Baseball Icon Takes on Twitter

La Russa calls foul on online error

By Scott McGrew
|  Thursday, Jun 4, 2009  |  Updated 12:52 PM PDT
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Baseball Icon Takes on Twitter

La Russa loves cats and dogs. Twitterers? Not so much.

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He's well known here in the Bay Area for loving animals and dancing once a year in a Christmas ballet, but former A's manager Tony La Russa is playing hardball with San Francisco-based Twitter.

La Russa filed a lawsuit against the social-networking site Twitter, claiming a fake page using his name damaged his reputation and caused emotional distress.

The suit was filed last month in San Francisco Superior Court, but became public Thursday.

It seeks unspecified damages.

The lawsuit claims that someone created a false account under La Russa's name and posted tweets that gave the false impression that the comments came from La Russa. The suit says the comments were "derogatory and demeaning" and damaged La Russa's trademark rights.

The Twitter account bearing La Russa's name is no longer active.

La Russa's attorney and San Francisco-based Twitter did not immediately return messages left with them.

The La Russa suit comes one day after crazy-haired Phil Spector, convicted of murdering an actress, also made some Twitter news. 

According to another false tweet, as he awaits transfer from the LA County jail, the former record producer is looking out the window, doing a crossword puzzle and playing with a pet cockroach.

Somehow a Twitter user signed up for the account @philspector and started Tweeting as if he were the jailed music man yesterday morning.

A News.com columnist wondered if it was real, pointing out that Spector was allowed to keep both a laptop and an iPod in his cell.

Among the things on Fake Spector's mind:  "People ask me about my opinion of American Idol.  It's a total insult to music.  Not my thing"  and "Apart from twitter and my ipod, all I have for entertainment are Wilson and saliva bubbles."

Wilson, we learn, is a cockroach.  Not the most original of names a lonely man (or his impostor) can give a pet; actor Tom Hanks's character gave the name Wilson to a volleyball in the movie Cast Away. The relationship between Wilson and Fake Spector grew tense.  Spector recently reported "I think Wilson just s%$t in my yamulke". Of  course, Wilson the cockroach is fake too.

The incident is just one in a long string of folks claiming to be people they are not. Among the others: Tina Fey  (was fake, is now real), Dina Lohan and Christopher Walken.

Then again, one could say everyone's fake on Twitter.

Scott McGrew is a technology reporter for NBC Bay Area who really is who he says he is on Twitter: @scottmcgrew

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