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Outside the Lines:
Fair Game


Here's the transcript from Show 92 of weekly Outside The Lines - Fair Game

SUN., DEC. 30, 2001
Host: Mark Schwarz, ESPN.
Reported by: Lisa Salters, ESPN

Announcer - December 30, 2001.

Mark Schwarz, guest host - December 30th, 2001. Two grown men are entangled in a battle over a baseball.

Alex Popov, plaintiff - That's my ball. I caught it.

Patrick Hayashi, defendant - You cannot claim that you caught the ball if you drop it.

Schwarz - But it's not just any baseball. It's Barry Bonds' 73rd homerun ball, estimated to be worth over $1 million. Whose ball is it? In America, the courts will decide.

As New York rebuilds after 9-11, crawling out from under a projected $4.3 billion mountain of debt, should the Yankees and the Mets get public money for new state-of-the-art stadiums?

And, with 2001 coming to a close, what's wrong and what's right with the NFL? One of the league's most outspoken players, Bryan Cox, will let us know -- next, "Outside the Lines."

It's the modern-day version of the California gold rush, a playground argument with ludicrously high stakes. Two men litigating a lucrative lump of cowhide, their fates suddenly and dramatically entwined in the frenetic free-for-all over Barry Bonds' historic 73rd homerun ball, an item which could mean seven figures for its rightful owner.

But who is that owner? Bonds, who was named male athlete of the year by the Associated Press this week, has won an unprecedented four MVPs, but he would have loved to place this momentous memento into his personal trophy case.

Of course, it would likely cost him, oh, at least two weeks' salary to pry the ball loose from whichever baseball fan wins its rights in a court of law early next year.

Lisa Salters reports the story of two men bonded by Bonds.

Lisa Salters, ESPN reporter - Ever since Alex Popov sued Patrick Hayashi, the two have seemed like school children bickering over a playground toy.

Popov - It's my ball. I caught it.

Hayashi - You cannot claim that you caught the ball if you drop it.

Salters - But when you consider the toy in question could be worth more than $1 million, this seemingly childish dispute suddenly becomes a very grownup legal issue.

The baseball in question was Barry Bonds' record-setting 73rd homerun.

Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants - I'm happy for the guy who got it.

Salters - Popov says he was the one who actually caught the ball that day on the fly, and like any good courtroom drama, this case has its own Zapruder film. Actually, it's a videotape shot by a local news cameraman who happened to be standing nearby.

Popov - I stepped back with my right foot, and as it came out, it was five -- five-and-a-half seconds, maybe six seconds in the air, and I just nine-foot reach -- right in the back of the glove. That -- you know.

Salters - But what he says happened next wasn't funny.

Popov - Right then I get tackled, you know, thrown to the cement. I got the ball, you know, at my torso. And then it's like, this is bad, you know.

I hear, you know, I scream for help, get off me.

Salters - When the dust settled, Alex Popov was pulled from the pile of humanity. But the homerun ball had disappeared from his glove.

So who had it? The defendant, Patrick Hayashi, who claims he was also at the bottom of the heap.

Hayashi - Yeah, I'm being pushed to the ground by the crowd. And I'm face down on the ball -- on the ground. And the ball is there.

Salters - Did you steal that ball from Alex Popov?

Hayashi - No, I did not steal the ball from Alex Popov.

Salters - How did you get the ball?

Hayashi - Like I say, I was at the bottom of the pile, and the ball was free. So it was in no one's possession.

So he keeps claiming that I am stealing it or taking it from him. That's not true.

Salters - Actually, that's not all Hayashi is being accused of. Kat Sorenson was also within reach of the record ball that day. She claims not only that Popov caught the ball cleanly, but that Patrick Hayashi bit someone during the melee.

Kat Sorenson, eyewitness - He got up because this kid had his leg in the way. And he got up on his knees and just leaned over and bit the kid so the kid would move his leg, and then when the kid pulled, you know, wrenched back, he went back down, down and underneath in the pile.

Salters - So you saw Patrick Hayashi bite someone.

Sorenson - Yeah.

Salters - He says he didn't bite anyone.

Sorenson - Well, he -- if I was him, I'd say I didn't do it, either.

Hayashi - I did not bite anybody. You can clearly see in the video, if you look at it close enough, that I am not biting someone.

Salters - The defense plans to use similar eye witnesses who support Hayashi's version of events. But they've also called upon someone who was not at the ballpark that day.

Former major league umpire Richie Garcia has seen the videotape, and is expected to testify that, in his opinion, Alex Popov did not hold on to the ball.

