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Testimony was heard yesterday from Raiders Owner Al Davis in the $130M antitrust suit filed by the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission against the NFL, according to William Lhotka of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Davis described the NFL's dealings during the team's relocation as "extortion," adding, "It wasn't until St. Louis came up with a lot more money that the deal to St. Louis was approved." Davis' testimony, which was read to a jury, "contained some of the strongest comments yet against the NFL." Under cross-examination, Davis admitted the league has a right to determine the number of expansion teams and their date of entry into the league. But "he insisted the league has no authority to block an existing franchise from moving." Testimony was also heard yesterday from Cardinals Owner Bill Bidwill, who said he paid a $7.5M relocation fee when he moved his team to AZ. But he said that he had "no idea how that figure was reached." 49ers President Carmen Policy said that the Rams' relocation fee of $29M was the "result of negotiations between the Rams and the league, not from a set formula" (POST-DISPATCH, 10/23).
MLB Acting Commissioner Bud Selig met the press yesterday in Cleveland and "expressed optimism" that the low TV ratings for the '97 World Series would improve and "indicated that the game's leaders will intensify their efforts to quicken the pace of play," according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. Selig, on the TV ratings: "The problem with ratings is, everything is down. Every week I look at football ratings. Basketball, hockey -- they're all down. And (Tuesday) night was pretty good. We don't have any of the big markets in this Series. ... We started on a Saturday night, and that's a horrendous television night. NBC has been a huge winner (over the other networks) every night" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/23). Selig, after Tuesday's 14-11 Marlins win, which lasted 4 hours and 12 minutes and ended after 12:30am ET: "Am I concerned? Of course. But change in this business is very, very difficult. Even when it makes all the sense in the world." More Selig: "That was a game that was terribly ugly. I thought the 'Unfinished Symphony' had a better chance of finishing before that game. I mean, 25 runs and the pitchers were still falling behind every hitter. Ball One. Ball Two. Ball Three. It reminded me of watching my own team. ... What drives people crazy is watching pitchers circling the mound, waiting for a message from heaven." Selig said he will push for a shortened season which would allow the World Series to be played earlier and not face the cold temperatures that have hit Cleveland (Ken Daley, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/23). Selig, on moving the World Series to a warm-weather site: "I can't fathom that ever happening. The pace of the game is the only thing we can do something about, and we'd like to" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/23). One MLB official on moving to a neutral site: "Can you imagine this World Series being played in New Orleans or San Diego, where there is absolutely no interest in either of these two teams? You wouldn't come close to filling the stadium for a week" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/23). BUD'S LIGHTER SIDE: Selig, asked about the comments made by NBC's Don Ohlmeyer on the World Series: "Short of shooting him, what do you want me to do?" (Mult., 10/23). REAX: In Washington, Mark Maske: "This World Series ... hasn't helped baseball's recovery" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/23). In S.F., Tim Keown: "[A]t the moment of peak interest, the World Series is bringing everybody down" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/23). In N.Y., Mike Lupica: "The weather outside is frightful. So is the national pastime" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/23). Header above Tim Sullivan's column in Cincinnati: "Classic? Not by a long shot" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 10/23). In Orange County, Randy Youngman: "Let's face it, baseball has become so infuriatingly slow ... that it makes chess seem exciting by comparison" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/22). In Minnesota, Patrick Reusse: "An exceptional Series was needed to avoid embarrassing TV ratings -- to slow baseball's slide in popularity" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/23). In Philadelphia, Jim Salisbury: "Welcome to the Winter Classic" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/23). USA TODAY's Hal Bodley notes the "crucial problem" to the TV ratings is the Marlins and Indians "are not high-profile teams." He goes on to add that the average time for all '97 postseason games is 3:13, and 3:26 through the first three games of the World Series (USA TODAY, 10/22). But in Providence, Sean McAdam writes that MLB "must deal with the weight of expectations. The World Series has been so compelling, so often, that anything less than a classic Fall Classic disappoints" (Providence JOURNAL-BULLETIN, 10/23).
The NBA "has launched an investigation in an effort to determine whether a new fast-food restaurant -- called Wraptors -- is infringing on the Raptors' name, trademark and logo," according to Marty York of the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL. The new establishment, which sells healthy tortilla wraps, opened near the team's home at SkyDome and its logo features a "front view of a dinosaur with an open mouth, flashing teeth," similar to the Raptors' logo. NBA Dir of Sports Media Relations Chris Brienza said the restaurant "is not affiliated with the Raptors in any way. Its existence has just come to our attention and we intend to find out more." Wraptors Owner David Debono said he was "bothered by the whole thing because, while the name may sound the same, they're spelled differently." More Debono: "Their raptor is mean-looking. Ours has a conniving look. Heck, Barney is a dinosaur, too. The NBA could argue that Barney is infringing on them, too" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/23).