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Volume 24 No. 179

Franchises

The start of Derek Jeter's tenure as Marlins CEO has "lacked his two greatest assets as a player: timing and winning," according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN.com. The decision to trade RF Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees has already "raised a flag" for '18 in Miami -- a "white one." Miami Herald reporter Clark Spencer said, "You are already hearing the comparisons to (loathed former owner Jeffrey) Loria. Jeter's honeymoon lasted about a day and a half." Marchand noted there is a narrative that Jeter was doing Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner and his team a "favor with the lopsided trade, but that's not accurate." Stanton, because of his "right to veto destinations, controlled the trade board." With Stanton gone, Jeter is the "biggest star on his own team" (ESPN.com, 12/11). On Long Island, Erik Boland notes under the Marlins’ new ownership group, the "priority is dumping payroll and building the farm system" (NEWSDAY, 12/12).

FACE THE MUSIC: SI.com's Jon Tayler wrote as the front-facing owner of an MLB team that just made a "deeply unpopular move, Jeter can’t hide, and he can't get away with being obtuse." There are going to be "more press conferences" like a conference call held yesterday where he "gets difficult questions from reporters." If he continues on his plan to "burn the Marlins down, those cries that he either doesn’t know what he’s doing or that he’s not even trying to field a functioning team are only going to grow louder and angrier" (SI.com, 12/11). ESPN's Buster Olney said, "This is the one time of the year where everybody comes to the Winter Meetings to do their business. Derek Jeter is the head of baseball operations for the Marlins, he's not here. That doesn't make sense especially in your first year. ... It's like a player not showing up to play a game" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/11). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes for Jeter, his Yankees legacy has "never seemed more distant" than it did yesterday. Jeter is "not at the winter meetings." He said that he "stayed away because attending the winter meetings is the job" of  Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). ESPN's Olney said of Jeter, "As the chain of command was set up for the Marlins, not only is he part ownership, but he also has oversight of baseball operations. ... When his team makes a big trade like today, (he) needed to be the voice that was heard to explain why the Marlins did what they did” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 12/11).

ROUGH START
: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote rebuilds "are hard." Passan: "They can get ugly. They can make smart people do dumb things. They can take someone like Derek Jeter, he of the immaculate reputation, of two pristine decades as a New York Yankee, and place him in the middle of a mess that is far from entirely of his making but is now his burden to shoulder" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/11). In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes under the header, "Derek Jeter Isn't Facing Fact He Blew It Right From Marlins Start" (N.Y. POST, 12/12). Jeter said of the Stanton trade, "From the fans' standpoint, I get it. They’re upset. They’re passionate. The bottom line is the fans want to see a winning product on the field. They haven’t seen a winning product on the field. So if you haven’t been winning, it’s time to make a change." Jeter said the trade gives the Marlins "financial flexibility." Jeter: "We're trying to fix something that's broken" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/12). ESPN's Mark Teixeira: "The Marlins are broken, but they are also broke." He added, "It's just a bad look for Derek because he knew what he was getting himself into and still didn't handle it very well." ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said, "Jeter's problem was buying into that team knowing it was pretty messed up when he got there. .... Now he's in the hole and he's right, it's broken. He has to fix it, but this is not the best way to fix it" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 12/11). The net's Olney said, "Whoever made this trade, whoever came in as the Marlins’ new ownership group to make this trade to deal with the debt was going to be criticized. The Marlins were completely boxed in" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/11).

TWISTING THE KNIFE
: In DC, Dave Sheinin writes, "The Marlins, it almost goes without saying, were reduced to a pile of rubble." Not only did they "suffer the inherent indignity of essentially giving away their franchise player ... but then they had to hear him blast them on the way out the door" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/12). In Ft. Lauderdale, Tim Healey notes as Stanton "praised the Yankees" during his introductory press conference yesterday, it "wasn’t hard to see the juxtaposition of where he came from compared to where he’s going" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 12/12). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes the Marlins and Stanton "couldn’t even agree on how they disagreed." They had "different versions on their parting." Jeter said that Stanton "asked out," while Stanton said that Jeter "was the one who wanted him out." They even had "conflicting stories on rejecting trade offers" from the Cardinals and Giants. Stanton said of the Marlins, "There was no structure, no stamp of 'This is how things are going to be.’ It’s a different direction every spring training. You’ve got to learn something new. Every spring, a different manager, every spring, or every middle of the season" (USA TODAY, 12/12). ESPN’s Pablo Torre: “It is really hard to sell the public on a teardown in good faith.” ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said the Stanton trade is “great for baseball and terrible again for the Marlins." Le Batard: "We were told that this would stop happening when they got their stadium, that the Marlins wouldn’t be this betraying entity that is filled with circus clowns always betraying [fans]." He said, "This is worse than ever.” Le Batard: “It’s an embarrassment that baseball allows this to keep happening” (“Highly Questionable,” ESPN, 12/11).

