The attorney for Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has called a lawsuit filed by a former pitcher "a publicity stunt" all but doomed to failure.
Mike Bolsinger sued the Astros last February, blaming them for his inability to find another pitching job after he was shellacked in Houston in a 2017 game. In a report in January, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said the Astros had cheated that year by improperly deploying technology to steal signs.
In a filing last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, attorney John Hueston cited two sports-related lawsuits that had been thrown out of court: one in which a New York Jets ticket holder sued New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick for fraud in the wake of the Spygate scandal and another in which a New Orleans Saints ticket holder sued the NFL over a disputed official's call that helped the Rams beat the Saints and advance to the 2019 Super Bowl.
"Similar publicity-seeking lawsuits related to high-profile sporting events with virtually no chance of success on the merits are common," Hueston wrote. "The lawsuits garner national media attention for the plaintiff and his attorney before being dismissed as meritless and contrary to public policy."
In Bolsinger's last professional pitching appearance, in Houston on Aug. 4, 2017, while a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, he faced eight batters, seven of whom reached base. He threw 29 pitches — with 12, according to his lawsuit, preceded by the bangs on a trash can that have since been revealed as the signal used to alert Astros batters that an offspeed pitch was coming.
”That type of journeyman guy I am, a guy that might be on the fringe, you only get so many opportunities,” Bolsinger told The Times when he filed suit. “You can’t be a guy like that and go out there and have an outing like I did.”
The Astros have asked that the suit be thrown out or, at the least, moved to Texas. Bolsinger is a Texas resident.
"Plaintiff filed this lawsuit in California for media attention — because the Astros played the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series here — not because Plaintiff was injured or suffered damages here," Hueston wrote. Bolsinger pitched for the Dodgers in 2015-16; he pitched for the Blue Jays in 2017.
The two sides have asked the court to decide whether Crane should be deposed about the Astros' sign-stealing scandal before making a ruling on whether the case can go forward. A hearing is scheduled Feb. 1.
"The Astros claiming that being held accountable for cheating is a publicity stunt is very 2020 of them," Ben Meiselas, the attorney for Bolsinger, said in a statement. "Frankly, at this point I am surprised that Jim Crane didn't tweet in all caps that the Astros cheating scandal is FAKE NEWS and hire [Rudy] Giuliani."
In a declaration, Crane said Manfred's report "explicitly exonerated” him in the scheme. Then-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, whom Crane fired, has sued the Astros for breach of contract, alleging Crane and Manfred struck a "negotiated resolution” that “went to great lengths to publicly exonerate Crane, and scapegoated Luhnow for a sign-stealing scandal he had no knowledge of and played no part in.” In his filing last week, Hueston wrote that the Astros dispute that Luhnow's lawsuit "has any merit."
Meiselas cited that suit in his previous filing, which Hueston wrote "only further underscores that Bolsinger is improperly trying to impress a California court into devoting its scarce resources to investigating and adjudicating matters concerning Texas disputes among Texans." That suit, Hueston wrote, was filed in "Texas by Texan Mike [sic] Luhnow, the former General Manager of the Astros, against the Astros (a Texas resident) for alleged breach of Luhnow’s contract by the Astros, and that expressly invokes Texas law."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.