Baseball vs. The Law

It may not be the most popular position, (as my recent innocuous Facebook post “Let Go Yankees!” garnered venom and cynical sarcasm from over a dozen of my out-of-state friends), but being from New York, and being an avid baseball fan, I am indeed a New York Yankees fan. This means, I automatically have conversation topics with pretty much anyone from Massachusetts, even if our conversations usually entail the trash-talking, cameraderic insults, and slagging on the opposing team’s recent slump or struggles. Yes, the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox permeates society.

The other day, I had a telephone conversation with a Massachusetts attorney forwarder where we engaged in just such conversation.

Then, we moved onto some statuses on cases which he had forwarded to me, and I realized I was using a lot of the same vernacular. “Summary judgment should have been granted. This case is a home run, but we completely struck out. The Judge was completely biased, and made a bad call. But at least we got a couple of hits on that other string of cases.”

My forwarder friend simply could not fathom the judge’s ruling, and I had to explain to him the debtor-friendly nature of the Courts in New York.

So, in order to properly explain to him what it’s like to practice law in the City of New York, envision a baseball game contested with the following rules.

  • Umpires not only call whether a pitch is a ball or a strike, umpires can pitch for the Red Sox.
  • The Red Sox get unlimited strikes; they cannot strike out. But the Yankees only get one strike, and they are out.
  • The Yankees have only one out per inning, but the Red Sox get unlimited outs, or until they decide they don’t feel like batting anymore.
  • Umpires can designate their own pinch hitters for the Red Sox, at any time, and insert these designated hitters into the lineup at will, and remove them at will, without penalty. If they strike out, it doesn’t count as an out.
  • The Red Sox don’t have to round the bases to score. If they get to first base, the umpires lead them the rest of the way home.
  • If by some chance the Yankees win, the umpires make the Yankees lower the number of runs they scored by half or more, so the margin is less.
  • After the game is over, the Red Sox can call “do over”, and without any cost or penalty, start the game over again.

That’s what it’s like to practice law in the City of New York, and that’s this Tale From The Front.

Timothy Wan was totally inspired by George Carlin’s “Baseball and Football” sketch for this column.

(Originally published in Debt3 Magazine, July 2010)

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