Having just lost a bidding battle to the New York Yankees for a Cuban defector, pitcher Jose Contreras, [Red Sox executive] Larry Lucchino expressed his frustration when I called him on Dec. 24, 2002.
”The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America,” Lucchino said.
The comment instantly grabbed a hallowed spot in the lexicography of baseball lore, spreading rapidly throughout the sport and the news media.
It returned to prominence last week when it was disclosed that a three-judge panel of the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board in Washington, D.C., ruled for Major League Baseball’s opposition to an attempt by a private business, Evil Enterprises, Inc., to register a trademark for the phrase “Baseball’s Evil Empire.”
The Long Island, N.Y., company wanted to promote and sell Yankees’ merchandise linked to the designation Evil Empire.
But the Yankees learned of the company’s plans, advised Ethan Orlinsky, baseball’s senior vice president and general counsel for legal and business affairs, and he opposed the company’s trademark application on behalf of the Yankees, who prevailed. [...]
It was the Times’ story, but the trademark decision was as brief as a brief can be. Fifty words on the Evil Empire, 2,000 words on snowboarding.
The Times ran the story matter of factly, no attempt at humor by a humorless paper.