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Volume 24 No. 117


The Red Sox are "making an effort to woo back season ticket-holders" after admitting last month sales are down 10% from the '12 season, according to Amalie Benjamin of the BOSTON GLOBE. There have been "phone banks, with interns and ticketing staffers and even" Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino and 3B Will Middlebrooks "placing calls." Both VP & COO Sam Kennedy and Senior VP/Ticketing Ron Bumgarner said that the team has "made every effort to speak with season ticket-holders who have not renewed, though they acknowledged that people who told them early and definitively may not have gotten calls." Bumgarner said that the Red Sox are "in phase one of their season-ticket process." Benjamin reports they are "wrapping up contacting the current ticket-holders and will move on to offering upgrades in the next week or so." Only after they have "attempted to upgrade people will they then turn to the waiting list." The Red Sox are "hoping to get back to their season-ticket cap of 22,000 by the time the season starts." If that "doesn’t happen, prorated season-ticket packages will be sold after Opening Day, something the team has started doing only in the last couple of years." Bumgarner said that the team’s "internal polling shows 40 percent of those who declined to renew cited the economy, 30 percent said seat location, 15 percent said the team, and the final 15 percent said the value" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/27).

NO LOSS FOR WORDS: Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine yesterday was introduced as the new AD at Sacred Heart Univ., and he defended his time with the team last season. He said, "I thought I did a hell of a job in Boston. I thought what had to be done there was done, except for winning a pennant -- but Connie Mack wasn't going to win with that team." Valentine is "confident his time at Fenway hasn't tarnished his legacy," despite the "losses and the messy ending." He said, "It's six months of a 62-year life. It's six months of a 42-year career in baseball. It's a blip, a little spot on the radar, as far as I'm concerned" (N.Y. POST, 2/27).

Yesterday was the "third and final day of a public relations blitz" by Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria, and he defended the current roster by saying the Marlins are "not a Triple A ballclub," according to Clark Spencer of the MIAMI HERALD. Loria, mentioning by name 3B Placido Polanco, RF Giancarlo Stanton and C Rob Brantly, said, "It’s a ballclub with some pretty impressive players." Spencer notes Loria, for the most part, "repeated much of what he has said already and continued to defend the team’s trades." He said, "I did not want to be like some other teams in Major League Baseball. They make one or two changes each year, and they never have winning seasons. We’ve had a lot of winning seasons through this decade" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/27). In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis reports Loria "insisted that Miami is a fertile market for baseball and that the Marlins have a viable future there" despite drawing far less to Marlins Park in its first year than anticipated. He said, "Miami is a wonderful baseball town. It has a great baseball heritage going back long before there was major league baseball here. We have put together a championship-caliber [roster] of young players, a large group of them, and we're going to field an excellent team in the next two or three years that you're going to be proud of." Davis notes that is the "mantra Loria has settled on this week" with the full-page ad he took out in all three South Florida newspapers and an "informal gathering with a small group of writers Monday" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/27).

LORIA OUT OF TOUCH:'s Danny Knobler wrote Loria "just doesn't get it, does he?" He is "no more in touch with reality than he was three springs back, when he declared the Marlins should make the playoffs -- with a team that ultimately couldn't even win more games than it lost." Knobler: "Yeah, that's what the few remaining Marlins fans want to hear, a few defiant words from an unrepentant owner. That's what they want, to hear Loria say that people around town have been 'congratulating' him for his latest fire sale." What the Marlins have "done over the last year and a half was never going to be easy to explain to their fans," but "leave it to Loria to find a way to make things even worse" (, 2/26). ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said, “Nobody's buying what Loria was selling here. ... You can't buy any of it. They have less than 5,000 season-ticket holders right now. This team is in a great deal of trouble, and when he did his ‘fire sale’ for the 50th time, I think he lost a lot of fans that might not come back.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande said of Loria not addressing the team's trade with the Blue Jays until Monday, “How do you think the Marlins fans felt when they waited since November for him to address this when the trade went down and now it's late February? This isn't a response. … This is a PR campaign because of lagging ticket sales, which are less than half of last season” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/26).

