Last month the Yankees and Angels opted-out of the resale arrangement the 28 other teams have with StubHub. This came after years of acrimony between the Yankees and StubHub over what the Yankees perceive to be StubHub undercutting the team by selling tickets lower than the Yankees box office. Never mind that the Yankees had already sold those tickets to whoever was putting them on StubHub and never mind that the market pretty much dictates what people will pay for tickets and the Yankees couldn’t be bothered to listen.
Now the acrimony is higher as Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal reports that the Yankees have sued StubHub over what may or may not be a StubHub retail store near Yankee Stadium. I say “may or may not” because what, exactly, that StubHub storefront near the ballpark is depends on your point of view.
The Yankees say it’s a ticket resale store and that its presence less than 1,500 feet of a sports venue violates New York scalping laws. StubHub counters, saying no, it’s just a place were people on their way to a game can print out and pick up their tickets which were purchased online. Those sets of competing interpretations are the stuff of litigation, my friends.
And, with the caveat of me not knowing a thing about this particular law or the facts giving rise to this dispute, I will offer that courts frequently look askance at efforts to circumvent an existing law with what can only be described as cuteness. And this, however clever, does seem a bit too cute.
But obviously that’s for the courts to decide. And now they’re getting their chance.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?