MLB Franchise Notes: Will Yankees Go Through With Planned $189M Payroll?
In N.Y., John Harper writes Yankee Stadium is "no longer the place to be, as evidenced by all the empty seats, and fans seem convinced" that Managing General Partner & co-Chair Hal Steinbrenner is "not nearly as committed to winning as his late father." If the Yankees are "going to be serious contenders next year, they’re going to have to spend big again." Harper writes of Steinbrenner's plan to reduce payroll to $189M, "I'm getting a sense from Yankee people that they have too much at stake, in terms of selling their brand, to go through with it." Taking any sort of "step backward would be a huge gamble in the current climate, with attendance and TV ratings down" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/24).
WINNING CURES ALL: In Boston, Scott Lauber reports the Red Sox "drew 2.83 million fans to Fenway Park during the regular season, marking the first time since 2007 they fell short of 3 million" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/24). Also in Boston, Steve Buckley writes the Sox "are back as in people are talking about them again," and talking about them "with a smile, not a frown." Fans go to Fenway Park "with a carefree gait, not storming the gates with torches like in the old Frankenstein movies" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/24). The HERALD's Michael Silverman writes, "All’s forgiven, Red Sox. You’re welcome at home once again" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/23).
CANADIAN BACON: The GLOBE & MAIL's Tom Maloney writes Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos "will be under intense scrutiny from ownership and fans alike" as he enters his fifth season. Anthopoulos had "just about every significant personnel move last off-season turn out negatively." Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston said, "I am totally 100-per-cent supportive. Having said that, (I believe) he has learned a lesson this year: You just can’t assume anything. He was never one to be cocky or arrogant, but I think he really did believe in the team and the direction we were going. I don’t think he would ever have believed we would be under .500, but who did think that way?” (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/24).
GOODNIGHT, SEATTLE: Mariners Chair & CEO Howard Lincoln said that he and majority owner Nintendo "remain committed to the team" following the recent death of former company President Hiroshi Yamauchi. Lincoln: “I've known and worked for him for more than 30 years. More than 2,000 people came to his (memorial) in Japan on Saturday, I was told. He was a man of small stature and commanding presence. People liked him." Lincoln added, "I can't tell you what’s going to happen in the future, but now Nintendo feels very strongly that Nintendo wants to maintain its ownership interest in the Mariners. ... I think all the members of our ownership group feel the same way. It’s basically the same group of people" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/23).
THE BUCCOS' BOUNTY: In Pittsburgh, Ron Cook writes it was "hard not to feel good" for the Pirates and manager Clint Hurdle when the team clinched its first playoff berth in 21 years yesterday. Cook: "Good for their long-suffering fans. ... They no longer have to be embarrassed to put on their Pirates gear" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/24). CBSSPORTS.com's Danny Knobler wrote Hurdle, GM Neal Huntington, and the entire organization "deserve a lot of credit and a little bit of security." Even when the Pirates "were playing well early in the season, there was talk around baseball of tension in the front office, and tension between the front office and ownership." There "shouldn't be any tension now" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/23).