In N.Y., Peter Vecsey cites a source as saying that Larry Bird's stint as Pacers President of Basketball Operations is "coming to a conclusion at season's end regardless" of how the team finishes. Hired six seasons ago as then-Pacers President & CEO Donnie Walsh’s "eventual replacement, Bird was paid" $5M a year for the first five years. It appeared he was "about to retire to his home in Naples, Fla., after last season." But a "strong finish, topped by a promising first round playoff showing against the Bulls, and an appeal from Owner Herb Simon to stick around convinced him otherwise, in spite of having his salary slashed" to $1M. A handshake promise was given to Simon last summer by Bird that he "would consider re-upping for another season, but that has been ruled out." Sources believe that in replacing Bird, Simon is "more apt to choose a marquee name like Reggie Miller or Chris Mullin as opposed to promoting the people on site," like GM David Morway or Dir of Player Personnel Kevin Pritchard (N.Y. POST, 3/23).
NEGOTIATING TACTICS: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote the fact that the NFL has stripped $46M in combined cap space from the Redskins and Cowboys for their spending habits in the uncapped '10 season was lost "in the frenetic flow of news over the past few days." A source said that the Redskins "currently plan to plead their case among the NFL's movers and shakers" at the league meetings in Florida next week, "hopeful that some momentum can be built toward reversing the outcome." Florio noted that had the Redskins taken any legal action prior to the league meetings, it "surely would have resulted in some awkward moments in Palm Beach for the Redskins delegation" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 3/22).
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? In Tampa, Robert Trigaux notes Rays marketing execs unveiled this season's ad campaign, a "rotating theme based on the word 'Experience.'" The overall slogan is "Experience the Rays." The first print ad was set to run Thursday, featuring an image of Rays manager Joe Maddon and 3B Evan Longoria in mid-hug with the words, "Experience: History." The first TV ad runs Monday. The campaign "extends to radio and billboards." Increasingly, the Rays are "pushing into social media sites ranging from Facebook and Twitter to FourSquare, Yelp and (particularly to reach women) the pinboard-style, image-sharing site Pinterest." It is the first season the Rays "went strictly with in-house expertise." The team "skipped the outside ad agency and conjured up their own campaign" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/23).
BIG THINGS BREWING: In Milwaukee, Don Walker writes the Brewers "are well positioned for another attendance record at Miller Park." Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said Thursday that "ticket sales are running 10% ahead of last year." Schlesinger: "It's physically impossible for us to sustain that because we won't have enough seats in the ballpark. We are capped at 3.25 million capacity at Miller Park. A 10% jump in growth from last year means we will be selling seats in the plaza." The Brewers in the '11 season "set a franchise attendance mark: 3,071,373 fans" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/23).