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SBD/January 16, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
The Dodgers and P Clayton Kershaw have reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $215M contract, and at $30.7M per season, the "average annual value of the contract is the highest ever for a player at any position," according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TIMES. Although Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' 10-year, $275M contract "remains the highest in total value, Kershaw's deal ranks first among pitchers." Kershaw will "have a chance to enter the free-agent market at 30, as his contract includes a provision that allows him to void the remainder of the deal after five seasons." The agreement allayed the Dodgers' "fears that Kershaw could become a free agent at the end of the upcoming season." Kershaw earned $11M last season and was "eligible for salary arbitration for the final time this year." The Dodgers have taken on close to $1B in salary commitments "since the team was purchased from cash-strapped Frank McCourt and emerged from bankruptcy almost two years ago." Including Kershaw, the team has "five players under contracts with average annual values of more than" $20M. The team's opening-day payroll will be around $250M this year, which "would establish a club record" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes Kershaw becomes the sixth player in MLB history to sign a $200M contract, and "just the second to do so without the leverage of free agency," joining Reds 1B Joey Votto (N.Y. TIMES, 1/16).L.A. TIMES, 1/16). ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne wrote the Dodgers have "long intended to keep Kershaw as the face of their franchise for the rest of his career" (ESPNLA.com, 1/15). In L.A., Jill Painter writes it was "the right move for the Dodgers, no matter the financial cost." Kershaw is the "most dominant pitcher in the game, a leader in the clubhouse and an inspirational humanitarian off the field" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/16). MLB.com's Ken Gurnick wrote, "From the Roberto Clemente Award for community service to the billboards alongside freeways that underscore his role as the youthful face of the franchise, Kershaw has evolved into an icon" (MLB.com, 1/15).
NOT AFRAID TO PAY: FOXSPORTS.com's Ken Rosenthal noted the Dodgers' tax penalty in '13 was $11.4M on a $243M payroll, and "at least figures to be in the same range in '14." The threshold is rising from $178M to $189M, but the Dodgers' payroll "likely will rise in kind." As a "second-time offender, the Dodgers will be taxed at a rate" of 30%, as opposed to 17.5% last season (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/15). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck notes when factoring in Kershaw's new average annual salary, the Dodgers' "current projected rotation" of Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett will cost the team $87.5M next season. That is "more than 13 team's total 2013 payrolls" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16). In California, Mark Whicker notes Kershaw's average annual salary "exceeds the 2013 opening day payroll" of the Astros (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/16). MLB Network's John Hart said, “The Dodgers have money. This is also a new ownership. This would not have happened three or four years ago in Los Angeles” ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 1/15). ESPN's Michael Wilbon noted the Dodgers "have more money than any franchise in the game, including the Yankees, with the new media deals they've got out there" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/15).
SPENDING THAT TV MONEY: ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon noted the "backdrop to all of this is the deal with Time Warner Cable, which launches its new Dodgers channel next month." Before it "ends, that deal will net those owners" about $6B, which "kind of puts this Kershaw deal in a new light." Saxon: "So reach around and pat yourself on the back for one day, having to pay an extra $5 or $10 every month on your cable bill so Kershaw can remain a Dodger" (ESPNLA.com, 1/15).
Lions Vice Chair Bill Ford Jr. said that he "understands the dichotomy" between the positive reactions of those around the NFL, and the negative reaction of Lions fans after the team named Jim Caldwell its new coach, according to Dave Birkett of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. While many Lions fans "questioned the decision," people around the league "praised the move." Ford said, "Clearly, fans are frustrated. I understand that. I'm frustrated. We're all frustrated. Our family's frustrated. But I also think it went against the narrative that was out there. I think it surprised a lot of people because we hadn't done much public talking about this search. When I hired Alan Mulally (to run Ford Motor Company), no one had ever heard of him and nobody knew that I was talking to him. I think that searches like that are best done quietly." Ford added Lions GM Martin Mayhew and President Tom Lewand "have done a very good job." Ford said that he believes the team is "poised for a quick turnaround." He added, "We feel like we've got a good roster. You heard that from Jim, too. He feels that we have a good roster and so I expect him to hit the ground running" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/16).
