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Volume 24 No. 176

Franchises

The Yankees have "reverted to form" by acquiring RF Giancarlo Stanton -- and the remaining 10 years and $295M on his contract -- from the Marlins, according to David Waldstein of the N.Y. TIMES. A source said that the Yankees will "surrender two modest prospects" and 2B Starlin Castro. The source added that the Marlins will also put about $30M into the deal to "offset some of what the Yankees will owe Stanton." Waldstein noted the deal means the Yankees will have MLB's two "most intimidating sluggers," Stanton and RF Aaron Judge, in the same lineup and "may again become baseball's marquee team." Stanton is "due to make" $25M in '18, which would "seem to jeopardize the team's stated intent" to have a payroll that is under the luxury tax threshold of $197M. However, the source said that the Yankees "remained confident they could find a way to abide by the threshold even with Stanton aboard" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/10). On Long Island, Carig & Lennon wrote as recently as Thursday morning, the Yankees' "mindfulness of luxury tax considerations rendered them non-factors in the Stanton sweepstakes." The Yankees in recent years have "broken from form," acquiring "young talent rather than trading it away for established stars." They sought to "transform themselves into a leaner operation payroll-wise, entrusting their fate to homegrown talents" such as Judge and C Gary Sanchez rather than "costly free-agent contracts that hampered their flexibility." But the Yankees "again shifted gears when the opportunity arose" (NEWSDAY, 12/10). ESPN.com's Andrew Marchand wrote the Yankees' main goal this offseason remains "resetting the luxury-tax number." There was "no way" Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner would "agree to make this trade without being able to fall under the tax" (ESPN.com, 12/9).

EVIL EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: THE ATHLETIC's Ken Rosenthal wrote the Yankees' "return to their Evil Empire ways will command attention, polarize the public [and] elevate the sport." So much for the "young, likable Baby Bombers" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/9). ESPN.com's Marchand wrote, "The Evil Empire is back." The Yankees are the "undisputed center of the baseball universe once again." They are the "Golden State Warriors of baseball, just with more size" (ESPN.com, 12/9). In N.Y., Mike Mazzeo wrote so much for the Yankees "being considered 'likeable.'" The Stanton trade "would mean the Evil Empire is back" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/10). Also in N.Y., Kevin Kernan wrote the Yankees are "back where they belong, as public enemy No. 1." The club is "going to be loathed this season by everyone who is not" a Yankees fan (N.Y. POST, 12/10). NEWSDAY's Lennon wrote Yankees haters "immediately launched into the familiar Evil Empire refrain." Lennon: "Darth Vader gifs, dancing storm troopers. The whole spiel. The Bronx Baddies were back." However, there was "nothing sinister" about the trade, as it was just "smart business" (NEWSDAY, 12/10). In N.Y., John Harper wrote the Yankees are now "officially back to being the behemoth everyone loves to hate." Adding Stanton actually may "take a bit of the fun from Yankees fans as well, many of which seemed to enjoy seeing their team build a winner with a nucleus of emerging young stars rather than high-priced stars" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/10).

THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner wrote the Yankees are "always fascinating because they inspire such extreme emotions." The sight of Stanton in pinstripes will "delight and nauseate many." But this is "who the Yankees are, always and forever -- big-game hunters." They will "inevitably spend themselves into some bad deals." They also have "always been keenly aware that their business model depends on must-see superstars" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/10). Also in N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote under the header, "Yankees Return To Vintage Big Business Ways With Stanton Trade" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/10). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale wrote the Yankees are "back to being the Yankees again" (USATODAY.com, 12/9).

GOOD FOR BUSINESS: NEWSDAY's Lennon wrote the team's "bottom line" needs to be considered, as baseball "is entertainment." The Yankees' mission is to "sell tickets and attract eyeballs to YES." Lennon: "Remember the pure spectacle of Judge's every turn at the plate, beginning with each day's batting practice?" Adding Stanton "multiplies the must-see TV factor times two." Now every batting practice session will be like a "rematch of last July's riveting home run derby" (NEWSDAY, 12/10). MLB Network's Jon Heyman said the Yankees are "guaranteed to be exciting, guaranteed to get great ratings." Heyman: "They had their best ratings when they had A-Rod on the team, and they sunk a little bit without A-Rod. Now they obviously have Judge, Giancarlo -- they’re going to have fabulous ratings, they are going to be must-watch TV. Love them or hate them, it’s great for baseball.” MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd said, “We are in the entertainment business. These guys, this is must-see TV.  I know from a scheduling standpoint, all the heads of business in every other club are going to be looking at the Yankees when they’re coming to town because they will have great, great attendance” (“MLB Tonight -- Winter Meetings,” MLB Network, 12/10). In New Jersey, Pete Caldera wrote the Stanton trade is going to "spike season ticket sales" and "send the YES Network ratings to new heights." Attendance "should soar on the road, too" (Bergen RECORD, 12/10).

