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SBD/February 25, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
Smoke has been "billowing ... for a while" around 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's future with the organization, and it appears the situation is "stumbling right into the fire pit," according to Ann Killion of the S.F. CHRONICLE. CBS Sports over the weekend reported Harbaugh has a strained relationship with both GM Trent Baalke and President Paraag Marathe. Anyone "remotely shocked" that there may be friction between the various parties "simply hasn't been paying close attention to the story." Harbaugh "likes power" and "doesn't have as much as he wants with the 49ers." Harbaugh can be described as "combustible and competitive," and a close relationship with the "tightly wound Baalke always seemed somewhat implausible." Additionally, the fact he "might have little time" for either Marathe or 49ers CEO Jed York "is believable." Killion: "Harbaugh has done things that infuriate the 49ers. ... But, good football coaches are usually pains in the rear." Harbaugh's contract expires after the '15 season, and Killion writes, "The 49ers have a window of opportunity. A good team. A great coach. And a smart, young boss in York who has to figure out how to make this complicated puzzle work" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/25). In San Jose, Tim Kawakami writes Harbaugh and Baalke have had a "little cold war for quite some time, and they've worked through a lot of it already, at least for the short term." Additionally, sources said that Harbaugh and York "continue to have a solid relationship." Kawakami: "Now it comes down to how the 49ers manage through it, and that's mostly up to York" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/25). Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Ray Ratto said Harbaugh wants a contract extension that is so big that York is "powerless to basically prevent him from steamrolling Baalke." Ratto: "I don’t think Jed is there yet, either monetarily or organizationally" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 2/24).
WEARING OUT HIS WELCOME? NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said there "certainly is tension" between Harbaugh and Baalke, two "hard-driving individuals who work extremely hard" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 2/24). SI.com's Don Banks noted, "It's pretty clear there's more than creative tension. ... That's a very combustible situation" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 2/24). Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman said, “Look, Harbaugh is a horse’s ass. He’s not an easy guy to get along with in any way.” Author Jeff Pearlman: “Jim Harbaugh has become an insufferable presence. After a while that wears on people. A lot of coaches ... eventually wear out their welcome and the fatigue factor settles in” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 2/24). CBS' Doug Gottlieb said, “He wears everybody out. Everybody hates him despite their success" ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 2/24).
Rams Exec VP/Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff yesterday announced that the team "isn't raising the price of season tickets and disclosed plans to improve the game-day experience" at Edward Jones Dome in '14, according to Bernie Miklasz of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Demoff in an e-mail to fans wrote, "There will not be an increase in season ticket prices from last season. However, we will be raising single-game prices in order to increase the savings for our season ticket holders. Additionally, we will be allowing fans to recognize savings on their season tickets if you renew your season tickets by March 14." He added, "We are in the process of overhauling all of the food and beverage service throughout the entire building. ... Second, to address cell service within the Edward Jones Dome, new antennas are being built to improve wireless coverage throughout the building. Finally, the first time you hear our team introduced in pre-game, the sound will be crystal clear through the new sound system being installed in the building this summer" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/25).
The Dodgers "continue to cause headaches" for organizers of the MLB season-opening D-Backs-Dodgers series at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia, as the team is "considering leaving" P Clayton Kershaw at home, according to the AAP. Australian organizers are "privately hoping" the two-time Cy Young award winner will make the trip, and MLB officials are "adamant Kershaw and his wife will be in Sydney as promised unless something untoward happens" (AAP, 2/25). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez writes Kershaw would be "spared a trip to the other side of the world and back, allowing him to better prepare for the domestic opener" against the Padres on March 30. If Kershaw "doesn't pitch in Australia, Hyun-Jin Ryu probably will." From a "promotional standpoint, the South Korean left-hander would serve as more than an adequate replacement for Kershaw, as he would increase the event's international appeal." P Zack Greinke has "made clear he would prefer the Dodgers not open their season in Australia." P Dan Haren was "more diplomatic, but not before indicating he shared Greinke's thoughts." Haren quipped, "Which answer do you want? The politically correct answer? I think [Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten] would probably want me to give the politically correct one." He added, "I think everyone understands why we're doing it, to build the brand" (L.A. TIMES, 2/25). Haren: "It's a long trip for us, but we have to think of the game. The actual trip will be a lot to handle, especially for the starting pitchers. It's a lot to ask of a player. ... It would stink to fly 30 hours and not pitch." MLB.com's Ken Gurnick noted all players "will receive a $20,000 bonus to make the trip" (MLB.com, 2/24).
