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SBD/Issue 85/FranchisesPrint All
McCourt Assures Dodgers Fans
He Will Retain Control Of Franchise
Johnson Is First Marlins Pitcher To
Sign Long-Term Contract Since '02
SUNNY SKIES AHEAD? In West Palm Beach, Greg Stoda notes perhaps the Johnson extension is a "sign of things to come, with a new stadium set to open in 2012." It would be "fun to see what" Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest "could build if Florida were to nudge" last season's $36.8M payroll just a little higher. Stoda: "It's a waste to shackle Beinfest's genius with such strict economic constraints" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/15).
Arenas Has Four Years, $80M
Left On Contract After '09-10
POTENTIAL FALLOUT: ESPN.com's J.A. Adande said a guilty felony plea or conviction for Arenas "certainly changes the landscape" of whether the Wizards can void his remaining contract. Adande: "There's a clause in the standard player contract that allows for termination based on moral turpitude. That can be a very vague term. However, felony is very specific. No one doubts the meaning of that" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/15). The Washington Post's Michael Lee said if Arenas is charged and convicted of a felony, the Wizards "have all the rights to go after" voiding Arenas' contract. Lee: "If he pleads down to a misdemeanor, then there is no way they can go after his contract." The Post's Mike Wise: "This is business, and if Ernie Grunfeld is going to work for Ted Leonsis in the future -- if Ted Leonsis gets this team -- he needs to be rid of that contract" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 1/14). An NBPA source "vowed to fight any attempt to terminate the contract," but ESPN.com's J.A. Adande reported there are "indications the rank and file would not feel the need to rally around this cause." Would the Arenas case, in which he was "clearly in the wrong in many eyes, be worth winning at the expense of weakening the players' position down the road?" (ESPN.com, 1/14). Meanwhile, TNT's Charles Barkley said, "I don't want the Washington Wizards -- who are a horrible organization I might add -- to use this as a way of saving money. Gilbert should be suspended, but the notion he should he suspended for the rest of the year or kill his contract, which he has $90(M) left -- this is not a $90(M) incident" ("Inside The NBA," TNT, 1/14).
A DIVIDED LOCKER ROOM? YAHOO SPORTS' Adrian Wojnarowski reports this case has "polarized the Wizards' locker room -- pitting the front office and players against each other -- and an unprecedented fight to terminate Arenas' contract could unravel the franchise." A source said, "If they try to terminate his contract and fail, they're in big trouble." Wojnarowski writes the Wizards "marketed and made money on the clown persona that ultimately got Arenas an indefinite suspension by NBA commissioner David Stern, and they don't deserve the salary-cap relief that voiding his contract would give them." The Wizards' organization "isn't a victim of Arenas' recklessness, but a co-conspirator" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/15). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said to "PTI" co-host Michael Wilbon, "You argued -- and I thought rather persuasively -- that to this point the punishment was much worse than the crime. They're taking down his picture, they're not selling his jersey, so on and so forth." Wilbon: "When you're talking about scrubbing someone's face and name from history, I think that ridicule is a little over the top, even for this" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/14).
Jets' Playoff Run Helping Them To Accelerate
Their Marketing Before New Stadium Opens
CLEANING HOUSE: In Cleveland, Tony Grossi reports "at least six" Browns staffers have been fired as new President Mike Holmgren "fulfilled his promise to make changes." The "entire pro personnel department" of Steve Sabo, Keith O'Quinn, Jim Jauch and James Kirkland was "wiped out" by new GM Tom Heckert. The "sweep of the pro department might set up the arrival" of Seahawks Dir of Pro Personnel Will Lewis, who has a "long relationship with Holmgren." Assistant trainers Danny Long and James Williams also "were let go," and "more changes are expected -- some in high places -- as Holmgren streamlines the organization" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/15).
SEARCH PARTY: In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette reports the Seahawks "have narrowed their search for a general manager to two men," Steelers Business & Football Administration Coordinator Omar Khan and Patriots Senior Football Advisor Floyd Reese. Reese served as Titans GM from '94-06 (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/15). NFL.com's Jason La Canfora reported sources as saying that Reese "already has had contact with Seahawks owner Paul Allen." Reese has "worked with new coach Pete Carroll in the past and has deep roots with him," and the other candidates for the position "believe Reese will get the job" (NFL.com, 1/14).
WAITING IN THE WINGS: SI.com's Don Banks wrote when Ravens Dir of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta "declined to interview for the Seahawks general manager job last week, it was a clear indication that he has emerged as the obvious heir apparent" to longtime Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. There is "no timetable for Newsome's departure from the organization," but "in the coming weeks, look for Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti to make the line of succession official in terms of the Ravens' general manager position" (SI.com, 1/12).
Mets Seeking Legal Advice
Regarding Beltran's Surgery
READY FOR SOME FUTBOL: In Philadelphia, Jeff Gammage notes the crowd at Thursday's MLS SuperDraft at the city's Convention Center was "standing-room-only, with dozens more fans watching on monitors set up on the concourse." The expansion Philadelphia Union had "at least 200 Union supporters who rocked the ballroom," and team CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said, "Another landmark day to building the team. Philly has gone from zero to a hundred miles per hour in the soccer world." Sakiewicz earlier this week noted that team has "sold about 9,000 season tickets" at their 18,500-seat Chester stadium, and the "highest-priced sideline seats are sold out" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/15).
WHERE'S THE LOVE? In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen notes the Bobcats are 14-4 at Time Warner Cable Arena this season, but there were only about 7,500 fans in attendance Tuesday night for the team's "thrilling comeback victory" over the Rockets. The Bobcats are "tough to ignore," putting out an "entertaining, sound and solid" product. They have a "tremendous opportunity to upgrade their profile this weekend" with home games against the Spurs and Suns. The Bobcats through Thursday have won five consecutive home games, and it will be "interesting to see what we talk about if they somehow make it seven" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/15).
MATCH FIT? In London, Wallace & Fleming report Serie A club Cagliari Owner Massimo Cellino has been "identified as one of the frontrunners" to buy EPL club West Ham United, but he will "have to pass the league's 'fit and proper person test' if he is to be allowed" to buy the franchise. Cellino and his sister Lucina from '96-'00 "fought a high-profile case against charges that they defrauded the European Union over a contract to ship grain to developing countries." The case effectively ended in a plea bargain, but the "complex nature of the trial's conclusion would mean that the Premier League would have to seek legal advice to decide whether Cellino" should be allowed to acquire West Ham (London INDEPENDENT, 1/15).