The Marlins' trade of RF Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees "raised questions" about the tenure of new Marlins Chair Bruce Sherman and CEO Derek Jeter, according to Jared Diamond of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The arrival of Sherman and Jeter appeared to mark the beginning of a "new era for a team that last qualified for the playoffs" in '03, but they instead have "introduced themselves to South Florida by slashing millions off the payroll." The Yankees are sending 2B Starlin Castro and two prospects to the Marlins, and their take in the deal was "so little ... because they preferred another form of compensation: Loads of salary relief, a stated goal" of new ownership (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/10). The Miami Herald's Greg Cote said, "This wasn't a baseball trade, it was a financial deal. It's the same old, same old. Marlins fans went through a decade-plus of this under loathsome owner Jeffrey Loria, and everybody expected Jeter to ride in on a white horse and save everything. He's doing the same thing, which is minding his bottom line instead of product on the field." Cote: "The honeymoon's over with Jeter. We thought it would at least last until Spring Training started, but people are realizing he's just another owner" ("SportsCenter, ESPN, 12/10). Cote wrote Marlins fans are "stuck feeling the hangover" of the reality of new ownership. Trading both Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon to the Mariners last week was "zero about the team or winning and everything about dumping payroll, reducing debt and achieving financial stability." Cote: "Business first, baseball second. Finances first, fans second" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/10).

NEW TERRITORY FOR JETER
: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff wrote Jeter’s popularity among Marlins fans "probably polls similar" to that of Loria and former Marlins President David Samson. This marks "more new territory" and "more challenges" for Jeter. Both his legacy and that of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who "very much wanted Jeter to get this opportunity, are on the line" (N.Y. POST, 12/10). SI.com's Jack Dickey wrote the "worst owner in baseball was finally replaced" when Jeter and Sherman took over the Marlins. However, they waited just two months before "embarking on another signature Marlins fire sale." Dickey: "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. What a humiliation" (SI.com, 12/9). ESPN.com's Andrew Marchand wrote Jeter "might be approaching Jeffrey Loria-like levels of unpopularity" among Marlins fans, but he will still "receive his usual warm reception during his rare appearances" in N.Y. (ESPN.com, 12/9). Meanwhile, in Boston, Peter Abraham wrote MLB "should not have approved owners that couldn't afford to own the team." It is not fair to the rest of MLB that the Marlins are a "non-competitive team and the Yankees are able to get Stanton at a deep discount." Abraham: "It's bad optics that Derek Jeter becomes CEO of a team and trades his best player to the Yankees" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/10).

STILL GOES BACK TO LORIA: CBSSPORTS.com's Dayn Perry wrote the "real blame for the club's current straits" falls on Loria, who by signing Stanton to a contract "that's so long but pays him so little in the early years, created a problem for someone else." Perry: "I have no doubts that in November 2014 Loria knew he wouldn't be the Marlins owner when Stanton's tab really came due" (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/9). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote critics of the trade need to "get off Derek Jeter’s back." The trade "isn’t about Jeter," because it is "still about" Loria's tenure as owner of the Marlins. Hyde: "Even when the former Marlins robber-baron is gone, his stench remains. It lingers in the decaying air over Marlins Park, just as it will for a couple of squalid years as his mess gets cleaned up" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/10).

DISAPPEARING ACT: On Twitter, several commentators criticized Jeter for not appearing at the Winter Meetings in the wake of the trade. ESPN's Buster Olney: "The Marlins are executing major franchise-changing deals, including the swap of their best player, and the head of baseball operations -- Derek Jeter -- should be at the winter meetings to explain the moves; it's a responsibility that comes with the title. He is not here." South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Hyde: "Jeter needs to surface and explain the Giancarlo Stanton trade to fans. That comes with the job. If he doesn't understand that ... another mistake by him." WPLG-ABC's Will Manso: "Jeter should be at the winter meetings representing the Marlins. No excuse for him not to be there. It’s a bad look."

