Dodgers President Peter O'Malley decision to put the
Dodgers up for sale was examined in an analysis by Wilgoren
& Rutten of the L.A. TIMES. O'Malley "appears to have been
influenced ... [by] his deep personal disappointment over
the failure of the city and the community immediately around
Dodger Stadium to back his bid" for an NFL team, but "the
relative importance of O'Malley's unhappiness with the
city's treatment of his football bid is hard to gauge." A
source "close to O'Malley" says that O'Malley was "disturbed
greatly" when L.A.'s City Hall asked him to bid for the
franchise, then backed the bid to put an NFL team at L.A.'s
Memorial Coliseum rather than Chavez Ravine. L.A. Mayor
Richard Riordan: "Unfortunately, his bid never got a chance
to play itself out fully." Steven Soboroff, Riordan's
Senior Policy Advisor said the Dodgers "never completed a
thorough economic analysis of their (NFL bid) and they were
a long way from financially validating its viability."
QUESTIONABLE SUPPORT? The TIMES' Wilgoren & Rutten cite
"knowledgeable sources" inside L.A.'s business and legal
communities, who say O'Malley's feelings about the NFL
sequence of events "probably paled in comparison to the
financial considerations and his well-known distaste for the
current culture of major league baseball -- particularly its
player salary structure and revenue-sharing policies." With
O'Malley unable to "grow his business" by acquiring an NFL
team, other investors said that he had to "confront" the
fact that his extended family was dependent on a single
asset -- the Dodgers -- "which was not only liquid, but also
experiencing increasing cash flow problems. ... [T]he
Dodgers -- though generally profitable -- have had to borrow
increasing amounts to meet short-term expenses in recent
years." Even with the sale, some familiar with NFL
negotiations believe that O'Malley "may yet get involved in
pro football" as an owner of a franchise that would play
either in the Coliseum or elsewhere (L.A. TIMES, 1/12).
WEEKEND REAX: In Boston, Peter Gammons notes that
O'Malley "did promise" NL owners that he will continue the
"fight" for a new MLB commissioner at this week's meetings
in AZ, because, for one thing, "he believes having a new
commissioner will enhance the value of his franchise"
(BOSTON GLOBE, 1/12). In Houston, Alan Truex notes that
O'Malley "unwittingly contributed to his demise by joining
with the radicals to oust commissioner Fay Vincent --
thereby setting the stage for the devastating three-year
labor war" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/11). ESPN's Bob Ryan:
"Anybody who knows anything about sports must concede that
both Walter and his boy knew how to run a franchise. There
truly was something known as a 'Dodger Touch,' and now it
will be lost forever" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 1/12).
The NHL Rangers unveiled their third jersey which
features a darker shade than the club's usual royal blue and
features a likeness of the Statue of Liberty above the
letters NYR. The Rangers will wear the jersey for the first
time tonight against the Islanders (NEWSDAY, 1/11).
Columnist Joe Lapointe, on the Rangers' new jersey: "Perhaps
the Rangers should be careful with this jersey business. In
hockey, it's a fine line between fashion and passion" (N.Y.
TIMES, 1/12)....In Indianapolis, former Mariners Owner Jeff
Smulyan, on talks of the Colts leaving Indianapolis: "The
city still has a binding, 18-year lease, so even if the team
goes somewhere else, that city would be liable for damages.
And no city can afford that ... no city can live with
contingent liabilities" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 1/11).
Police over the weekend cleared Cowboys Erik Williams
and Michael Irvin of a sexual assault charge after
determining that the accusation was false. Williams is
considering legal action "against the police department and
others," and Irvin and his lawyer "have not discussed their
next step" (Kelly Carter, USA TODAY, 1/13).
MEDIA ETHICS EXAMINED: In the wake of Irvin's and
Williams' clearance, the ethics of sports media was examined
by ESPN's Jeremy Schaap on "SportsWeekly." Dallas Morning
News Exec VP & Editor Ralph Langer: "The story was forced by
what the police department did. They had a choice to not do
that and they did it, and once they went public and read
these people's names into the record, then it couldn't not
be reported" Bob Lichter, head of Center for Media & Public
Affairs: "It was just too juicy. Violence against women,
celebrity athletes out of control, the Dallas Cowboys riding
for a fall" ("SportsWeekly," ESPN, 1/12).
REAX: Header in the DALLAS MORNING NEWS: "Image Still
Tarnished, Pundits Say. Some Call Backlash Unavoidable
Despite Vindication Of Players" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/12).
Header in the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM: "Cowboys Need To
Tackle PR Crisis" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/12). Mike
Lupica: "Sometimes we all go too far, and they were innocent
this time, and you know what? It is about time" ("The
Sports Reporters," ESPN, 1/12). NBC's Cris Collinsworth
said Irvin and Williams "deserve the same kind of treatment
on national television once this story went away that it got
when this whole thing started to break" (NBC, 1/12).
The T-Wolves have become a "hot ticket," according Sid
Hartman of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Including sales
for upcoming games, they have sold more tickets this season
than all of '95-96. T-Wolves VP/Sales & Marketing Chris
Wright: "We used to sell [Michael] Jordan and other NBA
stars, but now we can sell Kevin Garnett, Tom Gugliotta and
Stephon Marbury, our own stars. The commercials are sold
out on our Channel 11 TV and MSC broadcasts, and 90 percent
of our radio (ad time) is sold." Wright added the T-Wolves
corporate sponsors have increased from 40 last year to 68;
they have only two unsold suites, which they rent out on a
game-by-game basis; season-ticket sales are up 2,000 to
9,400; and they are selling 2,000-3,000 tickets at the box
office each game night (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/11).
The Bullets won a trademark infringement case Friday,
clearing the way for the team to change its name to the
Wizards next season, according to Heath & Adande of the
WASHINGTON POST. The ruling allows the Bullets and the NBA
to move ahead with developing Wizards merchandise in time
for the team's move into the MCI Center this fall. The
trademark case was brought by the Harlem Wizards, a
traveling comedy basketball team, and they said they plan to
appeal the decision. U.S. District Judge William Walls said
the Harlem Wizards "would not be affected because fans will
know the obvious differences between them and the NBA team."
The N.Y. firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
represented the NBA and the Bullets. Harlem Wizards players
testified that some people who saw them wearing "Wizards"
shirts asked them if they played for the Bullets, but Walls
wrote that "these examples are too weak and few to establish
actual confusion" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/11).
In a TV interview taped Friday, CT Gov. John Rowland
said that he would not oppose a move by the Whalers this
year if the proposal for a new facility "does not make
sense," according to Jeff Jacobs in the HARTFORD COURANT.
Rowland: "Let's make a decision. The Whalers want to know
if we're going to build this facility. If we're not, they
want to leave early. And I think that's fair. They don't
want to have a lame-duck (season). That doesn't serve
anybody's purposes." Rowland did not say if he would make
the Whalers pay an exit fee. When lease negotiations broke
down last spring, Rowland said it would cost the Whalers
$30M to break their Civic Center lease. Rowland said the
team staying in Hartford is "a 50-50 shot" (HARTFORD
COURANT, 1/11). Whalers Owner Peter Karmanos "sounded
appreciative," after Rowland's remarks, but said his "No. 1
concern ... is to come up with the best solution to keep the
Whalers in Hartford" (Jeff Jacobs, HARTFORD COURANT, 1/12).