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Volume 24 No. 112


The Yankees have experienced a "decrease in attendance the last two years," but the one this season is "more pronounced," according to Zach Schonbrun of the N.Y. TIMES. The Yankees through 41 home games have "drawn nearly 106,000 fewer fans than at this point a year ago, a 6.1 percent drop that is almost twice as large as the overall decline in baseball." In addition, TV ratings "have plummeted" on YES Network through June 25, down 40% to a 2.52 local rating in N.Y. compared to the same point last season, and down from a 4.08, 4.50 and 4.72 in the three previous seasons. Yankees President Randy Levine said that the absence of SS Derek Jeter, 3B Alex Rodriguez and others was "clearly having an impact on the 'television side.'" Yankees fans at recent games "pointed to what they thought were other reasons for the empty seats, most notably the high price of tickets." Levine also cited the "numerous instances of bad weather in April and May, the attendance drop-offs in baseball-strong cities like Boston and Philadelphia, and the Yankees’ decision to spurn StubHub and establish their own online ticket resale operation with Ticketmaster." Levine said that the decision to spurn StubHub was "paying dividends but that the initial adjustment might have hurt attendance." Levine also said of the lack of superstars hurting attendance and TV ratings, "This is the Yankees. We’ve been around a lot of years. There will be more stars” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/2).

SURPRISE PARTY: In N.Y., Feinsand, Madden & Dell note Yankees Exec VP & Chief Int'l Officer Felix Lopez yesterday took part in a press conference in the Dominican Republic to "help make an announcement" about a new privately funded $50M baseball stadium. There was "only one problem: the Yankees didn’t know anything about the project." A source said that "nobody at the Yankees ... had been given any heads-up about Lopez’s trip or his announcement" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/2).

Pistons Owner Tom Gores discussed his team philosophy, plans for the NBA Draft and free agency in a two-part Q&A conducted by Vince Ellis of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Q: How do you balance the team’s youth movement vs. desire to win now?
Gores: Everybody wants to win, but you don’t want to win at all costs. Even this off-season for example, obviously we want to make moves, we want to do our thing, but we don’t want to do anything to affect the long-term future of the franchise. I think it’s very tricky. We want to develop our young people and believe in them. ... As much as we want to win, I think the most important thing is that we’re playing to our maximum.

Q: Is there a playoffs-or-else mandate?
Gores: I want to see solid progress, but I’m not shying away from the fact that we need to find our way to the playoffs. I don’t want to shy away from that. I think that should always be something that we strive for. ... Remember, we bought [the team] in the lockout season. Last year was [our] first real year and we’ve made a lot of progress, I think, as ownership in building a good core of young folks. We’ve got room to make some moves. I don’t want to shy away from making the playoffs because we really should.

Q: Do you have a timetable for when you would like to be competing for a championship?
Gores: I’m still a relatively young guy and I’ve been telling everybody I want to do it real fast. Obviously, you gotta be realistic and they try to keep me realistic. I would like to be in the hunt over these next few years and I’m going to do everything that I can to try to get us there. I’m serious about getting us there and try to get not only the Pistons back on that map, but Detroit back on that map. The Pistons have such a great history. I feel we need to get back there and a championship is high on my list (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/1).

Q: What have you learned in your two seasons of owning the Pistons?
Gores: We got to put a winning team on the floor. I would like to get the fans back. I feel like we need to win their hearts, win their hearts back. It’s a complicated business. ... I felt we’d get it there faster, but we haven’t and I’m disappointed about that. But I got a lot of excitement about these next few years.

Q: Any differences between the NBA and your other business dealings with Platinum Equity?
Gores: There are a lot of similarities, but I think there are a few differences. One big difference is that this is a community asset. Obviously people are affected and fans and so on. I think that part of the job we’ve done pretty good. We’re making sure the Pistons and ourselves are involved in the community at the business level. ... You got to have high communication. You got to be able to over communicate. It’s philosophy and core values. ... Core values and hard work and really it’s not just about winning. You can’t win at all costs.

