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  • GAME SEVEN THRILLER SQUELCHES SOME TALK OF SLEEPER SERIES

              While much of the weekend World Series media coverage
         cast a negative pall over the state of MLB, last evening's
         historic Game Seven could recoup some of the lost glory of
         this year's Fall Classic.  In Washington, Thomas Boswell:
         "This little-loved, little-watched Series proved that, for
         those willing to watch all night and into the morning, even
         bad baseball can be a ton of fun" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/27).
         In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes Sunday's game "provided a
         Must-See finish worthy of any Fall Classic" (BOSTON GLOBE,
         10/27).  In N.Y., Harvey Araton writes that 21-year-old
         rookie starter Jaret Wright, Jim Leyland and Miriam Carreras
         -- who was granted a Visa from the Cuban government and
         watched the game at Pro Player Stadium -- "were the three
         most compelling pre-game subjects, and here you had yet
         another example of the sad state of baseball: not a single
         Nike pitch person among them" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/27).  
              TV TIME: ABC's "Nightline" examined the state of MLB
         under the title "Whatever Happened To The World Series?"  The
         discussion panel included David Halberstam, Washington Post
         columnist Michael Wilbon, Doris Kearns Goodwin, minor league
         owner Mike Veeck, Phil Rizzuto, Brandweek's Terry Lefton and
         ABC's George Will.  Asked about his interest in this year's
         Series, Halberstam said, "Marginal.  I was in Paris with
         Michael Jordan watching the Chicago Bulls when the World
         Series started, which tells you something about sports today
         and where my mind is."  Brandweek's Lefton: "Baseball's in
         trouble.  I don't see any excitement about the World Series,
         I don't see any excitement about the game among people under
         35."   ABC's Will: "The fan base is too old and too white. 
         The American pastime has not held or expanded its appeal down
         to younger people, who are much more interested in the NBA
         and the NFL, and has not managed to the degree it should
         have, to African-American or other fans."  Halberstam, on
         MLB's future: "If the people who ran it were smarter, and the
         players were taught a little bit more about how to deal with
         the media and with the fans, it would be okay.  I don't think
         it could ever be what it was in my childhood" (ABC, 10/24).
              PARTING SHOT: On ESPN's "The Sports Reporters," John
         Feinstein: "Baseball's a wounded game and the TV ratings for
         the World Series reflect that.  But before all the baseball-
         bashers run off to celebrate, a word of caution -- the [NFL]
         ... isn't exactly breaking ratings records in this season of
         mediocrity, and the only reason the ratings are as good as
         they are is force of habit.  This may not have been the most
         riveting World Series in history ... but at least the World
         Series is exciting most of the time.  When was the last time
         you were on the edge of your seat during the last five
         minutes of the Super Bowl? ... As for the NBA, remember this
         -- the day is going to come when Michael Jordan retires ...
         check the ratings then.  The point is this: baseball's a
         mess, but its problems are eminently fixable. ... I'm not so
         certain the same can be said for our other professional
         sports" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 10/26).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Chicago Bulls, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLB, NBA, NFL, Nike, Visa, Walt Disney
  • MLS ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS? FINAL PLAYED AGAIN IN DOWNPOUR

              A crowd of 57,318 attended the MLS Cup '97 at RFK
         Stadium yesterday as DC beat Colorado 2-1 in a "cold rain"
         (William Gildea, WASHINGTON POST, 10/27).  MLS also awarded
         its '98 championship game to the Rose Bowl, marking the first
         West Coast site for the game (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26).
              YEAR IN REVIEW: MLS Commissioner Doug Logan: "I can
         confidently say the terrible twos are over.  We turned three
         last week.  The MLS is here for the long run.  We are on the
         right track" (S.F. EXAMINER, 10/25).   More Logan: "In year
         two, the gods were all against us.  New York and L.A., for
         much of the season, both were in last place and neither team
         had an attractive personality.  We had a freak number of
         weather days. ... The fact that we have weathered it as well
         as we have is a good sign."  In reviewing the league's second
         season, the AP's Brian Trusdell wrote that its "drop in
         attendance and cable TV ratings was perhaps not as bad as
         some might have expected" (AP/HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/26).  In
         L.A., Grahame Jones noted that with MLS' TV deal with
         ABC/ESPN and Nike's $120M sponsorship deal with U.S. Soccer,
         American soccer "is ending on an extraordinarily high note." 
         But MLS attendance "remains troublesome," TV ratings "also
         were off," and stadiums "remain a thorny issue."  MLS had
         budgeted for a $23M operating loss in its inaugural season
         "but actually lost" $4M less than that.  This season, it will
         lose slightly more than $13M, which was expected (L.A. TIMES,
         10/26).  In Hartford, Jerry Trecker wrote that while MLS has
         demonstrated "health at the gate" and "staying power," the
         quality of play "is still well below the top national league
         standards of Europe and South America."  Trecker: "If MLS has
         already beaten the naysayers who predicted disaster, it has
         yet to win over the general sports fan or talk show host"
         (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/26)....In other news, MLS sold in first
         "high-profile" U.S. player when it reached a deal to send
         Crew goalkeeper Brad Friedel to the English League club
         Liverpool for around $1.6M (WASHINGTON POST, 10/25). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: ABC, Columbus Crew, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, MLS, Nike, Walt Disney
  • NBA, PART II: UNION/AGENTS PUT ON GLOVES OVER CBA

