It was the top of the fifth in Tuesday night's Game 1 of the World Series and Ryan Howard had just walked. Call it Taco Bell's biggest nightmare.
Sure, Howard only stole a single base this year and two in his entire six-year career. But had he taken off and slid in before the tag, the Mexican food chain's promotion could have been compromised. Why? Because Howard is a spokesperson for Subway, a competitor to Taco Bell.
Left out of the equation of the fast food restaurant's "Steal A Base, Steal A Taco" promotion, in which America gets free tacos with the first stolen base of the World Series, is that the player has to agree to connect himself to the promotion. After all, Tampa Bay's shortstop Jason Bartlett--like Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who accomplished the feat last year--is now forever going to be connected with a seasoned crunchy beef taco.
So how exactly do negotiations take place when seconds after Bartlett steals the base, he is being linked to the promotion in an in-game ad? I called Bartlett's agent Ryan Ware to see exactly how it went down.
Ware told me that before the game the MLB Players Association had called the agents of the players involved in the game, making sure that they were aware of the situation and were willing to be part of the promotion if their player stole the base.
After Bartlett stole the base--minutes after Howard didn't--Ware, who was sitting next to Bartlett's parents and wife at the game, got on his phone and found out what the deal would be. Part of it, he said, would include Jason saying a couple words about Taco Bell in the locker room after the game. So he sent a text message to Bartlett not to leave the clubhouse before doing this quick voiceover that the company could use in a commercial.
"Making the deal was worth it," Ware said. "I'm thinking that only Rickey Henderson has made more from stealing a base."
Ware wouldn't disclose the compensation, but did say that Bartlett has a chance to make more if he makes an appearance at one of the restaurants during the redemption day, Oct. 28. Bartlett will make $416,000 this year, not including his postseason bonuses.
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