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Volume 24 No. 114


The Yankees' "blunt responses" to a N.Y. Daily News report that the owners are shopping the team are based, "in part, on estate planning by George Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, after turning the team into the family’s primary asset," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Sources said that Steinbrenner "set up myriad trusts throughout the Yankees empire for his children and grandchildren that include restrictions that would make selling the team difficult, if not impossible." While the family "could decide to sell the team, all the Steinbrenner heirs would have to agree and present a plan to outside trustees to show that it benefited the family." The proceeds from any sale "would be subject to the federal capital gains tax," which would be at a rate of 15% (, 5/24). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said Steinbrenner “thrived on being the Yankees owner” and “defined himself that way." However, his sons, Hal and Hank, "don’t necessarily have the same feelings" that their father did. Kornheiser said, "It might not be so hard for the Steinbrenner boys to look around at a market and go, ‘Oh my God, we have to consider if somebody’s going to pay us $3 billion’” ("PTI," ESPN, 5/24). The N.Y. Daily News' John Harper said, "I think it's Hal’s show, and you always wondered if he's committed to it. For him, I think it's more of a business than for George, it is not about the baseball for him. That thought has been out there that maybe he would sell it at some point.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Bruce Murray: “I don't think there's this love affair with the Yankees that there was for the dad. He treated them like a pet, like a child. For them, it is more of a business and when a business is worth a lot of money, it's sometimes worth investigating if you can get paid for it” ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 5/24).

EVERYTHING HAS A PRICE: USA TODAY's Paul White notes the rumors of a sale "raise the question: What is baseball's most storied franchise worth?" SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said, "All the Yankees assets together (including the YES Network), you'd be starting mid-$3 billion, approaching $4 billion." An MLB official said that if Hal Steinbrenner "were offered $4 billion, he'd have to take it, though the price could vary based on economic conditions." But White notes any idea of a Yankees sale "might be very abstract" (USA TODAY, 5/25). ESPN’s Dan Le Batard asked, “If the Dodgers are worth $2 billion -- mismanaged, thrown around in divorce court – what are the Yankees worth?" ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 5/24). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote owning an MLB team is "less about getting rich than it is staying rich." At the end, "you double your money, at worst." Brown: "These things do run their course, however. ... Maybe they'll sell one day. Maybe they won't. But, it made me think of two things: Everything has its price. And I miss George. And Hank" (, 5/24). In Detroit, Tony Paul writes, "The Steinbrenner clan might not be emotionally equipped to cope with 'rebuilding,' as much as the Yankees actually rebuild (reload probably is a more proper term). So unloading while the market appears white hot, well, it makes sense" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/25).

TROST'S REACTION NOT SURPRISING: In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes it was "not surprising" when Yankees COO Lonn Trost "reacted loudly to the Daily News' story." Trost was "pursuing the 'nuclear' option" during a Thursday appearance on WFAN-AM's "Boomer & Carton Show." He said, "With respect to Major League Baseball, we (the Yankees) will ask the commissioner (Bud Selig) to undertake an investigation and take appropriate action." Raissman notes if MLB "took Trost’s complaint seriously, it would likely conduct an investigation." But pro leagues "usually don’t do internal investigations based on the journalistic issue Trost is dealing with, especially when the sources of the 'rumors' were not confined to MLB." Most likely MLB "had its final say on this matter Thursday when it issued a one-sentence statement saying it has 'received no indications' from Yankees 'representatives' or 'anyone else that the club is for sale.'" The statement made "no mention of an investigation." Raissman: "Not to worry, Trost sounded good on the radio. He made his point" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/25).

Magic CEO Alex Martins "expects to begin interviewing" GM candidates next week, according to Josh Robbins of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Because the team's new head of basketball operations "will spearhead the search for a new head coach and because the NBA Draft looms on June 28 ... time is of the essence." Martins has "identified championship experience as a 'plus' for candidates" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/25). Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski noted when the Magic start interviewing GM candidates next week, “you’re going to see a traditional group of candidates.” Wojnarowski said the Magic have an ownership “that’s willing to spend money” and have “always been committed to spending the money it takes to win so in talking to potential candidates, there’s a great deal of interest there." However, he added there is a "level of chaos around the Orlando organization right now" (“NBC Sports Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 5/24).

