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Volume 24 No. 156


Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt Saturday "called it 'tragic' that a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten and critically injured in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day," but said that he is "satisfied that the Dodgers have done everything they can to make the stadium as safe as possible," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. McCourt: "It's very, very unfair to take what was otherwise a fantastic day -- everything from the weather to the result of the game to just the overall experience -- and to have a few individuals mar that. It's a terrible thing. ... I'm not making any excuses whatsoever. It shouldn't happen. I'm quite confident that all of our measures were in place. You could have 2,000 policemen there, and it's just not going to change that random act of violence." McCourt added, "Let's keep in mind: It's opening day. There's 56,000 people. That’s a lot of people. The incidents we had relative to that were very few. That said, one is too many" (, 4/2). Dodgers VP/PR & Broadcasting Josh Rawitch, when asked if the team "put more security in the parking lot Friday night" after Thursday's incident, said, "We're not allowed to talk about security issues." In L.A., T.J. Simers wrote, "Shouldn't the Dodgers be talking their heads off about security issues, and whatever it takes to reassure fans they will have a positive experience?" (L.A. TIMES, 4/3).

NO CUTBACKS: In L.A., Dylan Hernandez reported the Dodgers' Opening Day payroll was "higher this year than it was in 2009, when the team made its last playoff appearance." Counting the five players who are on the DL, the Dodgers "will pay the players on their opening-day roster more than $95 million." They also are "on the hook for an additional $15 million-plus in salary deferments from previous seasons." The $95M figure "marks a significant increase from last season," when the Dodgers opened the season with an $83M payroll (L.A. TIMES, 4/2).

The Reds are "trending extremely well at the box office," according to John Fay of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. A total of 105,170 fans attended the team's three game opening series against the Brewers at Great American Ball Park, "up 21,100 from the opening series last year." Thursday's Opening Day game "was a sellout," and the Reds "did significantly better than last year in Games 2 and 3." Saturday's game was attended by 37,967 fans, "up about 9,500 from Game 2 in 2010." Sunday's contest drew 24,805, "more than 11,000 higher than Game 3 in 2010." The second and third games last year "were on Wednesday and Thursday."   Still, Fay writes Saturday's crowd "shocked" him. Fay: "Going head-to-head with Kentucky in the Final Four ... nearly 38,000 showed up anyway." The attendance numbers are "very important to the long-term health of the franchise." Fay: "Those long-term contracts the Reds gave out over the winter are relatively cheap for this season. But they become much more expensive next year and much, much more expensive in 2013" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/4).

ON THE RISE: In Toronto, Richard Griffin writes the Blue Jays' opening series against the Twins was a "good one" for the team, as they drew 110,683 fans at Rogers Centre. The series marked "only the third time since the turn of the century they've exceeded 100,000," and "both other times, in 2002 and 2008, were against Boston and both were on weekends." Griffin wonders, "How do the Jays keep up the impetus for the whole season, to the point where they average even just 30,000 per home date?" Blue Jays President Paul Beeston: "We have to make our players personalities, so fans can identify with the players' personalities. If they can do that, I think we've got a real chance. ... It's a quick fall to the bottom and a long climb to the top. I think we've turned the corner" (TORONTO STAR, 4/4). Also in Toronto, Chloe Fedio noted the Blue Jays are offering a Jr. Jays Saturdays promotion "to get more kids out to the ball game." The promotion "includes half-price tickets for the 14-and-under crowd and an invitation to run the bases after the game." When the weather "warms up, Jr. Jays Saturdays will include pre-game outdoor activities, including inflatable rides, face painters and autograph sessions with the players" (TORONTO STAR, 4/3).

INDIANS SEE RECORD-LOW CROWDS: In Cleveland, Dennis Manoloff reports the paid attendance for yesterday's White Sox-Indians game was 8,726, the "lowest ever at Progressive Field, breaking the mark of 9,853 set Saturday afternoon" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/4). The two games come after the team for its season opener Friday "featured a sold out crowd." Prices at Progressive Field "have dropped ... making it more affordable for a day at the ball park," however that "doesn't seem to be drawing anyone to the games" (, 4/3).

In Minneapolis, Sid Hartman reported it has been a "tough year financially" for both the T'Wolves and the Wild, "with each team losing money." The T'Wolves "could lose up to $20 million and are reported to have a big debt at one of the local banks." The Wild "lost some money last year and will lose some more this year, but not as much as the Wolves" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/3).

: In Sacramento, Marcos Breton noted the one man "driving" the NBA Kings' potential relocation to Anaheim is Ducks Owner Henry Samueli, the "telecommunications billionaire who is looking to add a sports empire to his impressive portfolio." Samueli's "interests are plainly obvious: An NBA team would make an ideal tenant to pair with his NHL team in Anaheim's Honda Center." Adding an NBA team "could open the possibility for an Anaheim-based sports TV network," which "certainly has been the trend in sports media." Breton wrote, "While there is no guarantee that the Kings will tap into Southern California's vast masses and corporate wealth, their move is being sold on the possibility that it might" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/3).

CALL FROM HEADQUARTERS: In N.Y., Brian Costello reported the Yankees received a call from MLB Saturday after Keith Olbermann "posted a photo on Twitter of one of their employees sitting behind home plate at Thursday's opener giving hand signals to the dugout." In the photo, Yankees Baseball Operations Assistant Brett Weber was shown "wearing a headset and holding up four fingers during the game with the Tigers, signaling pitch speeds." There is an "MLB-issued bulletin prohibiting teams from using hand signals to relay pitch information." But Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that VP & Assistant GM Jean Afterman "explained the scoreboard radar gun was not working and Weber was relaying velocity to hitters who wanted it" (, 4/2).

FANS EJECTED: In Vancouver, Neal Hall noted two Canucks fans "wearing pink T-shirts emblazoned with the words 'Hockey Luvin Homo' were removed" from Thursday's Kings-Canucks game. The fans sat "in the first row, right behind the Canucks bench." Their shirts at first "appeared to read 'Hockey Luvin,' but when a TV camera panned over, the two young men removed duct tape from their shirts to unveil the word 'homo.'" The back of their shirts read "Henrietta" and "Daniella," in homage to Canucks C Henrik Sedin and LW Daniel Sedin, and the fans "apparently call themselves the Sedin sisters." The Canucks in a statement Friday said that the fans were removed from Rogers Arena "after they were asked -- but refused -- to cover the derogatory term for gays" (VANCOUVER SUN, 4/2).