For starters, they threatened to file suit against five of the team's fans -- hardcore fans who have willingly spent their free time maintaining a blog. The Yankee Universe recently received a cease and desist letter, claiming, among other things, possible confusion (or even deception!) that the Yankees are sponsoring or have approved their blog. And the Yankees actually had the gall to claim these five bloggers might be guilty of "unfair competition" and "dilution" of the Yankees' trademark.
From TYU's reply to its readers:
We started this site a year ago because we love to write and argue about baseball. We've amassed a modest following – roughly 1,500 unique visitors per day – but by no means are we any more than a normal baseball fan blog. MLBAM knows this. There is nothing on our site that even appears to be detrimental to the Yankee brand.Re TYU's line about "alienating its most important followers": Time and time (and time) again, the Lords of Baseball have, when faced with a decision regarding the future of the game, nearly always picked the option that pisses off the greatest number of fans. This is one more example to that long list. (Also, MLB has gone after bloggers before.)
The truth is, we're good for Major League Baseball and the Yankees. Bloggers like us help the league. We create interest, discussion, and new niches for the game. I know that reading blogs has made me a much bigger fan of the game, and I am sure that many of you had the same experience. Baseball has experienced an unprecedented period of growth that has coincided with the new predominance of baseball blogging on the internet.
What would MLBAM be without the hundreds of baseball blogs out there? And how many of those blogs use the names and images of teams? MLBAM is making a serious mistake by alienating its most important followers. ...
We do not think that any reasonable person can mistake our site for an official representation of the New York Yankees or MLBAM ...
We do not mean to pick a fight. We simply want all of our hard work over the past year to remain where it is.
[I know the Yankees have a charity known as Yankees Universe (with one hell of a homepage!), but they are still needlessly acting like bullies here. No one with an IQ above Jeter's Range Factor would confuse the targeted blog with either the team's official website or the charity. As the disclaimer to RLYW states: "If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away." The Yankees brand has not been, and will not be, tarnished by the existence of TYU. The club's legal department should find better ways to waste its time.]
I'm late to this story, as it looks now like TYU will shortly be abandoning their URL. And with the ominous threat of "dilution" now gone, the Yankees stockholders can breathe a collective sigh of relief.