SHAQ DENIES INTEREST: The SENTINEL's Robbins reported TNT analyst and former NBAer Shaquille O'Neal's "flirtation with the Orlando Magic's front office didn't last long," as O'Neal Thursday released a statement saying he was not going pursue the job. O'Neal: "I feel very fortunate to be with TNT and to have the best job in sports. I look forward to many more years with Charles (Barkley), Kenny (Smith) and E.J. (Ernie Johnson)" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/25). ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said O’Neal was “tempted and interested and curious about it," but when it "all came down to it, he really likes what he’s doing." MacMullan: "He loves TNT ... and he’s very happy in that role.” SB Nation’s Bomani Jones said O’Neal as a GM “would be highly entertaining, but I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe that’s the guy you want to be the general manager of your franchise” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 5/24). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said O'Neal "knows who he is, and I don’t know that Shaq wants to do the mundane, minute-to-minute work that an NBA executive has to do" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/24). In Orlando, Brian Schmitz wrote, "Shaq might like the IDEA of running a team, but it’s work. It’s a real job." A GM job in the NBA includes "making a thousand phone calls, knowing the salary-cap inside and out, making trades, relating to players, etc." It can be "a thankless role where being in the limelight ranks on the bottom of your list." Schmitz: "You can’t suddenly become a GM on training wheels, no matter how big a star you might have been" (, 5/24). Meanwhile, ESPN’s Magic Johnson said O’Neal “wants to be an owner.” Johnson: “Shaq has got a big personality. He feels he has to get paid for that big personality, for those championship rings. He definitely won’t be a general manager" ("Kia NBA Countdown," ESPN, 5/24).

: SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote, "On the surface, the idea was so farfetched it appeared to be a publicity stunt." The job "requires maturity and professional detachment." Whitley: "Successful GMs are consensus builders who work tirelessly behind the scenes. They have to resolve disputes, not instigate them." Whitley wrote, "You have to be the smartest guy in the room, not just the tallest." Still, if "properly motivated, Shaq is capable of grunt work." There is a "big difference, however, in riding along with cops and running the entire department." Whitley: "If Shaq is as smart as he thinks he is, he would have gone into his Magic interview and admitted he didn't know it all" (, 5/24).

EXIT STRATEGY: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote the Magic's decision to part ways with GM Otis Smith had less to do with "failed transactions and more to do with the Magic acquiescing to a star player’s every whim, which goes against everything Smith ever stood for." Smith has "spent his whole career being a team player, only to be cast aside because the Magic was too gutless to stand up to a me-first player." Smith's decision not to speak to the media after the team announced he would not return next season "speaks volumes about the despicable manner in which his exit was handled" (, 5/24)

It appears controversy over Joe Ricketts' conservative politics "will not stand in the way" of a $300M deal to renovate Wrigley Field, "but it could pave the way for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to play hardball with the Cubs," according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Emanuel said Thursday that he has "made his point with Tom Ricketts about how divisive and destructive the mayor believes it would have been for family patriarch Joe Ricketts to attack President Barack Obama." Emanuel said that he "sees no need to prolong the dispute, nor will he allow the controversy to sabotage Wrigley negotiations." He said, "At the appropriate time, [the Cubs will] represent their interests, and I'll represent the taxpayers." City Hall sources have said that they "still expect a Wrigley deal to get done because it’s a job creator and because Emanuel is all about 'putting points on the board.'" But the sources said that the controversy "could slow down the team’s accelerated construction timetable and empower the mayor to drive a harder bargain" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/25). In Illinois, Barry Rozner writes, "This is a bit of [a] problem for the Cubs, though probably a temporary one. It’s politics. It’s rhetoric. It’s about saving face now." If Emanuel thinks that helping the Cubs "was the right move before, if there was a framework for a deal already in place, Emanuel isn’t going to scuttle it because of the Joe Ricketts super PAC story." Emanuel is "not someone to cross and the mayor will get his pound of flesh, which means making the Cubs wait and wonder for many more months whether he's going to help them get a stadium deal done." Now it is "going to take more time, more campaign contributions to the right people and lots and lots of groveling" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 5/25).

In Chicago, Toni Ginnetti noted Emanuel earlier this week reached out to the White Sox, but “not the Cubs, to hold a tribute for the Chicago Police Dept. for its work during the NATO Summit.” Asked Wednesday if he considered asking the Cubs to take part, Emanuel would only say, “They did their event.” Ginnetti noted the Cubs' event was a tribute held Wednesday at the 19th District HQ near Wrigley Field. White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf said that he was “happy to oblige the request that came from the mayor’s office” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/24).

