The Yankees sue StubHub over store near Yankee Stadium

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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.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.