Baseball fan is caught napping — and sues for $10 million

A baseball fan was caught on camera napping in the stands during a New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox game and was apparently so humiliated by the lighthearted banter from the game announcers that he has filed a $10 million lawsuit.

No, this is not a joke.

Andrew Rector, who says he was viewed as a failure because of the teasing, has filed a lawsuit against ESPN New York, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, ESPN broadcasters Dan Shulman and John Kruk and the Yankees, according to the Courthouse News Service.

Shulman said: “This guy’s oblivious.”

Kruk commented: “This is not the place you come to sleep.”

In his lawsuit, Rector said he was the target of an “unending verbal crusade.”

That’s not what I heard. The announcers weren’t mean. Listen to the comments here.

The announcers “marveled that he had fallen asleep in the fourth inning and might have slept through a home run by the Yankees’ Carlos Beltran a few minutes earlier,” reported James C. McKinley Jr. for The New York Times.

ESPN issued a statement in response to Rector’s lawsuit, reported The Washington Post’s Matt Bonesteel: “The comments attributed to ESPN and our announcers were clearly not said in our telecast. The claims presented here are wholly without merit.”

Rector did, however, receive much harder ridicule from people posting comments about his dozing off.

Read the lawsuit posted by The Smoking Gun. It’s funnier than anything the announcers said about Rector.

Seems to me the lawsuit has drawn more attention to Rector’s sleeping beauty moment than the game-day banter.

Picking up food stamps in a Mercedes

So many people fell financially during the Great Recession. Hardworking folks, who used to make six-figure salaries, found themselves needing government assistance.

In a moving piece for The Washington Post, Darlena Cunha, a former television producer and now stay-at-home mom, wrote about her fall.

“Sara Bareilles played softly through the surround-sound speakers of my husband’s 2003 Mercedes Kompressor as I sat idling at a light,” Darlena wrote. “I’d never been to this church before, but I could see it from where I was, across from an old park, abandoned in the chilly September air. The clouds hung low as I pulled the sleek, pewter machine into the lot. But I wasn’t going to pray or attend services. I was picking up food stamps.”

A pink slip pushed the solid middle-income family into financial distress.

“The days of unemployment turned into weeks, months, and, eventually, years,” she wrote. “In just two months, we’d gone from making a combined $120,000 a year to making just $25,000 and leeching out funds to a mortgage we couldn’t afford. Our savings dwindled, then disappeared. So I did what I had to do. I signed up for Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.”

Darlena then talks about what it was like for her to be poor. The looks. The judgment. The shame.

“We didn’t deserve to be poor, any more than we deserved to be rich. Poverty is a circumstance, not a value judgment,” she wrote.

You have to read the piece. It’s an interesting look at her temporary descent into poverty.

Color of Money question of the week

What do you think of Darlena’s story? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Poverty” in the subject line. Please include your name, city and state.

Live online chat today

Join me today at noon ET. I’ll be taking your personal finance questions. What’s your financial issue? Are you fighting with family and friends about money and need a mediator?

If so, find who’s right. Talk to me live today. Here’s the link to join the conversation.

Flashback to 21 -day financial fast

It’s still not too late to join the 21-day financial fast.

At the beginning of the year, I led a group of several hundred on a 21-day financial fast. Now I’m doing the fast with my church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden. If you’re interested, sign up at wapo.st/financialfast.

You can ask me questions about the fast on Twitter at @SingletaryM. Use the hashtag #financialfast.

To fully participate in the fast, you’ll need to get “The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom,” which is a book I wrote based on a financial fast that I started at my church in 2005.

As I wrote when the book came out earlier this year, it’s not your typical fast, during which you cut out eating certain foods. On this fast, you can’t make any unnecessary purchase and you can’t use credit cards. For three weeks, you will shut down your shopping so that you can focus on your finances and what you really want with the money you make.

Achieving financial freedom

Last week I asked: What issues keep you from achieving financial freedom?

“What has kept me from being frugal is that I have a lot of sad issues in my life, and I make myself feel better by shopping,” wrote one reader, Sandee, from Palos Heights, Ill. “The majority of shopping is done at resale shops (get really good buys like designer clothes), but it all adds up. I do have plenty of clothes, but I shop for more. It is also a bridge between work and going home (to do more work). Thanks for giving me the opportunity to put this habit into words!”

Sherie Pizzo from Tampa wrote: “For my family, the problem is eating out and some impulse spending. I really hate to cook. I’m sure we could save several hundred dollars by not eating out for three weeks. Had planned to continue the fast one week a month but did not follow through. So good timing! I will start again.”

“I’m reading your book and see all these testimonies of people just cutting back (not buying hats or their daily coffee for 21 days) and having all these revelations of what spendthrifts they’ve been,” one reader said in an e-mail. “Meanwhile, I’m giving them a side-eye because I don’t have two dimes to rub together. . . . I’ll continue to pray that God gives me wisdom and peace over what I can do next to improve my finances, be financially stable, have cushion for emergencies, and be able to pay for my son’s college in cash and then help other friends and family.”

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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