              At a Friday press conference, NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter
         and 12 of "the game's most influential agents" said that if
         the league reopens its CBA next year, "they will face tougher
         negotiations than they did in 1995," according to Mike Wise
         of the N.Y. TIMES.  Hunter: "We're not encouraging a
         confrontation with the N.B.A.  But the union is no longer in
         the mind set it was two years ago.  There will be unity
         between the players, the union and the agents."  The union
         wants to see an end to the rookie salary cap that was put in
         the '95 agreement.  Hunter also downplayed talk of a work
         stoppage: "Our intent is not to strike.  At least not at this
         stage" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/25).  Hunter: "The current deal has
         been a bad one for the players as a whole, and a setback. 
         The players made numerous concessions the last time.  That
         won't happen again" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/26).
              REAX: In Orlando, Tim Povtak wrote that by next July,
         the NBA "is expected to be engulfed in a messy labor/
         management battle that could leave it with deep and lasting
         scars.  By July 1, the NBA could be a mess" (ORLANDO
         SENTINEL, 10/26).  In AZ, Bob Young wrote under the header,
         "NBA Could Be Heading Toward Trouble Next Year."  Young noted
         the potential for a work stoppage: "Enjoy this NBA season.
         ... Because it could all go away next summer" (ARIZONA
         REPUBLIC, 10/26).  The AP wrote: "Time for a new slogan:  The
         NBA -- Enjoy it while it lasts."  The AP: "From all
         indications, this is the NBA's eve of destruction.  The Bulls
         are breaking up, a lockout looms, a baseball-style labor war
         is possible and the whole basketball of wax could break apart
         like a shattered backboard" (AP/STAR TRIBUNE, 10/26).  
    
    

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA
  • N.Y. TIMES REPORTS ON DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE IN THE NBA

              Marijuana and alcohol use in the NBA was examined on the
         front page of Sunday's N.Y. TIMES sports section in an above-
         the-fold feature by Selena Roberts.  Roberts writes that
         "[c]ontrary to the wholesome image marketed" by the NBA, 60-
         70% of its 350-plus players "smoke marijuana and drink
         excessively, according to conversations with more than two
         dozen players, former players, agents and basketball
         executives."  Former NBA player Richard Dumas, who is banned
         from the NBA for drug and alcohol use: "If they tested for
         pot, there would be no league."  Roberts: "Two decades ago,
         the league nearly collapsed under a perception that its
         athletes were high on cocaine.  Now, many people are saying
         the NBA's 14-year-old drug policy is so antiquated and
         ineffective that it protects players despite behavior that is
         illegal and commonplace."  Under the CBA, the league allows
         mandatory drug testing of rookies only and "does not list
         marijuana as a prohibited substance" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). 
              PARTYMEN? Players interviewed said "marijuana, drinking
         and clubs are part of a post-game party scene in almost every
         NBA city.  Cocaine, once the bane of pro basketball, has
         fallen out of favor, but a fast-paced life style has been
         thriving in a league that is increasingly richer and younger. 
         More exotic drugs are available."  NBA Commissioner David
         Stern said he has "serious questions concerning drinking and
         marijuana," and added that if owners do reopen the CBA next
         year, "the league will propose tightening the drug policy." 
         Stern: "I'm not saying it's a problem.  But it's an issue
         that we'd like to address.  Beyond that, there is an
         opportunity for athletes to lead as examples."  NBPA Exec Dir
         Billy Hunter: "I've often heard it from players that they
         suspect people in management are using drugs. ... If there is
         a marijuana problem, it's one reflective of society. ... I
         don't intend to impose on our players more than what is
         imposed on people in society."  Raptors G Damon Stoudamire:
         "As far as use, it's bad in the league, but I think half of
         America might smoke marijuana" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/26). 
    
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NBA, Toronto Raptors
  • TAGLIABUE TESTIFIES IN ST. LOUIS ON RELOCATION FEE

              NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue testified via video
         Friday in the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission's
         $130M antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, according to William
         Lhotka of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH.  Tagliabue "admitted"
         that he "refused to tell team owners before a crucial vote in
         March 1995 that the Rams were offering the league" $25M to
         relocate to St. Louis.  NFL owners voted against the move at
         that meeting, but a month later approved it after the Rams
         "agreed to pay" $46M and "had made other promises" on future
         revenue.  Tagliabue "gave a variety of reasons for refusing"
         to tell owners of the team's offer.  Commission attorney Alan
         Popkin "suggested" that Tagliabue, by not informing league
         owners, wanted to "get more money from the Rams and St.
         Louis."  In other news, Tagliabue "first denied, then
         admitted that he was the primary author of nine so-called
         relocation guidelines adopted" in '84.  He added that the
         Rams didn't meet the guidelines when their move was approved,
         "but that the owners had used their own business judgements
         as the criteria."  Tagliabue is expected to testify live when
         the NFL offers its case (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/25).
         
    

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, NFL, St. Louis Rams
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