OWNERSHIP COULDN'T FIX ISSUES: MLB Network's Dan O'Dowd noted whoever bought the Marlins was "going to be in this situation," as this is an organization that has "dug itself a hole." O'Dowd: "The only way they can become a well-rounded franchise is to take it down to the point where they can build through scouting and development and smart acquisitions. For years, it has been patching it together. Now they are trying to fix it and get it right" (“MLB Tonight -- Winter Meetings,” MLB Network, 12/10). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner noted franchise takeovers "are rarely tidy ... and the Marlins need change." Kepner: "For all of Stanton’s slugging ... the team never had a winning record in his eight seasons. The fans did not respond to his home run heroics; Miami has ranked last in the National League in attendance in 11 of the past 12 years" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/10).

The Angels "practically knocked over the rest of baseball Friday when they stunningly won the race" to sign Japanese P/DH Shohei Ohtani, according to Jeff Miller of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER. The franchise, "in a way like never before," is "standing taller than all of baseball." Angels GM Billy Eppler said, "I was just stunned. It was a pretty remarkable moment." For now, the Angels are "committed to using him as both a pitcher and a designated hitter." Eppler confirmed that the club is "'very open-minded' to employing a six-man rotation to afford Ohtani more rest." That is how "serious the Angels are about this epic, international experiment" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/10). In L.A., Dylan Hernandez wrote the "courteous evasiveness" practiced by Ohtani at his introductory presser on Saturday was a "reminder of how natural environments like this are to him." This is someone who was a "national celebrity in Japan." His entire adult life has been "spent under a spotlight." He "looks like a superstar." He "smiles like a superstar and talks like a superstar" (L.A. TIMES, 12/10).

NOT ABOUT THE MONEY: In California, Jeff Fletcher noted the recruitment of Ohtani was "unique in modern baseball because of a perfect storm of talent and the collective bargaining agreement." There have been other "extremely talented players to come to the majors from international leagues, but in most cases they have been unrestricted free agents." The bidding wars were "so fierce that many small-market teams couldn’t even participate with the big-money clubs." Ohtani, however, "decided to come to the majors as a 23-year-old about a year after baseball rules were changed to place any international player under 25 within the limits of international spending pools." So winning the Ohtani lottery was "essentially about wooing him with factors other than money" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/10). In N.Y., Ben Shpigel notes coming to MLB at age 23 restricted Ohtani to a bonus of "no more than" $3.55M, and of the seven teams that were finalists, the Angels "could offer him the third-largest bonus" at $2.315M. Under club control for the next six years, Ohtani "will earn the league minimum of $545,000 next season" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/10). 

STEP UP TO THE MIKE: SI.com's Ben Reiter wrote suddenly, a club that "appeared stuck at a dead end has found an escape route, as if by magic." A club that had "virtually no prospects to speak of now has by far the best one there is." The Angels "already had the best player in the world" in CF Mike Trout and now might "have the two best" (SI.com, 12/8). The REGISTER's Fletcher wrote for the past couple seasons, "many around the game have lamented" Trout’s absence from the playoffs. While the Ohtani agreement "certainly doesn’t put the Angels in the playoffs," it at least "puts to rest the suggestion that the Angels are hopeless." The idea that the Angels’ best path back to contention "starts with trading Trout for a boatload of prospects is out the window" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/9). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner noted the Angels are "still trying to win its first playoff game of Trout’s breathtaking career." Trout has "never publicly pressured the Angels to build more aggressively around him, yet their window is shrinking to capitalize on his prime." The franchise "took an important step on Friday" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/9). In L.A., Bill Shaikin wrote '20 "could define the history" of the Angels, because it is the last year on Trout's contract. The Angels "need to take advantage of the Ohtani surprise." The margin for error is "not large, but the opportunity to revitalize a franchise and its franchise player might never be better" (L.A. TIMES, 12/9). The L.A. TIMES' Hernandez wrote Trout's presence will also "spare Ohtani from having to be the face of the franchise" (L.A. TIMES, 12/9).

