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Friday, January 30, 2009

Yankees Consider Non-Disclosure Clause In Future Contracts

Joe Torre's alleged tell-all book about his time with the Yankees may result in a non-disclosure clause written in to future Yankees contracts. I guess such a thing is possible and even enforceable, but is it really wise?

More on this book from Carl Pavano, who teases, "I wish nothing but the best for Joe Torre and my former Yankee teammates, but with that said it does explain why I haven't received any Christmas cards from Joe the last few years."

Update: Apparently Shysterball agrees with me:

There's a big difference between confidentiality regarding trade secrets and proprietary information on the one hand and a simple "don't say bad things about us after you're gone" requirement on the other. The former is necessary to keep a going concern going. The latter is simple P.R. control and the stifling of free expression. Which, because the Yankees aren't the government is legal of course, but which is a dumb move all the same.

Why? Because The very existence of non-disparagement clauses -- assuming they're public, as any involving the Yankees now would be -- would do more to harm the team than help it. It sends a signal to the public that the team has more embarrassing secrets to hide than whatever it is Torre is going on about, and will lead to more uninformed, lurid speculation among the fans and the press than already exists. Torre's book may not be popular with the Yankees' brass right now, but in many ways it constitutes a necessary blood-letting. If he and the 1995-present Yankees were gagged for life, all manner of gossip and innuendo would go unchecked. Instead of that blood-letting you'd get death by a thousand anonymous cuts.

Even worse is that the existence of non-disparagement clauses often serve to magnify, rather than minimize the damage some bad press can cause. Let's say five years from now Jorge Posada is speaking at a luncheon and makes some intemperate remark about Derek Jeter's personal hygiene. As it stands today, there would probably be a brief blurb about it in the New York tabloids, and then it would go away and join all of the other fun junk in Yankees' history. If Posada was subject to a non-disparagement clause, however, the Yankees would have to sue for damages. This would serve to magnify the issue of Derek Jeter's hygiene by a factor of about a billion, because now the matter would have to be litigated. It would also place the team in the unenviable position of going after a guy who is a minor hero in the minds of Yankees fans. And if you say "no, the Yankees would never sue Posada," than what's the bloody point of having a non-disparagement clause anyway?

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