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SBD/October 9, 2012/FranchisesPrint All
The A's yesterday announced the "tarps that cover most of the third deck at the Coliseum won't be lifted for Tuesday night's game, or any game the A's might play in the American League Division Series," according to Pashelka & Lefkow of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. A sellout crowd of 36,067 is expected for tonight's Game 3 -- the first playoff game in Oakland since '06 -- but "no more seats will be made available in the event of a Game 4 or Game 5." A’s VP/Broadcasting & Communications Ken Pries said, "Our feeling is that we hate to open it up and have maybe 2,000-3,000 people sit people up there." Pries said that the team "will make a decision in the next few days whether to remove the tarps for the league championship series should the A's advance." He also wrote in an e-mail that the team "would remove the tarps if the A's reach the World Series." Much of the third deck has been "tarped off since 2006 for A's games because of low attendance." But "public pressure to remove the tarps began growing last week during the final series of the regular season against the Texas Rangers, which the A's swept to win the A.L. West title." As of yesterday afternoon, "every available seat for Game 3 had been sold." Some tickets "remained available for Game 4" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/9).
FROM THE OWNER'S BOX: In a Q&A with MLB.com's Barry Bloom, Owner Lew Wolff said it was "too late" to remove the tarp for today's game and there are "plenty of tickets left for Wednesday and Thursday if the games are played. If the fan interest was so large and pent up, which is not in evidence, those games would be all sold out by now. And while, I believe, games for all the other playoff teams are sold out, we have plenty of tickets available in case anyone is interested." Wolff said of extending the lease at the O.co Coliseum, "Whether we move or not, we would like to get another few years on our lease there. We're working on it. We have one more season to go." Wolff said of building a new stadium, "I better not comment on that. But any stadium anywhere would take three or four years to pull together." Wolff, when asked whether a new Oakland facility was a "dead issue," said, "We don't have any real options to build a new stadium there" (MLB.com, 10/7).
HERE WE GO AGAIN: The A's run to the postseason was profiled on last night’s edition of CBS’ “Evening News,” with CBS’ Jim Axelrod noting the club is the “poorest team in Major League Baseball with a roster stocked with rookies and low-paid veterans pulled off the junk heap.” A’s GM Bille Beane said, “Most people, I think, predicted not only would we lose 100, maybe 110 (games), so this has been satisfying.” Axelrod said, “If what General Manager Billy Beane has done sounds like a Hollywood story, well, it already was.” Axelrod was referring the Brad Pitt film “Moneyball” which was based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling book. Beane noted, “You essentially have to have players whose performance is better than what we're paying them.” Axelrod noted the A’s won 94 games this year with a $55M payroll while the Yankees won 95 games with a $200M payroll, so Beane "is now living a real-life sequel” (“Evening News,” CBS, 10/8).
The NFL Jets' 2-3 start to the '12 season "has prompted a fire sale on the secondary market by brokers and season-ticket holders desperate to get rid of their seats for the final four home games, starting Sunday against Andrew Luck and the rebuilding Colts," according to Bart Hubbuch of the N.Y. POST. TiqIQ Dir of Data & Communications Chris Matcovich said that more than "18,000 tickets in 82,500-seat MetLife Stadium are currently for resale at rock-bottom prices for each of the Jets’ last three home dates, including a Thanksgiving night showdown against the rival Patriots." The team denied a report that "12,000 tickets were unsold for last night's matchup with the Texans, but it's clear that good seats -- a lot of them -- are still available for the rest of the season." More than 10,000 seats are for resale for the game Sunday against the Colts, and "their asking price has continued to plummet since the Jets’ embarrassing 34-0 home rout at the hands of the 49ers on Sept. 30." Matcovich said that tickets for the Colts game "are available from secondary sources for as little as $14 each." Ticket industry sources said that it "was their understanding the Jets have more than 10,000 tickets available for each game that they weren't able to sell to brokers or in season-ticket packages to fans" (N.Y. POST, 10/9).
CRASH LANDING: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reported the Jets this past offseason "lowered the cheapest ticket prices in the stadium." Prices of some seats "dropped from $105 to $75 or $50, depending on the row," and those who had tickets in the end zone or in the corners of the stadium "saw their prices drop from $95 to $75 or $50." The Jets "got people to bite on some of those tickets that they were having trouble selling." But by looking at the resale market, the "leading indicator of future ticket price health, things don’t look optimistic for next season." The average resale of a Jets ticket this season "has been $149 on NFL Ticket Exchange," which is "down from $180 last season." As of yesterday at noon ET, there were "more than 1,250 [tickets] selling for less than $50, the cheapest face value in the stadium" for the Texans-Jets game. There were "nearly 500 seats selling for $25 or less," which is a "significant amount of seats, even taking into account that Monday sometimes doesn't have the same draw as a Sunday game" (ESPN.com, 10/8).
In a "good-will gesture to fans who suffered through the worst Red Sox season in decades, the team opened up Fenway over the holiday weekend to season-ticket holders, giving diehard fans a chance to sit in the dugout, snap pictures in the clubhouse, and take aim at the Green Monster," according to Peter Schworm of the BOSTON GLOBE. It was the "first time the team has held the three-day open house, and fans were well aware the timing was no coincidence." Frustration is "running high, forcing the team into the unfamiliar position of having to appease its loyalest fans." The Red Sox said that "2,000 season-ticket holders -- out of about 22,000 -- had signed up for the family-oriented event." With the team "far from contention, the Red Sox began planning the open house in mid-September." Red Sox Corporate Communications Dir Zineb Curran said, "It was a unique situation. It was the first time in many years we knew there would be no games in October." Curran said that the offer "was meant as a token of appreciation for the fans’ support during a 'very disappointing' year." Fans said that the event "would not affect their decision to renew their tickets either way, but they appreciated the gesture" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/9).
