SBD/August 9, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
The ownership transition from Frank McCourt to Guggenheim Baseball Management “hasn’t been perfect,” but as Dodger Stadium celebrates its 50th anniversary, “many longtime observers say the team is primed for a resurgence,” according to a cover story by Daniel Miller of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. With CF Matt Kemp and RF Andre Ethier signed to long-term contracts and serving as the "pinup-ready faces of the organization, the team is poised to solidify its place as the West Coast’s answer to the New York Yankees.” A bidding war for TV rights “is expected between Fox Sports, which now airs games along with L.A.’s [KCAL-CBS], and Time Warner Cable, which signed the Lakers to an agreement last year that could be worth $5 billion over 25 years.” Dodgers President Stan Kasten said that the organization “enjoys a good relationship with Fox Sports, though if a deal cannot be struck, the team would ‘start talking to other people.’” Miller notes Fox will have an “exclusive 45-day negotiating period” starting Oct. 15, though sources said that "preliminary discussions already have begun.” Dodger Stadium also is in need of “changes big and small,” with the changes possibly including a “potential $100 million-plus renovation that might add more kid-friendly amenities, new restaurants and a Dodgers museum.” Meanwhile, after years of former owner Frank McCourt’s “neglect, the organization’s commitment to the on-field product has been apparent.” The team in June signed Ethier to a five-year, $85M extension, and then were "major players in the lead-up to the league’s July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline," acquiring former All-Stars CF Shane Victorino and 3B Hanley Ramirez. Dodgers announcer Vin Scully: “All the other statements were very nice -- you know, a new look. But they did something, and that has made a huge impression in the sports community in L.A. They’ve come to play, but they’ve come to win” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/17 issue).
THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER: CBSSPORTS.com’s Jon Heyman wrote everyone in MLB is watching the new Dodgers ownership "with varying parts admiration, awe and fear as the new group attempts to reinvigorate the once-proud franchise and rule the sport.” Guggenheim Baseball's outlook regarding player acquisition “is somewhat Steinbrennerian, though not any of the rest of their methods.” That combination "is proving perfect.” Attendance, "at an average of 41,357 per game," is up 12.6%. Meanwhile, "competitiveness, effort and morale (and spending) are up even more.” Heyman: “Even better, the Dodgers' payroll, driven down to a bare-bones $90 million or so to start [off] the season, already is up more than 20 percent to about $110 million. And counting” (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/7).
LISTEN AND LEARN: In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom noted the Dodgers “let it be known they were angry over what they viewed as a serious breach of ethics" by the Cubs in letting P Ryan Dempster listen in on negotiations between the Cubs and Dodgers prior to the trade deadline. The Dodgers “never approved of Dempster’s eavesdropping.” Cubs Exec VP & GM Jed Hoyer has been “denying all of it and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti supposedly got a call to that effect.” Dempster was eventually traded to the Rangers. Rosenbloom: “Credibility and integrity are in the eye and ear of the beholder." But the "appearance of credibility and integrity issues can be as bad as actual credibility and integrity issues." Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and Hoyer "seem to have a problem," as there is "a hole where their reputations used to be” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/6).
Jets Owner Woody Johnson on Tuesday made his first appearance at the team's training camp and said that he has been "surprised at the amount of media attention surrounding the franchise" since the team acquired QB Tim Tebow, according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. Johnson said, "I think the enormity of the coverage kind of surprised me a little bit. I knew there would be press, (that) there would be plenty of interest. But, even by our standards, this is pretty amazing.” Johnson did admit that he is "happy to see the Jets being on the tips of everyone’s tongues." Johnson: "We’re in a media business. We want to give our fans an insight, and the fact that they’re interested, I think, portends well for us. We’d rather have them interested, rather than apathetic and not paying attention” (N.Y. POST, 8/8). However, members of the N.Y. media were skeptical of Johnson's comments. The N.Y. Daily News’ Bruce Murray said, “This is exactly what they paid for. ... Can he really sit there and say, ‘I didn't know he'd get this kind of attention?’ Did he ever turn on ESPN last year for five seconds? This is a shock?” The N.Y. Daily News’ Anthony McCarron: “I can't believe that he said that. It's astonishing. (Tebow) was one of the biggest newsmakers in the NFL last year. If he didn't believe he would have some sort of impact on the coverage of the Jets, he’s not paying any attention.” SportsNet N.Y.'s Michelle Yu: “In the beginning when this all happened, (critics) said it was a publicity stunt to start with that the Jets are doing it, and now he's saying he’s surprised?” The N.Y. Daily News’ John Harper: “Maybe they didn't anticipate ESPN living in Cortland for what it looks like the whole month of August" ("Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 8/7). SportsNet N.Y.’s Sal Licata: "He loves this. Who is he trying to kid? This is why he got (Tebow). Woody has wanted attention since day one” (“The WheelHouse,” SportsNet N.Y. 8/7).
CSNBAYAREA.com's Paul Gutierrez noted the Raiders "have agreed" to the NFL's new 85% threshold option to televise games in their local market. The Raiders "merely" have to sell 85% of non-premium tickets to home games to avoid a blackout. The Oakland Coliseum's capacity of 63,132 is "the second-smallest in the NFL." The Raiders have "had 57 televised home games and 79 blackouts the past 17 seasons" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/8).
MEET AND GREET: In Akron, Nate Ulrich notes prospective Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III "met with first-time season-ticket holders Wednesday in the South Club VIP Lounge before the team's Family Night practice at Cleveland Browns Stadium." Haslam stood beside Browns GM Tom Heckert and "watched practice from the field Wednesday night as 19,412 fans looked on from the stands." Haslam also "chatted with Browns President Mike Holmgren in the bowels of the stadium before the practice." Before arriving at the stadium, Haslam "worked at the Browns' headquarters in Berea, meeting with staff members on the business side." Once Haslam is officially in charge, he "eventually plans to give the stadium he visited on Wednesday a makeover." He said, "We're gonna enhance the stadium, make it a better place for the fans" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/9).
THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX: CSNBAYAREA.com's Matt Maiocco noted in the 49ers in the past "have distributed season tickets like every other team in every other sport," but this year the team "tried something different." 49ers CEO Jed York wrote on Twitter that he "wanted to hear from 49ers season-ticket holders about their 'box opening experience.'" Over the past week, the 49ers "have issued a playbook of its own to season-ticket holders." It includes "a black binder 'playbook' with a letter from [coach Jim] Harbaugh, a fan guide for creating a home-field advantage and individual game tickets that contain a different theme." It also included a 10-minute DVD from NFL Films that documents the 49ers' victory over the Saints in the NFC divisional playoff. As of Tuesday, "not all season-ticket holders had received the 'playbook.'" York "promised all remaining binders were sent via priority mail and scheduled to arrive" today (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/8).
AN APPLE A DAY: In San Antonio, Tom Orsborn notes Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is "overseeing the club's digital conversion from paper playbooks to iPads." Some of the team's older assistant coaches "didn't embrace the change implemented by Global Apptitude, a software company in Baltimore that engineered a football-specific application that combines print and video." The Cowboys "purchased 144 iPads." The Ravens began the trend in '11, and since then, seven other NFL teams "have contracted with Global Apptitude," including the Cowboys, Panthers, Lions, Colts, Rams, Seahawks and Redskins (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 8/9).