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT NEEDED: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote Loria's "attitude remains the singular obstacle to moving on." He "refuses to take responsibility for what happened." He "wasn’t contrite or humble on some level." Hyde: "He attacked. And attacked. And not just the media, which he thinks is fanning fan anger where I think we’re merely reflecting it" (, 2/26). In St. Louis, Joe Strauss writes under the header, "Marlins' Owner Knows How To Make Fans Angry." Strauss: "Fifteen months after strutting through the winter meetings like a reigning emperor, Loria might be the least popular owner in American professional sport" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/27).

WAITING IT OUT: ESPN’s Buster Olney noted Loria has told reporters the team "will wait until after the season" to talk about signing Stanton to a new contract. Olney: “This begs the question: Why wait? Stanton is only going to get more expensive and if the Marlins offer and Stanton says no, they can move on with a clear conscience” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 2/26).

The Raiders have been talking to former Browns President Mike Holmgren "about a leadership position within the organization," according to sources cited by Williamson & Clayton of Holmgren "would be a natural candidate because of his relationship" with Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, as both previously worked for the Packers. Part of the job "would be to lead the quest for a new stadium" (, 2/26).’s Paul Gutierrez noted Holmgren joining the team "might make for an uncomfortable dynamic," as McKenzie was hired by Raiders Owner Mark Davis to be a "football czar answering to no one." In addition, why would Holmgren “join a situation in which he was not the boss?” (, 2/26). But in S.F., Vic Tafur notes because of his football background, Holmgren “is not discussing a president's role similar to the one for which” Davis interviewed NFL Exec VP/Football Operations Ray Anderson and former MSG President Scott O'Neil in recent months. That business-side position “would be to help chief executive Amy Trask secure a new stadium as the Raiders' lease at Coliseum expires after next season” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/27).

POTENTIALLY A GOOD MOVE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Frank Schwab wrote it is “hard to see that move as anything but a positive one for the Raiders.” Assuming Holmgren “also works on the personnel side of the Raiders' front office, and assuming he and McKenzie can find a good balance of power, that gives Oakland a couple of good football minds to build the roster.” That would be “a good step for a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs since the end of the 2002 season” (, 2/26). ESPN’s Damien Woody said, “Anytime you can have more familiar faces, people who are familiar with the style that you have from the days that you won a Super Bowl, I’m sure that’s welcome in Oakland. They’re trying to change the culture with the Raiders” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 2/26). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said the hire is “one that would make a lot of sense if they work it out” (“NFL 32,” ESPN2, 2/26). NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted the Raiders "have been taking steps over the last couple months to try to modernize their franchise as they move on from the passing of Al Davis” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 2/26).

The Redskins would have "little or no chance of recouping any of their lost salary cap space" if they launch a legal challenge pertaining to their '12 salary cap penalty, but the team may "have some strong arguments to make," according to sources cited by Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. One source said that he thinks the team "could use the NFL’s position in a recently dismissed collusion lawsuit brought by the players’ union against the league." The source added that the Redskins could "argue that if the union had waived its right to bring a complaint based on conduct that occurred before pro football’s 2011 labor agreement, the league and union also should be prohibited from taking action against a team for conduct prior to the labor deal." The source said of U.S. District Court Judge David Doty's ruling that the collusion case could not move forward, "Maybe there is something to Doty’s ruling that makes the issuance of discipline (against the Redskins) inappropriate." Two separate sources said that they "believe the Redskins could make a good case in court that they should be granted an injunction to halt free agency because they would suffer irreparable harm otherwise" (, 2/26).