THE OTHER GUYS
: In St. Louis, Ben Frederickson writes the Jeter "roast will make for great tabloids" in N.Y. However, it was Stanton’s "under-the-radar opinion about the Cardinals that should stick in the memory of a proud organization that once again found itself stuck in between defending its brand and attempting to alter its downward trajectory." Stanton "didn’t think the Cardinals could win big." The Cardinals "need a Stanton-like player to relaunch." Frederickson: "If Stanton-like players are only going to join teams with an Aaron Judge, what can the Cardinals do?" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/12). In L.A., Andy McCullough writes Stanton "jolted the baseball industry with his new destination." The arrival of Stanton in N.Y. also "underscored the financial restrictions facing the Dodgers this winter after five consecutive years exceeding the majors’ luxury-tax threshold." After supporting the game’s "largest payroll" every season since '14, the Dodgers may "practice this restraint this winter in preparation for next offseason." Disinterested in "bloating their budget and lacking major holes, the Dodgers have yet to make a substantial move this winter." That pattern could "hold through this week and into the spring" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12).

The Jaguars and EverBank Field operator SMG spent yesterday "investigating the behavior of several fans late in the team's win" over the Seahawks on Sunday, according to a front-page piece by Ryan O'Halloran of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. The team, SMG and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office have "reviewed video footage and interviewed fans and staff who were in the vicinity and said four individuals threw five objects from the stands" at Seahawks players, one of whom responded by trying to enter the stands: "Plastic cups with ice and liquid, a bag of popcorn and a plastic bottle." If the individual is a season-ticket holder, they will "have their privileges 'revoked indefinitely.'" If they had "purchased single-game tickets, they will lose the option to purchase tickets indefinitely." The sheriff's office said that "no arrests were made at the game." Meanwhile, Sunday's announced attendance of 64,431 was the "largest of the year for the Jaguars" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/12). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes "nobody is focusing on the football team taking over sole possession of first place in the AFC South." All the headlines and "click baits are about bad behavior." The Jaguars "deserved to have a favorable NFL spotlight shining on them for the way they played." But the "disgraceful ending to a compelling game ... is getting all the attention" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/12). Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that he told his players yesterday that the actions were "not acceptable and he thinks the message got through." Carroll: "Everybody is remorseful. We don’t want to play like that. We don’t want to look like that, ever" (SEATTLE TIMES, 12/12). ESPN's Pablo Torre said fans throwing trash at players is "truly something that the sport should not allow/tolerate in any sense." Torre: "You also don't want to reward or incentivize fans to try and bait players" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 12/11).

MGM Resorts yesterday announced its newly acquired Las Vegas-based WNBA franchise, formerly the San Antonio Stars, will be called the Aces. Las Vegas' first major professional basketball team will begin play at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in '18 (MGM Resorts). ESPN.com's Charlie Creme noted MGM held a "grand ceremony at the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay." WNBA execs, members of the new ownership group and the team were in attendance, alongside a "glitzy video production featuring Cirque du Soleil and confetti to unveil the new nickname and logo." MGM has committed to spending an additional $10M to upgrade Mandalay Bay Events Center and is "quickly moving to building a new practice facility, indications that this could be a different kind of ownership." Aces GM & coach Bill Laimbeer said, "People want to be here and this is a first-class operation that MGM is putting together. The commitment that they are putting forth is big and players notice that. Word of mouth will get around so fast. This will be a huge win." WNBA President Lisa Borders said of the league's plan for the Aces, "Tickets, tickets, tickets. Fill the arena, fill the arena. Vegas brings star power to our league. It's a destination city, so you are importing people that are a potential fan pool. And the data tells us that Vegas is a top-10 basketball market. We want to go where the fish are biting" (ESPN.com, 12/11). Borders added, "You’ve seen the Golden Knights come in a few months ago with 18,000 at their game; we’d like to see the same thing at Mandalay Bay. It’s a smaller arena, so obviously you can't have the same numbers, but you’d like to see a full arena" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 12/12).

