The MLB Giants in '19 plan to "break with tradition and move the start times of weeknight home games up 30 minutes" to 6:45pm PT, according to Kerry Crowley of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. Giants President & CEO Larry Baer announced the plans yesterday in a "letter to season-ticket holders." The time change "does not include games scheduled for Fridays." Though the Giants drew close to 3.2 million fans this year, the club "suffered its second consecutive losing season and watched attendance begin to dwindle after the All-Star break." The Giants still "averaged nearly 39,000 fans per game," but the numbers have "dipped slightly over the past two seasons." Meanwhile, other changes season-ticket holders can "expect next season include a new ticket exchange program" and a 20% discount on "all food, beverage and merchandise purchases at AT&T Park concession stands" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 10/3). In S.F., Henry Schulman notes the Giants next season are also "hoping to install a new, high-definition scoreboard similar to those in newer ballparks" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/3).
Rays President Matt Silverman, whose team just bought the USL Tampa Bay Rowdies, said that a "jump to MLS is not a top priority" for the club, according to Topkin & Page of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Both the Rowdies and Rays will "maintain separate front offices, but the deal will provide the opportunity to combine some operations, some mundanely administrative, such as payroll and HR; some exploratory, such as athletic training, recovery and injury prevention; and some from the business side, such as selling sponsorship packages for both teams and possibly ticket deals." The deal "won't become official until Oct. 11, at the earliest," as that is the next time the St. Petersburg City Council could "approve the deal, a necessary step since the sale includes reauthorization of the Rowdies' lease to play at Al Lang Stadium." Rowdies Owner Bill Edwards said that the current agreement "stipulates that only the Rowdies can play at Al Lang for the duration of the current contract, which runs through Nov. 30, 2020." He also said that his agreement with the Rays has a "clause that the Rowdies play at Al Lang for at least the next five years." Silverman said that the five-year commitment was "not an issue." With the lease "expiring in two years, the Rays will have to work out a new deal with the city to fulfill the five-year promise" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/3).
I WANNA ROCK! Officials from the Rays and Rowdies said that Edwards will continue "booking live music" at Al Lang Stadium, including an "expanded slate of concerts" in '19 under the moniker "Al Lang Live." Edwards: "The whole goal is to get eight or 10 a year, maybe 11." In Tampa, Jay Cridlin notes Edwards’ management contract with the city has "required him to book at least 10 nonsoccer events there throughout each year." While the Rays will now "assume management of Al Lang, they have contracted Edwards to continue booking shows there" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/3).
Patriots President Jonathan Kraft said that the introduction of the NFL's salary cap in '94 "influenced his father," Robert Kraft, to purchase the team the same year for $172M, according to Nicole Yang of BOSTON.com. Jonathan Kraft, speaking Monday at Forbes' "Under 30 Summit," said that with the salary cap in place, there was "less emphasis on who could out-spend the competition and greater focus" on what he called “traditional, strategic operating principles of a business.” Kraft said the reason his family was "willing to pay up so much for a business that was negative $6 million in EBITA and didn’t have a lot going for it was because we loved the competition" of the NFL. He said they "believed that with a hard salary cap, the teams that were going to be successful were teams that understood how to evaluate talent, sign it up under the rules of the cap, and then coach it well.” Kraft said the Patriots "upped their roster of season-ticket holders from 19,000 to 50,000 for the ’94 season," and from "then on, the Patriots established a paid waiting list, which Kraft said currently carries approximately 80,000 people." Kraft also noted sponsors "receive the same care as season-ticket holders." He said, "This isn’t just eight home games a year with your sign up on the wall. It’s a 365-day-a-year association with our brand, with our players, (and) with our family. We’ll work with you in a whole host of ways to help give your brand a platform that it wouldn’t otherwise have had" (BOSTON.com, 10/2).
The Twins yesterday fired manager Paul Molitor just a season after he was AL Manager of the Year, and in Minneapolis, Sid Hartman writes Twins Owner Jim Pohlad "made it clear" Exec VP & Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine are "calling the shots when it comes to all baseball-related matters." Pohlad said that when the team hired Falvey and Levine to "turn this franchise around after six seasons where the Twins went 407-565 overall, one condition was they had to keep Molitor on as manager." But going 78-84 this season "meant Falvey and Levine were comfortable firing Molitor" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/3).
JUST THE BEGINNING: In Ft. Worth, Jeff Wilson writes the reality for the Rangers is that they are "far from contention while in the early stages of a rebuild." Much would "have to change for the Rangers to contend." Rangers President of Baseball Operations & GM Jon Daniels said that the team "won't be big spenders this off-season ... and that the farm system won't be able to contribute yet again." Daniels: "Our goal and our belief is we can take steps forward next year. I don't believe in the word 'tanking' or that sort of thing. ... There are a lot of ways we can get better" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/3).
STARTS AT THE TOP: In DC, Thom Loverro writes the Lerner family, which owns the Nationals, is responsible for why the team has had "four different managers over the course of the last seven years." The Lerners at the end of last year dismissed the advice of Nationals President of Baseball Operations & GM Mike Rizzo, who was "wise enough to see the value of bringing back" former manager Dusty Baker for one more season. Loverro: "Dismiss any notion that it might [be] wise to show patience instead of pettiness, faith instead of foolishness, caution instead of carelessness? Ownership" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/3).
FOLLOW THE BLUEPRINT: In Pittsburgh, Kevin Gorman wrote the Brewers this season modeled a blueprint for the Pirates that "adding payroll with the right players could be the difference between playing in the postseason and watching from home." The Pirates "must show they are willing to spend." That is what "pushed the Brewers, transforming their outfield" by signing CF Lorenzo Cain to a five-year, $80M contract and trading four prospects to the Marlins for LF Christian Yelich. If the Pirates "didn't shed their reputation for being penny-pinchers" by trading for Ps Chris Archer and Keone Kela and LF Corey Dickerson, they "can by spending this offseason" (TRIBLIVE.com, 10/1).