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Volume 24 No. 132

Leagues and Governing Bodies

Friday marked a "free-agent frenzy of pre-lockouts proportion, and a day on the NHL calendar that may usurp trade deadline day in player movement," according to Mark Spector of NHL teams "signed 59 contracts, for 105 years of term, for a grand total of roughly" $375M (all figures U.S.). Spector: "Why did this UFA season blast off so much quicker than so many before?" The consensus was that the "difference maker was the two-day talking period for agents and GMs that led into July 5." Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, "I don’t know how much wining and dining was being done. But I have a feeling in years to come, with a bigger window to do your selling, you’ll see some more extravagant efforts to get players to come. It’s a brave new world we’re living in." With nearly $400M "being thrown around, why wouldn’t the NHL want to create an atmosphere where players and teams have the necessary time to make informed decisions?" It is a "complex landscape here in the cap world, and contracts signed will impact a GM for years to come" (, 7/5). In N.Y., Pat Leonard noted despite nearly half of NHL teams entering Friday with fewer than $10M "to upgrade their roster ... dollars flew out of owners' wallets and into the pockets of players who just weeks ago had been uncertain of their bargaining power in a seemingly shrinking market." Owners and GMs "proved just as they had during the previous collective bargaining agreement that they will take as much room as the NHL and players’ association give them" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/7). In L.A., Lisa Dillman wrote the new two-day courtship period "has its limits." Some GMs apparently thought that they "could negotiate with unrestricted free agents." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly had to "send out a memo Thursday morning to the general managers saying otherwise" (L.A. TIMES, 7/5).

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING: USA TODAY's Kevin Allen noted this is the "first time the salary cap has gone down since it was introduced in 2005, and no one is positive what will happen with so many players available and less money to spend." Agent Steve Bartlett said, "There will be some casualties." Octagon agent Allan Walsh said, "There will certainly be some big-market teams squeezed up against the cap and unable to meaningfully bid on unrestricted free agents." Allen noted the "big question for the teams is what's going to happen next season and beyond in the new CBA." Walsh predicts that the salary cap will be $80M "within three years." Daly has "a different take." He said, "There is no expectation that the cap will grow dramatically next year. We expect growth, but relatively modest growth" (, 7/5).

DOLLARS & SENSE: The NATIONAL POST's Sean Fitz-Gerald noted the Canadian dollar last week "probed depths it had not seen for almost two years, and if analysts predicting a further descent are correct ... the impact will be felt across the country's sporting landscape." A lower Canadian dollar has the "potential to slow revenue growth" in the NHL, which would "impact the salary cap." Small market teams in Canada would "face a host of familiar economic problems, with revenue earned in Canadian funds, and players being paid in U.S. currency." The salary cap is "tied to revenue." If the Canadian dollar "loses value for an extended time, it has the potential to affect the size of the pie available for NHL players." Former MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie said that the Maple Leafs and Raptors would "have U.S. revenues of around" $50M from merchandising and U.S. broadcast deals, but would "be on the hook for roughly" $130M in player salaries. That "left a gulf" of $80M. Peddie said that when the Canadian dollar was "well below par ... MLSE hedged their currency bets, locking into a contract to buy U.S. funds at a certain rate, to guard against a further decline." Daly in an e-mail wrote, "I wouldn't call it a concern. We proposed creating a mechanism to stabilize for effects of currency fluctuations, but the (NHL Players Association) was satisfied with the current system" (NATIONAL POST, 7/5).

Dodgers rookie RF Yasiel Puig was among five players placed on the NL ballot for the final spot on the All-Star Game roster, after receiving "842,915 write-in votes" during regular balloting, the most since 2B Freddy Sanchez got 856,685 while with the Pirates in '06, according to Mike Hiserman of the L.A. TIMES. Voting for the final spot "will take place in the next five days" (, 7/6). In N.Y., Andy Martino wrote the Puig decision "does provide a glimpse into a basic tension that underlies the sport every day -- entertainment value versus clubhouse traditionalism." Does the game "take itself so seriously, and consider the All-Star game so sacrosanct, that it cannot accommodate a show that would thrill the public, and maybe even generate organic interest in this sleepy event?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/7). In Denver, Troy Renck wrote Puig's inclusion this year would "not diminish the experience." Renck: "Enhance it, is more like it." MLB should be "looking at every creative avenue to attract younger viewers." Puig's presence "does that." He is "the 'it' guy right now" (DENVER POST, 7/7). The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "I am shocked there is any discussion at all about Yasiel Puig's presence on the National League team. He has become the most electrifying player in the game. Put him in!" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN2, 7/7). ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon wrote, "Even if Puig somehow doesn't win the Final Vote, in the next week or so you'll be seeing a steady stream of players backing out over nagging aches and pains" (, 7/6). But in Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote Puig does "not belong in the All-Star Game." He "hasn't earned it." The "sample size simply isn't big enough." However, he is a "tremendous player to watch" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/7).