IN THE ARMS OF THE ANGELS: THE RINGER's Zach Kram wrote the Angels should be "ecstatic with their early holiday present," and so, too, "should baseball fans more broadly." Ohtani transforms the Angels from a team in the "morass of AL clubs likely to compete for a wild card into a favorite for a playoff spot." Ohtani "fills the Angels roster with a hearty dose of fun and the mind with a similar surfeit of imagination" (THERINGER.com, 12/8). SPORTS ON EARTH's Will Leitch wrote Ohtani is a "steal of a deal, a lottery ticket rewarded and an absolute thunderclap of excitement" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 12/8).

GIVING FANS A LOOK: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth noted for the last two seasons, Angels' games have "ranked near the bottom of the MLB rankings" in terms of local TV +ratings. FS West Ticket Senior VP & GM Lindsay Amstutz, whose RSN airs Angels games, said, "Today is a great day for Angels fans and sports fans across Southern California." Meanwhile, Now comes the "interesting part for the Angels: Accommodating all the extra Japanese media." The Angels’ small main press box is "located far down the right field line and may not currently hold more than a few dozen reporters." An even smaller booth is "behind home plate for a half-dozen reporters" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/9). The N.Y. TIMES' Kepner tweeted he is "hoping the networks will actually pick the Angels to show on national television sometimes" (TWITTER.com, 12/8). The Angels have seen local ratings in L.A. decline each of the past three seasons. The RSN's high mark over the last decade was a 1.68 local rating in '14. Last season, FS West averaged a 0.94 local rating for Angels games (THE DAILY).

FEEDING THE FRENZY: The DAILY NEWS' Hoffarth wrote now comes the "interesting part for the Angels: Accommodating all the extra Japanese media." The Angels’ small main press box is "located far down the right field line and may not currently hold more than a few dozen reporters." An even smaller booth is "behind home plate for a half-dozen reporters" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/9). ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick noted A's manager Bob Melvin, who managed Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui, saw "enough to know that the presence of a Japanese superstar might necessitate some extra planning on the part of the media relations department and add to the manager's workload -- not to mention tax his patience and creativity on occasion." Melvin: "There's a contingent that's just reporting on one guy, so you have to be patient and answer all the questions and understand every question they have is going to be about that guy. There's a press (briefing) before the game, and then another half of one that you know is just gonna be about that player. And they have to write something every game. The guy goes 0-for-4 and nothing happens, and they still have a story to do. From the manager's standpoint, there's quite a bit more that goes into it" (ESPN.com, 12/8). In California, Tomoya Shimura wrote under the header, "For Japanese Residents in Southern California, A Palpable Excitement About Ohtani's Decision To Play For Angels" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 12/9).

CLOSE CALLS: In Dallas, Evan Grant wrote the Rangers "weren't just interested" in Ohtani -- they were "deeply invested." They had been "stalking him, scouting him and cultivating relationships around him for six years." It was a "gut punch that left club officials doubled-over and admittedly 'disappointed'" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/9). YAHOO SPORTS' Mark Townsend wrote losing out on Ohtani is "going to sting the Rangers for awhile" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/8). In S.F., Shea & Schulman wrote on a "crushing day for a last-place team that’s trying to contend" in '18, the Giants "lost out" on Ohtani and announced they were not going to get RF Giancarlo Stanton. Giants Senior VP & GM Bobby Evans said, "We went into it with our eyes open. We knew both would be challenging additions" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/10). In San Diego, Dennis Lin noted the Padres have "fallen short in another high-stakes pursuit." The Padres, like the other six finalists, "went to great lengths to scout and recruit Ohtani." Padres co-Owner Peter Seidler said, "I know that our presentation was exceptional" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/9).