GO YOUR OWN WAY:'s Ed Werder reported Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones will "not join" Redskins Owner Dan Snyder if he "files a lawsuit to prevent the start of free agency while challenging the salary-cap penalties imposed on both franchises by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last year" (, 2/26).

Several MLS teams are unveiling new uniforms this week in advance of the start of the season on Saturday, and the Rapids on Monday revealed an "'alternate" jersey that incorporates the "red, blue and yellow of the Colorado flag," according to Eric Gorski of the DENVER POST. The new jersey will be worn for "most road games -- breaking with its signature burgundy" shirt. Rapids President Tim Hinchey "makes a point of calling it an 'alternate' jersey rather than an away jersey." He had to sell MLS and jersey manufacturer adidas "on the idea that soccer is unique, and that home and away jerseys need not always be dark and light, respectively, as they are in nearly every American sport." He said that of the club’s 17 away games, the alternate jersey will "probably appear 12 or more times." There is "no white road version of the burgundy home jersey, which this year will feature the names of about 1,700 season ticket holders in tiny black type aligned in faint stripes on the jersey front and back" (, 2/25). In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald noted the Union yesterday "finally unveiled their new third jersey," and the black, white and red color scheme is a "tribute to Bethlehem Steel, the famed club from the 1910's and 1920's that won five U.S. Open Cups." The jersey's Bimbo Bakeries logo "is an old one, to fit with the throwback motif" (, 2/26). In Houston, Reid Laymance noted the biggest difference on the Dynamo jersey, which was unveiled Monday, was "no sponsor name across the middle." More "subtle changes included a Texas flag at the bottom and the team's 'Forever Orange' slogan on the upper-left hand side." The back-neck tape design is "based on the shape of the BBVA Compass Stadium" (, 2/25).

HEADING TO THE POLLS:'s Grant Wahl conducted a preseason player poll and asked which MLS stadium had the best atmosphere. The Sounders' Qwest Field led with nine votes, followed in second by the Timbers' Jeld-Wen Field, with eight votes. Wahl wrote, "No surprise at all here. The only question was going to be which Pacific Northwest team edged out the other. Seattle has bigger numbers (more than 43,000 fans per game), while Portland may have an even harder core." He also asked which stadium had the worst atmosphere. FC Dallas Stadium led with six votes, followed by Gillette Stadium (Revolution) with four, and The Home Depot Center (Chivas USA), Columbus Crew Stadium and RFK Stadium (DC United), which each garnered two votes. Wahl: "Dallas has clearly not taken advantage of having its own soccer stadium for the team. New England has also gone stagnant from an atmosphere perspective. ... The Revolution crowd seemed more festive back in the earlier days of the league" (, 2/26).

A deal to keep the AHL Connecticut Whale in the XL Center "through 2016, with a provision for two one-year extensions,“ was reached yesterday between MSG Co. and Comcast Spectacor, according to Paul Doyle of the HARTFORD COURANT. The Whale is an affiliate club of the NHL Rangers, and while the Rangers “own the team and cover expenses for salary, travel and uniforms,” Global Spectrum will “handle ticket sales, operation of premium suites, merchandise and marketing.” Capital Region Development Authority Exec Dir Michael Freimuth said that Global Spectrum will pay MSG $1.4M annually “as an affiliation fee, which will come from ticket sales and other sources of revenue.” A source said that the average AHL affiliation fee is “about $1 million a year.” The team's name is “expected to remain the same.” Doyle notes when Global Spectrum was “chosen by the CRDA to run the XL Center and Rentschler Field, retaining an AHL team in the arena was cited as a priority.” The challenge for Global Spectrum “will be boosting attendance, which has steadily declined.” The Whale this season with an average attendance of 4,359 per game “are 23rd in the 30-team AHL” (HARTFORD COURANT, 2/27).

