Blog #24 (Making Good Use Of Stipulated Judgments; Jerry Koosman)

By Richard J. Decker on April 18, 2012 7:00 AM

During the last 2 to 3 years because of the state of the economy, I have dealt with more than my usual share of Stipulated Judgments on behalf of various clients, both on the providing and receiving ends. Stipulated Judgments are a cost effective tool primarily because trial and the resulting exorbitant expense is avoided.

For those who are not familiar with this mechanism (my non-lawyer audience who actually reads this part of the blog), the respective parties agree to skip the trial by settling for a pre-determined amount and the party being paid obtains a judgment for the entire amount in dispute, which is put on the shelf and never used so long as the agreed upon amount is paid in accordance with the agreement (in the agreed upon installment amounts and in the agreed upon time). Parties agreeing to pay are receptive because they are getting the equivalent of a debt reduction and recipients are receiving certainty.

The trickiest part in making the process workable, more often than not, is coming up with the ideal installment payment amount. What I mean by that, and it doesn't matter which side you are on, is that the Stipulated Judgment is only an effective tool if the party providing it is able to comply with it. The receiving party obviously wants the regular installment payment (usually monthly) to be as high as possible. But it can't be so high that the providing party can't pay it and ends up in default, because then the whole purpose of the settlement is not accomplished.

Whether I am representing the debtor providing the Stipulated Judgment, or the creditor receiving it, my focus is always on what the debtor truly is able to pay so that the parties can complete the deal. Because if the payor cannot perform, the creditor ends up with a paper judgment, which will then have to be enforced--a headache the creditor, believe me, usually does not want. So like most other dispute resolution tools, a successful Stipulated Judgment requires reasonableness by both sides.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Being the 10 year old front runner that I was in 1969, I climbed on the Mets bandwagon, switched my allegiance from the Yankees (the Mick was gone) and Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman became my new heroes. The Kooz card pictured below is the actual one I got in 1969 and it is still one of my favorites. Although Jerry did not make the Hall and was the Mets No. 2 starter behind Seaver (he also played second fiddle to Nolan Ryan on the 1968 Topps Rookie card they shared), it was Jerry who was the pitching hero of the 1969 World Series where the "Miracle Mets" shocked the baseball world by beating the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles. Jerry won two games in that series including the clincher. He also got a win in the 1973 World Series, although the Mets ultimately lost to the Oakland A's led by Catfish and Reggie Jackson, among others (their third consecutive World Series win).

Jerry had a pretty solid career. He won 222 games including 19 and 17 in 1968 and 1969, his first two years with the Mets. In 1968, he finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting to Johnny Bench--pretty impressive. Throwing seven shutouts that year probably didn't hurt. He also saved the National League's 1-0 All Star Game victory, striking out the 1967 Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski for the final out. Jerry had a 21 win season for the Mets and was the Cy Young runner up in 1976 (the year the Mets sent me into massive depression and emotional chaos and lost me as a fan by trading Rusty Staub for Mickey Lolich and subsequently Tom Seaver for Pat Zachry and others). He won 20 for the Minnesota Twins in 1979 after being traded to the Twins at his request in 1978. I guess the controversial Met traded affected him emotionally as well. Jerry concluded his 18 year career in 1985 after also playing for the White Sox and Phillies. Here is his Opening Day memory.

Koosman.JPG"My hero growing up was Willie Mays, and I faced him and the San Francisco Giants in the home opener at Shea Stadium in 1968. It was a sellout crowd on a cool but sunny day. I hadn't pitched that many innings at Shea Stadium before that, as I had been up with the Mets the year before for only 56 days and was used mostly as a reliever. I won my first start of the 1968 season in Los Angeles five days earlier, pitching a shut out and winning 4-0. But this game was different, because the Giants were in town, led by the great Willie Mays.

To start the first inning, Tito Fuentes reached base with a single, Jim Davenport reached on an error, and I walked Willie McCovey. The bases were now loaded and there were no outs and I felt the fans beginning to wonder, "How long is this guy going to last in the big leagues?" Willie was the next hitter, and believe me he looked like a lion ready to devour a cornered mouse! He looked very confident, as if he was saying, "Just throw what you've got and take what I have to give you!" I knew he made his living in situations like that and I was not going to be his exception.

At this point I was thinking to myself, "What in the world is a farm kid from Minnesota doing here in New York in a situation like this?" As I was quickly thinking through the situation, I remembered 1966 and what Clyde McCullough told me as manager when I played for him in Auburn, New York. He said, "Son, whenever you're in trouble, don't forget about ole number one!" He was reminding me that my best pitch was my fastball, and that the rest of my pitches were secondary. I did just that - I threw the best fastballs I had ever thrown up to that point in my career and struck Willie out!

The next hitter was Jim Ray Hart, who popped out to my catcher Jerry Grote, and then I struck out their catcher Jack Hiatt to end the inning. I felt like I was on top of the world - the fans were screaming in approval, and our team felt like we could compete with the world class Giants. When the game was over, I had thrown my second consecutive shutout, 3-0.

A few years later, Willie was traded to the Mets, and I had the wonderful privilege of playing with my hero for three years!"

Jerry is the only player I interviewed who began his career with consecutive shutouts. See you in a couple. Richie