Tampa Bay Rays quash bobblehead giveaway at Clearwater Threshers games
[ JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Bobble-heads of WS Champs Phillies players Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley that have been given away by the minor league Clearwater Thrashers.
The Phillies’ Clearwater-based minor-league team was forced to cancel tonight’s scheduled giveaway of a Pat Burrell bobblehead, and six others later this season, when the Rays complained they violated major-league marketing rules.
“It’s disappointing to us and it’s disappointing to our fans,’’ Threshers GM John Timberlake said. “”We were in violation of the agreement and we didn't realize it. We’re trying to stay good-natured about it. We're minor-league baseball.’’
The Phillies beat the Rays in the World Series last year, and the Clearwater farm team scheduled a series of promotions tied to it, with bobbleheads of each starting player. They’d already given out two this season (as well as a replica of the Series trophy), and tonight was to be Burrell, who signed this season with the Rays. “Talk about adding irony to irony,’’ Timberlake said.
The Rays defended their actions in a statement from vice president Rick Vaughn: “The Phillies organization recognized they were in violation of Major League Baseball’s territorial rights guidelines and cancelled the promotion. We appreciate their attention to this matter.”
The Rays had some issues with the Phillies during the Series, complaining about the poor security and treatment of their families in the stands. The Phillies visit the Trop June 23-25.
Timberlake said the Clearwater-based team has given out Phillies-branded items often in past seasons and “we’ve never had an issue, we’ve never been called on anything prior to this.’’
Under the MLB rules, the Rays have control over their home market, and the same policy would apparently apply to the Dunedin, Tampa and Lakeland FSL teams.
Could the Rays actions have anything to do with the outcome of the Series?
“I have no idea,’’ Timberlake said. “I don’t know where this is coming from. I know I felt perfectly fine about the outcome of the Series.’’