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SBD/April 8, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Marlins President David Samson said that the franchise has already sold "well over 30,000 tickets for the home opener" today against the Braves, according to Juan Rodriguez of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Rodriguez notes depending on "walk-up sales, the final tally might not be far off the 36,601 sellout crowd at last season's inaugural game at Marlins Park." Season tickets are "down to about 5,000 due in part to the club's blueprint-scrapping, payroll-slashing winter." Yet Samson "doesn't anticipate Sun Life Stadium-like smatterings of fans, adding that the club is not in danger of drawing less than 1 million as it did in 2002 (813,111)" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/8). Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Kristi Dosh noted the Marlins' use of Groupon to sell Opening Day tickets "seems to be working." Marlins Senior VP/Marketing & Event Booking Sean Flynn said that combined with other "avenues of ticket sales ... more than 30,000 tickets had been purchased by Thursday for the home opener." He "expects a sellout or close to it" (ESPN.com, 4/5). In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis writes the Marlins are "at odds with fans" as the second season in Marlins Park begins tonight. The "anger over payroll purge," and a dispute about ad signage are among reasons fans "say they will stay away." No matter how many fans attend tonight's game, "more notable will be how many show up for the remaining 80 home games." Season-ticket sales have "dropped from just over 12,000" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/8).
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes you "really have to love baseball to watch the Marlins this year." Because this will "increasingly be the tiring question as the season moves along: What's to see at a Marlins game?" Hyde: "Winning? Watching a major-league product? Enjoying the moment offered in a pro sports event? None of that will be a tangible part of the Marlins this season" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/8). In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi notes Marlins Park will feature "several changes, including new sod to replace the turf that didn’t grow properly last year in the retractable-roof stadium." Samson said that the team has installed "special lights -- 'like an artificial sun,'" to help the grass grow. The Marlins’ bullpen will be moved "behind the right-field wall at the request of manager Mike Redmond, so that he and his coaching staff will be able to see it from their dugout along the third-base line." Last year, the Marlins’ bullpen was "behind the left-field wall next to The Clevelander bar -- a location that initially raised complaints from Marlins relievers because of loud music" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/8).
The Giants yesterday received their World Series rings “during an elegant pre-game ceremony on the infield at AT&T Park,” according to Alex Pavlovic of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The rings, made by Tiffany & Co., have “a white gold face that includes the ‘SF’ logo made out of 52 melee diamonds.” On both sides of the ring, seven “round diamonds represent the organization's seven championships.” Each ring includes “an individual player's name, uniform number and a cable car design." The rings also are "etched with a nod to the 2012 postseason victories.” Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy “helped design the ring and Tiffany sought input from Giants players” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/8). MLB.com’s Chris Haft noted Baseball HOFers Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey "received 'honorary rings.'” The Giants wore “commemorative caps, featuring gold lettering.” About 40 minutes before gametime, the rings “arrived at AT&T Park on a motorized cable car, escorted by two San Francisco police officers on motorcycles.” Fans rose “out of respect, as if the procession were a color guard” (MLB.com, 4/7).
The Orioles on Friday saluted the Ravens' Super Bowl victory with a tribute prior to their home opener, but the "friendly public moment belied a bit of unseen intrigue as several members of the Ravens organization, citing scheduling conflicts, declined to be on hand for the pregame ceremonies," according to Childs Walker of the Baltimore SUN. The absence of a Ravens rep "followed a recent standoff" between NFL and MLB officials over "scheduling of the Ravens' opener, which became a road game because of conflicts with an Orioles home date." Ravens PR Manager Patrick Gleason confirmed that the Orioles "invited several people in the Ravens organization to participate in Opening Day ceremonies." Gleason in an e-mail added, "However, due to conflicts of schedule and prior commitments for each person, unfortunately, today didn't work out." Though both sides "downplayed the issue," the absence is "sure to fuel speculation of lingering bitterness between the organizations." The Ravens did "send footage so the Orioles could compose a video tribute to the Super Bowl champions, which played before team introductions Friday along with highlights from Michael Phelps' performance at last summer's Olympics." Gleason also noted that "numerous Ravens employees planned to attend Opening Day with family members and friends" (Baltimore SUN, 4/6).
CHILL IN THE AIR: ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley wrote of the no-shows, "Maybe I'm reading too much into this, and perhaps it's a coincidence that every single one of the invited Ravens had scheduling conflicts." But it seems "strange that not one member of the Raven organization could have been present when the Orioles recognized their championship season." This "isn't the first time that there have been questions about the relationship between Baltimore's football and baseball teams" (ESPN.com, 4/6).