SAFE BET
: In Las Vegas, Alan Snel wrote the team's new logo and name are "solid, safe and predictable." The mark is "not a home run, but the Aces fit the town’s gambling theme." MGM Resorts Chair & CEO Jim Murren said that the purchase of the franchise and re-branding into the Aces is "not a strategic move to pave the way for an NBA team at T-Mobile Arena." Murren: “They are connecting dots that shouldn’t be connected. There are no strings attached.” MGM Resorts Int'l President Bill Hornbuckle "initially did not support the WNBA team acquisition because he needed to find out more information such as identifying a strategic plan behind the purchase." But Murren "wanted the team and Hornbuckle came around." Hornbuckle said that the “cost of entry was not too much.” Snel noted it was Borders who first "approached MGM Resorts about buying the San Antonio WNBA franchise" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 12/11). 

POCKET ACES: Hornbuckle said of the team's new name, “Aces was a name MGM Resorts actually owned, and we went out and copyrighted it for a sports team. We tried to convince [Golden Knights Owner] Bill Foley to use it, but because of his connection to West Point he wasn’t going there. He wanted Golden Knights.” In Las Vegas, John Katsilometes notes a "new seating system with 20 floor-level sets and new scoreboard are planned" for Mandalay Bay Events Center. Hornbuckle said, “We’re working on a new infrastructure for television, because WNBA games are televised events. We’ll have new paint, a general spit-and-polish effort, and it will feel brand new to anyone who walks in.” Katsilometes also notes the arena’s beige color palette "will be replaced with the Aces team colors: gray, black and red" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/12).

In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson notes the Rangers' payroll in '18 will be around $150M, "down as much" as $25M from a season ago. So it will be an "upset" if the Rangers "steal the spotlight this week" at MLB's Winter Meetings. Money is on Rangers President of Baseball Operations & GM Jon Daniels' mind this offseason after playing the '17 season with "more money than he has ever had" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/12).

NOT QUITE YET: In Newark, Abbey Mastracco notes MLB's free agent market for relievers is "deep this season, but the Mets aren't jumping in it right away." The Mets "clearly" plan on "slashing" payroll. Their operating budget is "projected to be around the league average." Mets GM Sandy Alderson said, "We're not going to chase players. There are a lot of guys out there. ... We think there's some values out there, and to the extent that the market gets overheated. I wouldn't think that we'll jump into the inferno" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 12/12).

SPEEDING UP THE PROCESS? In Tampa, Marc Topkin writes the Yankees' formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton "could be an accelerant to the departure" of Rays 3B Evan Longoria and some "familiar for-the-moment teammates, as the Rays acknowledge and accept that the gap between them and the best team in their division is now a gulf." Rays manager Kevin Cash said, "It’s a challenge. They made it a little more challenging now with their latest acquisition." Rays officials are "already considering whether to deal away a number of veterans" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/12).

In Indianapolis, Dana Hunsinger Benbow notes the value of a Colts ticket has "been steadily creeping toward rock bottom for weeks." The cheapest seats for Thursday night’s game against the Broncos "were $5 on VividSeats -- and $6 on both StubHub and SeatGeek" as of last night for the team that is 3-10 with no chance of making the playoffs (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/12).

JUST WIN, BABY: A TORONTO STAR editorial states winning is "getting to be a bit of a habit" in Toronto, after Toronto FC's MLS Cup championship. Toronto "might just be on the cusp of a new golden age of sports." The city currently "suffers from an embarrassment of sporting riches" (TORONTO STAR, 12/12).

FOR CAUSE & EFFECT: In DC, Matthew Paras cites reports as saying that an arbitration hearing involving the Redskins and former GM Scot McCloughan "will be held Dec. 18." McCloughan "was fired in March after two years" with the team. The Redskins "fired him 'with cause,' reportedly over his drinking on the job." McCloughan "denied those claims and is seeking to recoup" the $2.8M still left on his contract (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/12).