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Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, on the five-game suspension handed down to Yankees P Mike Stanton by AL President Dr. Gene Budig after Stanton hit Orioles Eric Davis with a pitch in Tuesday's game: "I respect [Budig's] position. Whether he is the right man for the job ... I like Budig, he is a nice man. He is an educator with a briefcase. I don't know if there is a jockstrap in there, but he has a briefcase" (N.Y. POST, 6/18)....WNBA President Val Ackerman is profiled by Athelia Knight of the WASHINGTON POST under the header, "Her League On The Rise, Ackerman's Having A Ball" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/18). Also in DC, Thomas Heath examines the WNBA and its marketing partnerships. WNBA Exec VP & CMO Rick Welts, on the league's partners: "What speaks more about where women's sports are is the list of companies who bought in. These are mainstream sports advertisers who believe they are reaching a very mainstream sports audience. One of the benefits is that they have passionate female consumers" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/18).
A "moratorium resembling a no-lockout, no-strike pledged was discussed" Wednesday during an NBA collective bargaining session as a way to reinstate the 12 players who were removed from the U.S. World Championship team, according to an AP report by Chris Sheridan in the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. Sources told Sheridan that a "moratorium extending into mid-summer ... was discussed in broad terms," which would allow for the return of the 12 players. After meeting yesterday, the league and the union agreed to meet again "early next week" (AP/SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/18). DREAM TEAM TURNED INTO NIGHTMARE: In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes, "Caught in the crossfire of a labor war between the NBA and the league's players, the Dream Team is dying. Let it fade away. The Dream Team, a tired concept, has a duty to die. ... Good. No more Dream Team means no more stars wrapping themselves in Old Glory for corporate gain. No more pampered athletes" (DENVER POST, 6/18). NEXT PLEASE: In L.A., Greg Johnson surveys sports execs who say that the NBA "will be hard-pressed to crown an heir apparent when Air Jordan grounds himself." Rick Burton, Dir of the Warsaw Sports Marketing School at the Univ. of OR: "Hero appreciation is driven by superhuman performance, and now to be a hero you have to be a champion to the level that Jordan has set the bar at." DC-based attorney Lon Babby, who represents Grant Hill and Tim Duncan: "You're never going to duplicate Michael Jordan, because he's a once-in-a- lifetime phenomenon. And I don't think anyone is seriously aspiring to duplicate him. But there is an opportunity out there for someone who can be the next iteration of an important spokesperson for the league" (L.A. TIMES, 6/18).
Bud Selig, who has served as MLB's acting commissioner for nearly six years, "has decided to accept the job" on a permanent basis, according to Murray Chass of the N.Y. TIMES. Chass' piece was teased on the front page of the paper and featured above the fold in the Sports section. Two sources, one a "high-ranking" MLB official and one who "is not in baseball but has close contacts with people in the sport's hierarchy," said that an official announcement "could be made by" the All-Star Game on July 7. One owner said the announcement "could be coming in two to four weeks." Chass writes that the naming of Selig as commissioner "should surprise no one," and that despite his statements of non-interest, "[o]verwhelming support from owners for him to take the job made it possible for him to agree to take it." Several sources said that "only two or three" owners were opposed to Selig taking the post. All of Chass' sources named White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf as one who opposed the appointment. Giants Owner Peter Magowan and the Cubs' Tribune Co. were also named as being opposed to the Selig appointment (N.Y. TIMES, 6/18). NOT EVERYONE'S BUD? Chass writes that "[o]ne problem" Selig might have is "public acceptance," since he was the "face that fans saw" throughout the '94-'95 strike. Another possible problem may be management's relations with the MLBPA, as the relationship between Selig and MLBPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr "deteriorated badly" during the labor dispute, "reaching the point where Fehr didn't even want to talk to Selig." Selig's acceptance of the post has prompted some in MLB to "question whether he was really sincere in his repeated insistence that he didn't want" it. One senior club exec said he thought "the whole thing was orchestrated. [Selig] was telling a small group of people from day one he wanted it but told everyone else he didn't" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/18). Selig, asked about the report by Tom Haudricourt in WI said, "There's always been a great deal of speculation on this matter, but at this point in time I can assure you there is nothing definitive" (JOURNAL-SENTINEL, 6/18).