Toronto FC's win over the Sounders in the MLS Cup final on Saturday night at BMO Field was the "triumphant culmination of an ambitious, and expensive, push" by club management over the past several years to rebuild the club around high-salaried players like F Jozy Altidore, MF Michael Bradley and F Sebastian Giovinco who "steadily lifted the club from MLS irrelevance to leaguewide dominance," according to Joel Petterson of the N.Y. TIMES. Giovinco and Altidore, acquired before the '15 season, "delivered on that investment" when they teamed to produce the eventual winning goal in the 67th minute (N.Y. TIMES, 12/10). In Toronto, Kurtis Larson wrote Altidore's opening score "validated MLSE's unprecedented investment" in him, Giovinco and Bradley -- all three of whom "cemented themselves as Toronto legends." Bradley was an investment for MLSE -- a player "brought in to change TFC's losing mentality." Altidore and Giovinco were "brought here to do what they did Saturday night: Come up big in a final." Former MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke "waited for the confetti to settle" before he took to the pitch hours after Saturday night's final. Arms wide open, Leiweke "posed inside a venue he built for a team he helped construct." He "wanted this championship for Bradley and Altidore and Giovinco -- three players he helped sign." Most of all, he has "talked about wanting it" for MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum (TORONTO SUN, 12/10).

A SEASON TO REMEMBER: The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts wrote TFC's loss to the Sounders in last year's MLS Cup final drove the club "every step of the way to the greatest season in MLS history." Along the way to TFC's first championship, also the "first MLS Cup won by a Canadian MLS team," TFC "set a record for most points in the regular season." TFC is also the "first MLS team to win the treble -- an MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and national club title" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/10). In DC, Steven Goff noted several MLS teams have won two trophies in a year, but until Saturday, "not one had raised three of them" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/10).

ONE FOR THE FANS: In Toronto, Steve Simmons wrote Saturday night was also about a fan base that "adopted this franchise when there wasn't much reason to adopt anything, and didn't abandon them after years of embarrassing losing." The fans were "on board before anybody looked the part of [a] winner" (TORONTO SUN, 12/10). SPORTSNET.ca's John Molinaro wrote for "long-suffering TFC fans who stuck with the team during some very lean times ... Saturday's MLS Cup win was a long time coming." Altidore said, "These (fans) have been through a lot. ... The feeling of winning is great for all of us, but even more so for the fans who have been with this team since Day 1" (SPORTSNET.ca, 12/9).

The Browns were "aware of the Giants' interest" in John Dorsey for the GM role, and it "contributed to their decision to act when they did Thursday," firing Exec VP/Football Operations Sashi Brown and hiring Dorsey to a four-year contract on the same day, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Sources said that Dorsey was "scheduled to fly" to N.Y. this week to interview with the Giants tomorrow (ESPN.com, 12/10). In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote Dorsey was "second on the Giants’ list" for their open GM position, but he knew former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman "was first." Dorsey "took the sure thing and the Browns knew he was their guy." Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam "admitted they acted now to avoid competing with the Giants" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/10). Fox Sports' Peter Schrager said the Browns over the last several weeks had been "vetting" Dorsey while Brown was "still on the job." Schrager: "It's a systematic issue here that it goes up from the top. ... All while this is happening, Brown was still in the building, and he was the last person to know. Not a good look for Cleveland" ("Fox NFL Kickoff," 12/10).

HEAD START: THE ATHLETIC's Tom Reed wrote by hiring Dorsey now it "affords him a massive head start in cleaning up another organizational oil spill." During his introductory news conference, Dorsey said, "It is an evaluation period that is going to take a little bit of (time) to put a plan together. The draft is 4 1/2 months away and free agency is like three months away. We have ample time to make a plan here." That is "usually not the case for the Browns or most NFL teams, who must wait until after Jan. 1 to speak with coaches and executives." The fact Dorsey was fired in June after helping the Chiefs reach the playoffs three times in his four-year tenure "enabled the Browns to speed up the hiring process." Haslam "began speaking with Dorsey more than a month ago to gauge his interest in the job and comfort level in teaming" with coach Hue Jackson. Among the "few advantages to keeping Jackson is continuity and plying him with players who fit his system." Reed: "Does it ensure harmony between two football lifers? Of course not." Dorsey said, "We are all in this thing together. Not one guy is the answer, but if we do this together collectively, this thing can work." The Browns have heard "similar statements at introductory news conferences for nearly two decades," and there is "no guarantee the Dorsey era ends differently." But Dorsey has been "given the gift of time" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/9).