Q: The possibility of the Pistons moving downtown will probably be asked until your dying day. ... Where do stand currently on the possibility of moving downtown?
Gores: I’m hearing about that stuff and really my No. 1 focus has been how to move the Pistons and the franchise back to the top. ... Right now the Palace is our home and I’m excited about that. ... I’m also excited about what also is going on in Detroit. ... We’ve got a great home that’s taken care of. It’s still considered, regardless of the questions about the location, one of the best facilities in the league and that’s not by me. That’s really by the experts. That’s our home right now (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/2).

CFL Toronto Argonauts Exec Chair & CEO Chris Rudge on Friday discussed the “problems the franchise continues to wrestle with, including the fact that season ticket sales are actually down from last year," according to Steve Buffery of the TORONTO SUN. Rudge added that the "unfortunate reality" is that the team is "stuck at the Rogers Centre for the next 3-5 years, ‘unless something unique happens’ on the new stadium front.” The Argos this season “have to fight tooth and nail to remain relevant in this market, a fight Rudge engages in every day.” Rudge said, “In the 1970’s, it was (the Argos) and the Leafs. They were brands of equal stature and value. And we’ve allowed that to erode.” Rudge said that the franchise is “about to sign a new lease agreement to remain at the cavernous Rogers Centre for a few more years.” He said of winning the ‘12 Grey Cup, “That hasn’t translated into season ticket sales the way we thought, though we’re well ahead of 2011, which was a normal year. A Grey Cup year is not quite normal because you use Grey Cup tickets as an incentive to sell tickets.” Rudge was “hoping for an opening day crowd of between 23-25,000 on Friday, and got 29,852 thanks to a good push in the three days leading up to the game.” Still, somewhat “disappointing season ticket renewals has left him baffled, given the club’s magical run last year.” Rudge said that he and team Owner David Braley are “actively exploring alternatives to the Rogers Centre, and he credits Braley, who bought the team in 2010, with giving the franchise the stability it hasn’t always enjoyed over the last couple of decades” (TORONTO SUN, 6/29).

The Patriots franchise is "going to great lengths to disassociate itself" from former TE Aaron Hernandez, but it "isn't that simple and can't be that neat," according to Ashley Fox of The club has "acted wisely and admirably" following the arrest of Hernandez on a murder charge, but it "can't be forgotten that New England was the organization that employed Hernandez." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft is "one of the most respected owners in the NFL, yet his organization -- his brand -- is now indelibly tarnished." The Patriots "can and will overcome this, but there will forever be a stain on the franchise that neither the swift release of Hernandez nor the exchange of jerseys can erase." The franchise "needs to recalibrate and be more selective going forward, starting now" (, 7/1). In Providence, Bill Reynolds writes the feeling is that the Patriots' brand has been "severely damaged, no small thing for a franchise that always has been so conscious of public relations." Reynolds: "That will be the legacy of this tragedy. Never again will we look at the Patriots in quite the same way." The Hernandez story -- "however it plays out -- will always be part of this team’s DNA, always part of the Patriots’ story" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 7/2).

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: In Boston, Karen Guregian writes, "One has to wonder if the Pats will change their philosophy when looking at red-flag candidates, particularly the ones with gang ties and gun violations." One former NFL GM said, "I’m sure they’ll still take chances in the draft. I don’t know if they’ll be gun-shy, but I’m sure before they give an extension, what happened with Hernandez will give them pause for concern" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/2). Meanwhile, ESPN's Chris Mortensen said the financial impact of the Patriots cutting Hernandez is "really negligible." In terms of Hernandez' salary-cap hit, "it's not going to have an impact on the team from that perspective" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 7/1).

RED FLAGS: Bengals President Mike Brown yesterday said that the team "intentionally passed on selecting Hernandez in the 2010 draft." Brown said, "That one is no secret. We just stayed away from it." He added, "We're not going to know everything about our players once they leave the premises nor should we. They have the right to their privacy and to live their lives as they see best so long as they don't step over a line."'s Alex Marvez notes Brown is "dismayed that so much media attention" is being given to the NFL’s offseason arrests "when the societal rate among non-players in the same age and demographic groups is far higher." Brown: "You’d think we were an aberration. We might be, but actually an aberration on the good side. This might be saying something about us, but it also says something about the country as a whole" (, 7/1).

