Prepare for Brian Wilson to sell you Chalupas

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I thought the idea behind those Taco Bell ads with Mariano Rivera from last postseason was pretty clever.  The execution was a bit off — seemed rather local-used-car-ad-quality and Joe Girardi and Rivera are not, alas, a great actors — but the ad was fun, at least before they decided to run it every half inning.

Taco Bell is doing it again this year, but this time they’re going with someone with a few more theatrical bonafides: Brian Wilson.  The description of the ads, sent to me by the ad agency because they want free advertising:

Titled “Closer 2.0, it’s a follow-up to last year’s commercial with the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi, where Girardi has to call in Rivera to finish a customer’s XXL Chalupa as it’s too big.  Well: an exact follow-up to last year is the director’s idea for this current spot.  With hair-and-makeup stylists including a woman with a Roman Bacchus-style beard groomer, Wilson’s sense of grandeur leads to other ideas of how the commercial should go, zany ideas that – like the size of the XXL Chalupa – play off of his extra-large personality.

They probably could have just said “Wilson is a big ‘Archer’ fan,” because that’s clearly what he’s going for when he claims to be “Black Ops!”  You can watch two versions of the Wilson ads here plus — if you really, really like Wilson — a making of video here.

Personally, I’ll be at Chipotle. Don’t complain, ad agency. I gave you some exposure for free. If you want me to not say that Chipotle is way better than anything you can get at Taco Bell, you’re gonna have to pay us. This is America and that’s how it works.

MLBPA thinks all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration

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There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.

If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:

  • In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
  • Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
  • If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.

In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.

There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.

The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!