Despite being next-door neighbors in downtown Minneapolis and having the same corporate sponsorship for their venues the Twins and Timberwolves are having a squabble over the size and placement of a new advertisement.
Target Center, which is home to the Timberwolves, is currently installing a 2,800-square foot billboard advertising local health care provider Sanford Health that is prominent in the Target Field skyline and visible from many of the seats in the Twins’ home.
With the billboard conveniently set to be fully installed in time for the Twins’ playoff opener Wednesday, team president Dave St. Peter called it “an ambush on the ballpark.” Here’s more from St. Peter:
While the Twins always understood an ambush on the ballpark was possible, the sheer size of the proposed signage is shocking. We feel particularly bad about how this signage dominates the new civic gathering place known as Target Plaza. Needless to say it’s disappointing considering the large private investment to create this dynamic celebration of public art, which was in essence a gift to the city of Minneapolis.
There’s some irony is getting upset about an advertisement ruining “the new civic gathering place known as Target Plaza” that is, in fact, a form of advertising (or at least corporate sponsorship) itself. It would be kind of like complaining about there being too many commercials during an infomercial. And make no mistake, there are plenty of prominent ads visible throughout the Twins’ still-beautiful ballpark.
Timberwolves president Chris Wright told David Brauer of MinnPost that he “would disagree with those characterizations” and has “the authority and the right to take advantage of a terrific development that occurred behind our building.”
Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.
Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.
The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.
“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.
When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.
As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.
An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.