ACCORDING TO JIM: In Detroit, Jeff Seidel writes Caldwell during his introductory press conference yesterday "came off as strong, firm, humble, bold, stable and filled with conviction." In a "long, rambling speech, Caldwell quoted everybody from Fielding Yost to John Wooden, while dropping in a couple of references to the Bible." He "seemed like a grandfather who has been in football his entire life" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/16). Also in Detroit, Rochelle Riley writes Lions fans need Caldwell "to be the playmaker, the voice, the face" of the organization. Caldwell yesterday "made clear that he's about building a team" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/16). The FREE PRESS' Drew Sharp writes, "The biggest perception problem for the Lions as they embark down their latest newest coaching path isn't whether they got their desired first choice in Caldwell, but rather are they organizationally capable of securing the proper pieces necessary for championship contention?" The Lions "wisely didn't attempt selling Caldwell as their No. 1 candidate." Ford "thought it was 'interesting' that the national tone regarding the Caldwell hire was more favorable than the local reaction." Sharp: "There's little faith in the front office, even less confidence in ownership" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/16).
The Vikings tomorrow will introduce new coach Mike Zimmer, who was "believed to be one of three finalists, but the only one who got a second interview," according to Master Tesfatsion of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Zimmer had coached in the NFL for 20 seasons "without getting a head coaching job, and given the amount of praise he received on social media, many seemed to think the big promotion was overdue" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/16). In St. Paul, Tom Powers writes "personality-wise, the Vikings have hired the complete opposite" of fired coach Leslie Frazier, "just as we all knew they would." If there is "going to be a change, it might as well be a complete change" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/16). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes while Vikings GM Rick Spielman "won't win any awards for creative thinking, he conducted a rational search and landed an intriguing candidate with a strong résumé." Spielman made a "safe choice, hiring a veteran coach with widespread success." Zimmer is a "promising hire," and in "this case, Spielman was right to think inside the box" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/16).
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? In Cleveland, Mary Kay Cabot noted Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam III yesterday sent a letter to season-ticket holders "explaining that the club is being patient in its coaching search and waiting to interview some coaches currently in the playoffs." Haslam wrote, "We have purposefully been very methodical in our approach. We believe it is very important to stay disciplined to this process and to interview all of the candidates on our list. ... We are prepared to wait as long as necessary because this is a very important decision. Everyone in our organization is committed to finding the right leader for our team" (CLEVELAND.com, 1/15). In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes under the header, "Jimmy Haslam’s Bland Letter Does Little To Soothe Souls Of Tortured Browns Fans." There was "none of the passion Haslam displayed at his introductory news conference" in August '12. There was "no hint of emotion over what transpired during a 4-12 season that cost first-year coach Rob Chudzinski his job." Haslam's letter "read more like an admonishment of Browns critics" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/16). ESPN.com's Pat McManamon wrote sending a letter "is unusual, but the frustration from the fans also has been unusually high" (ESPN.com, 1/15).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: ESPN's Keith Olbermann said the timing of the Vikings hiring Zimmer "couldn't be worse" for the Browns, because at "virtually the same hour ... Browns fans were getting a 'shut up' e-mail from their team." Olbermann: "In fact, it's a 'shut up' e-mail from the current future ex-owner of the Browns, Jimmy Haslam. With the rate he's burning through coaches and goodwill, he's likely to be invited to move to Baltimore or maybe even move this team to Baltimore by sometime next autumn" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 1/15).
The NBA Kings announced today that they "would become the first professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin virtual currency," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. Fans beginning March 1 "will be able to buy gear in the team store and pay for tickets with the digital money." Kings Managing Partner Vivek Ranadive said that the acceptance of Bitcoin is "one step closer to allowing fans to keep their wallets at home." While Bitcoin is five years old and has a market value of roughly $11B, the "idea of retailers accepting this form of payment is in its infancy." The Kings will be using Bitcoin processor Bitpay, which "accepts the digital dollars and pays the Kings in actual cash" (ESPN.com, 1/16). Kings President Chris Granger said that the team will "immediately convert the currency into cash." He added the team does not expect Bitcoins to be a "major component of our business" at the outset. However, the Kings expect the "use of the currency to grow over time." In Sacramento, Ryan Lillis notes Ranadive has indicated that he "wants the team to be among the most technologically-advanced franchises in the world" (SACBEE.com, 1/16). At presstime, one Bitcoin was worth approximately $826 (THE DAILY).
Nets BOD member Sergey Kushchenko in recent months has been "gradually becoming a bigger presence around the franchise," according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. Meanwhile, Onexim Group CEO Dmitry Razumov, who heads team Owner Mikhail Prokhorov's investment company, "has receded into the background." Prokhorov's "point man" until now "with regards to the Nets had been Razumov." But it appears Kushchenko is "beginning to step into the role Razumov once held." Kuschenko, who has been a BOD member since '11, "unexpectedly attended a practice and game in Brooklyn last month during one of the team's scheduled board meetings, and will presumably watch" today's game in London against the Hawks with Prokhorov. Kushchenko yesterday said of his role with the team, "It doesn't change a lot. From the very beginning, I was involved. We discuss every move. We talk a lot about everything." Bontemps notes Kushchenko has an "extensive basketball background," having "spent over a decade as a successful basketball executive in Russia" (N.Y. POST, 1/16).
