The Yankees plan on "exploring multiple avenues in an attempt to void" 3B Alex Rodriguez' contract if MLB disciplines him over a report yesterday that linked Rodriguez to performance-enhancing drugs, according to Matthews & Marchand of ESPN N.Y. A source said, "(The Yankees) can't do anything until the MLB investigation is concluded and they take action, if any." Sources said that Rodriguez "might be in little danger of having his contract voided, even if the charges turn out to be true." There is no "precedent to successfully void a contract in baseball over PEDs." The Yankees have five years and $114M left on the contract. A source said the Yankees "are looking at about 20 different things." This includes whether Rodriguez "breached the contract by taking medical treatment from an outside doctor without the team's authorization, and the possibility that he might have broken the law by purchasing controlled substances from a Miami 'wellness clinic' run by nutritionist Anthony Bosch." Sources said that even if it is "proved that Rodriguez received PEDs and HGH from Bosch, the Yankees would not be able to impose a punishment greater than the mandatory 50-game suspension stipulated for a first-time offender by baseball's collectively bargained Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program." A source said that the fact that the Yankees "continued to honor Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract extension after his public admissions of PED use in 2009 might further weaken their case to void the contract" (ESPNNY.com, 1/29). A source said that MLB "plans to summon Rodriguez to its New York offices after it receives paperwork from Drug Enforcement Agency officials." USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale cited a source as saying that the Yankees "unsuccessfully tried to void" former 1B Jason Giambi's contract in '04 "after he admitted steroid use to a San Francisco grand jury in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative case" (USA TODAY, 1/30). The N.Y. Daily News' John Harper said, “The penalties are in place for these guys if they do performance-enhancing drugs, and the Yankees know the risk. That’s the way Major League Baseball looks at it now” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 1/29).
CALLING THEIR SHOT? In N.Y., Thompson, O'Keeffe, Madden & McCarron cite a source as saying that the Yankees "might have had a better chance of getting out of Rodriguez’s contract in 2009 when he was outed as a steroid cheat and then admitted using PEDs." Unless there is "specific language in Rodriguez’s contract giving the Yankees void power if he comes up dirty for PEDs, they would likely have a tough time finding a way to get out from under the pact" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/30). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes this is a "Hail Mary the Yankees will be happy to attempt." The Yankees "want to save as much money as possible, especially because they have eyes on getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold next year." And the $27.5M they are "charged annually for A-Rod weighs down those efforts." A lawsuit to void the contract would be a "very difficult case to win." But maybe the "mere threat of more info arising from a court case would move Rodriguez to agree to a buyout" (N.Y. POST, 1/30).
Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon said that when the Bills began their Toronto series in '08, the team "drew about about 11 percent of their season-ticket holders from the greater Toronto area," but that number "is now more than 20 percent," according to Jay Skurski of the BUFFALO NEWS. The team and Rogers Communications yesterday announced a five-year extension to the agreement to play one regular-season game per year at the Rogers Centre, though it was not divulged "how much the Bills will be paid for this extension." Despite the Bills' "on-field struggles, both sides said Tuesday the extension -- which has been in the works for more than a year -- was never close to falling apart." Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said, "Negotiations always are easier when you both want to end at the same result." Skurski noted Brandon reiterated "why the Bills need to tap into that market." He said, "It's very important to our organization moving forward in today's NFL that we regionalize our brand." Brandon added that the team is "not trying to replicate the Ralph Wilson Stadium experience in Toronto." He said, "We have 55 years of tradition in Buffalo and in Orchard Park. We have five years of tradition [in Toronto]. We need a better on-field performance to turn people who are fans of the NFL, not particularly Bills fans, into Bills fans" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/30). In Toronto, Bob Mitchell notes it is expected the financial benefits "will be well below" the $78M the Bills received under the original deal in '08. Pelley said that bringing the Bills to Toronto for "another five years is all about providing 'world class premium content' of the NFL for Rogers and its sports properties" (TORONTO STAR, 1/30).
REALITY BITES? In Rochester, Sal Maiorana wrote, "Even though everyone knew the news was coming, emotions are stirred and people are up in arms that this is taking place. Again." Bills fans "have to get over this." The fact that the Bills have to "play one regular-season game at Rogers Centre per season is part of their reality." It would be "great if Buffalo was like Dallas or New York or even Denver and there were an endless string of mega-rich companies willing to provide the team with multiple major sources of revenue that would help the Bills fight more competitively in the big-boy world of the NFL." But that is "not the case." It almost is "a certainty that the Bills will bank more money on that game in Toronto than they would if the game was played at the Ralph" (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 1/29).
EVERYDAY VALUE: The Bills today announced that season-ticket prices for '13 will remain unchanged, and will be the same per-game price for the fourth-straight season. The Bills also are lowering the season-ticket cost on over 2,500 seats in the 300 level to $25 per game from $37 per game (BUFFALOBILLS.com, 1/30).
WTSP-CBS' Noah Pransky reported Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg yesterday told Pinellas County, Fla., commissioners that “fewer than 300 St. Pete residents have season-ticket accounts, accounting for just shy of 1,000 season tickets.” Sternberg “pointed out a lack of business support in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay’s fourth-biggest business center.” Rays President Matt Silverman “addressed the suggestion made last week” by Hillsborough Commissioner Victor Crist that the Rays “may have sandbagged its marketing budget in recent years.” Silverman said, “We spend millions of dollars a year marketing the team. If marketing could determine attendance (alone), we'd be drawing 2.5 million fans annually” (WTSP.com, 1/29). A TAMPA BAY TIMES editorial states Sternberg's request that Pinellas County “help facilitate a stadium study group that builds on the findings of a previous one sounds reasonable,” and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster “should embrace it.” The sessions between Sternberg and Pinellas County commissioners “turned up the heat on Foster to break the impasse” on stadium discussions “or get out of the way” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/30). IMAGE REHAB: In Miami, Douglas Hanks reports the Marlins yesterday “announced the hiring of a new public relations firm,” Miami-based JeffreyGroup, “to help with the team’s battered image.” The company “replaces RBB and founding partner Bruce Rubin, a longtime friend of owner Jeffrey Loria whose Coral Gables firm represented the team since it won the World Series in 2003.” JeffreyGroup President Mike Valdes-Fauli “declined to get into the details of the planned strategy for reviving the Marlins’ image.” But he “conceded his firm of about 100 employees has some work to do with their new client’s messaging” (MIAMI HERALD, 1/30).
FASHION PLATES: YAHOO SPORTS’ Mark Townsend reported the Brewers on Sunday “announced the winner of their ‘Design a YOUniform’ contest.” Richfield, Minn. resident Ben Peters’ winning design included a “cream-colored button-up jersey and navy blue cap,” as well as a “fancy patch with the barrelman logo that will go on the left sleeve.” All in all it “really is a nice uniform,” and the Brewers “will look good sporting it during two of their exhibition games this spring.” The first will be on March 22 against the Cubs, when “Peters and one guest will be flown in to attend.” The other “will be on March 30 at Miller Park" when the Brewers face the White Sox (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/28).