Don Tamaki, Hayashi's attorney - Mr. Garcia's conclusion is that any, any bump, any jostling that would undoubtedly happen in a crowd like this would dislodge the ball. And his conclusion was, you can't -- the videotape simply does not show that he caught the ball, if you apply the rules of the field.

Marty Triano, Popov's attorney - We contacted the umpires' association, and they told us, the guy doesn't speak for them. Major league baseball rules don't apply to the stands, and they're going to defer to the courts.

Salters - Garcia's cross-examination could prove uncomfortable. After all, it was Garcia who made one of the most infamous wrong calls in recent baseball history.

During the 1996 American League championship series, Garcia signaled that a fly ball hit by Derek Jeter was a homerun, though it was clearly interfered with by a young boy reaching over the right field fence.

The case isn't expected to go to trial until the spring. But with dozens of declarations, depositions and witnesses lined up for both sides, one thing is likely. A good portion of the $1 million this historic ball could one day bring will end up in the hands of attorneys, which begs the question -- why can't Patrick Hayashi and Alex Popov reach a truce, avoid the legal fees, and agree to co-own the baseball and split the proceeds of the sale?

Hayashi - Immediately after the event, he started going around to the press, damaging my character, saying that I stole the ball, saying that, you know, I attacked and abused him in some sense.

Popov - I was mugged.

Hayashi - This is not true. So, how can you sit down with someone who takes that approach, such an aggressive approach, and try and compromise with him? It's gone too far, and I need to stand up for myself right now.

Salters - So there's no way that you would consider joint ownership right now.

Hayashi - No.

Popov - Not at all. I asked Patrick to do the right thing. If you split the proceeds of the ball, you're basically condoning this type of behavior.

It's my ball. It's something that is a piece of American history. It can't be divided.

Salters - Until the trial, neither will have possession of the ball. In fact, we can't even see it, can't view it without a court order. That's because Barry Bonds' 73rd homerun ball is now sitting in a bank 40 miles from Pac Bell Park. It's locked in a safe deposit box, and only the judge has a key.

For "Outside the Lines," I'm Lisa Salters in San Francisco.

Schwarz - Ah, but who holds the key to understanding how a superior court judge will rule in this matter?

Noted legal analyst Roger Cossack joins us from Washington, D.C. to help us demystify this epic legal struggle.

Roger, welcome.

Roger Cossack, legal analyst - Hi, Mark. How are you? This is a tough battle. I mean, this is "Sex, Lies and Videotape" without the sex, I'm afraid.

I think this is going to really get down to an issue of whether or not the jury or the judge, in this case, is going to decide whether or not Alex Popov really did catch the ball.

Now, if he caught the ball, and he was mugged and somebody took it away from him, that's going to create one issue. But, you know, one can imagine what went on in just looking at the videotape, when he did catch the ball. And if that ball came loose, it's anybody's ball.

Schwarz - Well, Patrick Hayashi came away with the baseball, and if possession really is nine-tenths of the law, as I've heard, then isn't he 90 percent of the way to a resounding legal victory?

Cossack - Well, I would say, if I was Alex Popov's lawyer, I would say, if someone stole something from me, they may have possession of it, but that's -- nine-tenths doesn't give them legal possession of it.

And I think that's what Popov's lawyer is going to say. Look, my man had that ball. He had it for all intents and purposes, and then he got mugged. And Patrick was the last one to get it as it was rolling on the ground down there.

Now, Patrick has got one problem, which is that other witness. Her name is Kat Sorenson, you know, who says that she saw Patrick down there biting people. That's the kind of thing that's probably not going to go over too well, even with a San Francisco jury.

Schwarz - Patrick is a biter. One major leaguer has called Alex Popov a wimp. And if you think about that, what about the wimp factor, Roger?

I mean, a guy who is jostled, spindled, mutilated, whatever -- shouldn't he be able to hold on to the 73rd homerun ball?

Cossack - Well, one would hope you'd be able to hold on to that 73rd homerun ball, but I think catching that baseball was probably as tough a catch as any catch could ever be considered.

I mean, look at it. Here he was surrounded by thousands of fans. This wasn't a baseball that was dropping out of the sky. This was about a pound's worth of gold that was dropping out of the sky multiplied about a 100 times -- a million-dollar ball dropping out of the sky.

And there were a whole lot of people sitting in those stands saying, gee, I hope it falls into my lap. And maybe if it doesn't, I'll be the guy that'll pick it up after we knock it out of the guy who did catch it.