UNDERSTANDABLE SENTIMENT? ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Greinke was not "out of line" about his criticism, but he was "out of step" with the message from both MLB and the Dodgers. ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "This is about worldwide promotion. If you're a team, you're an agent of the league. You want this. If you're a player, you're going to take away a third of my time to prepare for the beginning of the season" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/24).
The Bucks have approached former NBAer Junior Bridgeman "about investing in the team, and he expressed interest," according to sources cited by Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Bridgeman would "seem to be an ideal candidate for the Bucks," as he played 10 of his 12 NBA seasons with the team and is a "successful businessman." His holding company owns "more than 160 Wendy's across the country, as well as an estimated 100 Chili's restaurants." Forbes has reported that Bridgeman is the "18th wealthiest African-American in the country." Walker notes Bridgeman, who declined to comment on the report, has "one potential sticking point, though it could be easily solved." He is a minority investor in the NBA Kings, and league bylaws state franchise investors "cannot hold financial positions in more than one team." Bucks Owner Herb Kohl has "not set a timetable for finding new investors" (JSONLINE.com, 2/25).
Today marks the 25th anniversary of Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones buying the team, making it the "perfect time to pause and put this wild, joyous ride into perspective," according to David Moore of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Comparisons are "often drawn" between Jones and late Raiders Owner Al Davis. There are "similarities" between the two, but Davis would "consistently extend his middle finger" to the NFL. Jones has "taken a different approach," as he "extends his hand, pulls his opponents closer, forcibly argues for change and works to build consensus." Jones talks about the "friends he’s made on this journey and beams." Five former players from the Cowboys' Super Bowl-winning teams in '92, '93 and '95 are in the Pro Football HOF, and Jones "probably will join them one day." Jones said, "It would be easy to say, ‘Jerry, win about three more Super Bowls and you might be considered for the Hall of Fame.’ But I know the people that are in the Hall of Fame as contributors are not only in there for what their teams did on the field but for what they contributed to the game and the league. I do hope the kinds of things we’ve been involved in over the last 25 years have significantly improved the game for our fans. If that’s Hall of Fame stuff, then it’s Hall of Fame stuff." Moore wrote Jones' accomplishments "are numerous," but "nothing means more to Jones than having his family by his side" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/23). Jones said that if he could "change anything during his tenure, it would be the rushed decision to fire legendary coach Tom Landry and replace him with Jimmy Johnson." In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. noted Jones "doesn’t regret the move, just the circumstances that forced him to act so quickly and thus come off as disrespectful to Landry." Jones: "I would’ve waited a year and just got my feet on the ground a little bit more and probably just gone with the staff that we had and then later made the ultimate change that I made." Jones is still "pained by the stigma of being the man who fired Landry and how coldly he did so," and some Cowboys players "have never forgiven him for it" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/24).ESPNDALLAS.com, 2/24).
WHO'S CRYING NOW? The DALLAS MORNING NEWS' Moore noted Jones has "broken down and cried after three losses during his ownership." The first came in January '95 when the Cowboys lost to the 49ers in the NFC Championship to "fall short in their bid to three-peat." The second time was when the Cowboys "opened the 2002 season with a 19-10 loss" to the expansion Texans. Jones: "I was the leading proponent of getting Houston the team. I wanted those fans to have their own team even though I knew at that time half of them were Cowboys fans. To go down and get beat on opening night by an expansion team was absolutely a low point." The third time "came five years later when a 13-3 regular season ended with a 21-17 loss" to the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs. Jones regards three Super Bowl wins as his "greatest accomplishment" as an owner, followed by getting AT&T Stadium built. Moore noted one of the "most important decisions Jones will make is how the franchise will be run once he’s gone." Jones said of his family, "What I didn’t know was how effective these people were going to be and how focused and interested they were going to be in the ensuing years. ... They have made it their lives. We have other things and manage other things, but everything else is secondary" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/23).
