Last week, I beseeched the news media to please lay off poor, misunderstood Captain Red Ass. Thankfully, someone heard my cries. The New York Times’ Murray Chass directly contradicts a report in last Friday’s New York Daily News that alleged bookies were harrassing the Mets’ Paul Lo Duca at his place of business.

No one, including Mets officials and security workers employed by the team, reported such an incident to Major League Baseball, said the baseball official cited at the beginning of this column. If such an incident did occur, it is possible that reporters who stand on the field during batting practice would have heard the shouts or threats or whatever they were supposed to have been. No one wrote about it, however.

Lo Duca, who owns racehorses, has acknowledged betting on them but denies he has run up any gambling debts. He is not the first baseball person to bet on horses.

Don Zimmer, who has been in baseball for more years than Methuselah lived, has long been an inveterate bettor on horse races. When Lou Piniella played, he made a racing newspaper required reading before placing his bets. George Steinbrenner owns horses and has probably placed a bet or two when they have raced.

Well put, Murray. And who amongst us doesn’t believe that Don Zimmer has a 19 year old girlfriend in every town?

In addition to Murray The C., Disco Paul’s growing legion of apologists include Sports Illustrated’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, who cites the catcher’s “wicked collection of t-shirts”.