Schwarz - Roger, you've argued before the Supreme Court. Is there any legal precedent that could possibly be used by anyone to decide this case?

Cossack - Well, I'm afraid there's no set legal precedent. There's no baseball "catchus legalmentus" that I can cite to in this particular situation.

I would say this is going to be a tough case. This is going to be like most cases -- fact-specific. There's going to be a jury that's going to sit down. They're going to review this videotape 100 times. They're going to look at both of the litigants in this case, then go back to the jury room, flip a coin, and come out and decide who's going to be a millionaire.

Schwarz - Bottom line, Roger, who gets this baseball -- Alex Popov or Patrick Hayashi?

Cossack - You know, Mark, I have to tell you something. I hate to make these kind of predictions, because I'm always, always wrong.

I think it's going to depend on whether or not the jury believes that Alex Popov really had that ball and it was taken away from him, or Alex Popov had that ball, never really got control of the ball, and then it was a free-for-all, and Patrick then -- if they believe, then, Patrick picked it up, then he'll get it.

Schwarz - Well, it could have a lot to do with Richie Garcia's testimony. Of course, Richie, a pretty good arbiter, umped for so many years. But -- oh, that's right. He was wrong on the Jeffrey Maier ball.

Cossack - Yeah, but way wrong. And as a Boston Red Sox fan, you know, anything that helps the Yankees, what can I tell you?

Schwarz - Roger Cossack, thanks for spending some time with us on "Outside the Lines" this morning.

Cossack - My pleasure.

Schwarz - Next on the program, the rich may get even richer. New sluggers, of course, and now maybe new homes for both the Yankees and the Mets.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, New York City mayor - You can't underestimate the value of baseball to the American psyche. The second thing you can't underestimate is the value of baseball to our economy.

The fact is that these are massive business enterprises. They bring tremendous revenues to the city.

Schwarz - A week ago, "Time" magazine recognized New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as its Person of the Year for his magnetic leadership and steely resolve in the face of untold tragedy. The mayor's unwavering spirit not only inspired New Yorkers, it came to epitomize them.

In his final hours at city hall, Giuliani looks to add to his legacy by securing new $800 million stadiums for both the Yankees and the Mets.

Joining us to debate the wisdom of his final flourish as mayor are two New York columnists, Bill Madden of the "Daily News" from his home in New Jersey, and from Manhattan, Barry Stanton of the "Westchester Journal News."

Well, Barry, the mayor says this is a tremendous deal for New York City. Is he right?

Barry Stanton, columnist, "Westchester Journal News" - No. This is a bad deal anywhere in America in light of Pac Bell Park that was built by the San Francisco Giants for $319 million of their own money.

It's a bad deal in New York where the economy was sliding even before September 11th. And it's an especially bad deal in the Bronx where Yankee Stadium should be viewed as a national treasure.

Schwarz - Bill, good points. Three hundred and nineteen million dollars for Pac Bell in San Francisco, privately financed.

Why do the Yankees and Mets each need $800 million to build their stadiums? And why do they need the money to be nearly half provided by the city?

Bill Madden, National Baseball Columnist, "Daily News" - Well, let's look at the -- first of all, the San Francisco deal, Mark.

Three hundred and nineteen million dollars, and what happened there was, yes the Giants paid for it, all entirely by themselves. That's also their ballpark. The city gets nothing out of that ballpark.

So really, when you look at it, it's probably a bad deal for both of them, because -- because of the Giants paid $319 million for it, they're so deeply in debt over the debt that they got to pay off on this ballpark, they can hardly afford to put a competitive team on the field anymore.

Stanton - Bill, the Giant ...

Madden - And ...

Stanton - ... the Yankees don't need a new ballpark to put a competitive team on the field. They've just won three -- four -- world championships in the last six years.

Madden - Well, the fact of the matter is, this is a good deal for the city, and I'll tell you why. Because, first of all, we're putting it -- we're talking about putting two facilities into the -- into New York City that are going to have domes or roofs over them, which means that they're year-round facilities.

The city's going to be getting a percentage of the gate receipts from both of these ballparks, which is going to help the city pay off its part of the debt on these, on these projects.

And what you're doing here is, you're -- first of all -- here's another thing about the Yankee situation. When was the last time anybody put $400 million into the South Bronx? Which is what the Yankees are prepared to do on this project.


Stanton - They're willing to do that as long as the city puts in another $400 million. They're asking ...

Madden - Well ...

Stanton - ... if they could -- they could put in $400 million ...

Madden - ... but the city is going to get some ...

Stanton - ... of their own money and build a ballpark.

