The results of the vote on financing for a new stadium for
the Mariners will not be known until Monday, but regardless of
any potential Mariners move, ESPN's Peter Gammons believes
baseball will realign soon. Gammons reports that Montreal could
possibly change to the AL East, with Detroit moving to the AL
Central. In the NL, Gammons says MLB leaders would like to
create a division with Kansas City or Texas joining Colorado and
Arizona. The movement between leagues would create a rivalry
between St. Louis and K.C. and Houston and Texas (Rudy Martzke,
USA TODAY, 9/21).
DC LOOKS TO WASHINGTON: In this morning's WASHINGTON TIMES,
Thom Loverro reports that Virginia Baseball officials have had
talks with Mariners ownership about the sale of the club
(WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/21). Meanwhile, ESPN's Gammons predicts the
Pirates will open next year at RFK Stadium: "I would be shocked
if the Pirates weren't in Washington (D.C.) next year." Gammons
says MLB's owners will show no support in blocking the move for
O's Owner Peter Angelos, who takes 25% of his fan base from the
DC area (USA TODAY, 9/21).
IndyCar Owners are preparing for a meeting "that will decide
whether they will go through with a proposed boycott" of next
May's Indy 500, according to this morning's DETROIT NEWS. The
boycott would be in response to the Indy 500's new qualifying
format. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George, who
is leading the upstart Indy Racing League, enacted the changes
which require 25 of 33 qualifying spots be reserved for IRL
drivers. Although IndyCar President & CEO Andrew Craig refused
to comment, some IndyCar owners indicate they are preparing for
an alternative race. Walker Racing Owner Derrick Walker: "There
is some serious testing of the water, but the button hasn't been
pushed yet." Walker added that "there will be an owners meeting
real soon," and "there is no doubt" IndyCar teams "will be racing
Memorial Day. There's no way the teams and sponsors can afford
not to ... and I guarantee it will be on television." Several
sources indicate an alternate race could be held at Michigan
International Speedway, in Brooklyn, MI, owned by Roger Penske
(Angelique Chengelis, DETROIT NEWS, 9/21). Car Owner Chip
Ganassi said talk of a boycott is real: "We have a position and
we've made it known to Tony. I hope cooler heads prevail"
(BOSTON HERALD, 9/21). Michael Andretti: "I would hate to see
it happen, because Indy is a great race. But Tony's got to
understand it's not the only race" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/21).
FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Tony George was in Loudon, NH,
yesterday promoting the New England 200, which will be part of
the '96 IRL schedule. George said he was surprised at talk of a
boycott, according to this morning's BOSTON HERALD. George, on
IndyCAR and CART Owners: "Boycott is something that I though was
not in their vocabulary. ...We expect to have a field of
competition that may or may not include that specific group of
owners or drivers. But that's totally up to them." Car owner
Dick Simon said he would not boycott Indy "because of obligations
to his team and sponsors." Simon: "I have to look at the fact
we've already signed an agreement to run Indy. ... I'll do my
best to do whatever it takes to make sure our sponsors and our
team are at the Indianapolis 500. I have to do that." Driver
Eddie Cheever said he will be at the Brickyard on Memorial Day
Weekend. Cheever: "When I came to the States, my sole objective
was to win the Indianapolis 500." Cheever added that a boycott
by top teams "would not hurt the race." Cheever: "There was no
Penske car last year and it didn't kill the race" (Stephen
Grabowski BOSTON HERALD, 9/21).
LESSONS FROM BASEBALL? In a piece in the current INSIDE
SPORTS, Lewis Franck notes that without an alternative to the
Indy 500, drivers will risk not running in "the race your
sponsors care most about." George says the new series will
reduce costs, but Franck notes that many think it will destroy
the sport. Mario Andretti: "We're not competing with other
series -- we're competing with other sports. I've told Tony, 'I
don't care how you put it -- there's not room for two series.
One has to die.'" Franck writes: "Hasn't anyone learned the
lessons from baseball? Fans don't want to see replacement
players. They don't care about which acronym sanctions what
race, or about those behind-the-scenes power grabs. They just
want a good show" (INSIDE SPORTS, 10/95 issue).
