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.
Joe Longo, the agent of Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, said his client’s relationship with the Marlins is “irretrievably broken,” ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He believes in the best interest of both Yelich and the Marlins to work out a trade before the start of spring training.
They have a plan. I respect that plan, but that plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career. He’s in the middle of the best years of his career, and having him be part of a 100-loss season is not really where [we] want to see him going.
The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.
He loves the city of Miami. He loves the fans. He’s had nothing but a good experience in South Florida, and he feels sorry where they ended up. But I think having him report [to spring training] and attempting to include him moving forward is going to be uncomfortable for both sides. I don’t see how it’s going to work.
This certainly comes as no surprise considering the offseason the Marlins have had after installing new ownership, going from Jeffrey Loria to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. The club traded All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last season, as well as Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna. As Crasnick notes, Yelich isn’t the only player to express disappointment with the Marlins’ current direction — J.T. Realmuto and Starlin Castro have as well.
Yelich, 26, signed a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension with the Marlins in March of 2015. Given his career performance, that’s a bargain of a contract, which is why more than a handful of teams have inquired with the Marlins about him this offseason. Yelich finished the past season with a .282/.369/.439 triple-slash line along with 18 home runs, 81 RBI, 100 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances.