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Volume 24 No. 134


Joseph Meyer, the brother-in-law of N.Y.-based venture capitalist Joshua Kushner, said his group "will not pursue" purchasing the Marlins after a recent N.Y. Post report stated team Owner Jeffrey Loria will "soon be nominated" by President Trump to be the U.S. Ambassador to France, according to Maggie Haberman of the N.Y. TIMES. Meyer in a statement said that his group had made "substantial progress in discussions for us to purchase the Marlins." However, he added that if reports of Loria's potential appointment are true, "we do not want this unrelated transaction to complicate that process." He added, "The Kushners remain interested in purchasing a team and would love to buy the Marlins at another time" (, 2/15). Meyer's statement marks the "first time anyone from the Kushners or the Marlins has publicly acknowledged the negotiations" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/16). In Miami, Barry Jackson reports there is a former MLB owner who is "interested in buying the Marlins if Kushner's deal falls through" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/16). Joshua Kushner is the brother of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner (THE DAILY).

THE FRENCH CONNECTION: In N.Y., Daniel Halper originally reported White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has "pushed -- and won signoffs" -- for several ambassador appointments, including Loria. Sources said that Preibus has "tried to circumvent" Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in handing out the posts (N.Y. POST, 2/16). The AP's Steve Wine notes Loria is a "longtime major contributor to the Republican National Committee, which Priebus led until taking the job with Trump." Loria gave $125,000 last fall "jointly to the Trump campaign and RNC." It has "long been a presidential tradition to reward generous political donors with plum ambassadorships" (AP, 2/16).

In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde sarcastically wonders what the French did to "deserve" Loria being "considered as ambassador." He writes one way to look at the possible appointment is that Loria would be "off the Marlins and out of the country," so he could not do the club "any more wrong." Hyde: "The only sure thing about Loria’s potential move is it should unite a fractured America. South Floridians -- Republicans and Democrats -- joyfully anticipate saying 'Bon voyage' to Loria" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 2/16).

Redskins GM Scot McCloughan is "not being allowed to speak with the media," and former NFLer Chris Cooley "offered a fairly stunning possibility" as the reason why, according to Dan Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. Cooley, co-hosting a show on ESPN Radio 980 DC on Tuesday, said, "If you look at the history of Scot McCloughan, I think the one thing that you'd immediately start to flush out as to why we don't trust what he's going to say is that he's had a drinking problem over his entire career. And so you ask right away, is he drinking?" Steinberg notes Cooley's questioning of McCloughan was "preceded and followed by all sorts of qualifiers and caveats," but he also "publicly floated a pretty inflammatory suggestion, more than once." McCloughan "opened up about his issues with alcohol" in '14. Steinberg wrote of Cooley, who also serves as a radio color analyst for Redskins games, "You don’t often hear an NFL team employee publicly wondering whether one of his co-workers is battling alcohol problems." ESPN Radio 980 DC also is controlled by Redskins Owner Dan Snyder. Cooley said, "If you want to keep something a complete secret in the sports and entertainment world, then you have to be ready to have people speculate on it. And that's the position that we're in, so that's what we're going to do." Cooley: "I say number one, we've got to be concerned that he's in the right state of mind all the time" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/16). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote McCloughan, Snyder and Redskins President Bruce Allen may "not be thrilled" with Cooley's comments. The situation "provides another example of the dangers of team- and league-owned media" (, 2/15).

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN: Former Redskins exec Gary Fitzgerald in a series of tweets argued the controversy is of the Redskins' "own doing." Fitzergald: "Shielding Scot McCloughan from media interviews w/out explanation only raises questions & leads to speculation. ... Cooley was wrong to speculate about Scot McCloughan & drinking, but #Redskins could have avoided it w/ more transparency. ... To be fair, #Redskins have been more open in recent years." Steinberg tweeted, "Seems like a couple ways this one could play out. And none of them seem super great."

The Predators are on track to "sell out every home game this season, which would be a first in franchise history," according to Nate Rau of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Buoyed by last year’s successful All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena, team execs said that the Predators' business operations have "been on a hot streak." The team has "brought back former corporate partners, expanded relationships with other partners and introduced cutting-edge ticket sales strategies that put season ticket sales at an all-time high." Predators President & CEO Sean Henry said, "We weren't that excited about (2016) summer, because we knew the summer before was built off this huge anticipation and part of it was people buying season tickets in order to get All-Star Game tickets. But it turns out, we had the best season ticket renewal offseason we've ever had. We sold the most new business we've sold to date. We had the best selling year we've ever had. ... It's been absolutely incredible." Henry added that the team is "especially proud that it extended relationships with corporate sponsors that had gone away or reduced their presence at Bridgestone Arena but came back for the All-Star Game." He pointed to Jack Daniel's, convenience store chain Twice Daily and Kroger among the local corporate partners that "increased their commitments." Henry said that the team's success on the ice also has "allowed the Predators to get creative in their season ticket packages, specifically offering fans multiyear plans." Rau notes the Predators were among the "first NHL teams to sell two-year plans, and on Monday the team rolled out three-year plans." The team currently has about "10,200 season ticket holders" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 2/16).


NOTES: Capacity at arena is 17,113. Full home schedule is 41 games. * = Shortened season with only 24 home games.