WILL THINGS CHANGE? In Boston, Ben Volin wrote Dorsey "did a good job" with the Chiefs and "gives the Browns credibility." But until Haslam "proves otherwise, this is just yet another reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic." He gave "full power to Brown to undergo a thorough rebuild, yet once again didn’t have the patience to see it through." Volin: "What makes this time any different?" Pairing Dorsey with Jackson also "seems odd," as the two have "never crossed paths" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/10). CBS Sports Net's Jason La Canfora said the Browns can "never get coaching and personnel on the same page," which is "why people are concerned now." If Dorsey was "given full authority, would his inclination have been to stick with" Jackson? La Canfora: "Probably not" ("That Other Pregame Show," CBSSN, 12/10). In Cleveland, Jeff Darcy wrote firing Brown is "far less disruptive to the continuity of the team than firing of the coach." The Browns would be "set back even further if the players would have to yet again adjust to yet another new coaching staff with new offensive and defensive systems" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 12/10). The Cleveland PLAIN DEALER's Ted Crow in an editorial cartoon depicts Haslam welcoming Dorsey on board a boat with Jackson. The boat is stuck on a rock, and Haslam says to Dorsey, "Welcome aboard John, we're expecting a high tide in late April, 2018..."

The Broncos yesterday beat the Jets for their first win since Week 4, but even a "strong showing on a sun-splashed 60-degree day couldn’t erase the evidence that some in Broncos Country had long checked out," according to Kyle Newman of the DENVER POST. The team "extended its league-best sellout streak to 394 games, but there were also 5,186 unused tickets." As late as Saturday, half-price offers for yesterday were "being made on the NFL Ticket Exchange starting at about $40 -- an indication of the unusual affordability" of Broncos tickets on the secondary market. TickPick Dir of Client Relations Jack Slingland said, “From the start of the season to right now, the Broncos listing prices on our site are down about 40 percent." The Peyton Manning era in Denver, from '12-15, "marked a high point in Broncos ticket prices, both online and on the street" (DENVER POST, 12/11). 

FALL FROM GRACE: In Denver, Nicki Jhabvala noted in Pat Bowlen’s three-plus decades of owning the Broncos, "never once did he describe his team as a 'rebuild.'” But the 4-9 Broncos "will have little choice in January, when their first losing season since 2010 culminates and gives way to an offseason of change." Two years removed from winning the Super Bowl, the Broncos "have lost their way" (DENVER POST, 12/10). In Colorado Springs, Woody Paige wrote Bowlen "wouldn’t tolerate such a precipitous fall from grace." But Bolwen, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, is "unaware, and unable to do anything about it." Bowlen’s "permanent absence has begun to produce rising resentment in Colorado," although the team of President & CEO Joe Ellis and Exec VP/Football Operations & GM John Elway "produced five years of success without its commander." The Broncos are "overseen" by trustees Ellis, Broncos General Counsel & Exec VP Rich Slivka and Denver attorney Mary Kelly. According to Bowlen’s orders, they "eventually are to choose a new owner from among Pat’s seven children." The two candidates "are daughters Beth Bowlen Wallace (46) and Brittany Bowlen (27)." In all "probability, both will become franchise executives, but not immediately, and have indicated in rare interviews they would follow their father’s predominantly orange blueprint." Bowlen would do "whatever it takes to put the Broncos back on top" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 12/10).

In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell noted Hornets Owner Michael Jordan "met with the players before Saturday’s game" with the Lakers, "looking for answers to what’s ailing this roster." With the coaches out of the room, he "asked for concerns." Hornets F Marvin Williams said, "It was very constructive, very appreciative and very much needed" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/10). The Hornets are 9-16 to date (THE DAILY).

KEEPING IT PROFESSIONAL: In Las Vegas, David Schoen notes the Golden Knights' official Twitter account "issued an apology Saturday after accusing members of the Nashville media of cheering in the press box during Friday’s game at Bridgestone Arena." In a since-deleted tweet, the Knights posted, "The other team scored and reporters covering their team started clapping :/." It is the "second time the team has apologized for its tweets" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/11).

UP IN THE RAFTERS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Matthew DeFranks notes the NHL Panthers will "add another number to the rafters" on Jan. 19 when the franchise "retires No. 37" in honor of founding Owner Wayne Huizenga. No. 37 will "only be the second number retired by the Panthers, and both are honoring front office members." In '10, the team retired No. 93 to honor Hockey HOFer Bill Torrey. Huizenga’s family "selected No. 37 because it was his 'birth year and lucky number'" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/11).