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SBD/October 24, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The MLB Giants this week were "using a different kind of economics" than simply analyzing on-field performance when signing P Tim Lincecum a two-year, $35M deal, according to Tim Kawakami of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The Giants "love to pay their stars;" their stars "draw fans, their fans fill AT&T Park ... and that's how the Giants have the cash to overpay their stars." Team execs "probably could have stomached paying Lincecum just about anything as long as it came in a short-term span," and from that "perspective, this deal makes some sense." If the Giants did not have Lincecum, they "would have had to replace him some way," and it is "guaranteed that way wouldn't have electrified the home crowd the way No. 55 does every time he steps on the mound, even during the disappointing" '13 season. Lincecum and RF Hunter Pence, who re-signed with the team last month, are "known, comfortable commodities to the Giants and their fan base, and the Giants paid a double premium for that." Kawakami: "I would guess management also told itself that keeping one of its most iconic stars in house and happy for another few years is never a bad thing." This deal shows that the Giants "have that kind of money" the Dodgers and Yankees do, and "will spend it when the personalities are right" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 10/24). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said the Lincecum deal "makes no sense," but this is a "business, and if you can put fannies in the seats because they like you, why wouldn't you sign that guy?" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/23). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, "This guy is as beloved an athlete in San Francisco as anybody" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/23).
ALWAYS MINDFUL OF L.A.: In S.F., John Shea wrote the Giants were "working from a position of desperation to some extent," to keep Lincecum from the Dodgers, who could have targeted Lincecum, "among a cast of thousands, in their pay-at-all-costs bid to win it all" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/23).
The D-Backs are "expected to increase their spending again, perhaps even getting into the nine-figure range next year for the first time in more than a decade," according to Nick Piecoro of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. After the "surprise signing" of LF Cody Ross, the team's '13 payroll "came in around" $90M. D-Backs GM Kevin Towers said, "We’ll be above that, definitely above that." Piecoro notes the team is "already on target to exceed" its '13 payroll, with several players "due significant increases in their salaries next year." The D-Backs' current roster "will be due" close to $95M for '14 when arbitration raises are included (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/23). In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes the D-Backs are a "flawed group coming off successive .500 seasons, suddenly competing with a payroll juggernaut" in the Dodgers. It is "only going to get harder, and it will test just how much" Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick "can and will spend" on D-Backs players. Team President & CEO Derrick Hall said, "Nobody wants to win more than Ken Kendrick. He challenges us everyday to increase revenue so we can put it back on the field. He has never put a single penny in his pocket from this team because he wants it in his player personnel purse" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/24).
FRONT OFFICE CONSISTENCY: Hall on Tuesday said that the Tigers "have not contacted him to ask for permission" to contact D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson about replacing Tigers manager Jim Leyland. Hall added that Towers is "in the 'same boat' as Gibson after the club decided not to exercise options" for '15-16 in Towers' contract. Hall emphasized that his "intention is for both to remain with the club over the long haul" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 10/23).
The NHL Panthers have introduced a new promotion, "We Win You Win," in which single-game ticket buyers in attendance for a game receive tickets for the team’s next home game if the Panthers win. The promotion starts with their game tomorrow against the Sabres and continues through a Dec. 23 game against the Lightning. The Panthers, who have 9,000 season-ticket holders, have averaged an announced attendance of 14,939 over their first five home games this season. Asked if he was concerned that a string of home victories could result in an over-booked arena, Panthers President Michael Yormark said, "It would be a good problem to have. We're trying to bring more fans and energy to our building. In some cases, we know some fans might be fans of the visiting team. But if we win, they'll go to the next game and see that we have some of the best young players in the NHL and become Panthers fans." The Panthers are asking each fan taking advantage of "We Win You Win" to complete a form so they add the information to their database.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke believes that MLS Toronto FC "is the easiest problem to fix" of the MLSE franchises, but if the team's rebuild "goes awry, that may not bode well for his other projects," according to Grant Robertson of the GLOBE & MAIL. Rebuilding the Maple Leafs and Raptors "are much-more complex feats to engineer, constrained by salary caps and draft picks." Leiweke and other MLSE execs last week traveled to Europe to scout possible additions to MLS Toronto FC, because he believes that "two key designated players can change the team's fortunes fast." The trip was "unlike the many unsuccessful recruiting drives" in years past, and was "perhaps more critical to the future of MLSE, since it will send a message about how serious" Leiweke is about rebuilding MLSE into a winner. Though Leiweke "isn't divulging which players the club is targeting, last week's recruiting trip took team executives to England and Italy." He acknowledged that Toronto FC "needs talent on the field more than it needs a brand name, so the focus will be on goal output and less about face recognition." Leiweke: "We are well beyond a star in name and brand only saving this franchise. ... I’m focused, and I’m pissed off. We need to solve this thing." He knows that MLSE has "never struggled to make money," so profit is "one of the few things he doesn't need to worry about." Leiweke: "There are a lot of things that work here, but I think the thing that is most important doesn't work here, which is we have to win" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/24).
