Saturday, October 30, 2004

PNC Park getting new grass

Pirates want sod 'perfect' in time for All-Star Game
By Mark Belko

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Saturday, October 30, 2004

There will be something different about PNC Park when baseball returns next spring, but if all goes according to plan, even the most diehard fans won't be able to tell.

With an eye toward the 2006 Major League All-Star Game, the Pirates are replacing the turf in their acclaimed ballpark. Crews have been ripping out the old grass and laying down new sod for the past week.

Before they are finished, all 2.5 acres of PNC Park grass will be replaced for the first time since the ballpark opened in 2001. As of yesterday, only the center field area remained to be done.

Patty Paytas, vice president of communications for the Pirates, said replacing the park's grass will be done on a routine basis, and was not the result of any problems or unhappiness with the playing surface.

"It's a regular project that you do every so often," she said.

Read the entire article here on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Stadium tax scale due for revision

By Eric Fisher

District officials hurriedly are seeking changes to the gross-receipts tax that would fund the largest portion of the city's proposed baseball stadium.

The changes come in the aftermath of Thursday's 16-hour public hearing on the stadium bill that featured theatrics, grandstanding and unhappiness among at least five members of the D.C. Council with the legislation as it is currently written.

The structure currently offered by Mayor Anthony A. Williams and top aides calls for District businesses grossing at least $3 million a year to pay a fee ranging from $3,000 to $28,200 a year. Businesses generating at least $16 million a year would pay the top-end fee.

But after hearing from hundreds of citizens and trade groups, many council members and administration officials believe it is not proper to assess the same fee to one business grossing $16 million a year and another grossing 10 or 20 times as much.

In the changes, which are still under discussion, businesses grossing more than $20 million might be split into one or two new categories on the fee scale, with the top-end tax perhaps surpassing $40,000 a year. City officials estimate about 280 businesses in the District meet this high-end threshold. The tax as currently written would apply to 11 percent of city businesses.

"We're working though the numbers, seeing where we can include more proportionality to the model, shifting a bit more burden to the top end," said Steve Green, special assistant in the city office of planning and economic development. "This is a good point that's being made, and it certainly possible to try and make this more progressive."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Approval for New Stadium in Washington Hits a Snag

The NY Times
Published: October 29, 2004

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 - Maybe the idea of financing a new stadium here for the relocated Montreal Expos seemed easy last month when the city received the news that Major League Baseball would send the team to the nation's capital.

The celebratory rally was led by the bow-tied Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who wore a red Senators cap, John Fogerty's song "Centerfield" played on loudspeakers and children in baseball uniforms shared the stage with politicians eager to congratulate themselves.

Legislation to authorize the $440 million stadium package is still likely to pass, but the ride is getting bumpy.

The plan has exposed a schism within the District of Columbia's City Council, which must approve it, and among its citizens, over the size and predominance of the public contribution - taxes on tickets, concessions and parking at the ballpark, plus a citywide business tax. The team will pay rent starting at $3.5 million annually.

Read the entire article here on the NY Times website.

Baseball proposal evokes anger

By Eric Fisher

The District's $435.2 million proposal for a baseball stadium in Southeast received a hostile reception yesterday from the D.C. Council during a public hearing that lasted more than 12 hours.

The council's skepticism heightens the tension as ballpark advocates race against the clock to complete the move of the Montreal Expos to Washington.

Five of the 10 council members at the hearing expressed serious problems with the stadium-financing package as currently constructed by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, bringing the relocation deal perilously close to the seven fatal "no" votes. The concerns ran the gamut from financing and land-acquisition costs to the team's role in paying for the stadium.

"I cannot in good conscience support a plan in which the city foots the entire bill and assumes all the risk," said Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican. Mrs. Schwartz's often-high level of vitriol yesterday surprised many observers, particularly because she stood right behind the mayor four weeks ago during a press conference celebrating the Expos' move.

"I don't think we negotiated a good deal with baseball, and I'm not going to just buy anything," she said.

The mayor's plan calls for the city to issue bonds up to $500 million to pay for a new stadium and improvements at RFK Stadium, where the soon-to-be-renamed Expos will play for three seasons. The bonds then would be paid off through a combination of ballpark-related sales taxes, annual lease payments from the team and a gross-receipts tax on large D.C. businesses.

The bill is slated for markup next week and a first vote by the 13-member council on Nov. 9. The measure must be ratified by Dec. 31 to preserve the Expos' relocation.