POWER STRUGGLE SOLVED? In Providence, Brian MacPherson wrote Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is "as empowered as he has ever been." If it "wasn't Cherington's team before, it's Cherington's team now -- and with all the responsibilities thereof." Since the departure of former GM Theo Epstein, "perception has persisted" that Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino had "taken on a greater role" with the team. As a result, it was believed that Cherington "didn't have the autonomy Epstein had." This offseason, the Red Sox "are making sure everyone knows Cherington is empowered to run the team." A "cynic might wonder where that confidence comes from." Like recently dismissed manager Bobby Valentine, Cherington "hardly had a banner first year as the Red Sox general manager" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 10/6). In Massachusetts, Christopher Smith writes issues of "power and chain of command became a huge reason why" the Red Sox went 69-93, "why players ended up going behind Valentine's back to ownership to hold [a] team meeting regarding Valentine and why Alfredo Aceves demanded a meeting with Cherington when he lost his closer job" (North Andover EAGLE-TRIBUNE, 10/9).
MLS Chivas USA fans on Sunday “endured their own personal hell yet again” as the 8-year-old franchise was “stumbling to the conclusion of yet another wretched season,” according to Nick Green of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Sunday’s crowd of “just over 13,000 fans” for the FC Dallas-Chivas USA game was “still the largest crowd to watch the team since mid-July, not including a visit by vastly more popular crosstown rival the Galaxy.” Chivas USA management has “seemingly alienated virtually every segment of its fan base outside the hundreds of children who increasingly are the dominant demographic group in attendance, presumably on free or heavily discounted tickets.” A “canned statement aside,” Chivas USA officials have said “virtually nothing about the pending purchase of the 50 percent of the franchise" Liga MX club Chivas de Guadalajara Owner Jorge Vergara did not previously own. Many fans are “questioning the very existence in its current form of the worst basket case in MLS (similarly hapless Toronto hasn't been around long enough to earn that title yet) and arguably the most inept in domestic professional sport.” Fans are “not optimistic anything will radically change under the sole ownership of Vergara, especially since he has bigger problems back home with a pretty bad Guadalajara team playing in a brand-new, largely empty suburban stadium.” Many diehards are “holding off renewing their season tickets waiting to see whether Vergara delivers heaven or simply more soccer hell on earth” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/9).
Indians GM Chris Antonetti and new manager Terry Francona “would not comment on a Tweet" by ESPN's Buster Olney that Francona's four-year deal “includes out-clauses in case some of his superiors are fired,” according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Antonetti yesterday wrote in a tweet, “I'm not divulging additional details of the contract." Francona said that the “main reason he took the job was to work with” Indians President Mark Shapiro and Antonetti. Both men have been “coming under increased public and media criticism for their running of the club” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/9). In a separate piece, Hoynes notes Francona’s contract is “one of the longest ever given to a new Tribe manager.” Francona’s relationship with Shapiro and Antonetti was “forged when he worked with them as a special assistant to the baseball operations department” in ’01. Hoynes writes there are “rumblings that Francona would have never signed here unless he received a guarantee from CEO Paul Dolan that there would be an increase in the team's $64 million payroll.” Francona agreed that a “big payroll can cover a lot of bad decisions.” He said the main reason he asked for a four-year deal is he does not "want to be a rental manager.” Francona: “It's not so much that I came in worried, but I want to be part of the solution. I want to stick around” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/9). CBSSPORTS.com’s Scott Miller wrote Francona “surely didn't come cheaply, and he surely didn't come without soliciting a promise from owner Paul Dolan, whom Indians fans rightfully are ready to send into Lake Erie in a rowboat with no oars.” Miller: “The guess here is, that Francona agreed to take over in Cleveland if Dolan agreed to shake more change loose from his pockets.” The Indians “ranked 21st in the majors on opening day with a $78 million payroll, and 29th in the majors at season's end in attendance” (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/6).
TITO TEARS: Francona said that he “got choked up” when “calling to tell his father the contract was signed.” Francona: “I kind of cried a little bit. I didn’t want to, but it just happened. You can’t take a job because your dad was a good Indian. But it’s still a good story.” Francona said that he “learned a lot" at ESPN and that he talked “about burnout” with former Buccaneers coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/9).
UPHILL BATTLE: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian wrote Antonetti “made sure Francona understood the challenges faced in Cleveland.” Antonetti said, "I just wanted to make sure I was very candid and honest. Terry's words were, 'I'm all in.'" Francona “found it surprising that -- given his resume and the possible managerial roles opening this offseason -- so many people asked him why he would accept the job in Cleveland.” Francona: "I did get asked that a lot. It was, 'What are you doing? Why don't you wait for a team that's guaranteed, almost?' That really did surprise me” (MLB.com, 10/8). In Cleveland, Bill Livingston wrote, “If the Indians are going to contend again soon, they'll have to do it with mirrors.” Shapiro and Antonetti, while “working in handcuffs with a low payroll,” have “made some terrible talent misjudgments, from the return on trades of Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee to the gamble on Ubaldo Jimenez.” Livingston: “Wouldn't Francona have had some guarantees of a higher payroll, if not of better talent judgment, before he signed a four-year contract?” Francona said, "That wasn't one of the questions. We're going to work together and figure out how to tackle challenges. I don't need to be the general manager, or the owner. I'm perfectly content being the manager. I don't know what the payroll is." Livingston noted the “answer is just under $66.5 million, 24th of the 30 major-league teams” (CLEVELAND.com, 10/8).