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Cases about nothing pay nothing

link Kevin Wilson

Staff columnist

We’re having a silver anniversary about nothing this week.

It was 25 years ago a popular comedian showed the world he wasn’t much of an actor in “The Seinfeld Chronicles.” Later shortened to “Seinfeld,” its nine seasons still stand as a pillar of television comedy and have made Jerry Seinfeld and all involved quite wealthy.

My favorite episode in the “show about nothing” was “The Boyfriend,” where Jerry meets former Met Keith Hernandez and the friendship development feels more like awkward dating.

But I thought of a different episode Monday, in a “truth is stranger than fiction” way. While at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, George Costanza enjoys an ice cream sundae and gets about 25 percent of it on his face.

The sloppy eating becomes a hilarious few seconds on the television broadcast, which he finds out later after a friend shows a recording of the broadcast and his girlfriend won’t tell him why she’s breaking things off. She only says, “It’s not you, it’s me,” which leads to the legendary Costanza line, “I invented, ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ Nobody tells me it’s them, not me. If it’s anybody, it’s me.”

So how is truth stranger? Back in April, a man was attending a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game, and ESPN crews caught him napping in the fourth inning. The on-air talent made some banter about the situation.

Apparently, the last two-plus months have been beyond what Costanza suffered, because that man is now suing ESPN and Major League Baseball for $10 million.

The poorly done legal complaint, filed with the New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx, was chock full of spelling errors and wild claims, including one that ESPN’s anchors launched an “unending verbal tirade” and that the incident has harmed his ability to make a living.

I don’t doubt this man has faced a lot of harsh teasing, from online strangers and in-person friends and colleagues. And I agree that sometimes broadcast crews go over the line on private citizens at a baseball game to fill airtime.

I still remember a couple at a Rangers game getting demonized because they didn’t give a foul ball to a crying toddler, and the story about them being terrible people lived on even after the toddler’s parents addressed the media. They told the “Today” show the couple did offer the ball, but they said no because they wanted to teach their son you don’t get everything by crying.

That’s the lesson I think people want the napping adult to learn, but I’ve found the rhetoric is overboard when people said this is justice run amok.

No, it isn’t. Anybody can sue anybody for anybody. Heck, you can sue me because this column offends you; good luck winning in court.

This may be a stretch, but we need lawsuits like the napping fan, for it provides perspective. Some thought it frivolous when Dred Scott sued for his freedom, or when a science teacher thought he shouldn’t be arrested for teaching evolution.

Weeding out the frivolous causes and pursuing the just ones is how we progress as a nation.

So bring on the case about nothing. That’s about what it will pay.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email:

[email protected]

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