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The Marlins lawsuits against season ticket holders continue apace

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Last year we passed along a story from the Miami New Times about the Miami Marlins’ pattern of suing their season ticket holders. As of that writing the Marlins had initiated litigation against at least nine of them, accusing them of reneging on multi-season ticket commitments. The ticket holders, for their part, typically argued that the Marlins did not fulfill promises to deliver certain amenities like private parking and post-game buffets.

At the time we noted that while the Marlins may have been within their rights to sue over broken contracts, it was unusual for a team to sue their ticket holders. It’s bad P.R. for one thing. For another, it seemed shortsighted in that some sort of customer service solution — Player meet-and-greets? Merch? on-field access? — may have caused the ticket holders to recommit and continue to fill the Marlins’ coffers. Did the Marlins have to do that? No, not if they had an enforceable contract, but it seemed like a better solution.

Fast-forward a year and we see that, no, settling these things amicably was not to be. That’s especially true with respect to one former season ticket holder who is having some commercial property foreclosed on by the Marlins to satisfy their judgment. From the New Times:

Loria’s team is suing a fan named Kenneth Sack in Broward County Courts to seize a $725,000 building he owns in Oakland Park — all as part of the same ugly dispute that has led the team to sue at least nine season ticket holders and luxury suite owners since 2003 . . . Sack signed a four-year contract for season tickets in 2012 at $16,200 per ticket for a total price of $129,6000. Sack, who lives in Colorado but has a home in Palm Beach, paid the full $32,400 for the first season but then wanted to walk away. The team sued him in December 2014 for the remaining $97,200.

Now, before you get the pitchforks out for Jeff Loria, it’s worth acknowledging that Mr. Sack here appears to be a sophisticated businessman who owns commercial property and who splits time between Miami and Colorado. And, of course, he is able to devote $129K to baseball tickets at the drop of a hat. He’s not a poor family being put out on the street.

It also seems that the Marlins got this judgment by default, with Sack missing hearings and deadlines and things. Sack’s lawyers say it’s because he had a heart attack, but without meaning to sound callous, legitimate health problems are always going to entitle you to get a civil case like this put on hold. At least if you take the minimum basic steps to inform the court that you need a delay. Seems that Sack didn’t do that and now the Marlins are doing what they’re allowed to do to execute their judgment.

Still, I can’t shake the notion that the Marlins seem to be the only team that so enthusiastically pursues litigation like this. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the fact that most teams don’t worry too much about a season ticket holder walking away from a commitment, secure in the knowledge that someone else will step up to take their place. The Marlins, in contrast, probably don’t have a huge demand, largely by virtue of decisions its ownership has made over the years. There’s also the fact that Jeff Loria is not exactly a guy who has demonstrated much concern for his fans wherever he’s done business. If there’s a hostile way to solve a problem, by gum, he’ll take it.

It strikes me that, rather than litigation, some other sort of resolution could’ve been achieved here. It also strikes me that, once the Marlins are finally sold, everyone will be much, much happier.

 

Report: Blue Jays and Marco Estrada nearing agreement on contract extension

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Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and starter Marco Estrada are nearing an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is expected to be for one guaranteed year, Morosi adds.

Estrada, 34, was set to become a free agent after the season. He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015. While the right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings and has looked much better since the end of July. Between July 31 and his most recent start on Saturday, Estrada owns a 3.75 ERA.

J.A. Happ is the only other starter technically under contract with the Jays next season. Marcus Stroman will be eligible for his second year of arbitration and the Jays will certainly agree to give him a raise on his $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. The Jays will likely be active this offseason in adding rotation help and they’re starting early by locking up Estrada.

Video: Jackie Bradley, Jr. robs Chris Davis of a home run

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Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. robbed Orioles first baseman Chris Davis of his 25th home run on Tuesday evening, leaping at the fence in center field to make the catch and keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Davis swung at the first pitch he saw from Drew Pomeranz, a slider that crossed the middle of the plate.

This game has potential playoff implications, as the first-place Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the Yankees in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are still in the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Twins by 5.5 games for the second Wild Card slot.