Madden - But unlike San Francisco, the city's getting something out of this thing. The city's getting two beautiful facilities for one thing, that are going to be able to be used all year round, especially, you know, especially bringing things like the Final Four, super bowls.

Other things are going to be in these ballparks besides just baseball.

Schwarz - But, Bill, ...

Stanton - ... you could fill -- you could fill one of those ballparks with that year-round. But I don't think you can, have enough events to fill two ballparks, and now you're going to talk about a third ballpark, because Michael Bloomberg, the mayor-elect, will take over on New Year's Day.

Just appointed Dan Doctoroff as one of his deputy mayors. Dan Doctoroff was the head of the committee to bid on the 2012 Olympics. So they're going to push to get the Olympics here.

The hole in the Olympic plan is that there's no Olympic stadium here. That's the stadium they're going to build on the west side of Manhattan that'll be used by the Jets, possibly put a super bowl in there, put the Olympics in there.

These ballparks that the Yankees and Mets are talking about aren't big enough to host an Olympics.

Madden - Well, I don't know about -- I don't know what's going on on the West Side of New York, but any -- I feel any ballpark there is a waste of money, because it is a one-event type situation, ...

Schwarz - Bill, does New York ...

Madden - ... taking up all that ...

Schwarz - ... does New York really need two $800 million ballparks with retractable roofs for 50 or so events in each? How are you going to draw 50 or so events, and why do you need such state-of-the-art retractable roof ballparks? Or two of them?

Madden - First of all, Mark, 19 different major league cities have gotten new ballparks. And in New York, you have a situation here where six million fans a year will go to these two ballparks.

And there's no question, Shea Stadium is a dump. It's outmoded. It's got to be replaced.

I mean, it's really almost an embarrassment for New York that Shea Stadium is one of our baseball facilities, when you compare it with Pittsburgh and Chicago and all these other, all these other -- Cleveland -- and all these other cities that have got new ballparks -- Houston.

And as far as the Yankees are concerned, Yankee Stadium was built in 1923. The present Yankee Stadium is still -- the same underpinnings of this stadium are from 1923.

And when you take into effect that people are saying, well, they can't move the Yankee -- this is sacred ground.

Sacred ground? They tore this place down in 1974. It's a ...

Stanton - You know, they spent 100 million ...

Madden - ... totally different ballpark than it was in the ...

Stanton - ... they spent $100 million refurbishing the ballpark, and they think they did a pretty good job on it.

I heard Giuliani say that, you know, the upkeep to keep the ballpark safe would cost too much money. If he's trying to claim that these -- he makes Yankee Stadium sound like a deathtrap.

If that's true, then both Giuliani, the city, and the Yankees should be sued for criminal negligence for allowing nine million people to go through the gates, since that 500 pound beam fell in 1998.

Schwarz - Barry, Barry, Barry ...

Madden - Look, the fact of the matter is, Yankee Stadium is ...

Schwarz - ... well, one moment, though.

Madden - ... going to have to be replaced eventually, because it ...

Schwarz - Bill, one moment. Barry, what is your take, first of all, because we have very little time left, what is your take on the timing of this agreement, hours before Mayor Giuliani leaves office?

Stanton - Well, I've kind of likened it to, you know, Bill Clinton pardoning Marc Rich and a slew of others right before he leaves office.

I just think this is a grandstand move by the mayor, who did a fantastic job after September 11th, and deserves all the accolades he's getting.

But, this is a grandstand play. He puts these two ballparks out there, and now it's going to be up to Mike Bloomberg to either say yes or no. If he says yes, they're going to be the houses that Rudy built. If he says no, Giuliani's going to come off smelling like a rose again.

Schwarz - Bill Madden and Barry Stanton, it was the closest we ever get to waking up in a New York deli.

Thanks for joining us this morning on "Outside the Lines."

Stanton - Thanks, Mark. Thanks, Bill.

Madden - Thank you.

Schwarz - Coming up next, three-time pro ball linebacker Bryan Cox, in the house to tell us what New Year's resolutions the NFL should be making, when "Outside the Lines" continues after this break.

Schwarz - Last night in Tampa, two of the game's premier trash talkers, Shannon Sharpe of the Ravens and Warren Sapp of the Bucs matched wits.

Joining us, another man who never minces words, Patriots linebacker Bryan Cox. Thanks for being with us, Bryan.

Bryan Cox, New England Patriots - Thanks for having me this morning.

Schwarz - Hey, ...

Cox - It's good to be here.