TAKING ISSUE WITH PUIGMANIA: Braves 1B Freddie Freeman is among the five candidates for the NL final vote, but in Atlanta, David O'Brien notes some Braves players "took exception to openly campaigning for Puig." Braves 2B Dan Uggla said of Puig, "Nobody has a chance. He's been getting covered since he broke in. And he should be getting covered; he's an exciting story. But should he make the All-Star team? No, not this year. But he's going to make it. Which sucks for Freddie and other (Final Vote) guys, because they've been doing it the whole year." Braves P Tim Hudson said, "It's B.S. I mean, it's pretty obvious what players certain media outlets want to have plugged in." He added that it was "another inherent flaw in the current All-Star selection process" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/8). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes of Puig, "You can be sure Fox TV executives are rooting for the kid, refreshing their browsers until their fingers are raw" (USA TODAY, 7/8).

ESPN SCOOPS FOX: ESPN's Pedro Gomez on Saturday reported Puig was among the five candidates for the final spot on the NL All-Star roster prior to Fox’ broadcast announcing the teams. Gomez around 6:20pm ET cited “really well-placed sources” in MLB that said Puig was not on the final roster. Gomez: “It’s going to be left up to the fans. And with Puigmania kind of sweeping the country, a lot of people in the Dodger clubhouse believe that he’s got a pretty good chance of being selected.” Fox’ telecast began at 6:30pm (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/6). MLB in ’07 reduced ESPN’s access to the All-Star Game at AT&T Park after the network released the game’s rosters prior to the official announcement on TBS (THE DAILY).

AMERICAN SLANG: SPORTS ON EARTH's Emma Span wrote the five players contending for the final spot on the AL roster are all relief pitchers, names "few casual fans have heard of, and even fewer are tuning in to watch." The AL vote is a spot "where you could have let" Rays 3B Evan Longoria, Indians C Carlos Santana, A's 3B Josh Donaldson and SS Jed Lowrie "battle it out." Instead, "you can bet that many thousands of fans will head over to vote for Puig in the NL, scratch their heads in bewilderment at these [AL] choices and pick someone largely at random" (, 7/7). ESPN’s Jayson Stark suggested a “rising star spot on each All-Star team for some young breakout star that everybody wants to see.” Stark added, “Let’s ask America which five young players they would like to see and put them on a ballot. Let them choose” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 7/7).

: USA TODAY's Jorge Ortiz notes Puig, after he was named one of the five NL final vote candidates, "declined to talk to news reporters." It continued a "pattern of shunning media requests and refusing to talk to reporters before games." But after a meeting with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, Puig "committed to making himself available after games." Puig yesterday "fielded questions -- though not until after a heated exchange with" Dodgers 3B Juan Uribe, who "prodded him to cooperate." Colletti thinks that the "highly marketable rookie -- whom the team promoted in a ticket package for $66 -- will learn to handle his media duties and present his better side to the public." His No. 66 jersey "was the No. 1 seller the past week" (USA TODAY, 7/8). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez notes Puig's "refusal to grant interviews the first two days" of the series with the Giants "drew the ire of national reporters who traveled to San Francisco to chronicle his exploits." It was "becoming increasingly clear the Dodgers had little or no control over the temperamental outfielder" (L.A. TIMES, 7/8).

Inbee Park's victory at the U.S. Women's Open last month "netted her barely more than one third" of the $1.4M Justin Rose took home for winning the U.S. Open, and a HOUSTON CHRONICLE editorial noted a national championship "is a national championship" and the winner's purse "should more fairly reflect that for U.S. golf's national championship." Wimbledon and the U.S. Open tennis tournament have "decreed parity for men's and women's purses." The editorial: "Why not the USGA, the keeper of golf's history and grand traditions?" Bringing the "purses for the U.S. Women's Open championship in line with the men's winner would be important symbolism in a game where symbols and traditions matter much" (, 7/5). Senior Producer Jeff Ritter, as part of a weekly e-mail roundtable, wrote USGA execs "could make a great statement by making that move, and they surely have the cash." SI's Michael Bamberger wrote it is a "nice theory and a worthy goal, but prize money is not a place to practice equal opportunity." It is "rooted in TV deals, viewership, ticket sales," and the men "dominate in those categories." Golf Magazine's Joe Passov wrote the "reason the tennis women achieved equality at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open is that they were part of the same tournament as the men, and in some/many cases, were the stronger attraction, even if they were on the court for less time." SI's Mark Godich: "I'm all for the women getting what they deserve, but until they start attracting anywhere near the crowds, sponsors and TV ratings, they don't have much of a case. That said, it would be nice to see the USGA do something to at least close the gap in the purses." SI's Gary Van Sickle wrote it is a "ludicrous suggestion," as the two events "don't generate anything remotely similar in levels of interest or revenue" (, 7/7).