Minor League Baseball is often "the place to go for fun sports team names," so it is "hard to see why calling a team the Chihuahuas is an affront to this tradition, rather than an extension of it," according to Dan Solomon of TEXAS MONTHLY magazine. Solomon wondered why so many are "hating on" the Triple-A Pacific Coast League El Paso Chihuahuas. It is a "fine name for a baseball team," and it is "more appropriate than the Pit Bulls would be." If the Chihuahuas were a football team, "maybe the haters would have an argument." What makes the best MiLB team names work is "their regional connection." The name Chihuahuas "wouldn't work most places, but in a border city next to the Mexican state of Chihuahua, it's hard to argue it doesn't fit" (TEXASMONTHLY.com, 10/23). But in Las Vegas, Todd Dewey writes the Pelicans "might no longer possess the worst nickname" in pro sports, as that "dubious honor might belong" to the Chihuahuas. Considering El Paso, located across the border from Mexico, "features a predominantly Hispanic population, it could be argued that the nickname is racist." But the "smallest of the world’s dog breeds was chosen over four other finalists in a 'name the team' contest that garnered more than 5,000 entries." Dewey: "For some reason, yo quiero Taco Bell" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/24).
BLOOMBERG NEWS' Peter Schwartz reported the average value of an MLB team is $1B, "more than 35 percent higher than previous estimates." The Yankees are worth $3.3B, "making them the sport’s most-valuable enterprise," followed by the Dodgers at $2.1B. Ten teams "are worth more than" $1B, including the Red Sox and Mets each over the $2B mark. Bloomberg News "examined revenue from ticket sales, concessions, sponsorships and broadcast rights, as well as interests in TV channels, radio stations and real estate" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/23).
TIGER, TIGER, BURNING OUT? In Detroit, Tony Paul writes under the header, "Tigers' Bloated Payroll May Prevent Them From Going After Prime Free Agents." The Tigers have "a serious money issue" as they look to improve for the '14 season. The team's payroll this season topped $150M "when all was said and done, impressively stretching to the limits a budget that more resembles a big-market’s -- not the mid-market that Detroit, most certainly, is." There "figures to come a time" when Owner Mike Ilitch "finally will cease to throw piles of cash at the issue" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/24).
BACK IN BLUE: In L.A., Dylan Hernandez reports Don Mattingly "will manage the Dodgers next season." Mattingly's agent Ray Schulte yesterday said that Mattingly "intended to honor his contract" with the team, but added that he is "still looking for a multiyear deal." Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten did not address an extension, but said he is "anticipating a happy ending" (L.A. TIMES, 10/24). Kasten: "I never had any thought he would renege on his contract. It was never a question for me." Sources said that the Dodgers "intend to begin dialogue with Mattingly on a new contract in the next few days" (ESPNLA.com, 10/23).
In DC, Steven Goff wrote Orlando’s bid to join MLS will “pass inspection” because it would allow the league “to expand its footprint between Washington and Key West.” Since clubs in Tampa and Miami “sunk more than a decade ago,” the league has a “large swath of the U.S. map untouched by a national league.” Goff also noted “cities with few other pro sports teams tend to back a newbie, regardless of the sport.” Portland, Salt Lake City, K.C., Montreal and Vancouver have all shown this “civic pride.” Orlando also is “not starting from scratch: Orlando City, a third-division club since 2010, will step into MLS with a solid fan base, brand recognition and a cool logo” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/23). FS1's Trevor Pryce said, "Orlando has one pro sports team -- we have the Magic, that’s it. So there’s room for another team, and this is a growing game" ("Crowd Goes Wild," FS1, 10/23).
SEATTLE'S BEST: MLS Sounders GM & minority Owner Adrian Hanauer said of the team setting another attendance record at CenturyLink Field this season, "Can we keep it going indefinitely? I have my doubts. Can we keep it going for one more year? Two more years? Three more years? ... Our fans have been amazing. It’s been sort of humbling and just made me really proud to be part of this community to see the support that the team gets, see the support the players and coaches get in good times and in bad" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 10/22).
TIMBER, HO! In Portland, Jamie Goldberg noted the MLS Timbers, currently in second place in the Western Conference, "sit in the middle" of the league in terms of payroll, ranked 10th among 19 teams. The team after a "disappointing" '12 season parted ways with designated player F Kris Boyd, who was making $1.5M, and "did not look to replace him with another highly paid and recognizable designated player." Of the nine players in MLS this season making over $1M, seven "play for teams that currently sit above the red line in the playoff race." The '13 Timbers "haven't shelled out millions for a single player." Coach Caleb Porter said that they have "been efficient in bringing in the right players to fit their system" instead (OREGONLIVE.com, 10/22).