What began as "A-Rod Juice Box" promo night for a Tampa Bay Rays minor league team quickly became Apology Night.
The Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League on Friday night abruptly canceled the promotion that barbed slugger Alex Rodriguez after a complaint by the New York Yankees.
The Class A team had planned the giveaway for the first 500 fans at its game in Port Charlotte against Tampa, a Yankees' affiliate. The writing on the boxes said "100% percent juiced" with side effects that included "tainted records, inflated ego, omission from the Hall of Fame, and more!"
Rodriguez, fourth on the career home run list, missed the 2014 season while serving a drug suspension and returned to the Yankees this year.
The Stone Crabs are owned by Ripken Baseball, and their front office operates independently from the Rays. The Rays called the Yankees earlier in the day after learning of the plan, New York spokesman Jason Zillo said.
The Yankees spoke to the Major League Baseball commissioner's office and the FSL to "voice our displeasure" over a promotion done in "poor taste," Zillo said.
The Stone Crabs canceled it and issued an apology for the "insensitive nature" of the event, saying "we in no way meant any ill intent or to offend anyone."
"On behalf of our entire organization I apologize to the New York Yankees, our affiliate club the Tampa Bay Rays, and all fans who may have taken offense," Stone Crabs general manager Jared Forma said in a statement.
Said Zillo: "Turns out that apology night was the most appropriate promotional theme for the game."