SBD/September 16, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Red Sox prior to last night's game paid tribute to Yankees P Mariano Rivera by "roasting" him for his blown save in the '04 ALCS, "perhaps the lowest moment in Rivera's career," and the BOSTON GLOBE's Nick Cafardo wonders if the presentation was "appropriate." A few Yankees officials and media members "right after the ceremony had some raised eyebrows." One Yankees writer said, "It looked like more of a tribute to the 2004 Red Sox than to Mariano." A Yankees official said, "Did you think they rubbed in 2004 a little bit too much?" Cafardo notes the Red Sox "certainly didn't mean any harm, but if it was even slightly perceived as being disrespectful it probably shouldn't have happened." This is the organization "one would think would have hit a home run with a Rivera tribute; instead one was left wondering whether the 2004 theme was the right one to choose." Certainly master of ceremonies Dave O'Brien "mentioned all the great things, but the videoboard showed all good Red Sox things at the expense of Rivera." O'Brien did "set it up at the start when he said this was 'less of a toast and more of a roast.'" But amid the "awkward theme there were such nice touches that Rivera appeared touched by." Rivera, when asked after the game if the theme was too much, said, "No, they deserved it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16). In Massachusetts, Ron Chimelis writes the ceremony was done in an "odd and even questionable way." But Rivera took the presentation "with dignity and a smile." There were "flattering comments ... but still, saluting an icon with even a good-natured form of gloating is debatable for its taste" (Springfield REPUBLICAN, 9/16). Columnist Peter Gammons writes, "The ceremony was a heartfelt outpouring from his rival players, his former minor league manager Brian Butterfield and, most of all, the fans, although the video board presentation was really about the Red Sox and Game Four of the 2004 ALCS, rather than about Rivera himself" (GAMMONSDAILY.com, 9/16).
SAYING GOODBYE, AND THANKS: In Boston, Michael Silverman writes under the header "1st-Class Fenway Honors For Mariano Rivera" and notes it was a "light-hearted, classy ceremony." Among the gifts Rivera was given were a check "for his charity efforts in Panama," the pitching rubber from the visitors bullpen and the "42" placard "used for the scoreboard." The Boston Cello Quartet played Metallica's "Enter Sandman," Rivera's entrance music at Yankee Stadium. The "entire Red Sox team," as well as Owner John Henry, Chair Tom Werner, President & CEO Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington "gathered in the infield" for the presentations (BOSTON HERALD, 9/16). In N.Y., Roger Rubin notes tributes for Rivera have been "routine for his final game at every ballpark during his last season but there was something more meaningful with it coming from the Yanks’ blood rival." Red Sox fans "showered warmth on Rivera, who spent the final innings signing autographs in the bullpen" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/16).
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy noted Red Sox Owner John Henry happens to be buying the Boston Globe "at the precise moment when the Red Sox are performing at a level that makes them almost above criticism." The "praise and gushing that comes with this is hard earned and well deserved, but it nevertheless will invite suspicion because of an unsolvable conflict of interest." Shaughnessy: "When good things happen, we write good things. When bad things happen, the coverage is not as favorable. Prepare for the deification of this ball club" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/15).
Following NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's comments last week that the league should listen to fans saying the Redskins' name is offensive, the debate over whether the team should change its name was a major topic of conversation over the weekend on sports television programming. CBSSN analyst and former Raiders Chief Exec Amy Trask said the Redskins have an "opportunity to do something very powerful and very important by changing the team name and logo." Trask: "The word 'Redskins' has been widely used throughout our history as a derogatory, disparaging slur. Try this: substitute for the word 'Redskins' any other derogatory slur, and think of that as a team name. Changing the team name and logo really can inspire people and encourage people to treat everyone respectfully. I do hope the team takes this opportunity to do something very, very special" ("That Other Pregame Show," CBSSN, 9/15). ESPN's Keith Olbermann noted that Goodell's reaction to the Redskins name and a possible change is "still pretty tepid," but comparing comments he made in June in support of the name to his recent radio interview "are not close to being the same thing." Olbermann said Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder will "change the name ... for the reasons everybody in his position does, everybody in the middle of a decades-old controversy in which the forces of humanity and enlightenment clash with the discarded values of disrespect and prejudice." Olbermann: "He'll do it for money" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 9/13). Former Washington Post Sports Editor George Solomon said Goodell has "gone further than he's ever gone before -- or any NFL commissioner has gone before -- in regard to the team considering changing its name," and it is "very significant." The "public support for the name change is growing" and the "mood is changing" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN2, 9/13).