UP FOR BID:'s Peter Schrager noted a "previously worn medium size Nike Hernandez jersey ... was listed at $305" yesterday on eBay. There are "multiple bids currently in play." A signed Hernandez jersey is "going for $690 and has over 70 bids in action." Across the web, signed Hernandez items like "football cards and mini helmets, were being hocked for prices more than they were prior to his arrest last week" (, 7/1).

In Philadelphia, Sam Donnellon notes Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who was once “celebrated,” now “sounds like an irrationally hopeful relative of a fading and aged patient.” Whether he is “hoping for the return to health of past contributors or betting on the health of new acquisitions with injury issues, the current Phillies GM sounds more like a man fidgeting with a pocketful of rabbits' feet than he does [former GM] Pat Gillick's protégé, or even a man with any type of long-range plan.” Fans have “already realized what Amaro has not -- that the era he inherited from Gillick is officially dead, and that it's time to move on” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/2).

BUZZ WORTHY? In N.Y., Dave Caldwell noted Mets P Matt Harvey’s on-field success “has not translated to higher ticket sales.” The Mets have “averaged 26,132 in his 10 starts at Citi Field, which is actually less than the 26,554 they have averaged in the 28 home games in which Harvey did not pitch.” The Mets are promoting Harvey with a “large board outside Citi Field facing Northern Parkway.” The sign on Friday “flashed a photo of Harvey in action, listing the opponent and game time” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/29).

CLOUD ATLAS:'s Ron Miller noted one of the ways Giants Senior VP & CIO Bill Schlough “has been able to deliver great service with a small department is by using cloud services whenever possible.” Schlough said that he “doesn't want to ‘be concerned with leaving the lights on’ and that means he doesn't want to worry about running his own data center” (, 6/28).'s McMenamin & Shelburne noted Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss and Time Warner Cable reps are part of the team's delegation seeking to re-sign C Dwight Howard. A source said that the NBA "does not have a problem" with TWC SportsNet "being part of the pitch for Howard." If TWC "was to offer further compensation, that would be a violation of league rules." However, simply being "present for the sitdown is in no way a breach of league etiquette." The source said, "They could simply be presenting ideas about how they plan to cover Howard and the Lakers in the future. That is allowed" (, 7/1).

YOU CAN CALL ME AL: ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi reported "major changes to the Browns uniform won’t happen until the 2015 season after two years of market research and design study" by the NFL and Nike, but a "minor change is coming this year." The AL patch "will no longer be worn on the Browns uniform jersey." The patch "was added after" late Owner Al Lerner died in October '02. Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam in March "initiated the process with the NFL marketing department to have everything about the Browns uniform reviewed." Haslam said that he "hopes to introduce the Browns' new uniform look prior to the 2015 draft." He "just doesn't know how extensive it will be" (, 7/1).

DEEP-SIXERS: In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes writes with the 76ers "enduring the Season of [C Andrew] Bynum, it seemed so callous of the franchise to ignore its fan base after gutting itself." This is Majority Owner Josh Harris' "show." He "runs businesses" and "runs them efficiently." Hayes: "He makes money. Not friends." The "abdication by head coach and chief machiavel Doug Collins, the firing of general manager Tony DiLeo and the brief, hollow introduction of young GM Sam Hinkie all proceeded with curt, corporate efficiency." It is "as if everyone involved signed nondisclosure agreements stipulating that any questions regarding the team would be unanswered, ignored or evaded" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/2).

PAST DUE: In N.Y., Larry Brooks reported it "took several weeks for a number" of Devils players "to receive their final payroll checks of the season." The NHLPA, rather than "file default claims that could have resulted in the unidentified players becoming free agents, worked with the NHL to give all parties time to deal with the issue" (N.Y. POST, 6/30).