The Gatorade cops are on the case this postseason

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Fun story over at BusinessWeek, talking about how Major League Baseball and Gatorade are enforcing Gatorade’s postseason sponsorship deal.  Expected: everyone drinking sports drinks is drinking Gatorade. You can’t exactly have a competitor’s product on screen in such instances.

Somewhat less expected: water is one of the competitors Gatorade and MLB don’t want you seeing:

When Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson met the media prior to his team’s playoff game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Oct. 10, for example, he was instructed to pour his bottle of water into a Gatorade cup … A similar scenario played out several hours later in the Bronx, as New York Yankees slugger Raúl Ibañez—who had just saved and then won the team’s playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles with two late-game home runs—made his way to the post-game interview area.

MLB spokesman Jeff Heckelman notes that this happens in every sport (and that, no, players aren’t banned from drinking water, naturally). And I do recall this going down at the Olympics and in the NBA in the past.

Still, kinda lame if you ask me.  If Raul Ibanez is water-powered, why does Gatorade get the apparent credit for it?

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.