ISSUE COULD COME OUT OF SNYDER'S HANDS: Washington Post columnist Mike Wise said if the name-change issue "continues going in the way that (it) is going," the NFL will "take the matter out of Dan Snyder’s hands eventually." Wise: "I believe there will be such a backlash that at some point ... this notion will go up to a vote of the NFL Board of Governors and the other owners." He added, "If it’s costing the team money, essentially the name will change." ESPN's Andrew Brandt referenced Goodell's recent comments and said, "Nothing like that is said (in the NFL) without some motive behind it. You don’t just put those things out there without something behind it." Brandt: "We’re talking about external public relations doing the right think publicly, but really this is going to come down to … internal relations between the owners and, specifically, between Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell." The issue likely will be "some form of a political conversation between the owner and the commissioner, perhaps with other owners getting involved" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN2, 9/15).
BRIEF APPEARANCE ON PREGAME SHOW: In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes the Redskins name controversy was "touched on ... barely" during Fox' pregame show yesterday, as the net "showed a quick video snippet of protesters outside Lambeau Field" prior to the Redskins-Packers game. Fox' Curt Menefee said, "This has been a controversial topic for quite a while. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder says he will never change the name, but something tells me this issue is not going away.” Raissman: "Something tells me the NFL’s TV partners won’t be giving this issue comprehensive coverage" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/16). NBC's Carson Daly noted "members of multiple Native-American tribes showed up and had a protest despite the bad weather and that obviously got a lot of attention." Daly: "The real question is, do all of this sequence of events show any real impact? The answer is clearly yes." A Google search was shown and there was a "spike in interest over use of the name Washington Redskins" while a Today.com survey showed 60% of respondents said the team should not change the name ("Today," NBC, 9/16).
The Indians are currently just a 1/2 game back in the AL Wild Card race, but an average crowd of 13,518 fans for a nine-game homestand from Sept. 2-11 "might have marked the nadir of what has become a tired topic for the Indians' brass -- their struggle to get fans to buy in," according to Kevin Kleps of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. The Indians' average attendance through last Friday was 19,435, ranking 28th in MLB. The reasons given for the "poor showings are many, but there seems to be a common theme among the Tribe's followers -- bitterness that goes back years." Common complaints from fans were "grudges from days gone by," including trading away Ps CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee and ownership "not spending money." Indians President Mark Shapiro believes that the attendance issue is a "complicated one that isn't about grudges or trades," but rather about "market dynamics." Cleveland is the 30th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., and only the Royals and Brewers "play in areas with smaller populations." Shapiro: "The largest driver of our attendance numbers are tied to our market size. The second factor is we need to get a greater number of season tickets or advanced purchases in a city where so few people live and work downtown." Kleps reports the Indians' attendance "seems to have taken a slight hit from the first full season of the team using a dynamic pricing model." The Indians' current average is 362 fewer per game than in '12, but Shapiro said the team has seen a "noticeable bump in ticket revenues" in '13 because of dynamic pricing. Shapiro noted the team's season-ticket base currently is in the mid-7,000s and said, "The issue continues to get back to season tickets and plans. ... Everything boils down to we need to get that (season-ticket) number up" (CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 9/16 issue).
CONCERNS ARE GROWING: In Cleveland, Brent Larkin wrote discussions of poor attendance at Indians games have been "largely confined to the sports pages and baseball-related chatter." But the concern "has now spread to government buildings, corporate boardrooms and downtown businesses." One government official said, “We should be worried. And if it continues next year, we should be extremely worried.” Larkin noted fans have complained "for years about the Dolan family’s spending habits." While that "changed this year," fans "haven’t bought in." Larkin: "If this is the new normal, then another crisis over the Indians future here is inevitable" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 9/15).
Minnesota Sports Facilities Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen on Friday said that Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf "have more than enough money to pay for their share of their team’s new stadium, even if a New Jersey judge orders them to pay hefty punitive damages in a bitter real estate case," according to Richard Meryhew of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. But an "extensive, monthlong background check into the Wilfs’ legal and financial affairs" by the MSFA "identified 'one potential future issue,' which won’t affect the stadium’s construction timeline but could keep the Wilfs entangled in court for years to come." Any civil case in New Jersey that "results in punitive damages must be referred to the state attorney general and local prosecutor’s office to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued." Kelm-Helgen said that "in a worst-case scenario, the NFL has indicated that it will stand behind the project, even if the league required a change in team ownership." Groundbreaking on the $975M stadium is "tentatively scheduled for early November." Dorsey & Whitney attorney Peter Carter, whose firm oversaw the MSFA's due-diligence audit of the Wilfs, said that the probe "involved '15 to 20 professionals' who worked 'around the clock' and 'reviewed thousands of documents' involving the Wilfs." Auditors and attorneys "scrutinized the Wilfs’ personal financial records, the NFL’s background investigation of the team owners, 'all civil litigation' involving the Wilf family and the underwriting files from the family’s primary lender -- U.S. Bank" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/14).