SBD/Issue 204/Leagues & Governing Bodies

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  • MLB, FBI Investigating Nats Personnel About Financial Scandal

    FBI, MLB Investigating Bowden's
    Role In Financial Scandal
    The FBI and MLB are investigating Nationals GM Jim Bowden and Special Assistant Jose Rijo for their "possible roles in a growing financial scandal involving the signing of players from the Dominican Republic," according to sources cited by Fainaru-Wada & Quinn of ESPN.com. Numerous MLB employees in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic are "under suspicion in the probe, which allegedly involved the skimming of signing money allocated for Dominican prospects." Sources said that "anyone implicated could face felony fraud charges." League sources said that while FBI and MLB investigators "have been speaking to numerous officials," Bowden and Rijo were "among those specifically under investigation for their suspected involvement." One MLB official said that the "investigation was 'in its infancy' and involved allegations about several teams and their employees." It is unclear whether Bowden and Rijo are "suspected of receiving money or whether they are believed to have played some other role in the scheme." Bowden said that neither the FBI nor MLB has told him that he is "suspected of taking part in the scheme or in any way suspected of wrongdoing." He added that he was "never asked about his own activities, and denied having any role in the scandal." Bowden: "We completely support trying to clean up the problems that have taken place, but there's no truth to any involvement regarding anyone here" (ESPN.com, 7/12).

    SHORT-CHANGED? SI.com's Melissa Segura cited sources who said that the Nationals' '06 signing of 16-year-old Dominican SS Esmailyn Gonzalez is a "focus of the probe." Gonzalez signed for a reported $1.4M bonus, but sources estimated that Gonzalez "received a small fraction of that." But Gonzalez through a translator said that he "received the entire sum he signed for." Gonzalez: "The people I trusted didn't cheat me. They gave me all that I needed." Segura reported Bowden is the "highest-ranking baseball official currently under investigation, but all 30 teams are being examined" (SI.com, 7/12). In DC, Chico Harlan noted Bowden is the first MLB GM to "make his involvement public." Rijo, "per request, will meet with investigators when he returns from the Dominican Republic in several weeks" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13).

    COOPERATING: Bowden said of his involvement in the investigation, "There's no wrongdoing. We've met with FBI investigators. There are many people throughout baseball that are going to be talking with the FBI and [MLB] trying to help get all the information out there for the problems that exist [in the Dominican Republic]. We're there to help. But at no time when I met with the FBI were the questions revolving around myself or Jose Rijo." Bowden added, "I don't want to say anything to interrupt the investigation, but we're as clean as a whistle. I guarantee you. We're as clean as Irish Spring soap" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12). Bowden: "Myself, the entire Nationals organization, and I would assume all 29 (other) clubs are going to cooperate fully with the investigation that's going on" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/12). Nationals President Stan Kasten said, "I'm not going to talk about specific innuendos or allegations or rumors. That wouldn't be fair." Kasten declined to give details on MLB's investigation (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/13). Kasten added, "I couldn't be more supportive of the effort to make sure that everybody is living by the rules. ... We want things found out. We want things on the up and up. That's of the utmost importance to us" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13).

    Dominican Newspaper Claiming Cabrera Only
    Received Portion Of His Signing Bonus In '01
    WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN: In N.Y., O'Keeffe, Thompson & Red cited sources who said the investigation also includes Yankees scouts. A report from Dominican newspaper El Caribe indicated that Yankees CF Melky Cabrera is "in the middle of the controversy," claiming that he "received only a portion of the reported $175,000 bonus he got in 2001 after signing as an amateur free agent." An MLB scout said that "'big names' would soon surface" as part of the probe." O'Keeffe, Thompson & Red wrote if the "suspicions are true, it could snowball into a major headache for MLB as it tries to improve the practices of signing players from talent-rich Latin America" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/13).

    MORE SCOUTS IN TROUBLE: SI.com's Jon Heyman cited sources who said that the Orioles earlier this month fired scout Alan Marr after MLB's newly formed investigative unit "tied his name to sports betting." The sources added that "more scouts could soon be named as well." One MLB exec said, "A lot of people are sweating out there" (SI.com, 7/11). In Baltimore, Barker, Connolly & Kubatko cited sources who reported that the Orioles fired Marr "after seeking legal advice on how to proceed" (Baltimore SUN, 7/12).

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  • Predators' Radulov Signs With KHL Team, Violating Leagues' Truce