DC Mayor Vincent Gray visited Nationals Spring Training last weekend, and "expressed his intent to grow baseball within Washington, both in support of the major league team and at the grassroots level," according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. So much of the Nats' fanbase "comes from Virginia, which Gray has no issue with, but he would like more Nationals fans [to] come directly from their home city." He said, "I want to see increasingly large numbers of people who actually live in the city support the team, too. We always want the regional support, because we are a regional team, too. But at the same time, you want the people who live in the city to feel like this is a team that belongs to them." Kilgore noted the Nats and the city at the moment "seem to have a strong working relationship." Since the Nats "moved to their new stadium, they have worked with the city to build a baseball academy." Gray said that it will "be opening this fall" and he "hopes the facility can 'rejuvenate' baseball in Washington" (, 2/25).

COVER MODEL: Nationals CF Bryce Harper appeared on the cover of last week's SI, and in DC, Dan Steinberg wondered how they got him "in full uniform, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial without anyone noticing." SI brought him to the Washington Mall at 8:00am ET on Jan. 26, a "bitterly cold" morning which included "a dusting of snow to much of the area." The shoot lasted 45 minutes, and with Harper "in short-sleeved baseball gear, the weather wasn't exactly ideal." DC-based photographer Simon Bruty said, "He froze his (you know whats) off. It was bloody cold." SI Picture Editor Nate Gordon in an e-mail wrote, "The only way we could do it and not cause a big scene was to shoot early in the morning" (, 2/25).

In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes of the Angels' eight promotional giveaways during the year "featuring individual players," five include CF Mike Trout. That leaves "one giveaway each" for 1B Albert Pujols, OF Mark Trumbo and P C.J. Wilson, while All-Star P Jered Weaver and top offseason acquisition OF Josh Hamilton will not have any. Trout last season was unanimously named Rookie of the Year and finished second in MVP voting, and the Angels are "not apologizing for capitalizing on Trout's popularity." Angels VP/Communications Tim Mead said, "If Albert had been the MVP last year, perhaps there would be the same items pushing that." Trout said that he "would not let" being the focus of the the Angels promotional attention "affect him" (L.A. TIMES, 2/26).

:'s Jayson Stark note the Astros this year are "trying to go where the Rays have already gone, from 100-game losers to a place among the top organizations in baseball." The Astros enter the season with a $25M payroll, but they have "one massive advantage the Rays don’t have -- and may never have: Money to spend … when the time is right." The Astros has a "big new TV deal just kicking in that will enable them, if and when they eventually get good, to spend the dollars required to stay good." Team Assistant GM David Stearns said, "Our payroll this year is more a product of strategy than anything else. ... But we're in a market that has supported a much higher payroll in the past. And we certainly expect it will be able to support a higher payroll in the future" (, 2/26).

MOTOWN MOVES: In Detroit, Bill Shea reports the Tigers have "increased single-game and season ticket prices for all but a handful of seats at Comerica Park for 2013." A small number of the seats "at the top of the ballpark have been reduced." New this year is a "three-tiered pricing system for value, regular and premium games, which are dictated by the popularity of the opponent and time of the season." The least-expensive full-season ticket plan "is $1,041 for an Upper Reserved seat, while the priciest is $6,051 for one near the on-deck circle." The team also will charge more "for suites and new corporate sponsorship deals" (CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS, 2//25 issue).

TODAY'S GOOD DEED:'s Gregor Chisholm noted Blue Jays C J.P. Arencibia has presented Matt Harvey, a "self-proclaimed diehard fan who has been closely following the team since the early '90s," a pair of tickets to the team's season opener. The 31-year-old Harvey is "autistic and had to suffer through years of bullying before reaching his adult life." His story was "recently featured in an article on the Canadian Baseball Network, and when Arencibia got wind of everything Harvey went through, he reacted quickly." Arencibia said, "I have the ability to take care of him, make him be there on Opening Day and I figured it was something I could do." Arencibia earlier this week tweeted to Harvey, "I have two tickets for you! The bullies can watch it from home, you won't have to!" (, 2/26).