NUMBERS DON'T LIE: The Dallas Morning News' Kevin Sherrington said of Jones' tenure, "It's been great. If you look at it from the standpoint of how many Super Bowls had they won before he got here? Two. How many Super Bowls have they won since he got here? Three. That's more Super Bowls. ... I've been very hard on Jerry Jones, there's no question about that, but he's a potentially great owner. He's way up there as an owner" ("SportsDay On Air," FS Southwest, 2/24). In Ft. Worth, John Henry notes the Cowboys are "one of three franchises in the last 25 years with three Super Bowl championships." But the "only problem is that the Cowboys today are nowhere in the same network of today’s NFL dynasties on the playing field." With Jones as the team’s GM, the Cowboys are "setting new standards in mediocrity" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/25).
Royal Bank of Scotland is seeking the legal equivalent of a subpoena for former board members of Liverpool Football Club (LFC) in the ongoing legal strife surrounding the sale of the soccer club nearly four years ago. RBS has asked a New York State Court judge to request that British authorities compel the testimony and production of documents from three former board members, an investment bank and a law firm all closely involved in the sale of LFC to Fenway Sports Group. Mill Financial, a former LFC creditor, is suing RBS, alleging the bank orchestrated the sale of the club to the detriment of Mill, which had wanted to buy the team. New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten twice has turned down motions to dismiss the case. Now for the first time, RBS in papers filed before Bransten Feb. 21 denied it had controlled the Liverpool board, and asked the judge under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters to seek British intervention. RBS is asking for testimony and documents from former LFC Chair Martin Broughton; Managing Dir Ian Ayre; former Managing Dir Christian Purslow; Barclays Investment bank, which brokered the sale; and the law firm of Slaughter & May. The motion also asks for documents only from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which provided due diligence on the value of the club. The motion says RBS has contacted all the parties, but so far has been unable to obtain any information. Herrick Feinstein sports lawyer John Goldman explained that if Bransten forwards the motion to the British and they grant it, it would legally compel the individuals to provide testimony and documents. FSG is not a defendant in the case, but Bransten has already ordered the firm to submit to Mill’s discovery requests.
Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio during Saturday's annual address to the players said, "This year, we decided to invest in the team because we decided we had talent. We'll have the highest payroll in team history." In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt reported Attanasio "takes each year on a case-by-case basis," as opposed to "setting a budget and then signing players until reaching that level." Attanasio said, "We do try not to set a budget. There's nothing quite like the business of baseball. ... We're at the point now where we're well into the top half of payrolls in the major leagues" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/23).
SHIFTING GEARS: In Detroit, Tony Paul reported the Tigers this season "will introduce dynamic ticket pricing." The team will start adjusting prices March 3 and "will continue to do so right through the first pitch for each of their 81 home games." Prices are "expected to go up much more than they go down this season." The Tigers "will rely on" Qcue for their pricing software (DETROIT NEWS, 2/22). The Tigers also are "planning to announce 33 giveaways" for the '14 season, "in addition to 17 postgame fireworks extravaganzas" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/23).
HAIL TO THE CHIEF: In Atlanta, Mark Bradley writes while there "has been no significant acquisition to stoke the proverbial hot stoves," the Braves have "had a great offseason." By signing longterm extensions for four of "their splendid youngsters" -- 1B Freddie Freeman, SS Andrelton Simmons and Ps Julio Teheran and Craig Kimbrel -- the Braves "should be able to go core-to-core with anybody for a good long while." Bradley: "Some of this core-keeping has to do with the revenue stream that will flow from the move to Cobb County, and some surely is due to the influence of adviser John Hart. ... But most of the credit must go to the man who has seldom gotten credit for anything -- Frank Wren" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/25).
MONEY AIN'T A THING: MLB player agent Scott Boras said of Blue Jays Owner Rogers Communications, "There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers. It's a premium city. It's a premium owner with equity. And it's a very, very good team that with additional premium talent could become a contending team." Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous responded, "Our ownership has been outstanding and given us all the resources we need" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/23).