BUILDING LONDON BRIDGES: In New Jersey, Andy Vasquez writes there "hasn't been anything normal about the buildup" to the Hawks-Nets game in London. Social media has shown Nets players "fanning out across the city and taking in all it has to offer." There also have been a "slew of corporate and league events as the Nets help promote the NBA abroad" (Bergen RECORD, 1/16). Nets CEO Brett Yormark appeared on Bloomberg TV's "Countdown" from London yesterday to discuss the game against the Hawks at the O2 Arena. Yormark said the team considers London "our home away from home" after having played there before. He added in terms of marketing the team, "winning in general for me isn’t the end-all," and the team is in the "entertainment business, so we sell fun." Yormark: "But obviously, winning helps." Yormark said of the Nets becoming a global brand, "I don't look at it from a business perspective, at least initially. I look at it as, can we build a brand? Can we build a halo around the team that speaks to audiences all over the world? And that's our goal. We advocate being global. ... Ultimately, we'll be able to monetize it" ("Countdown," Bloomberg TV, 1/15).
Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner yesterday said he considered 3B Alex Rodriguez an “asset,” but declined to discuss in detail the club’s future plans for the suspended player. Steinbrenner did not rule out a return of Rodriguez to the Yankees active roster. “He is a great player," Steinbrenner said. "I have not thought about 2015, nor am I going to right now. My focus has to be on right now. But when he’s on and when he’s healthy, he’s obviously an asset. ... This is business. I’m just focusing on the team. A player -- is that player an asset to the team or not? That's as far as I want to go. I don’t get personal.” Rodriguez is eligible to return to the team next year after his PED suspension was recently reduced by an arbitrator from 211 games to the entire ’14 season. He is still owed $61M by the Yankees through the ’17 season. Meanwhile, Steinbrenner said the club is advancing plans to formally retire former manager Joe Torre's No. 6 jersey during the upcoming season. Torre will be inducted into the Baseball HOF this summer. Steinbrenner added the Yankees are considering “multiple” uniform number retirings that would, in part, include Torre. Among the potential honorees would be former players Jorge Posada (No. 20), Andy Pettitte (No. 46), Paul O’Neill (No. 21) and Bernie Williams (No. 51).
HOPING FOR ATTENDANCE, RATINGS JUMPS: The Yankees are eyeing rebounds in both attendance and TV ratings in the '14 season after taking significant hits on both counts during an injury-marred '13 campaign. “New York is a star town,” Steinbrenner said, in part referring to recent free-agent signings Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. “I think the fans will be excited to see these guys play.”
In Toronto, Zoe McKnight notes MLS Toronto FC "ramped up their 'bloody big deal' marketing campaign with a television ad advertising Jermain Defoe's departure" from EPL club Tottenham Hotspur FC. In the new ad that first aired on Monday, Brits "are seen spitting out their beverages at the news" of Defoe's departure. The spot had "close to 60,000 online views in just one day." MLSE Senior Dir of Communications Dave Haggith said that the ads, made by agency Sid Lee, N.Y., are "running on national networks TSN and Sportsnet, but the main focus of the marketing campaign is Toronto" (TORONTO STAR, 1/16).
LOWERING THE STEEL CURTAIN: Steelers President Art Rooney II yesterday said that the team "could reduce exhibition game ticket prices as early as next season." In Pittsburgh, Alan Robinson reports a group of NFL owners at league meetings in Dallas last month "discussed lowering preseason game prices." Rooney during a conference call with season-ticket holders said, "We understand the fans' perception of the value of the preseason games" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/16).
THROWN UNDER THE BUSS? Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson said that Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss "needs to take a few pages from the book written by his father Jerry Buss." Johnson: "You've got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team. ... You've got to have someone helping Jim. He's got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.'" Johnson said Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is "great, but he doesn't have the power" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16).
BLUE STREAK: In K.C., Robert Cronkleton reported the Royals are "giving fans a sneak peek" at some of their promotions for the '14 season. The Royals are using their Twitter account to make the announcements, as well as putting "some information on its Instagram and Facebook accounts." The team announced that it would "give away special RoyalsCamo jerseys on Memorial Day," and that it "would have six T-Shirt Tuesdays." The Royals also "showed the design of a big KC on a blue T-shirt" for another give-away (K.C. STAR, 1/16).