Via the Daily News -
Mets fans had plenty of reasons to be optimistic after the 2006 season. The club — led by a slugging first baseman who appeared en route to a 500-plus home run career and a shortstop who could steal bases and hit for power — won the National League East by 12 games and went to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
Mets fans, of course, never got the chance to see Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes spray World Series champagne all over each other. The Mets didn’t make the playoffs in 2007 and 2008 thanks to epic late-season collapses, and they’ve struggled to remain relevant in the standings ever since.
But Delgado and Reyes are together again — this time in Nassau County Supreme Court. Sports memorabilia dealer Spencer Lader and other defendants in the case want Reyes, now with the Blue Jays, to tell them under oath what he knows about Delgado’s relationship with Anthony Galea, the controversial Toronto sports medicine doctor — and human growth hormone proponent — who pleaded guilty in July 2011 to transporting misbranded and unapproved drugs into the United States.
“I’m not saying Delgado used steroids, but I do have a right to know if he did,” Lader says. “We thought his name had commercial value, but everybody knows players linked to steroids have no commercial value.
“I want to be the first person in memorabilia to keep these people accountable,” adds Lader, whose Authentic Memorabilia made headlines in 2007 when it marketed Darryl Strawberry- and Jason Giambi-autographed baseballs that said “Everybody deserves a second chance.”
Delgado signed an agreement with Lader in 2006 that made Lader his exclusive autographed memorabilia dealer. Lader says he later brought in other partners, including Nitin Doshi, the wealthy owner of a Long Island medical imaging company. The deal had soured by 2009 when the ex-Met filed suit in Nassau County Supreme Court, claiming that Lader, Doshi and the other defendants stiffed him out of at least $767,500. The defendants dispute Delgado’s claims; Lader says he should not even be a party to the suit because Doshi bought out his interest in the deal.
Lader’s attorney Robert McKay subpoenaed Reyes last year to question him about Galea, the Canadian physician who agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to a year of supervised release in December 2011.
“Did he have acne on his back? Did they talk to each other about Galea or steroids? We have a right to ask those questions,” Lader says.
Galea, who worked with both former Mets and numerous other athletes, including Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods, was indicted on five drug-related counts in October 2010. He became a target for law-enforcement agencies on both sides of the border a year earlier, after American authorities found growth hormone and other drugs in his assistant’s car as she tried to cross the border.
“The essence of the information sought from Mr. Reyes in the subpoena directed to him relates to the use of steroids or human growth hormones or performance-enhancing drugs by the plaintiff, Carlos Delgado, by way of documents and testimony that Mr. Reyes is likely to provide,” court papers filed by McKay earlier this month.
Delgado’s lawyer, Michael Re, has tried to have the subpoena quashed. An attorney from Re’s firm, Moritt, Hock and Hamroff, said he could not comment on the litigation.
Justice Timothy Driscoll, according to McKay, said at a hearing last week that he is inclined to permit Lader’s lawyer to depose Reyes, but he would defer his decision until after Delgado is deposed. McKay said he expects to question Delgado sometime next month.
In a suit filed last summer in Central Islip federal court, Lader says Delgado was paid a “substantial portion” of the $325,000 the memorabilia dealer and his the other defendants agreed to pay him for the first year of a two-year deal.
But the slugger proved difficult to work with. Delgado signed A-Rod baseball bats — instead of bats with his own name — and sent those to the memorabilia dealers to sell, the lawsuit says. His signature was “virtually invisible” on blue Mets caps because he used a black pen. His autograph was smudged on signed baseballs. The memorabilia Delgado supplied to his partners, the suit says, were “worth nothing or close to nothing.”
Delgado never did reach the 500 home run club. He hit 473 home runs in a career that ended with a whimper. Delgado played in just 26 games for the Mets in 2009 before his season ended that May with hip surgery. Hip problems are a long-term side effect of performance-enhancing drug use, Lader notes.
I don’t think this guy has a snowball’s chance in you know where to get the answers he seeks and/or any of his money back. But, as a guy who owns a Barry Bonds autographed bat and a Roger Clemens autographed baseball, which I bought around the year 2001, I feel his pain. (And, yes, years later, I realized that the autographed memorabilia thing is s sucker’s market. I can’t begin to tell you how many balls have turned brown, how many signatures have faded, or careers have turned among my collection. That’s why I stopped adding to it several years back.)