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Volume 25 No. 131

Franchises

Zaidi received a five-year contract from the Giants after coming over from the rival Dodgers
Photo: GIANTS

The Giants' hiring of Farhan Zaidi to be their next President of Baseball Operations "signals a big change" in that analytics will be incorporated into more aspects of the organization that in the past, according to Scott Ostler of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The team has used analytics in "scouting, team-building and game strategy, but they haven’t cannonballed into that pool like some teams have." It now is "bouncing up and down on the end of the diving board." Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said that he "knocked out by Zaidi’s 'transformational thinking'" during his interview. Ostler notes it is natural that there could be a "potential clash" between the new school of thought (Zaidi) and the old school, as represented by Giants manager Bruce Bochy. Zaidi said, "It’s a convenient narrative to see this as kind of a clash of schools of thought. I don’t see it that way at all" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8).MLB Network's Scott Braun noted the Giants "wanted a 'next-gen' exec, and they found that man" ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 11/7). MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal said Zaidi was a “statement hire by the Giants,” though it is "going to take intestinal fortitude on the part of the organization to let Zaidi do what he needs to do to establish the Giants as a next-gen team” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 11/7).

GETTING TIME TO REBUILD: In S.F., Henry Schulman notes Zaidi received a five-year contract, which was the "cost of prying" him away from his GM position with the Dodgers. It also reflects the "time it takes to walk into a situation like that of the Giants, create a long-term blueprint, execute it and, if all goes well, turn Market Street into a sea of cheering humanity again" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8). MLB Network's Rosenthal noted Zaidi is "going to need all five years" on his deal. Rosenthal said, "It's not that the Giants are in a horrible position, because they have resources. But they have some players on big contracts who are in the declining phase of their careers. They also don't have a great farm system at this moment, so they’ve a lot of work to do” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 11/7). MLB Network's Dave Valle noted the Giants "got old very quickly," and the large contracts on the books will force Zaidi to be "pretty creative." But Valle added, "I don’t think the San Francisco area is a place that you’re going to rebuild” ("MLB Now," MLB Network, 11/7). SI.com's Jack Dickey notes Zaidi "spent the first decade of his baseball career" working under A's Exec VP/Baseball Operations Billy Beane. He knows how to "wring value out of modest payrolls, which is what his task will be until he can shed some of those bigger contracts" (SI.com, 11/8).

TRIBUTE TO SABEAN: The CHRONICLE's Schulman notes Zaidi yesterday "made a point of thanking" Giants Exec VP/Baseball Operations Brian Sabean for his "counsel in their initial conversation this week." Zaidi said that he is "'looking forward to having more of those' as the new boss leans on the old one to gather information about the players and prospects the Giants have, and thoughts on those they might acquire." Sabean will "not only will advise the new front office but will do more scouting, his passion" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/8).MLB Network's Chris Rose noted the Giants are "loyal ... maybe to a fault" to their players, coaching staff and front office members. Rose: "That's why I really love this hire, because he's an outsider and he’s got some really tough decisions. I don't know if this organization needs to be turned on its head, I don't think it's that drastic, but there are some changes that need to be made and that means tough decisions are going to have to be made” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 11/7).

COMPETING WITH THE WARRIORS: NBC SPORTS BAY AREA's Ray Ratto wrote Zaidi is not just trying to make the Giants "win more games," but he also is "being asked to make the Giants cool again, not just by winning more games than they lose and playing in October, but by doing so with players whom citizens gravitate toward with an eye toward emotional allegiance." The Warriors have won three titles since the Giants' last World Series win in '14, and it is "not lost on Baer that the Chase Center is rising at great pace and cost just a few blocks down what is rapidly becoming San Francisco’s new gold coast." Ratto: "The A’s are not the competition in the stakes at which he and the organization plays" (NBCSPORTSBAYAREA.com, 11/7).

WHERE DO THE DODGERS GO? In L.A., Andy McCullough notes Zaidi during his four seasons as Dodgers GM "distinguished himself with a keen eye for talent on the margins." He served as an "innovative voice and preached the importance of versatility." The Dodgers now will "confront an offseason without Zaidi," and his absence will "rob the Dodgers of a crucial off-field asset." The Dodgers "must determine how to replace him." Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman indicated that he had "not determined if the team will need to hire a new general manager, or will operate without one." Zaidi’s portfolio "ranged from analytics to trade negotiations to amateur scouting" (L.A. TIMES, 11/8). Friedman said that the decision "not to immediately look to hire a replacement is about 'not forcing it.'" He added, "It’s just with everything we have going on, figuring out when it makes sense, who. I just really haven’t had time to wrap my arms around it" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/8).

