Business of Baseball Reportby Brian Borawski
August 03, 2005
Maris Family Suing the King of Beers
Prior to the 1967 season, New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman Charley Smith. After two poor seasons in 1965 and 1966, Roger Maris bounced back to have a solid season for his new team in 1967. More importantly, he went 10 for 26 (.385) in the World Series and helped the Cardinals win their second championship in four years.
In exchange for playing for the Cardinals in 1968, owner August Anheuser Busch, Jr. gave Maris a beer distributorship. After a disappointing season and a loss to the Tigers in the World Series, Maris retired and moved to Gainesville, Fla. where he became co-owner of Maris Distributing with his brother, Rudy. For 29 years, Maris Distributing was the sole distributor in the Gainesville and Ocala area.
In 1997, things turned very sour. Anheuser-Busch terminated its contract with Maris Distributing and went on to say that the distributorship wasn’t meeting quality standards and that they were relabeling and repackaging outdated beer. The Maris family subsequently sued Anheuser-Busch for intentionally trying to defame their business. The trial began yesterday and a jury of six women will determine whether the Maris family is entitled to the $2.5-5 billion in damages they’re seeking.
Circuit Court Dismisses Comcast Case
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Durke Thompson dismissed Comcast’s suit against the Baltimore Orioles last week. I began documenting this case in my first Business of Baseball Report, and while the decision is a blow to Comcast, it’s definitely not the end of the story. While Judge Thompson agreed with the Orioles that the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) was not the third party that Comcast alleged it was, he did allow Comcast the ability to amend the case within 30 days if it has information that could sway him to change his decision.
Comcast also has the ability to appeal the decision and take the case to the next judicial level. The decision also can’t force Comcast to air Washington Nationals games, so until Comcast has its day in court, Nationals fans will be left in the dark.
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro was suspended on Monday for violating baseball’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. Unlike the other six players who had been suspended for testing positive under the program, Rafael Palmeiro was given a chance to argue his case before the Major League Baseball Arbitration Panel. The grievance was denied, so Palmeiro will get about a week and a half off without pay.
Yesterday it was announced that Seattle Mariners pitcher Ryan Franklin was suspended for 10 days as well. Franklin appeared to be as dumbfounded by the determination as Palmeiro was and even claimed he won’t take another vitamin until he retires.
MLB Opens Arizona Office
Construction began on MLB’s new Western Operations Office last week. Located in Phoenix, the office will be manned by nine employees, including Laurel Prieb. Prieb will manage the office. He’ll have an assistant working in the office, and two officials from the Arizona Fall League will set up shop there as well. The final five employees will work for MLB Advanced Media (BAM), MLB’s online division.
With several teams playing on the west coast on a regular basis, it made more sense to finish up work on MLB’s website in one of the more western time zones. With the time difference, games played on the west coast usually don’t end until after 1 a.m. EST, so ensuring the website was updated timely meant some late nights for BAM employees.
Sandy Alderson Being Replaced by Two Men
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola, Jr. and Red Sox Vice President Mike Port were hired by MLB to fill the vacancy left by current San Diego Padres general manager Sandy Alderson. Garagiola will be in charge of overseeing on-field operations, while Mike Port will be responsible for the umpires. Both will work out of MLB’s New York office.
Resources and Recruitment
Since I began writing the Business of Baseball Report in April, I’ve developed a routine for coming up with ideas every week. The first place I go to—and it’s usually the only place I need to visit—is the Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) Business of Baseball Committee website. Co-chairman Maury Brown has put a ton of work into the site, and you can find everything from headlines to interviews with individuals who have had a significant impact on the business of baseball.
All of these things are open to SABR members and non-SABR members alike. In addition to the content on the website, there’s also SABR member exclusive content. This exclusive content includes well-written essays by committee members, as well as a huge undertaking called the GM project. The GM project is an attempt to document all of the major league general managers in what should eventually turn out to be a mammoth database.
Since joining the committee last year, I’ve learned a lot about the business aspects of baseball, but some of the people who are a part of the BOB Committee are true experts, and it’s been a pleasure working with them. Whether you’re a SABR member or not, if you enjoy the weekly reports and want to learn more or even take an active role in the Business of Baseball Committee, feel free to send me an e-mail, and I’d be happy to discuss some of the projects on which the committee is working.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.
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