At the Rangers home opener on Friday against the Angels, "bad bar codes printed on tickets kept some Rangers fans from seeing the beginning of the game," according to Bill Hanna of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. The team said that "long lines did form at the gates to the ballpark itself when the barcodes on the tickets weren't being read by the electronic scanners used by ticket takers." At least 1,000 people "were waiting in line at the home plate entrance." A fan said that he "waited 45 minutes to get into the Ballpark." Fans at other gates "didn't report as long a wait, saying it took 5-10 minutes to get inside." Tailgaters this year said that the "smaller amount of tailgaters was a direct result of the Rangers telling fans they wouldn't be admitted into the parking lot without a game ticket." Last year, thousands of ticket holders "had to park a half-mile or more away because 10,000 to 20,000 people without tickets showed up just to tailgate." The new policy is "designed to prevent a repeat performance," but it "provoked a split decision among fans" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/6). Angels RF and former Ranger Josh Hamilton said that extra security was "called for his wife Katie and daughters in the stands after some over-exuberant fans verbally accosted them" during Friday's game. The Rangers said that they "could not provide the Hamiltons with a suite" for the game "because all were sold out." In Dallas, Evan Grant noted the Hamiltons "did receive a suite for the games" on Saturday and Sunday (DALLASNEWS.com, 4/6). Meanwhile, the AP's Schuyler Dixon reported longtime Rangers fan Robbie Parker threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game against the Angels "in honor of his 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, who was among the 26 killed in the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn." (AP, 4/6).
Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino acknowledged that Fenway Park’s “sellout streak will be mercifully retired this month, probably Wednesday.” In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy notes the “bogus” streak will “reach 794 today” for the team’s home opener against the Orioles. Lucchino’s comments are “more welcome truth” from the Red Sox front office (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/8). Red Sox official ticket reseller Ace Tickets Founder & CEO Jim Holzman said, “We find ourselves with some excessive inventory. These have been the lowest prices we’ve seen in three years” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/7).
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY: ESPN’s Buster Olney cited rival team execs who said that they "really believe that the Astros are set-up for a big bounceback” in the next few years because they have been picking at the top of the MLB Draft. However, there is "some talk among other teams, some concern, about whether or not in 2013 the Astros are putting a representative product on the field." Olney: "Some people with other teams are saying, ‘You know what, the Astros should have spent more money than the $18.7 million on their payroll, gotten more veterans to help this team this year.’ They don’t want to have a situation where we have a 2013 version of the 1962 Mets” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN, 4/7).
SUGGESTION BOX: In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes Royals fans "had a hand in the team that’s playing in Kansas City for the first time this afternoon.” Mellinger: "Nobody with the Royals will say this out loud, but it’s the truth all the same: Ownership had no plans to extend the payroll to a franchise-record $80.5 million this year until you made yourself heard.” Royals Owner David Glass “continues to do what he thinks is best for the Royals, and that opinion has been shaped by you” (K.C. STAR, 4/8).
FRENCH RECONNECTION? In Boston, Nick Cafardo noted former MLBer Warren Cromartie and Montreal Board of Trade President & CEO Michel Leblanc are “among many involved in the Montreal Baseball Project who believe the sport can make it” in the city, despite the Expos having left in ’04. However, Orioles Exec VP/Baseball Operations Dan Duquette, who worked in the Expos’ front office, said, “Montreal is a great city. I’m not too sure that Montreal is a viable market for Major League Baseball.” Leblanc, who “thinks the team would have to be in the American League, feels natural rivalries would be formed with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Yankees.” MLB has “not commented on Montreal’s exploration, waiting until the data is in” (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/7).
In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote no one knows if new Chiefs GM John Dorsey "will succeed," but "after three months, there are clues about how the Chiefs are, and will continue to be, different." Dorsey "doesn’t spend any time trash-talking his predecessor," Scott Pioli. This was a "favorite pastime" of Pioli’s. Mellinger: "Publicly and privately, directly and indirectly, Pioli wanted you to know what kind of mess he inherited." Dorsey "never mentions that he arrives on the heels of what many involved called the worst football year of their lives." Another "major difference between this regime change and the one that preceded it is that Dorsey isn’t overhauling the front office." Dorsey "isn’t coming to Kansas City expecting people to kiss his Super Bowl rings as much as he’s hoping the people here can help him win another one" (K.C. STAR, 4/7).
NEW FORMULA: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote new Cardinals GM Steve Keim has been in his role for 90 days and made "33 maneuvers." The math is "working well for the Cardinals." Keim already has "upgraded the football team and the front office." Along with his "handpicked head coach, he has helped restore optimism inside a fallen program" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/7).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? POLITICO's Brooks Boliek noted former FCC Chair Reed Hundt and former commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Nicholas Johnson in a letter to Redskins Owner Dan Snyder "contend that an indecency case could be made against broadcasters who air the offensive" Redskins name. The letter read in part, "It is inappropriate for broadcasters to use racial epithets as part of normal, everyday reporting." Hundt also wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, saying broadcasters "have the power to force Snyder’s hand" (POLITICO.com, 4/5).
PATRIOT GAMES: In Boston, Karen Guregian noted nearly 1,000 Patriots season-ticket holders on Saturday "attended ESPNBoston.com’s NFL draft preview event at Gillette Stadium." Near the end of the two-hour "chat session" fans were "encouraged to ask questions" of the panel which included ESPN analysts and former Pats Tedy Bruschi and Trevor Matich along with ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss. It was "interesting to hear that a majority of the questions dealt with the wide receiver position, and how the Patriots were going to deal with the losses of Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/7).