U.S. Fans Abound For WWC Final LeBron Praised For Role In Apatow's "Trainwreck" MLS Eyeing St. Paul For Expansion Club Angels Bad PR Continues With Dipoto Exit NBA Free Agency Begins With Money Flying Expectations High For NASCAR On NBC NBC Lands New Advertisers For Race Coverage Going Off The Grid Steelers Exploring '23 Super Bowl Bid GT To Benefit Financially From Ireland Game
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ATLANTA -- OWNER WITH A HEART: Braves Owner Ted Turner said the players are bound to break first: "They won't come back all at once, but some of the players will need the money. They aren't as rich as we are. We'll outlast 'em." Turner went on to refer to his star Greg Maddux as "that fellow who keeps winning Cy Youngs" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). BOSTON -- GOOD FIELD, NO POWER: Myles Calvey, business manager at the Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 2222: "We don't support scabs. So, if they have any problems with telephones at Fenway Park, we won't fix it." Red Sox Dir of Marketing Larry Cancro: "All we can do is make contingency plans as best we can and try to serve the fans" (Diane Lewis, BOSTON GLOBE, 2/23). CHICAGO -- JORDAN RULES: Michael Jordan won't play in exhibition games, but he still expresses sympathy for minor- league colleagues: "I don't care who you are or how big you are in the major leagues, you've got these little people down here feeling the brunt of what's happening up there. There's got to be some sensitivity to that. Don't put them in the middle of an ego fight" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24). CINCINNATI -- "NO-WIN SITUATION": ESPN profiled how the Reds are dealing with the minor league issue. Reds GM Jim Bowden: "If Mr. Fehr is going to stoop to the level to try to have these minor leaguer kids not play I think it is mean spirited, I think it is unfair, I think it is unjust." Former Player Rep/Reds Coach Ray Knight: "I don't think these young kids should be punished. ... It is a no-win situation for them, it really is." Former major leaguer Kurt Stillwell, who is in the Reds camp: "There are a lot of organizations out there. There is only one union. It is a tough situation" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/23). DETROIT -- SKITTISH SPONSORS: Mike Feeney, GM of WJR, the Tigers' radio partner, said many sponsors "are concerned over what replacement baseball will mean and what the ratings will be. So I think it's fair to say that we're flexible in negotiating with all of our sponsors at this point" (Steve Crowe, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/24). MONTREAL -- GOV'T TO OK GAMES: Canadian Federal immigration rules will be changed to allow the Expos to use replacement players. "Citing unnamed sources, the CBC said the Liberal government wants to avoid losing the team and its economic benefits during a year when Quebec is holding a referendum on separating from Canada" (TORONTO SUN, 2/24). NEW YORK -- YANKS' WAY OR HIGHWAY: The Yankees sent home three minor-leaguers who refused to play in spring games. Yankees AA pitcher Brian Faw: "A lot of the time, the small guy gets used" (Jack Curry, N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). ST. LOUIS -- MR. NICE GUY: Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty has not threatened to send any minor-leaguers home if they don't play, but says: "I wanted to make it very clear to the kids that we're going to support them and back them. But they also have to remember they have to support us and back us" (Rick Hummel, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/24). SAN FRANCISCO -- NO DECISION: Giants officials still have not decided whether they ask minor leaguers to play in major league exhibition games. An AP survey shows that 2/3 of minor leaguers around the league say they will boycott spring replacement games (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/24).
The prospects of NBA officials facing punishment for tax evasion, as first reports in the February 12 Portland OREGONIAN, has NBA executives worried, according to the current issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. "Even a resolution that stopped short of criminal charges would be enough to give the NBA the heebee- jeebies. No sports league, pro or college wants even the appearance that its game officials are under any kind of financial pressure. 'The job of refereeing is tough enough without any of this,' one league official said last week. 'We worry about the integrity of the game, and we worry about maintaining the appearance of integrity'" ("Scorecard," SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 2/27 issue).
Although no "expansion plan exists, and no timetable is certain, everyone expects the NHL will go west again," according to Kevin Allen in today's USA TODAY. Among topics that Allen discusses in the piece: the leading cities in the west who appear to be "early front-runners" for teams (Denver, Phoenix and Portland), the concern of the "quality of talent pool" for new teams, and a conflict with the IHL that "appears inevitable." On the IHL, which has teams in cities where the NHL may expand, Whalers GM Jim Rutherford: "They didn't have any concern about putting teams outside Detroit and Chicago. Why should we be concerned about going into Denver, Phoenix or Atlanta" (USA TODAY, 2/24). MINORS FLOURISH: The popularity of the ECHL and other minor hockey leagues is examined by Stefan Fatsis in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL. With franchises No. 20 and 21 due next season and "at least six more by 1998," Fatsis says the ECHL "may be the fastest-growing league in professional sports history. ... The minors in general have come a long way from the brawl-a- minute games depicted in the 1977 movie 'Slapshot'" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/24). CONGRATS, MICK E.: The IHL Minnesota Moose logo "has been rated No. 1 in all of minor league hockey" by THE HOCKEY NEWS. According to staff writer Michael Ulmer, "Mick E. Moose is clearly the logo of the '90's. ... The Moose won because they managed to create a figure which is entrancing and assertive without being obnoxious." The logo has been so popular that merchandise "sold in the arena and in their specialty stores" has already surpassed the $1.4M mark (Dan Barreiro, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/22). Moose Dir of Public Relations Joanie St. Peter: "Obviously it's a big honor. We're very excitied about it" (THE DAILY).
VA Senator John Warner said his staff director was wrong when he said Warner "would not support efforts to repeal baseball's antitrust exemption because Northern Virginia had been offered an expansion team." Grayson Winterling told the WASHINGTON POST yesterday that MLB expansion committee Chair John Harrington offered Warner a team if the Senator would not join the fight to eliminate the antitrust exemption. Warner said "he does not support repeal of the antitrust exemption, but bristled at Winterling's statement he had been 'bought.'" Warner: "Regrettably, my staff person unintentionally misspoke" (Joe Henderson, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/24). FL Senator Bob Graham said yesterday that Warner's "episode demonstrates the need to lift the antitrust exemption, so baseball can't act like a 'cartel' and use promises of teams to protect its interests in Congress" (Topkin & Dahl, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/24). CNN's Bob Lorenz said the MLB Expansion Committee also denied the report Northern VA had been promised a team in exchange for Warner's vote ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 2/23). MACK SAYS EXPANSION CLOSE: FL Senator Connie Mack said yesterday that he believes the Tampa Bay area will receive an expansion team. Mack: "My conversations with representatives of Major League Baseball lead me to conclude we're going to be happy with their announcement on expansion." Two expansion teams could be rewarded at a March 7-9 owners meeting in Palm Beach, FL (Topkin & Dahl, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/24). USA TODAY's Hal Bodley reports owners have decided to give Phoenix and St. Petersburg teams for '98, but are wrestling with the cost of entry and how TV and licencing revenue will be distributed to the new clubs (USA TODAY, 2/24). Unofficially, the top two vote getters among the 7,000 names submitted in Tampa Bay's name-the- team contest are Tampa Bay Pelicans and Tampa Bay Manatees. Majority Owner Vince Namoli and minority owners will have the final say on a name (Bob Chick, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 2/24).