The White Sox’ “problems at the ticket booth are not being helped by a lack of winning baseball at U.S. Cellular Field this season,” according to Bruce Levine of ESPN CHICAGO. After about a quarter of the season, the White Sox are “on pace to draw 1.62 million fans, which would be the fewest since 1999 when they drew 1.349 million.” The team last season “barely surpassed 2-million mark in attendance,” making it the “third straight year that figure dropped.” A source said that the “major problem for the marketing department … is the lack of interest shown by the southwest and northwest suburban fan base.” The central city fan “typically shows up at the ballpark.” The White Sox have drawn “more than 2 million fans every season since 2005.” As part of the organization’s agreement with the Illinois Sports Authority, which operates the ballpark, the White Sox “do not start paying any rent until they draw 1.6 million in attendance.” After they reach that number, the rent “goes up incrementally for every 100,000 that show up” (, 5/23).

The CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced the club's major corporate sponsors for the '12 season, split between two levels of partnership. Along with stadium naming-rights holder Investors Group, building partners include Labatt Breweries, Pepsi, MTS, Rona, Pizza Hotline, Nissan, Manitoba Public Insurance and Recycle Everywhere. Major partners of the team include the Winnipeg Free Press, Subway Restaurants, PMA Canada, Tim Hortons, BFI, Purolato, the Winnipeg Sun, Old Dutch and MBNA Canada (Blue Bombers). Blue Bombers President & CEO Garth Buchko said, “Our sponsorships are at the highest level they’ve ever been. They’ve already exceeded last year’s sponsorships for the entire year, which was our best year ever.” He added, “We have seen some attrition from some sponsors who’ve cut back. I think we’ve maybe lost two or three sponsors in total. But we’ve had a significant number of new sponsors who’ve come on and increased their spending levels quite a bit” (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 5/24). In Winnipeg, Kirk Penton noted the team’s commitment to its sponsors “hasn’t been this transparent for some time and maybe ever.” The Blue Bombers were “expected to get a sponsorship boost because of Investors Group Field, but some felt they would lose that edge when it was revealed the park wouldn’t be ready” for the start of the ’12 season. A few sponsors “pulled their support because of the delay, but Buchko expect them to be back” in ’13. Buchko said, “I would say 95 percent have stuck with us for their original sponsorship commitment” (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/24).

In St. Louis, Jeremy Rutherford writes the question going around the Blues organization is whether team President of Hockey Operations John Davidson “will continue to grow” with the club. New Blues Owner Tom Stillman “is [in] the middle of determining the structure of the Blues' front office, and despite the fact that Davidson just finished the first year of a four-year contract, there are no assurances he will remain with the team.” Rutherford notes Davidson has a "window" in his deal, which “triggered when the ownership change took place and opened for an unspecified limited time, allowing him to seek employment outside of the organization.” There are reports that Davidson “has spoken with Calgary,” but he “flatly rejected the speculation as untrue” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/25).

: In Phoenix, Sarah McLellan writes the “sideshow that’s evolved without an owner" is a factor and could impact players’ decisions to stay with the Coyotes. And with the “scrutiny surrounding prospective owner Greg Jamison and the likelihood that he acquires the team at its peak, the buffer is fading.” Coyotes LW Ray Whitney, who is eligible for free agency after this season, said, "I don't want to go through another year and be a doormat in the league where you don't have ownership and people to stand up for you" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/25).

SHAKE IT UP: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said that he “still relishes his job with the Lakers and intends to be back calling the shots next season rather than inquire about one of the general manager vacancies around the league.” Kupchak: “If I weren't here, (Lakers owner) Dr. (Jerry) Buss would probably get 50 phone calls from present and former GMs that would love to have this job. That's because it's the best job in the league." Kupchak said that a “shakeup is in store for the franchise.” ESPN L.A.'s Dave McMenamin noted, “Nearly half the Lakers roster is set to become free agents this offseason, accounting for the entire bench, except” G Steve Blake (, 5/23).

TELL IT TO THE JUDGE: In Toronto, Rick Westhead writes the Blue Jays are “accusing a former top executive of breaking a confidentiality agreement by discussing the team’s financial and attendance records with the media after he was fired.” The Blue Jays “made the claim against” former VP/Ticket Sales & Service Patrick Elster in court documents in a lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court. Elster is “suing the club for $135,000 for breaching the terms of his severance agreement.” He worked for the team from December ‘03 until June '08. The Blue Jays also "want Elster to pay $300,000 for breaking his confidentiality agreement" (TORONTO STAR, 5/25).