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Volume 24 No. 117

Leagues Governing Bodies

          ABL: The ABL signed Jennifer Azzi to a four-year
     contract extension (ABL).  League CEO Gary Cavalli said
     Azzi's signing means 29 of the ABL's top 35 players have
     signed contract extensions.  Cavalli: "We expect three more
     to be announced soon, leaving three others who want to
     wait."  The Rage's Dawn Staley has yet to resign and Cavalli 
     said Staley is "very, very important to the league. 
     Obviously she's No. 1 on our list" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 10/24).
          GENERAL: MLS Deputy Commissioner Sunil Gulati said that
     the league will likely retain all its foreign players in
     '98, and he predicts that about 20 new international players
     will come into the league next season (USA TODAY, 10/24).
     ...CART's season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix has been moved
     from March 1 to March 15 "in order to secure a better" TV
     package.  Details of the TV deal were not disclosed (STAR-
     NEWS, 10/24)....The Pacers-Hornets exhibition game on
     Tuesday in Nashville drew 9,338 at the 16,000-plus seat
     Nashville arena (NASHVILLE BANNER, 10/23)....The Panthers
     have filed a grievance with the NFL Management Council.  The
     team is looking to collect the unpaid fines that former
     Panther Kevin Greene incurred during his holdout. It is also
     looking to recoup a $350,000 roster bonus that it paid
     Greene last February.  The matter goes before an independent
     arbitrator next week (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/24). 

          In a "rare outburst of anger and candor," Marlins
     Manager Jim Leyland "lashed out at critics" of the '97 World
     Series, according to Dan Shaughnessy of the BOSTON GLOBE. 
     Leyland "seemed to be directing some of his anger" at Acting
     Commissioner Bud Selig, who criticized the quality and pace
     of play during the first few games.  Leyland: "I'm sick and
     tired of hearing about New York and Atlanta and Baltimore. 
     We won it.  We are the teams that are supposed to be here,
     and it makes me puke when I continue to hear people talking
     about the Marlins and the Indians."  More Leyland: "This
     game has a hell of a lot more problems than the (expletive)
     TV ratings" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/24).  Leyland added that MLB
     should start its World Series games earlier: "[I]n my
     opinion, we contradict ourselves a lot in baseball.  We're
     trying to get the youth involved, for God sakes.  Most youth
     are sleeping by 9 o'clock, and more importantly, so is the
     guy that works from 7 o'clock to 4 or 5 in the afternoon. 
     The blue-collar guy is tired. ... The ratings of this World
     Series (are) not very high on the list of problems we've got
     with baseball" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/24). 
          REAX:  In Washington, Thomas Boswell noted both the
     comments of Selig and Leyland: "Is baseball finally coming
     out of its denial phase?  This may end up being the worst-
     played, least watched World Series in history.  But it also
     could be a watershed in candor.  For the first time,
     baseball is admitting publicly the depth and number of its
     problems" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/24). In Philadelphia, Bill
     Conlin called Leyland's remarks "one of the great bursts of
     compulsive truth-telling ever heard in a sport in which
     lying is an accepted art" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/24). 
     In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes Leyland spoke "honestly, and
     from the heart, without editing himself. ... His rant turned
     out to be better than these games, and moved along much
     quicker" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/24).  Also in N.Y., Tom Keegan
     called Leyland's remarks "refreshing" (N.Y. POST, 10/24). 
          RATINGS: Reaction continued to the Series' low ratings. 
     NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay writes the "big reason" for the
     interest drop "is that we're seeing the continuing residue
     from the bitter strike" and cancelled Series of '94.  Zipay:
     "The casual viewer left and never came back.  Simple as
     that" (NEWSDAY, 10/24).  In Toronto, Stephen Brunt writes
     the Series "has to win an audience anew each and every year. 
     And all of the things that wouldn't have mattered so much
     when it was a cultural institution -- the late start times,
     the long games, the bad play, the lack of entertainment
     value -- matter a great deal" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 10/24). 
     An editorial in today's PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "Wake up,
     baseball.  Move up the starting times and speed up the
     games" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/24). 
          ROUND-UP: In NC, Caulton Tudor writes the '97 Series is
     "yet another reminder of the sport's mortality."  Tudor:
     "Once entrenched as the national pastime, baseball has
     become a rebel without a cause, clue, compass or conscience"
     (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/24).  But in Philadelphia,
     Jayson Stark writes, "In the '90s, life is different and the
     World Series are different.  Too bad some folks just haven't
     figured that out yet" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/24).

          The NBPA "hopes to present a united front when its
     agents advisory committee meets" today in N.Y., according to
     ESPN's David Aldridge.  Aldridge: "The committee contains
     most of the agents who were part of the unsuccessful
     decertification effort two years ago.  But now most of those
     agents -- including David Falk, Arn Tellem, Mark
     Bartelstein, Bill Strickland -- are firmly in control of the
     union.  They'll likely come out of the meeting talking about
     more exemptions for veterans, and decrying the league's
     contention that a third of its teams could lose money this
     season while a half dozen coaches received financial
     windfalls in the offseason" ("SportsCenter," 10/23).