SENIOR CIRCUIT: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie wonders why there is no U.S. Senior Women's Open despite the USGA creating the U.S. Senior Open in '80. USGA Managing Dir of Communications Joe Goode said, "It is our current professional assessment that such an event is not a viable championship at this time." He cited the finances needed in "sustaining an event," including landing a "host site to underpinning a purse to televising the golf." He also noted a USGA concern is "whether such an event would attract a deep-enough field." Former LPGA member Jane Blalock, who has been campaigning for a U.S. Senior Women's Open since the '90s, said, "We'd just like the opportunites to shoot down the USGA's concerns" (GOLFWEEK, 7/5 issue).

NUMBERS GAME: In Winston-Salem, Scott Hamilton writes the "table is set" for Park to win her fourth straight major next month at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at St. Andrews and a "massive marketing campaign should be revving its engine." But the LPGA in '10 "decided to elevate the Evian Masters to major-championship status," giving the Tour five official majors. If Park wins at St. Andrews, will she have "completed the Grand Slam, or will one pin remain standing?" ESPN's Judy Rankin said, “If Inbee should be able to do this at St. Andrews, it’s a grand slam to me and I think a grand slam to the vast majority of people in golf" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 7/8).

UFC fighter Chris Weidman, with his defeat of Anderson Silva on Saturday night at UFC 162, "immediately becomes one of the bigger names in the sport by handing the man once thought to be nearly invincible the first knockout loss of his career," according to Adam Hill of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. UFC President Dana White was "on the verge of finally matching Silva against" Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones or both. White said, "That fight cost (St. Pierre), Jon Jones and Anderson Silva a lot of money." Jones on his Twitter account wrote after the knockout: "This sucks" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/8). YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole notes the event was held “before 12,399” at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight "left a bad taste in the mouth" of those who wanted to see Silva perform and "wound up getting far less than his best" (, 7/8). On Long Island, Mark La Monica reported Weidman "earned $24,000 in show money, plus another $24,000 in win money, while Silva earned $600,000 for the fight." That "does not include any fight night bonuses, sponsor money or cuts of the pay-per-view money" (NEWSDAY, 7/7). Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Ray Brewer reported the UFC Fan Expo on Friday and Saturday was “expected to attract more than 40,000 fans” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/6).

SUPER BOWL UNDERCARD:’s Matt Erickson reported UFC will “touch down at the Prudential Center” for a Feb. 1 show, the day before Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. The event is “likely to be a pay-per-view with prelims" on FS1. The news "came as part of a Fox Sports 1 promotional video" following a Q&A with Fox' Jay Glazer at the UFC Fan Expo. Newark's "gain will be Las Vegas' loss," as UFC has held a PPV event in Las Vegas "the night before the Super Bowl each year since" '04 (, 7/5). In Newark, Eunice Lee noted the Feb. 1 show "puts another big event on the calendar at the Prudential Center, which also will host Media Day on the Tuesday before the Super Bowl" (, 7/6). White said of the possibility of a Weidman-Silva rematch, “How fast can we turn this around? How about Super Bowl Saturday?” (, 7/7).

: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel wrote White has "embraced social media like few other major sports executives, posting more than 21,000 tweets on everything from hyping big UFC fights to cross-promoting his friends." His "unfiltered noncorporate persona comes through in his tweets." White said that Twitter "allows him to take his message straight to the fans without having the media do that." Former UFC Head of PR Jen Wenk said of White, "He listens to [fans], values their opinions, considers them and often acts on them. Dana has created his own news wire in his Twitter account.” Snel noted the UFC YouTube channel has "nearly 1.1 million subscribers and more than 415 million views." ESPN’s YouTube channel has "slightly more subscribers but fewer views with 276 million." UFC Social Media Manager Shanda Maloney said that one UFC strategy on Facebook is "to pinpoint geographic-oriented posts to fighters’ hometowns, which has proven to drive UFC pay-per-view sales in that market" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/5).