    Predators' Radulov Inks
    Deal With KHL Team
    Predators RW Alexander Radulov last week signed with a team in Russia's Continental Hockey League (KHL) despite having a "year left on his contract with the Predators," marking a "violation of the detente brokered" last week between the NHL and the IIHL, according to Kevin McGran of the TORONTO STAR. The organizations last Thursday "agreed to continue not to poach players under contract while all parties ... worked toward a international player transfer agreement." IIHF Media Relations Dir Szymon Szemberg said IIHF President Rene Fasel has "informed the KHL that a signing of [a] player under contract is in blatant contradiction to the agreement." Szemberg: "The IIHF will urge the KHL to void the contract between the player and the KHL club." Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Radulov said that the offer is "better than the $984,000 he would be paid" by the Predators next season (TORONTO STAR, 7/12). KHL President Alexander Medvedev said that the new agreement "did not apply to Radulov's situation because it has not yet been signed by the respective parties." In Nashville, John Glennon cites Radulov's agent Jay Grossman as saying that Radulov had signed a three-year, $13M deal with KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/14). SI.com's Allan Muir cited Grossman as saying the three-year deal is worth $23-24M. Muir reported Radulov signed the deal with Salavat last Tuesday, two days "before the new agreement was brokered." The Predators "likely will suspend Radulov ... taking his salary off the books and freeing up some cap space." The team also "may decide to pursue retention of his services through the courts." And based on previous statements by Fasel, Radulov is "likely to be suspended from international play for anywhere from two to four years" (SI.com, 7/11).

    POSSIBLE ROADBLOCK TO AGREEMENT: The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek noted if Radulov is "permitted to leave for the start of the 08-09 season, that would represent a significant hitch in attempts to negotiate a new transfer agreement." Radulov's departure "would be a setback -- [on] a small level, for the [NHL] as a whole; on a larger scale, for" the Predators (GLOBESPORTS.com, 7/11).

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  • Living The Dream: CNBC's Cramer Talks Money With NASCAR Drivers

    CNBC's Cramer Talks With NASCAR Drivers
    During Show From Lowe's Motor Speedway
    NBC last night aired “The American Dream With Jim Cramer,” which featured CNBC’s Jim Cramer talking money with NASCAR drivers Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears. The episode was filmed in May at Lowe’s Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend. Cramer: “The hordes of fans making their pilgrimage to their most beloved tracks to see their favorite (NASCAR) drivers race 180(mph) represent the best cross-section of real America there is to find.” Cramer went around the track and garage areas talking about the positives of various team and NASCAR sponsors and the possible investment opportunities of each. Cramer said of Target, which sponsors the No. 41 Sprint Cup Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson: “Maybe you need a retailer in your portfolio. Look no further than NASCAR.” Cramer: “One of the reasons that I came to the unbelievable venue that is NASCAR is that there are brands everywhere and what I try to tell people is, ‘Find a brand, find a driver, get comfortable, do the homework.’”

    Edwards Hits Up Cramer For Some
    Investment Advice During Appearance
    DRIVING YOUR MONEY: Edwards told Cramer, “I need to understand where this marketplace is going. I think I’m like a lot of folks. I don’t know where to put my money.” Cramer: “I know right now is not a great time. When things aren’t great, I’m a buyer.” Cramer told Johnson, “I see a spirit of optimism here that I wish I saw in the rest of America.” Johnson: “If you really look at the exposure that corporate America gets from our racing … it’s a strong sport and our fans have shown time and time again that they’re brand loyal, and even in tough markets you have major corporations sticking it out. They won’t cut out their NASCAR programs.” Johnson said he “takes a lot of risk in my daily job so my portfolio is really conservative.” Cramer: “That’s a little more conservative than I want for people because you have some money coming in, but you’re doing it right.” Burton: “The smart young drivers put away (money) first, then play later” ("The American Dream With Jim Cramer,” NBC, 7/13). Cramer said “even the drivers needed education” on investing, adding, “We get people started in a way that will keep them from being poor first before we try to get them rich.” Cramer said “most of (the drivers) are too conservative” with their investments (“Today,” NBC, 7/13).

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  • League Notes

    In a special to the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Dave Zirin writes despite efforts to improve its image, NASCAR is "still a sport where racism thrives below the surface, and sexism … is as much a part of the scenery as the Stars and Bars." Zirin: "NASCAR is in danger of being crushed by this contradiction. It’s attempting to reach an international audience while displaying the worst kind of backward provincialism.” The $225M racial and sexual harassment suit filed by former NASCAR technical inspector Mauricia Grant “could destroy NASCAR, or at the very least, put it in permanent marketing purgatory. Ironically the person perhaps best-equipped to save NASCAR from itself” is Grant, whose “love of motorsports is so intense, so pure, that she can separate the beauty of the sport from the ugly underbelly desperately clinging to its wheels” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/14).

     
    LOB & VOLLEY: USTA Chief Exec of Professional Tennis Arlen Kantarian, in a Q&A with USA TODAY, said of the U.S. Open Series, which begins today, “As much as anything, the series has brought the sport together with three governing bodies, 10 tournaments, three TV networks and seven sponsors working together to lift the sport. Since the launch of the series, television viewership has doubled, attendance is up and new corporate sponsors have bought into the sport.” Kantarian added, “We’ve needed a consistent summer event calendar that works for the players, the tournaments, our TV partners and sponsors. And with the help of the tours and the tournaments, that’s now in place for 2009 and beyond” (USA TODAY, 7/14).

    WILD RIDE: In St. Louis, Kathleen Nelson wrote a "good week for the U.S. teams in the Tour de France was marred Friday" after Manuel Beltran, a former member of the U.S. Postal/Discovery team, tested positive for EPO. Beltran is the fourth former teammate of Lance Armstrong to test positive, joining Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis and Roberto Heras (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/12).

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