Legal - Baseball Wiretap

Player's Union Scolds MLB For 'Game' Playing

Mar 30, 2019 3:16 PM

Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark scolded the MLB and its teams for making a game out of the arbitration process by awarding a toy championship belt to the team deemed having done the best to keep salaries down.

"That clubs make sport of trying to suppress salaries in a process designed to produce fair settlements shows a blatant lack of respect for our Players, the game, and the arbitration process itself," Clark said in a statement issued Friday.

Tags: Legal, Misc Rumor

Deadspin Details Poor Treatment Of MLBAM Employees

Mar 28, 2019 2:22 PM

A report from Deadspin's Laura Wagner outlines workplace issues at MLB Advanced Media.

Deadspin reviewed internal communications from MLB Network and MLBAM and spoke to more than a dozen current and former MLBAM employees from a number of departments within the company.

Under MLBAM’s vice president of multimedia Mike Siano and MLBAM’s director of multimedia Brett Kaplan, MLBAM fostered an unhealthy and overly demanding culture in which people worked in fear of being berated and insulted for small mistakes and were disastrously managed, resulting in the a wage suppression lawsuit that was settled earlier this year for $1.3 million.

MLBAM, ownership of which is divided equally among MLB’s 30 teams, was founded in 2000 as a way to help individual teams create websites. MLBAM's streaming service began as a way to stream MLB games and has become an industry leader.

“[Kaplan] works really hard but people hate him because he treats people entirely as a commodity without any compromise. So the morale issues ... they started pretty much from day one,” a source said.

“I remember hearing Kaplan and Siano talk down to one supervisor and that it bothered me so much that I was messaging the person next to me, like, ‘Why is this happening?’ Just their tone, talking to someone like they’re stupid,” said a another source.

Kaplan also contributed to a structure in an effort to avoid paying overtime, which is what triggered the $1.3 million settlement.

Like many media companies, MLBAM relies on the desire of people to work in sports and media despite low pay and being treated poorly.

“They have a ton of young candidates lined up at the door. When you get there you realize how disposable you are,” a source said.

The MLB had $10.3 billion in revenues last year and that excludes the sale of BAMTech to Disney.

“Baseball is the only sport I love and the only sport I care about,” said one source, “and on top of what I’ve seen with owners dicking around free agents and how the commissioner’s office isn’t helping players, it’s a bummer to see it happening internally as well.”


Laura Wagner/Deadspin

Tags: Legal

MLB Attempting To Collectively Purchase RSNs From Disney

Mar 28, 2019 12:31 PM

MLB is seeking to gain control of local broadcasting agreements with teams and has placed a bid to purchase regional sports networks from Disney.

Disney acquired 22 RSNs as part of its $71 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's entertainment business.

“There’s tremendous revenue disparity in our game, and I think that if we had more of a national model closer to where the NFL is it would solve a lot of those competitive issues for us, kind of level the playing field,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday.

“I think that all of the difficult issues for baseball, if you took that revenue disparity out of the picture, would be easier.”

The New York Yankees have a right of first refusal to buy back control of their YES Network and have arranged partners for their own deal. MLB wants to purchase the remaining networks.

“Strategically, it would be a very interesting move for us,” Manfred said during a breakfast at The Paley Center for Media.

“Our game has always had sort of a national broadcast component that’s come out of New York. But the bulk of our business has been local. And the idea of a central baseball having more control over local rights is one that’s really intriguing to us. If we do the transaction, we’ll do it on the theory that we will try to accumulate more.”

Leagues and teams are worried how the cord-cutting trend will impact this business.

“You’re buying an ongoing RSN business, which generates really significant profits right now,” Manfred said. “I think everybody knows that it’s probably going to degrade over time as the cable model erodes.

“I think for us, we’d be prepared to live with that, run out of profitability and at the end of that runout, assuming it comes to some sort of a hard end, we would be in control of the content, which we fundamentally believe in, and we think that holding it as a lead better positions us to figure out exactly what that next distribution model is going to look like for the benefit of the league, as opposed to having some kind of private equity firm owning the RSNs.”

Ronald Blum/AP

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Giants CEO Apologizes For Altercation With Wife

Mar 2, 2019 4:48 PM

Giants team president and CEO Larry Baer apologized Friday night after video earlier in the day showed him having an altercation with his wife during a fight over his cellphone at a San Francisco park.

The incident was caught on video and published on TMZ Sports.

Tags: San Francisco Giants, Legal, Misc Rumor

MLB Signs Gambling Data Deal With Sportradar

Mar 1, 2019 11:09 AM

The MLB has signed a multiyear deal with Sportradar to sell its official data to bookmakers and media companies in the United States and abroad.

Starting with the 2019 season, the Swiss firm will be exclusive gatekeeper for MLB data in international markets, serving as a middleman for sports-betting operators that want to offer in-game bets on MLB games.

Sportradar's deal in the United States will be non-exclusive.

The MLB joins the NBA as the only leagues in the United States to have U.S. gambling data deals.

“The three things I look at when we’re doing any of these deals is revenue, fan engagement and integrity, and this one checks all three,” said Kenny Gersh, baseball’s executive vice president of gaming and new business ventures. “This is a nice holistic deal as we get into the sports-betting space more aggressively in the U.S.”

Eben Novy-Williams/Bloomberg

Tags: Legal