Joining Mrs. Schwartz in the opposition to the stadium yesterday were Ward 1 Democrat Jim Graham, at-large independent David A. Catania, Ward 3 Democrat Kathy Patterson, and Ward 4 Democrat Adrian M. Fenty.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

It's Our Ballclub and Our Town

By Tom Knott
The Washington Times
October 29, 2004

The hidden cost to make nice with those whose lives do not revolve around the 6-4-3 double-play ball is certain to rise with each protest, meeting and report that questions the revitalization power of the proposed ballpark in Southeast Washington.

The latest initiative of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is a community benefit fund intended to assuage the anger and concern of a citizenry resistant to the $435.2 million ballpark plan.

The publicly financed tab, of course, is bound to rise as well, assuming there are legal battles, weather-induced construction delays and cost overruns.

The economic delicacy of the proposed ballpark has come to be the mayor's hangover following the celebration that coincided with the awarding of the Expos to the city.

The mayor did what he had to do to secure the barnstorming team, and now he is endeavoring to complete the deal before those activist groups with real or imagined objections. The proposed ballpark has evolved into a typically Washington issue, with the attendant question, "What's in it for me?"

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website

Vocal Crowd Turns Out to Talk Baseball

Many Give Up and Leave As D.C. Hearing Drags On
By David Nakamura and Clarence Williams

The Washington Post
October 29, 2004

The D.C. Council yesterday began considering whether the city should use public dollars to build a stadium for its new baseball team, drawing a raucous crowd of supporters and opponents to an all-day hearing.

With more than 300 people on hand at 10 a.m., supporters wearing red Washington Senators hats got early prime seating because opponents were staging a rally outside. Despite efforts to maintain order, the hearing was interrupted twice by people who shouted out of turn and were removed by police.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), whose stadium financing package has been the focus of protests for weeks, did not testify and avoided the fifth floor of the Wilson Building during the first 10 hours of testimony, saying he watched a live broadcast on the city's cable channel. In an interview after a midday news conference announcing a traffic control initiative, Williams said he was confident that the stadium will be built.

"It's going to happen," Williams said, although the project requires the approval of the 13-member council. Asked why he chose not to testify, Williams said: "Everyone knows my views. It's important that people disassociate their opinions of baseball from their opinions of me."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The new Red Sox curse

Economics and structure of the game and team will make it difficult for Red Sox to repeat in 2005.
A weekly column by Chris Isidore,
CNN/Money senior writer
October 28, 2004: 5:03 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The curse is dead. Long live the new curse.

As anyone with a pulse knows by now, the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years Wednesday night. But the denizens of Red Sox Nation should not expect happy celebrations to become an annual ritual.

The cold truth is that a number of obstacles make it more difficult than ever for any team to repeat as baseball's champions.

First up is the fact that 18 players on Boston's roster are potential free agents. Some are bit players at best, but the list includes almost half of the everyday starters -- Orlando Cabrera, Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller and Jason Varitek -- as well as starting pitchers Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe.


Last year, the Marlins held the line better on payroll, keeping many stars but letting team leader Ivan Rodriguez leave a free agent. They also fell short of playoff contention.

"The Red Sox will have the same problem once they win: everyone wants more money," said Gary Gillette, co-editor of the Baseball Encyclopedia and co-chairman of the business of baseball committee of SABR, a baseball research group. "Derek Lowe probably saw his value go up 40 percent in the couple of weeks."


Gillette says it's probably easier to make those kinds of hard choices when trying to capture a championship rather than after winning one. If the Sox start paying top dollar for replaceable stars like Millar, Mueller or Lowe, it's a sign they're on the wrong path.

"I think the odds are good that the Red Sox will resist that kind of stuff," said Gillette. "I don't see any evidence in new ownership history that they will go hog wild on all the champagne they swilled last night and spend money in a foolish way."

Read the entire article here on the CNN/Money website.

Selig advocates shorter season, expanded playoffs

By Rick Hummel& Joe Strauss
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Three years after the game threatened contraction and two years after a work stoppage was averted through negotiation of a new basic agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association, commissioner Bud Selig is presiding over a game that now enjoys relative stability. Selig recently accepted a five-year extension that will carry his term through 2009, at which point he has pledged to leave the post.