Golden Knights President & COO Kerry Bubolz has "prioritized the inclusivity of women in management as a vital goal" of the franchise, according to Cassandra Cousineau of LVSPORTSBIZ.com. The issue is an "important priority for the tradition-laden NHL" because hockey has "lagged behind in embracing change like the NBA has." The league in '17 introduced Kim Davis as its Exec VP/Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs to "boost the NHL’s outreach efforts." When Bubolz "heard Davis address league executives for the first time, he took the message directly" to Golden Knights Dir of Business Legal Affairs Tamara Daniels. Her mission now is "to turn and translate this idea into action" within the team. Daniels said, "Our goal is to make sure we’re supporting and retaining women in key positions. It’s going to be a process." The effort to "support and retain women in key team posts is in its early stages and is informally referred to as the, 'Women and Diversity Committee.'" Daniels believes that "creating a diverse group of applicants should include seriously considering candidates who may not have direct experience in the sports industry" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 11/7).

With the added element of Bryant's return, the price of the re-sale tickets likely will surpass past games
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

New Saints WR Dez Bryant will return to AT&T Stadium on Nov. 29 to face the Cowboys after playing for them for eight seasons, and resale prices on NFL Ticket Exchange and StubHub are "already higher than recent Cowboys' home games," according to Kristi Scales of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Tickets for Saints-Cowboys were "priced higher than the Thanksgiving Day game against the Redskins." As of yesterday, "standing room only 'Party Passes' for Saints-Cowboys started at $32 and upper-deck seats in the corner were approximately $122-and-up." The Thanksgiving Day prices "started at $22 for standing-room only and $103 for the corners of the upper deck." The Saints are always a "big draw because of the proximity of Arlington to New Orleans." However, with the added element of Bryant's return, the "price of the re-sale tickets" likely will surpass past games (DALLASNEWS.com, 11/7).

JERRY MANDERING: Former Cowboys great Troy Aikman earlier this week noted the franchise needs a "complete overhaul," and the Washington Post's Mark Maske said it is "hard to argue with the validity" of that assessment. Maske noted the “common denominator in all of that through the different coaches, through the different regimes of quarterbacks, is Jerry Jones and the way he approaches this and his involvement as the owner, being his own general manager.” Maske: “It would behoove Jerry Jones, behoove the Cowboys to sort of stand back, take a different approach, bring in a general manager to run things, have a coach who can do things exactly the way he wants to without having to answer so closely to Jerry Jones and everything. But on the other hand, it's not realistic. There are no midterm elections with the Cowboys. At this point Jerry Jones is going to do things the way he wants to. It's not realistic to believe at this stage in his life, at this stage in his career, he's going to step back and do things differently” (“OTL,” ESPN, 11/7).

TRYING TO DO MORE: In Dallas, Brandon George notes the Cowboys have now "joined several other NFL teams in voluntary efforts behind the scenes to go beyond taking a knee during the national anthem as a more proactive way to help bring awareness against social inequality, racism and police brutality." Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford and CB Byron Jones "took part in a ride-along with the Grand Prairie Police Department on Tuesday." A group of six Cowboys players are "behind the efforts to help the local community." They approached Cowboys Exec VP & Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson to "ask for her help in facilitating their plans that are in the beginning stages." The players have other plans for community outreach, but Crawford said that they "weren't ready to announce them just yet" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/8).

Gritty has appeared on several late night shows and was a popular Halloween costume in Philadelphia
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Flyers' new mascot Gritty has been the "most talked-about character in the NHL this season," but the mascot's notoriety has "extended beyond the bounds of the hockey world," according to Kevin Allen of USA TODAY. Gritty has appeared on "The Tonight Show," and "was the subject of a skit 'Conan.'" Gritty also "was mentioned" on "Last Week Tonight" and "Saturday Night Live." Homemade Gritty costumes, for "children, adults and dogs, were hot in and around Philadelphia on Halloween" and "Gritty-carved pumpkins were also in style." Flyers Marketing Dir Sarah Schwab said the hype surrounding Gritty "hasn’t died down" since the mascot was unveiled in September. She said, "The first couple of days after we unveiled him, it blew up. It was an onslaught. And it really hasn’t slowed.” Flyers VP/Marketing Joe Heller said, "There was always hope that he would be well-embraced but obviously this is bigger than we would have guessed." The Gritty project was a "couple of years in the making, launched because Flyers officials recognized they were missing out on a marketing opportunity." Mascots are "popular, usually making about 250 appearances per year." Now there is "no sign whatsoever that Gritty’s popularity is subsiding." Based on requests, Schwab said that Gritty "could be booked solid for multiple events a day if that is what the Flyers wanted" (USATODAY.com, 11/7).