Budweiser baseball

Anheuser-Busch sues Major League Baseball

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Anheuser-Busch has sued Major League Baseball, claiming that they had an agreement to continue their longstanding sponsorship deal that has AB brands as the official beer in every park but four of ’em. The article doesn’t list the four, but I’m guessing Coors Field and Miller Park are two of them. Maybe Toronto is a third.  My guess for the fourth: Rogue Park in Portland, Oregon, home to the new Portland expansion team, with Craig Calcaterra as their highly-paid P.A. announcer.  Or maybe I dreamed that. (UPDATE: The Blue Jays and the White Sox appear to be the other two, based on the list at the bottom of this press release).

The claim in the lawsuit is that Anheuser-Busch and Major League Baseball reached an agreement to continue the sponsorship, but then MLB reneged, demanding way more money.  Anheuser-Bush claims that baseball is “demanding unreasonable fees to sell Bud in all ballparks.”  My take: they’ve been demanding unreasonable fees to for people to buy it for decades, and AB never complained about that. $8 for a Bud Light? I’m surprised there hasn’t been a class action yet.

Anyway, all of this gives me an opportunity to pass along a factoid that I share whenever Anheuser-Busch comes up.  They were a client of mine years ago, when I was but a baby lawyer.  At my first meeting at the local brewery, the AB guys told me that it was too bad I hadn’t been around just a few years before. Why? Because all of the conference rooms used to have taps built-in to the tables, and executives and others in meetings would drink beer. 9 A.M. meeting? Sure, why not?  Just part of the culture. And this wasn’t just some old 1940s thing. They were doing it into the 90s, they said.

I realize it’s possible that they were pulling my leg on that, but a couple of other people have told me they heard the same thing. Anyone know for sure?  It’s one of those stories that I want so badly to be true.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.