In attendance for the 100th World Series, Selig calls himself an advocate of a shorter regular season schedule, an expanded first tier of playoffs and far stricter testing for steroids. He also believes neither contraction nor expansion an imminent possibility for the game.


Q: Will baseball continue the two-year experiment of awarding home field in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star Game?

A: "When I left Fenway, people were very friendly, yelling, 'Thanks for the All-Star Game.' When I left (Tuesday) night here, I didn't get the same response. Look, I like it. Our fans like it. The (Fox) network likes it. I believe it should be a permanent part of our landscape and I'm sure it will be. I'm quite optimistic about its future.
"It isn't like we had Einstein's theory of relativity before in terms of who got the (home-field advantage). One year, you got it. One year, I got it. This at least re-energized the game. Last year, the Yankees had home-field advantage (in the World Series) and it didn't do anything for them, anyway."

Read the entire article here on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website.

MLB wants to make sure fans get the real deal

Program aims to stop fake memorabilia
By Naomi Aoki

Boston Globe Staff
October 28, 2004

Deloitte & Touche accountant Cory Boss spent Game 3 of the World Series, collecting a couple dozen balls used in the game, four bases, a commemorative home plate and pitching rubber used for the first pitch, and both the Red Sox and Cardinals line-up cards signed by the team managers.

Before returning the items to Major League Baseball, Boss and two other Deloitte accountants attached holographic stickers bearing unique identification numbers to the collectibles to authenticate them as the real deal. They went to the players' clubhouses during the game to label the special World Series nameplates on the lockers.

"Who said being a CPA was boring?" said Boss, 27, who works in the accounting firm's St. Louis office. He doesn't get paid extra for the task, he said, but "it's certainly a desirable assignment."

Boss is one of about 150 Deloitte & Touche accountants nationwide trained to authenticate official baseball memorabilia at major league games and private signing sessions. There are one to three of them at any given game, putting stickers on everything from game balls to champagne bottles the Red Sox would use to celebrate a historic World Series win. They go to players' homes to witness and authenticate the signing of bats, pictures and gloves.

Read the entire article here on the Boston Globe website.

Marlins agree to contribute more as ballpark price rises to $420 million

By Sarah Talalay
Staff Writer
The Miami Sun-Sentinel
Posted October 28 2004

The Marlins have increased cost estimates for a new ballpark and parking garage east of the Orange Bowl to $420 million, up from $367 million, and have agreed to contribute more to the stadium now projected to open in 2008, according to documents the team submitted to Miami-Dade County and city of Miami officials this week.

Under the proposal, which all three sides hope can be finalized next month, the Marlins would increase their commitment to a 38,000-seat, retractable-roof ballpark from $157 million to $192 million in mainly rent payments guaranteed by ballpark revenue and cash. The team, which would be renamed Miami Marlins, also agrees to cover cost overruns through sources that could include future revenue, a lien on the franchise, a letter of credit and, if possible, a guarantee from Major League Baseball to cover up to $10 million.

"The reason the team's contribution has gone up is to allay the public's concerns that the Marlins will be unable to cover any cost overruns," Marlins President David Samson said Wednesday. "By increasing the project cost from the beginning, it is reducing the potential cost overruns."

Samson said the team's contribution is the fourth largest of any Major League Baseball team to a stadium project.

Read the entire article here on the Miami Sun-Sentinel website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Fund created to appease ballpark critics

By Eric Fisher

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, facing heated criticism across the city for his $435.2 million plan to build a baseball stadium in Southeast, yesterday announced the creation of a community benefit fund that would be tied to the ballpark and generate up to $400 million for city schools, libraries and recreation programs.

Although the details of the plan are decidedly sketchy, the fund would be supported by the creation of a tax-increment financing (TIF) district around and immediately north of the proposed ballpark site near South Capitol and O streets. In the TIF district, tax money above what already is being generated would be funneled into the benefit fund. Also undetermined are the recipients and criteria for distributing the money.

But the primary goals of the evolving plan are to soothe political opposition to the ballpark proposal and address repeated cries for improvements to basic city services and infrastructure.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Cost Estimate on Stadium Jumps

D.C. Analysis Says Price of Deal Could Rise $91 Million
By David Nakamura and Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 28, 2004; Page A01

The cost of building a baseball stadium and renovating Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium could be $91 million more than city officials initially estimated, according to an analysis released last night by the District's chief financial officer.