Schwarz - ... hey, tell me something. How much does trash talk affect the outcome of a game?

Cox - I think it affects it a lot, because if you get in somebody's -- inside someone's head, you can play those games with them, and somewhere along the line you force them to make a mistake.

Schwarz - Give me some ideas of some of your favorite game playing episodes of trash talk during your career.

Cox - Well, one time a guy asked me if I got any love when I was a kid, because I was really giving it to him.

So, there are numerous things that happen. You know, you look at the Ray Lewis thing that happened the other day with them going back and forth with Jerome Bettis and stuff. That just makes for a good game, because it's not natural, week in and week out, to just ram into each other.

I mean, you have to sometimes make up things.

Schwarz - You have gotten into it with a couple of people, notably, a guy named Rob Conrad. Give me an idea of what you said to Rob, and then we'll show you what Rob said about you.

Cox - He's my girlfriend, basically. That's the only thing I've had to say about him.

I think, you know, he's a very talented player, but for me to get the edge on him, he does everything. He can catch the ball. He can run good routes, but he doesn't block real well.

So I try to take advantage of that little aspect of it and call him my girlfriend.

Schwarz - You call him your girlfriend on the field. Here's what Rob Conrad says about Bryan Cox.

He says, "he talks all game long. If he played as well as he talked, he'd be a great football player. He talks that well, talks to everybody. It's just the way he is."

Bryan, you feel more badly about yourself now that you read that?

Cox - No. It's not like he's telling a lie about me, so -- but I've really calmed down over the years, though, because before, I would say a lot of mean and nasty things, whereas now, you know, I can talk to someone and still get that kind of edge or that kind of result that I'm looking for.

Schwarz - Now, is there a certain code, or is just about everything fair game as far as what a guy will say to another guy on the field?

Cox - Basically, the only thing that's probably untouchable is, like, if you have sick children or something like that. But usually wives, mothers, dads, you know, all those things come up during the course of the game. And that's fair game.

Schwarz - What would be some examples?

Cox - Usually talking about a lady's fake breasts. Or if a couple of guys slept your wife prior to her being married to you, then you kind of get that business. So it's ...

Schwarz - Are these true stories or ...

Cox - Yes.

Schwarz - These are all true stories.

Cox - Yes.

Schwarz - You know, we've had more taunting fines in the NFL this year than ever before. Is that good for the game or bad?

Cox - No, it's bad. It's bad, because you're taking something that's natural and you're taking it away from the game.

It's not unlike any inner city today in America where you're going -- you go to the basketball courts. Kids are out there talking trash to each other, they're playing.

It's not anything mean meant by it, or it's not to degrade anybody. It's just about going, having fun, playing football the way we were raised playing it in our backyard. We talked trash then, and it should be something that's natural now.

Schwarz - If you were Paul Tagliabue for a day, what would be your first move?

Cox - I would resign. I would resign. I mean, I think football now is market ball, as opposed to being football. I mean, back in the days when Tom Jackson played, you know, that's when football was pure.

That's when you got it for the violence that it really is.

Schwarz - What do you mean, market ball?

Cox - Right now it's, OK, let's keep the quarterbacks healthy. Let's protect quarterbacks. Let's protect receivers. Let's go out there and keep our image clean so we can sell, sell, sell.

It's not about who has the best 58 guys that will go out there and just try to kill each other each and every week. That's what football is. It's a violent sport.

Schwarz - So you'd have no helmet on the quarterback.

Cox - I'd have a helmet on them, but I wouldn't let somebody be able to talk into his ears and tell him, hey, run this play, because there are a lot of bad quarterbacks. And we're saturated in this league by bad quarterbacks, and we're trying to protect the few that are still good.

Schwarz - All right. Bryan Cox, thanks for talking straight.

Cox - Thanks for having me.

Schwarz - More with Bryan Cox on NFL Countdown a little bit later this morning, good news for Bryan fans. You can catch him on NFL Countdown, 11 o'clock here on ESPN.

Remember, if you missed any part of the "Outside the Lines" show, you can check it out on line at Keyword is OTL Weekly. And check our library of streaming video. Your e-mail is always welcome at our address,

Schwarz - That's our program for today, if you missed any portion of it, or just loved it so much you have to see it again, watch it at one o'clock on ESPN2.

I'm Mark Schwarz. Bob Ley back in this chair next Sunday. Join us tonight -- Redskins, Saints, Sunday Night Football.

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 Outside The Lines
ESPN's Mark Schwarz examines the battle for No. 73, stadium issues in NYC and trash-talking taken the tenth degree.

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