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Padres Gearing For Weekend Exhibition
Games Against Dodgers In Beijing
COVERING ALL THE BASES: The games are expected to be covered by more than 400 members of the media. Dodgers RF Matt Kemp: “I don’t think I’ve seen this much media at a baseball game other than maybe New York” (L.A. TIMES, 3/14). The games will be broadcast on Chinese TV and MLB officials have said that this “means the sport will be exposed to 700 million people” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/13). In L.A., KCAL-Ind will air Friday's contest, while FSN Prime Ticket will air Saturday's game. Channel 4 San Diego will air both games (THE DAILY).
MAKING AN INVESTMENT: In Denver, Jack Etkin wrote MLB last summer opened an office in Beijing and in August “conducted its first academy in China, a three-week session for 60 of the top-rated 12- to 15-year olds.” But what will “accelerate the growth is if MLB can duplicate the NBA’s good fortune and have a standout Chinese player come to the United States and succeed” (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/12). In San Diego, Mark Zeigler wrote MLB “wants what the [NBA] has” in China. Padres CEO Sandy Alderson: “The baseball analogy for [Rockets C] Yao Ming does not exist. He has to be created. That’s going to be up to [MLB] or Japanese baseball or some other baseball entity to develop.” The Olympics will give baseball a “further boost” in China, but government funding for the country’s national team is “expected to be slashed significantly, if not completely” with the sport being voted out of the 2012 London Olympics. However, Alderson said China remains a “tremendous commercial opportunity.” Alderson: “If you project out 50 years to the middle of the century and you talk about a global village, where does that leave sports? It’s very possible that sports will be popular in individual countries as viable businesses. But 50 years from now, I think it’s going to be all about international business” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/9).
Dodgers Looking To Establish
Brand Identity In China
CHALLENGES AHEAD: USA TODAY’s Calum MacLeod notes there are “no professional baseball players in China.” China Baseball Association Secretary-General Shen Wei said that the six-team China Baseball League, starting its sixth season next month, is “propped up by the government.” Shen: “The government must support the sport’s growth. The equipment is too expensive for many Chinese, and the game cannot be played in densely populated areas. So it is difficult to popularize baseball” (USA TODAY, 3/14). YAHOO SPORTS’ Steve Henson wrote despite MLB’s efforts, China is “clearly straddling the foul line in its commitment to baseball.” Baseball games in China “aren’t well attended, and the few folks who do buy tickets out of curiosity clap at odd times and cheer loud fouls” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/12).
WARNING SIGNS: Because of the air quality issues in Beijing, Padres strength & conditioning coach Jim Malone said the team “actually talked about, should we get (surgical) masks for guys?” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/10). Padres P Heath Bell said of Beijing, “It’s either very cloudy or very smoggy.” Alderson added, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen blue sky here.” However, Alderson said, “I don’t think it concerns us a great deal. It’s a short period of time. We’re only playing two games” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/13). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS’ Henson wrote in a separate piece the Padres have “done [their] best to nip any shenanigans in the bud, primarily by trying to frighten the players into submission.” The team has posted warnings about indoor and outdoor pollution, water pollution and the rise of sexually transmitted diseases in the country. MLB also “issued an advisory that described Beijing scams designed to part Western visitors from their money” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/12).
Stern Discusses Sonics Situation,
Image Of NBA In Fan Q&A
MORE STERN: When asked about the steps the NBA has taken to "minimize incidents or allegations of game fixing by the referees," Stern said the league is "putting in new and more sophisticated computer programming and screens, to see what irregularities pop out. We're doing new background checks, in a deeper way, on a more continual basis. We're cutting off pre-game information for the referees, once they go into the locker room. We're in the process of setting up hotlines to receive particular types of information. And we're looking into a greater group of activities, some of which I would rather not publicize, but really go to insuring our game against betting irregularities." Stern confirmed that the NBA will attempt to increase the league's minimum age to 20, and added, "We think (raising the entry age to 19) has been very constructive" (TIME.com, 3/12).
FALSE START: AAFL CEO Marcus Katz: "Our sole source of capital was my sale of my interest in the student-loan company, Goal Financial, and when the bond market froze up it dried up all of the liquidity. ... I invested [$29M] in cash to roll out the operations of the league, but the student loan company owed me a lot more money. When I told the board I would subsidize the league, that was before the bond market collapsed" (MYFOXHOUSTON.com, 3/13). Team Tennessee President Larry Seivers: "I'd be real surprised if very many people were surprised by this. It has been coming for a few weeks. ... As we go forward, there has to be absolutely no doubt and no question about what's going on next time" (KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL, 3/14). Team Florida President Wayne McDaniel: "We hope there will be an opportunity for the league and the players to showcase themselves next year if we can get adequate financial backing. We still believe in the concept" (GAINESVILLE SUN, 3/14).
DELAY OF GAME: In Birmingham, Doug Segrest notes the AAFL this week reported that it had "finalized a national television deal with an unspecified network." But "while the AAFL said the deal was crucial, it was only one step in securing additional financing." AAFL BOD member Doug Dickey: "I'm personally disappointed that we couldn't pull it together. But I think we're a victim of the financial markets, which caused a significant change in the circumstances of cash flow in our league." Meanwhile, Segrest notes "just a few months ago, the AAFL was one of two new professional football leagues eyeing Birmingham," as the United Football League (UFL) is considering the city for one of its inaugural eight franchises when it kicks off in August. But, "like the AAFL, the UFL is expected to delay its first season by a calendar year" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 3/14).
Polian Feels NFL Needs
Definitive Rookie Salary Cap
NFL Feels Goodell's New
Conduct Policy A Success
TAMPERING: In DC, Mark Maske reports Goodell, in a proposal "to crack down on cheating,'' wants the NFL's Competition Committee to look "not only at the large infractions but the comparatively minor violations as well." Goodell, in a two-page memo sent last week to the committee, instructed committee members to "review all of the league's competitive rules, including those that prohibit contact between teams and players under contract to other clubs," a rule that is "generally viewed, it appears, as a no-harm, no-foul arrangement" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/14).
Writer Calls Selig Best
Commissioner In MLB History
CHINA OR BUST: Sources said that the LPGA is "bound for China, likely at Sun Valley on Hainan Island, and it could happen late this season." GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie reports the China event would be played in October following the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic. LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens said that the Tour "would not add the event to this year's slate unless a deal is sealed before May." Bivens said the event would happen "if the staff is close enough to something and can sew it up before then." Bivens: "Otherwise we're looking for '09 or '10" (GOLFWEEK, 3/15 issue).
CACTUS LEAGUE: At the midpoint of the Cactus League's season, Cactus League Association (CLA) President J.P. de la Montaigne said that "about 550,000 fans have attended 92 games, up nearly 2[%] from the same time last year." CLA VP Robert Brinton said that league visitors are "on track to eclipse the more than 1.27 million record fans" in '05 (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/14).
FLYING THE COOP? NBCSPORTS.com's Mike Celizic wrote of Galaxy MF David Beckham's potential return to England: "The [MLS] signed this huge international star, and everybody was talking about it. And now, a year later, he wants to leave? What does that say about the MLS?" Celizic: "Celebrity is a wonderful thing for sports, but not if nobody except the game's true believers know what an athlete is famous for. And because Beckham's genius is in his ability to set up goals that are scored by others, it's hard for a non-fan to tune into a game and appreciate what he does" (NBCSPORTS.com, 3/13).