In an eight-page letter to D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D), Natwar M. Gandhi said the total cost of the stadium package could reach $486.2 million, not the $395 million stated in the agreement between the District and Major League Baseball.

The additional costs come largely in three areas: $50 million for improvements to roads, sewers and Metro; $11 million more than estimated to renovate RFK; and $30 million more than estimated for contingency funds for likely cost overruns.

"As a result of the increase in project costs, more money will have to be borrowed and debt service will increase," Gandhi wrote.

He estimated that the city would need to issue $500 million in bonds, up from an estimated $440 million. Furthermore, officials would need to collect about $2 million per year more on gross receipts taxes on the city's largest businesses to pay the debt service.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

D-Backs on course to reduce red ink

By Craig Harris
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 27, 2004 12:00 AM

In the bizarre world of baseball economics, the Diamondbacks set a franchise record for most losses in a season yet did better financially than any year except their inaugural season, when the team made its only profit.

Team officials in interviews Tuesday said the Diamondbacks, who lost a franchise record 111 games, were projected this year to lose about $8 million - down from $42 million in 2003. Much of the reduction came from a smaller payroll and revenue-sharing money from baseball.

While the losses are still large, the reduction of red ink is expected to help further stabilize the franchise's finances and put the Diamondbacks in a better position to sign some marquee players, such as Richie Sexson, who is currently negotiating with the team, Diamondbacks officials said. Cutting the losses also could help the team refinance prior debt, giving the franchise more cash for future payrolls, a team owner said.

Read the entire article here on the Arizona Republic website.

Red Sox seek approval to expand Fenway capacity by 10%

By Chris Reidy
Boston Globe Staff
October 27, 2004

The Red Sox yesterday received preliminary approval from the Boston Landmarks Commission to expand Fenway Park's capacity by 10 percent, presenting the club's most specific designs yet on how it would add about 1,000 seats as well as extra standing room.

Although the ball club requested increasing Fenway's capacity from 36,298 to 39,928, the team's plans would not immediately use all the additional space.

The ball club also wants to expand the team's clubhouse and weight room by an addition that would be partly built on unused space between the Fenway Park faade and Van Ness Street. The design would also ease congestion by adding space behind grandstand seats along the first-base line, team officials said.

Red Sox officials hope this project can be completed in time for next season.
Then the club would add new seats and more standing room by the start of the 2006 season, said architect Janet Marie Smith, a Red Sox vice president.

Read the entire article here on the Boston Globe website.

MLB denies stalemate in Angelos deal

By Peter Schmuck
The Baltimore Sun
Originally published October 27, 2004

ST. LOUIS -Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball chief operating officer Robert DuPuy both insisted yesterday that there is no stalemate in compensation negotiations with Orioles owner Peter Angelos over the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington.

"There are just a lot of details to be worked out," Selig said, "but we'll work out all that stuff. We can only be in one place at one time."

DuPuy said he exchanged phone calls with Orioles vice chairman Joe Foss yesterday, but DuPuy also said that the delay in completing a deal to indemnify the Orioles for potential losses related to the arrival of a second team in the region.

"I read in one paper today that the deal seems to be going south and in another paper that it's almost done," DuPuy said.

Read the entire article here on the Baltimore Sun website.

Jays cut annual loss in half

Canadian Press
Oct. 27, 2994

Toronto — The Toronto Blue Jays fell in the standings but inched closer to profitability this season.

Final figures are still being crunched, but it appears the Jays will post an operating loss of somewhere between $7-million and $8-million — boosted by league revenue sharing, a higher Canadian dollar and a slimmer payroll, according to a senior executive at parent company Rogers Communications Inc.

That's less than half the near $18-million the club lost in 2003, the source said.

The estimate is not included in Rogers' third-quarter results, issued Tuesday, but instead is based on projections for revenues and expenses claimed throughout the year. Rogers changed the way it accounts for the Jays on its books in July after it assumed the remaining 20 per cent of the club it didn't already own from Interbrew Breweries S.A., which owns Canada's Labatt Breweries.

Read the entire article here on the Globe and Mail website.

Report: Team Won't Aid Economy

By Eric Fisher
The Washington Times
October 27, 2004

The long-running feud between economists and stadium-happy politicians took another bitter turn yesterday.

The release of a report from the District-based Cato Institute challenged many of the city's claims that baseball's return to Washington would spur economic development.