The pre-1955 NBPA, "championed by 1952 co-rookie of the year
Bill Tosheff," wants $4.5M of the new CBA to include 66 veterans
with at least three years' experience not currently included in
pension benefits," according to Greg Boeck of USA TODAY.
Tosheff: "We're dying off fast. Take care of us and set history
straight. We set the table for what is today" (USA TODAY, 9/21).
STARSPEAK: Charles Barkley, on how the NBA's labor strife
affected his friendship with Michael Jordan: "It put a strain on
our friendship. He finally called me last week. He hadn't
called me since I wrote an article (against decertification) in
USA Today. I have my perspective and he and everyone else
respects it. I'm not saying it's a great deal, I want to make
that clear. It isn't that good. It wouldn't have an effect on
me. I just think 95 percent of the players couldn't afford a
strike or lockout. I stayed out of the union stuff until I saw
it going in that direction" (Bob Young, ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/21).
Hakeem Olajuwan, on the decision not to decertify: "It worked
out for the best because with the direction of the league, the
way the NBA is growing so fast it would be foolish for us to do
anything otherwise" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/21).
The NFL cancelled a court hearing today on the league's
$300M lawsuit against the Cowboys after Jerry Jones promised the
team would not file its own lawsuit without advance notice. The
league announced that the only issue that will be discussed today
will be the status of a temporary restraining owner in place
barring the Cowboys from filing any lawsuits of their own. In
this morning's FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, Mike Fisher reports that
Jones and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft have discussed a change to
the league's revenue sharing plan. The plan would split "about
in half" the 5% monitored by NFL Properties -- about $100M last
year. One portion would be paid directly to clubs that market
themselves; the other divided among the 30 teams based on market
size. An NFL source told the STAR-TELEGRAM that Jones thinks
he'll win in court, "but he's also confident he'll win other
owners over without court" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/21).
Kraft, in this morning's USA TODAY: "There is a bigger issue here
-- local selling and marketing, and who can do a better job. ...
If we get to the substance of the issues, maybe there can be some
amendments made while keeping the spirit of sharing" (USA TODAY,
9/21). Columnist Bryan Burwell notes there is "a silent minority
of owners who have invested as much as Jones has into the pro
football business, who are rooting for Jones as he finds new ways
to produce big profits" (USA TODAY, 9/21).
WHO DOESN'T APPLAUD RAMPANT CAPITALISM: There is support
this morning for Jones' proposals, at least among columnists. In
Washington, Dan Daly writes, "If you can put your feelings about
the man aside for a moment, you might see some sense in his
proposal" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/21). In St. Louis, Jeff Gordon
writes, "If he wants to build his Cowboys franchise into the
ultimate capitalist venture, we should applaud him. That's free
enterprise" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/21). Burwell: "Jones
makes a lot of sense when he talks about individual teams
marketing their own products" (USA TODAY, 9/21). In
Philadelphia, Bill Lyon writes, "The courts tend to support
capitalism" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/21).
AND FROM A SLIGHTLY BIASED OBSERVER: Emmitt Smith on Jerry
Jones and the NFL: "I don't think the NFL has a chance. I really
don't. I think the man knew exactly what he was getting into
when he made the deals, so I don't think he would have made the
deals if he thought he was going to get sued for a large amount
of money" (CNN, 9/20).
The chances of NHL players participating in the '98 Nagano
Games "improved this week," as the NHL and NHLPA are engaged in
"high level talks," according to this morning's GLOBE & MAIL.
Optimism also comes from an official of the Int'l Ice Hockey
Federation. IIHF VP Rickard Fagerlund said, to his knowledge,
the NHL has agreed to shut down for 16 days in '98 to accommodate
the Olympics. The NHLPA wants players to have four days between
arrival in Japan and their first day of competition, as well as a
recovery period after the Games (Alan Adams, Toronto GLOBE &
MAIL, 9/21). USA Hockey President Walter Bush echoed the IIHF's
optimism. Bush: "I think it will happen. I think everyone
realizes it's a win-win-win situation." A proposal for NHL
participation must be presented at the IIHF meetings next week in
Budapest (USA TODAY, 9/21).