Warriors F Draymond Green took the Knicks' latest PR issue a "step further" this week, saying on his "Dray Day" podcast that Knicks Owner James Dolan "operated with a 'slave master mentality' with how he handled" the Charles Oakley incident, according to Stefan Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Bondy notes the "growing negative stigmas associated" with Dolan and Knicks President Phil Jackson are "most concerning to the future of the Knicks." In a league where the quality of the product is "so reliant on the quality of the players, the Knicks have been cast as the laughingstock loser." They "already had a problem attracting top free agents," as players "typically choose based on the following factors: the market, the opportunity for success and the culture." Bondy: "The Knicks strike out on two of the three" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/16). In N.Y., Harvey Araton writes the Knicks sunk to a "new low of depravity with the arrest and humiliation" of Oakley. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became personally involved in the situation "to protect the Knicks from inflicting further damage on themselves and the league than the considerable amount they had already inflicted." The Oakley situation was "enough to raise suspicions that [MSG] had surrendered to an old NBA racial stereotype -- the angry, scary thug." Araton: "What do you suppose this generation of black NBA stars, galvanized as they were by those repugnant Donald Sterling remarks ... is feeling right now about the Knicks?" The Knicks have "jeopardized their ability to lure prominent players to New York, or even to retain the few ... they have" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16). The N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman said, "They're going to have to overpay to bring top guys here. That's the real fallout" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 2/15). SNY's Jon Hein: "If I'm a free agent, I'm thinking twice before even considering New York" ("Loud Mouths," SNY, 2/15).

LATEST EXAMPLE OF LEADERSHIP: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Silver "brilliantly executed his skillful leadership abilities in the past several days" when the Knicks "became an episode of the 'Jerry Springer Show.'" Though there still "appears to be a ways to go" before Dolan and Oakley fully reconcile, Silver "made his point." He is not going to "have one of the NBA's marquee teams soiling the league's reputation over something so completely silly." This is "just the latest example of Silver moving swiftly to make sure the NBA stays on the right path to success by avoiding the detours of knuckleheaded behavior" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/16). FS1's Jim Jackson said, "No matter how you paint the picture, it looks bad. So of course the commissioner is going to come in and try to resolve that conflict by any means necessary" ("Speak For Yourself," FS1, 2/14). ESPN's Bomani Jones said Silver "kinda had to" mediate the situation because Dolan "was going to keep trying to fix it." Jones: "Every time he tried ... he made the situation more ridiculous." ESPN's Dan Le Batard said Silver had to intervene "because we were all laughing at the Knicks." Le Batard: "It was embarrrassing, and it's his job to keep away the embarrassing" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 2/14). The N.Y. Daily News' Anthony McCarron said Silver is a "boss for pulling that whole meeting off." The N.Y. Daily News' Pat Leonard said the issue "is not settled at all," and it is "only seeing some resolution because Adam Silver is an adult and James Dolan is not" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 2/14).

NO CREDIT FOR DOING HIS JOB: FS1's Jason Whitlock said he is "tired of Adam Silver getting credit for virtually nothing." Whitlock: "He's a reality show mediator." FS1's Chris Broussard: "This is his job. This was his duty. I'm not going to applaud you because you did something you clearly had to do. This was a black mark on your league" ("Speak For Yourself," FS1, 2/14).

Padres Exec Chair Ron Fowler said a story describing his role in the sale of the team in ’12 as “broker” is “completely inaccurate,” according to Tom Krasovic of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Fowler “forwarded a detailed account of the negotiations that unfolded.” Fowler in the email wrote, “I didn't broker anything. [Former Padres Owner] John Moores had the votes to do anything he wanted. ... My role was to protect the limited partners with 49.32% of the business. I met with (prospective owner) Thomas Tull, the Seidler/O'Malley Group (SOG) and 3 other groups to help answer questions and facilitate a sale.” Fowler added, “I was offered an opportunity to be part of 4 groups and refused dialogue on the subject until John Moores gave the SOG exclusive negotiating rights.” Fowler wrote, “My limited partners were fully aware of all my activities and were comfortable with the way that I handled my fiduciary responsibilities.” Fowler confirmed that when the sale was announced in August ‘12, $200M in Padres TV money “went to Padres investors who were cashing out their shares” as part of the deal. He wrote that this element of the transaction “wasn’t a surprise to any of the bidders.” Fowler: “All parties were notified by MLB during negotiations that the $200 million would be going with the sellers” (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 2/15).

In Newark, Abbey Mastracco notes the Mets will play Army on March 31 at West Point's Doubleday Field, "capping their spring training exhibition slate and renewing an old tradition." The Mets and Yankees used to "regularly schedule exhibition games with the U.S. Military Academy," but the Mets have not played one since '84. This will be the "ninth meeting between the two opponents." Mets GM Sandy Alderson, a former Marine, has "long been a supporter of the armed forces." Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said that Alderson "helped inspire the idea to revive the series" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 2/16).

LESSON LEARNED: In Chicago, Scot Gregor cited a White Sox source as saying that it was Chair Jerry Reinsdorf who "finally gave the green light for a rebuilding project after decades of squelching any conversation that endorsed assembling a young roster and letting it grow." It is "hard to blame Reinsdorf for conducting himself like a major-market owner, for wanting to put a competitive team on the field every year." However, after four straight "losing seasons with veteran teams that were patched together, Reinsdorf relented." He finally "understood you can build formidable teams from the ground up without losing face -- or your fan base" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 2/15).

STEPPING STONE: Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner yesterday during his State of the Yankees address said that he "could envision" Alex Rodriguez' role as a special instructor at Spring Training "expanding in the future, although there have been no discussions between the two sides about specifics." Steinbrenner: "We’re going to continue to talk about different ways he can be involved" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/16).