The report, entitled "Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball," borrows liberally from more than three decades of economic research on the presence of big-time professional sports in urban areas.

Like other studies, the authors of the current report — Dennis Coates from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Brad Humphreys from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign — argue any new development and tax revenue generated by the presence of a sports facility is more than offset by losses elsewhere in the region, and is not worthy of major public-sector investments.

"Unless you believe that people pull money out of hiding to spend it on sports, that spending has to come at the expense of spending somewhere else," Coates said

Read the entire article here at the Washington Times website

170 Sign Up to Speak At Baseball Hearing

List Is One of the Longest Ever in D.C.
By David Nakamura

The Washington Post
October 27, 2004

Like two teams before a big game, supporters and detractors of a plan to bring baseball to the District are preparing their lineups for tomorrow's showdown before the D.C. Council.

More than 170 people have signed up to speak at the public hearing in the council's 160-seat chamber, one of the largest lists ever. Yesterday, Mayor Anthony A. Williams was witness No. 157, many spots below a founder of the Dance Institute of Washington, while a former council member was sandwiched between the president of the D.C. League of Women Voters and a high school baseball coach.

But the witness list had been scrambled from its true order by council staff members concerned about its sensitivity. The jockeying for position has been intense, with phones in the office of D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) ringing nonstop as people tried to secure an early speaking slot. Although staffers said speakers would be limited to three minutes apiece, they already were predicting extra innings: The hearing could last until nightfall, and arrangements were being made for overflow seating.

The Washington Interfaith Network planned to mobilize 100 members, all wearing T-shirts reading, "Neighborhoods first!" A protest organized by the group No D.C. Taxes for Baseball was set for 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the hearing begins. Stadium opponents have passed out 2,000 fortune cookies with anti-stadium slogans. Economists, including those from the Cato Institute, have prepared statistic-laden reports about the dubious impact of a new stadium.

Read the entire article here at the Washington Post website

Penalty for Chiefs or Royals leaving? Megabucks

By Jeffrey Flanagan
The Kansas City Star
October 27, 2004

he one falsehood we hear the most about the Royals and the Chiefs and their lease with the Jackson County Sports Authority is this: that David Glass or Lamar Hunt can just one day pick up their team and trot it off to another city without a penalty.

Not going to happen.

The leases run through 2015 for both teams. If one of the teams decided today that it would leave, it would have to pay a sizeable penalty based on the estimated annual economic losses to the greater Kansas City area for the remainder of the years in the lease.

Translation: Megabucks.

“There have been numerous studies on the economic value of these teams to the community,” said Jack Holland, legal adviser to the Sports Authority, “and it's safe to say that the losses would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That would be the penalty for either team breaking the lease: Hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Read the entire article here on the Kansas City Star website

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Baseball confident Expos' move to D.C. will be finalized

AP Sports Writer
October 26, 2004

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles over the proposed move of the Montreal Expos to Washington have been slowed by the postseason, but baseball's No. 2 official said Tuesday that plans remain on track.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, has been traveling for much of the month, slowing talks with Joe Foss, the Orioles' chief operating officer.

``The negotiations remain cordial,'' DuPuy said before Game 3 of the World Series. ``We had a discussion. We had agreement on most of the philosophical points. We had disagreement on a few of the points, and we continue to discuss points like rational human beings.''

For the move of the Expos to become final, it must be approved by baseball owners, considered a formality. In addition, the District of Columbia government must enact legislation providing $440 million in financing to refurbish RFK Stadium and build a new ballpark.

``We are very confident the District will get it done, the legislation will get passed, the rehab will occur to RFK, we'll open the season in Washington next year and return baseball to the nation's capital,'' he said.

Read the entire article here on Yahoo! Sports.

Expos' GM Likely Will Be Watson

Position Is Temporary Pending Sale of Team
By Barry Svrluga

Washington Post
October 26, 2004

Former major league first baseman and general manager Bob Watson has been offered what could be a temporary job as general manager of the Expos, who are scheduled to begin play in Washington next spring, according to a Major League Baseball source.

The source, who requested anonymity because Watson was still considering the offer, said an announcement won't be made until after the World Series. The source said he expects Watson to accept the job.

Watson is baseball's vice president of on-field operations -- MLB's disciplinarian -- and could return to the MLB office when the Expos are sold if a new owner wants a different general manager. Because the Expos are owned by the other 29 Major League teams, club president Tony Tavares must work with MLB officials in choosing a general manager.

