they dont sue it sends a poor message to all, about the Yankees no nonsense approach to everyday life and that they wont tolerate this nonsense even from a construction worker.
    I would also like to say that everybody (myself included ) bashed the Post for breaking such ridiculous news and didn’t understand why this (tabloid) made headlines over such stupidity. The only reason I we thought they did so was to make a couple of extra bucks…..But little did we know, It would turn out to be such a big deal . so i guess we all owe them an apology

  • http://eephus.blogspot.com Emma

    Can’t agree with you here, Ben… whether or not the guy deserves to get sued (and I say no), it would be a massive PR disaster for the Yankees, a multi-billion dollar organization, to take a construction worker to court. If they’ve got a burning desire to litigate, then like Todd said above, maybe they should sue the construction company, but even that seems dumb to me.

    $30,000 is absolutely NOTHING to the Yankees — something like 1/43,333 of the new Stadium costs — and their lawyers would probably rack up that amount in billable hours within a week, so there’s not really a financial motive for a lawsuit. It would just be done out of spite, and that hardly seems worth the trouble.

    Besides… I still think the whole thing is pretty funny.

  • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    The law doesn’t change because the Yankees are involved. Donald Trump would sue the crap out of the guy if he did that on one of his jobs, why should the Yankees be any different?

  • ceciguante

    you can’t sue someone successfully just because they did something that wasn’t in a contract. the deviation from the contract has to be material (i.e., significant). so the question becomes whether leaving the jersey in the floor was a material breach of the contract to lay cement. you could argue it wasn’t, b/c it didn’t impact the strength of the floor (i.e., yanks lose if they sue). or, you could argue that putting that jersey in there (gotta get creative now) symbolically tainted the project / caused emotional harm, or inflamed negative media attention which harmed the team’s reputation, required a PR response and/or digging up the floor, etc. i’d love to see that go to a judge, but i highly doubt lonn trost is doing anything more than posturing to put some heat on the construction co. to pick up the $30K tab so the yanks can save face. the yanks are not filing a lawsuit for $30K, the legal fees would eat that up right away.

    fascinating legal question, though.

  • Count Zero

    I agree with you and Olney — it was simply a matter of “we have to do this” to avoid the stigma if they didn’t. In the long run, I doubt they’ll sue anyone — they’re just blustering.

    Looking at it from a marketing perspective, I think all parties concerned feel that the rivalry has scaled back a bit from its 2005 high-point of insanity. That means less TV viewers, less paraphernalia sales, etc. That’s why Hank and Theo made their comments during the spring, and that’s why they turned the t-shirt into front page news. The marketing folks are trying to jack the intensity back up, plain and simple. Red Sox / Yankees hatred is big bucks. :-)

  • http://eephus.blogspot.com Emma

    Hey, I’m not denying the Yanks have the legal right to sue if they want to. I just think it would do more harm than good.

    And besides… is Donald Trump really someone you’d want to use as a role model here?

  • brad k

    Interesting logic. Just because the Yanks are a large, successful company they don’t have the same rights as everyone else. That’s BS! Has anyone here ever contracted with a construction company to build a home. If you have then you know how important your rights really are. Why should the Yanks be treated any differently. I’m sure they can’t win but they have every right to pursue any and all options.

    I also agree with Buster. You have to dig the thing up to save us this discussion for years if not decades to come. The best part is the charity. Nice in your face touch by the Yanks.

    By the way when they were digging up Ortiz’s jersey they should have dug a little deeper to see if they could find his game!

  • Glen L

    Suing would be utterly ridiculous as well as an exercise in futility as ceciguante noted above. Its highly unlike they would win AND even if they some how did, there is no chance in hell they would recover the full cost. The Yankees did not have to excavate the jersey on a Sunday (which significantly raised the cost as overtime was undoubtedly involved. The Yankees would have failed to mitigate the damages by acting in such a rash manner as to raise the cost of excavation by 50%.

    This is a baseball blog and everyone’s opinions on baseball should always be welcome, but can lay persons please stop expounding on difficult legal principles when they have ABSOLUTELY no idea what on earth they are talking about

    • brad k


      Your right it’s a baseball blog….blog being the optimal word here. This is about the Yankee’s and we are Yankee fans….so please don’t tell us what we can and cannot write about. If we are all to “stupid” to understand these heady legal issues then perhaps your time would be better spent on the Harvard Law Blog.

      • Glen L

        upon reconsideration, you’re right … i should have phrased my reply differently … i apologize if my statements offended anyone

        my only point was there are sophisticated legal issues at play here and that should be something people consider before formulating their opinions

  • http://craigmahoney.blogspot.com Craig

    This is just such a silly story. I can’t believe it’s engendering this much outrage. I’d love to see the evidence Bondy has that the city is going to pay for this because I highly doubt that. If the Yankees don’t cover the costs themselves, I’m sure they’ll try to get the construction company to do it.

    The fact is, once this story got out, the Yankees HAD to dig it up. It would loom too large in many fans mind and would always be a source of ridicule from Red Sux fans.

    I don’t believe in curses, and I think this story is ridiculous, but you knew Hank wasn’t going to let a Sawx fan get the better of the Yankees.

  • beantownbosoxh8er

    I am hearing that this douch bag will throw out the first pitch at the patriots day game.
    If he does indeed get to throw out the first pitch ,then I think Hank/Hal is right someone should kick the ever lasting crap out of him.

  • Samples

    The original story of a shirt buried is a little sketchy to begin with, but let’s assume that is true.

    Am I the only one that thinks the whole ‘excavation’ was a hoax? Seriously, if a piece of fabric was thrown in the concrete mix, poured, and allowed to cure, it would be just like a fossil in a stone. You would not be able to chip out the surrounding concrete and then pull out a rumpled up jersey, with only some tears and scuffs on it. It would be completely infused and part of the solid concrete.

    Not to mention, almost zero chance construction workers would remember some random guy who worked at the site for ONE DAY and which area of the site he worked at.

    The pictures in the NYPost showing a jersey just sitting in the chipped out hole is ridiculous, and to me, an obvious PR attempt to stifle any on going ‘curse’ and give the Yankees the last laugh / word.

    If there really was a jersey, I think its still in there somewhere.

    Now if only a GC would comment and tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about and should not opine on industry standard jersey excavation procedures. ;)