The NBA Kings currently hold a 2-8 record, their "worst start in more than 20 years,” and "discontent is a theme among fans, some of whom booed the team off the court after a recent loss,” according to a front-page piece by Kawahara & Bizjak of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The Kings' average crowd at Sleep Train Arena through six homes games is 12,490, "last in the NBA and ... their lowest at this point in three seasons.” Fans offer a “host of reasons for their frustration,” one being that they find the play on the floor “uninspired.” The Kings last made the playoffs during the '05-06 season, and some fans said that they are “suffering from the cumulative effect of years of losing seasons -- with no end in sight.” Sutton & Associates Principal Bill Sutton said that besides the “subpar play, the arena drama of the past few years has undoubtedly caused some fans to stay away.” There is “lingering resentment toward the team's owners, the Maloof family.” Kawahara & Bizjak note Kings fans “worry about the dwindling crowds.” By people not coming to games, they “may simply be giving the team owners more ammunition to argue to the NBA that the franchise is no longer viable in Sacramento, and should be allowed to move” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/21).
TIME FOR A CHANGE: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie “has to go, and he has to take the entire basketball operations staff with him.” If the Maloofs are “remotely interested in sustaining the Kings in Sacramento, tabling the new arena vs. renovated arena conversations at least for a few more days/months/years, they need to issue one sure, swift, franchise-shaking statement.” Voisin: “Incrementally and undeniably, both by inertia and repeated mistakes, Petrie has stripped the once-proud franchise of its passion, its identity, its collective soul. ... It was a great run while it lasted, and Petrie ran a great operation for a while. But it's over” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/20).
Yankees Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner insists the team "can stay a championship contender with a huge payroll, but one south” of $189M, however the N.Y. POST's Joel Sherman wondered if Steinbrenner is "risking a brand worth billions to recoup the millions that would come from being under $189 million in 2014.” The “fixation to drop under $189 million is financially motivated by two potential streams of money.” The first “involves the luxury tax,” for which they “currently pay 40 cents on every dollar over the $178 million threshold.” The threshold “rises to $189 million in 2014 and -- as a repeat offender -- so do the penalties, to a 50 percent tax.” Thus, a $10M-a-year player would “cost the Yankees $15 million.” By going under $189M, the Yankees would “save the difference between that payroll and their familiar $200 million-plus outlay.” The second inducement is “in the CBA’s revenue sharing refund program.” It is a “complicated concept and formula, but what is important to know is the Yankees would be rebated a percentage of what is the highest revenue-sharing payment in the sport, but -- and this is key -- only in years they are under the luxury tax threshold.” If not, they “forfeit the rebate.” Some “initial projections had the Yankees getting between $5 million-$8 million after 2014 with a steady climb afterward.” Between lower payroll, no tax and the steadily climbing rebate, the Yankees “could save real money, $30 million-plus annually perhaps” (N.Y. POST, 11/18).
LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL: With News Corp. acquiring 49% of YES Network with a chance to own 80% in a few years, SportsNet N.Y.'s Jonas Schwartz noted many fans are "starting to wonder about the motives of the Steinbrenner family” and whether this is “just good business or a precursor to eventually selling the Yankees.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Pat Leonard said the move “sets the table for them to have more options going forward if they were to want to sell the team." But the sale of a piece YES Network at this point is a “way to make more money, and then to partner with other networks who can then cross-promote.” Leonard: “It just seems like sound business.” N.Y. Daily News’ Bruce Murray said the current Steinbrenner family does not “love baseball." Murray: "George loved baseball. They are bottom-line businessmen who happen to own the Yankees right now.” If the team “becomes valuable enough to sell it to somebody else, I think they’ve set themselves up to do that.” The N.Y. Daily News’ John Harper said, "I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up selling it because every indication that you get is that (Hal Steinbrenner) is just a businessman and he looks at the Yankees as a business” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 11/20).
The AP’s Ronald Blum noted the MLBPA will monitor the Marlins following their “payroll purge, saying it is too early to determine whether the salary cuts will cause any issues under baseball's labor contract.” After complaints by the union that the Marlins “weren't using revenue-sharing money to improve," the union, MLB and the Marlins "reached a three-year agreement in January 2010 that the team would increase payroll annually as it prepared to move into its new ballpark in 2012” (AP, 11/20). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes under the header, “Time For Marlins’ Owner Loria To Talk.” Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria has not spoken "to fans and taxpayers” following last week's multi-player trade with the Blue Jays despite last winter having “sold us on the new Marlins.” All the free-agent acquisitions “are gone, the atmosphere is toxic and Loria is nowhere to be found” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/21).
LONG-TERM PLANNING: In Boston, Peter Abraham noted Red Sox GM Ben Cherington’s “goal is long-term success, not a quick fix after last season’s 93-loss debacle.” However, after the Blue Jays’ trade with the Marlins landed them SS Jose Reyes and Ps Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, it “created the perception among some fans that the Sox are stagnant.” With MLB's Winter Meetings still two weeks away, the Red Sox are “well ahead of the glacial pace of last fall” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/20). NO BURYING THEIR HEADS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Mark Townsend noted the Phillies’ Double-A Eastern League affiliate in Reading, Penn., Saturday announced it will “now be known as the Reading Fightin Phils, adding the Phillies' longtime nickname to their own, and the new logo will feature an ostrich striking a fighting pose.” GM Scott Hunsicker said, “Our main impetus (in the rebrand) was that we felt the Reading Phillies (logo) didn't speak to kids. It was a word. We've got to speak to the children of our community; we've got to engage them, and kids really latch onto animals.” He added, “Look at (minor league) franchises that are resonating: The (Lehigh Valley) IronPigs, the (Richmond) Flying Squirrels, the (Lake Elsinore) Storm, the (Clearwater) Threshers. They all have fun (names and images), something that speaks to children. We didn't have one” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/17).