Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner yesterday in radio interviews on WFAN-AM and ESPN Radio 98.7 N.Y. "seemed to make some attempts to reassure apprehensive Yankee fans by maintaining that the team would like to have a payroll of under $189 million next season 'but not at the expense of building a championship-caliber team,'" according to Jay Schreiber of the N.Y. TIMES. Getting under the $189M luxury-tax threshold in '14 "would provide significant savings for the Yankees." Steinbrenner on WFAN said reaching that figure is "a goal we take seriously" (NYTIMES.com, 10/8). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes he has "yet to speak to an executive in the industry who doesn’t believe the Yanks’ payroll will fall under the threshold next year." Steinbrenner said of the possibility of saving approximately $100M by going under the threshold, "It is a significant, significant number that will be at our disposal rather than for other teams. It is a very big number." Steinbrenner when asked about his passion for the job said, "How much is dictated that I am not visually passionate like George was? And I don’t do some of the things he did and act some of the ways he acted. How much of that is a factor (in the impression he doesn’t love the job). But I do enjoy this job. It is a tough job. It is a challenging job. Have I been known to throw a shoe at a TV? Oh, yeah. But my personality is I don’t like to show emotion publicly. The passion is there, but it wells inside." He added of a possible sale of the Yankees, "There are no plans to do that. There are no talks about doing that. We want to win another championship; that is what we want do" (N.Y. POST, 10/9).
EMPLOYEE RETENTION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Daniel Barbarisi cites sources as saying that the Yankees have made manager Joe Girardi a "significant offer, believed to be" in the $12-15M range. Steinbrenner said that there are "limits to the Yankees' pursuit" of free agent 2B Robinson Cano and that "the 10-year-deal Cano is reportedly seeking isn't in the team's plans." Steinbrenner: "I don't feel that this organization is ready to do something like that" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/9).
Magic CEO Alex Martins yesterday said that the team has "an interest in moving its NBA Development League team to Jacksonville," according to Don Coble of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Jacksonville Univ. Associate AD/External Affairs Joel Lamp "confirmed the city wants a D-League franchise and is working to make that happen." Martins said that the Magic wants "its own 'hybrid' franchise so it won’t have to share players, coaches or administration personnel." He also wants his team's D-League franchise "to be closer to home." Coble notes the Magic's current D-League affiliate is in Ft. Wayne, Ind., after teaming with the Heat, T'Wolves and 76ers last season for the NBA D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce. ABA Jacksonville Giants Owner Ron Sholes said that he "already has talked with the NBA about a D-League franchise in Jacksonville, but the league said it wants at least three teams in the Southeast." The D-League currently has "five teams in the West, six in the center of the country and six in the Northeast, but no team closer to Jacksonville than Frisco, Texas" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 10/9).
TEST DRIVE: In Jacksonville, David Bauerlein notes barring a "final-day surge in ticket sales" for tonight's Pelicans-Magic NBA preseason game at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, the game "will be played before fewer fans than turned out in 2009 for the previous NBA face-off in Jacksonville." Through yesterday "about 5,000 tickets had been sold" in the 13,000-seat arena. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said that the game "is the centerpiece for community activities spread over two days." He added, "It's already a success." City of Jacksonville Communications Dir David DeCamp said that ticket sales so far "have been enough to make the game financially viable." Bauerlein notes the budget for the NBA in Jacksonville this time around is "about $335,000, which covers the game and a pre-game Fan Fest." DeCamp said that the city's cost "is limited to $15,000 for the Fan Fest, organized by the Office of Special Events." He added that Jacksonville has "attracted $40,000 in sponsors but did not have a breakdown on the sponsors and their contributions" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 10/9).
Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis yesterday said he has learned to "move quickly" when dealing with prima donna athletes "because one or two players that are all about me, me, me can really bring a locker room down," according to Sarah Kogod of the WASHINGTON POST. Leonsis, appearing on DC's WTOP-FM, said, "I’ve lived with that, frankly, with the Wizards over the last couple of years. We were forced to do that. They were some really, really talented players, but culturally, what we were trying to accomplish, we couldn’t get these players to kind of buy into what the collective good and plan was. And so you would sit them and, frankly, have to talk with their agents and their people and say, ‘This is what we’re trying to accomplish. This is the role that we’re hoping you can play.’ And the bigger agenda here is team success. If we have team success, your individual success will be highlighted and spotlighted in a more positive way. And frankly, there are a lot of players that it’s hard for them to get over that. They really do think it’s about individual stats or me, me, me. ... So we’re trying, I’m trying, to get players that have high character, high integrity" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/8). Meanwhile, Leonsis was asked about the Redskins name controversy and said, "I have so many issues that I have to deal with in my own organization. To be asked about something like that for another team, I think it’s inappropriate for me to comment. To be honest, if someone who owned another team was commenting on changing the name of the Wizards back to the Bullets, I wouldn’t like that." Leonsis also was asked about a possible name change for the Wizards and said, "My position is that we should worry about building a good team and making the playoffs and trying to win a championship with the Wizards name and that would be the right thing to do for our fan base" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/8).
In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna reports Angels manager Mike Scioscia and GM Jerry Dipoto yesterday were "informed by owner Arte Moreno that they will be retained for 2014, ending months of speculation that one, or both, would be fired." Scioscia has five years and $27M "left on his contract." Dipoto has one year left on his three-year deal, but the "option for 2015 has not been exercised" (L.A. TIMES, 10/9). In California, Steve Fryer writes if Dipoto and Moreno can "focus on getting reliable pitching and go cold turkey on the team’s mania for signing big-name hitting stars, Scioscia and the Angels will have a fighting chance" in '14 (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 10/9).
THANK YOU NOTE: MLB Giants President & CEO Larry Baer yesterday sent a letter to season-ticket holders that read in part, "For years we have admired and appreciated the enthusiasm and loyalty of our fans. This season I was awestruck. No team in baseball has what we have. Not even close. As we dropped in the standings after our World Series Championship season, you stuck with us" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 10/8).
IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN: In Dallas, Mike Heika notes while the Stars "didn’t sell out" their first two games at American Airlines Center this season, the team got 16,100 for the opener and 17,200 on Saturday. Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi said, "Right now, that’s a great increase over what we were doing, and a great sign that people are excited. I’m really pleased with what we have been able to do to get people interested, and I think we’re making a lot of progress in that area." Gaglardi also is "happy with the official debut of the new uniforms." The Stars put "a lot of time and money into rebranding the team with a new color (Victory Green) and a new logo." Gaglardi said that he "felt the impact was clear in both games" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/9).