The Business Front

Stories Making Headlines Around Baseball

• What’s a baseball game without beer vendors? Obviously the folks in the independent United League knew the answer to that question as they scrambled to find a new supplier after having their license revoked last week for concealing the identity of the party that profited from liquor sales.

• The Yankees were among the first teams to join MLB officials in exploratory trips to China and, not surprisingly, became the first team to sign players from China. I’ll leave the scouting analysis on the two players, pitcher Kai Liu and catcher Zhenwang Zhang, to the experts, but it would not be surprising if the signings are primarily for marketing purposes. The Yankees seem to have the European market cornered thanks to a partnership with Manchester United’"my wife is from Ireland and in our recent trips over I’ve seen more and more lads wearing Yankees gear.

• I bring this up because of all the media attention given to former NBA player John Amaechi, who announced that he is gay in a recent book (a fact reported heavily as a news story by the book’s publisher, ESPN). A former minor league umpire announces that he is gay and that he knows of at least two gay major league umpires’"neither of whom he says plan to come out.

Obviously the umpires should not feel obligated to address their sexuality, but the story seems newsworthy because, as a co-worker here at BA and myself were discussing recently, this topic is going to be the next big civil rights issue in baseball.

Missoula puts the finishing touches on its new stadium in time for tonight’s season-opener. Included among features like a party deck and ticket office is an actual osprey nest beyond the center-field wall.

• A pharmaceutical company discovers the newest hot market to advertise its product: minor league baseball ballparks.

• In minor league clubhouses, the team ‘mom’ earns mvp honors.

Clubhouse attendants, also known as clubbies, cooks players food, washes their clothes, cleans up after them and answers most of their needs with promptness and efficiency, writes Jeff Elliott of the Jacksonville Times Union.