SBD/Issue 151/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: Red Sox Fighting For Fans In Connecticut

In Hartford, Dom Amore noted Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino Friday spoke to a small group in the city to "begin what the team is calling a 'Listening Tour' to all the New England states." Lucchino said Connecticut is the "one state in New England we don't have to ourselves." Lucchino: "There is a small slice of Western Vermont where there are some Yankees fans. But Connecticut is definitely a border state." Amore noted the eastern half of Connecticut is "mostly Red Sox" supporters, while Fairfield County outside of N.Y. "has more Yankees fans." Lucchino "mentioned New Haven as an area where there are fans to be won." Lucchino: "I know the 'empire' is trying to extend it's tentacles into Connecticut" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/18).

MLBPA Approves Pirates' Budget-
Conscious Strategy For Rebuilding Team

GRUDGING APPROVAL: In Pittsburgh, Rob Biertempfel noted the Pirates' Opening Day payroll of $34.9M was the "lowest in the majors," but MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner yesterday "gave grudging approval of the Pirates' budget-conscious strategy for rebuilding the team." Weiner: "Are we happy with the current state of the Pirates' payroll? Of course we'd like to see it higher. ... But, to date, we have been convinced the Pirates have a plan." Weiner said PNC Park is "as beautiful a ballpark as there is in the major leagues," and added the Pirates have a "phenomenal fan base and history." Weiner: "(Ownership has) a plan in place, so we'll continue to monitor it. We've been satisfied so far." Meanwhile, with the current CBA expiring after the '11 season, Weiner said he expects negotiations to begin "no later than next spring." Biertempfel notes topics "on the table likely include realignment, increased drug testing and an international draft" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/20).

WINNING THE PERFECT CURE: A crowd of 10,314 attended yesterday's Royals-Blue Jays game, “the smallest crowd ever at the Rogers Centre.” The previous low of 10,619 was set last week against the White Sox (TORONTO STAR, 4/20). Chicago Sun-Times White Sox beat writer Joe Cowley last week suggested that baseball in Toronto "is dead," but the TORONTO STAR's Richard Griffin wrote Cowley is "dead wrong." Griffin: "Baseball in Toronto and Canada is not dead. It's sleeping. Baseball attendance is not an obligation, it's a choice. Build a winner and they will come." Blue Jays management, "to its credit, at last understands that basic concept of being a sports fan of any pro team other than" the Maple Leafs. Griffin: "The fans are simply demanding more than they've received for eight years. It's their right" (TORONTO STAR, 4/18).

TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT? In L.A., Bill Plaschke wrote Dodger Stadium "contained little of the usual Giants-Dodgers fever" for Saturday's game between the two teams. The Dodgers drew 44,734 fans for the game, but Plaschke wrote he has "never seen so many empty seats for this rivalry." Plaschke: "The number of people in Bleacher Beach could have gathered around a fire pit." Dodgers manager Joe Torre has "kept the possible effects of the McCourt divorce away from the field," but the series against the Giants marked the "first time in several years" that the Dodgers played an NL West team that is spending more money than they (L.A. TIMES, 4/18).

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