Tavares, whose future is also linked to the sale of the team, reiterated yesterday that he would not announce a new GM until after the World Series and would not discuss candidates. er 26, 2004.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website

Crowd Demands Services, Not Stadium

By David Nakamura
The Washington Post
October 26, 2004

An angry and frustrated crowd in Southwest Washington last night denounced Mayor Anthony A. Williams's proposal to build a baseball stadium in their community, saying they feared being displaced and worried that public money will be diverted from schools and health care.

More than 150 people attended the meeting at Waterside Mall, where city officials, including City Administrator Robert C. Bobb, presented plans for the stadium, to be built nearby. The event, billed as a question-and-answer session, largely turned into a chance for residents to express frustration over what they said was the city's inability to meet basic service needs for the community.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life," said Doris Barnes, 60, who lives in the neighborhood. "We need schools, jobs and homes. We don't need a baseball stadium."

A spokesman for the Southwest Advisory Neighborhood Commission, which co-sponsored the meeting, said the group voted 5 to 1 after the meeting to oppose the stadium proposal.

Read the entire article here on The Washington Post website

Randolph Confident About Job With Mets

By Lee Jenkins
The New York Times
October 26, 2004

Willie Randolph is still under contract with the Yankees, but while speaking yesterday about the possibility of managing the Mets, he used a couple of revealing personal pronouns.

Referring to the Mets as "we" and "us" on multiple occasions, Randolph, 50, sounded as if he expected to be the club's next manager. Asked about the team's talent level, he said, "It's hard to know what we'll need." On the veterans, he said, "They will step up and do a good job for us." And about the new general manager, Omar Minaya, he said, "I think we'll get on real fine together." Randolph even said that he had started to line up candidates for a coaching staff.

Randolph's optimism was striking, given that he has been interviewed without success for managerial positions about a dozen times. He can no longer remember the exact number. He was interviewed by the Mets in 2003, but he did not impress team officials, who gave the job to Art Howe.

A baseball executive who is close to the situation said yesterday that Randolph had had a very positive interview, would definitely be a finalist for the position and could be labeled as a leading candidate. But the executive also said that no decision had been reached and that one probably would not be made this week.

Read the entire article here on the New York Times website

Monday, October 25, 2004

Baseball's booming south of the [Canadian] border

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Oct. 25, 2004

The folks in charge of the Toronto Blue Jays can only look on longingly as baseball south of the border enjoys an impressive resurgence. While the Jays struggle to escape mediocrity on the field, further reduce costs and rebuild a deteriorating fan base, baseball has again become a force in the crowded U.S. world of mass-market entertainment.

The sport has plenty of underlying problems. It still hasn't figured out how to appeal to young people or blacks, revenue sharing isn't working the way it was supposed to, steroid use threatens to erupt into a major scandal, the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening and most teams are mired in red ink.

But for all that, baseball's recent successes, whether thanks to smarter business practices or a remarkable string of luck, are undeniable.


As any of Selig's legion of critics will tell you, baseball has revived almost despite the worst efforts of its leaders.

"The biggest thing I would say baseball is doing right has been letting baseball take care of baseball," said Maury Brown, co-chair of the business of baseball committee of the Society for American Baseball Research.

"When the business aspect of the game is removed, the game seems to fare well. It's more resilient than those that run it."

Read the entire article here on the Globe and Mail website (subscription required).

Ad in the Bank, Awaiting a Sox Victory

The NY Times
Published: October 25, 2004

Fans of the Boston Red Sox have been waiting 18 years for their team to return to the World Series. Executives at Nike have been waiting just one.

Last Wednesday, at the end of the Fox Broadcasting coverage of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, Nike ran an emotional 60-second commercial that celebrated the Boston Red Sox's quest to win the World Series for the first time since 1918. (The last time the Red Sox qualified for a World Series was 1986, when they lost in seven games to the New York Mets.)

The commercial, by Wieden & Kennedy, showed fans in four seats in Fenway Park, cheering for another elusive World Series crown. At the bottom of the screen, the dates advanced from 1919 to 2004, while the quartet of fans changed to reflect the changing styles, habits and mores of American society.

Read the entire article here on the NY Times website.

Baseball Tax Raises Question Of Fairness

By Neil Irwin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 25, 2004; Page E01

Pepco wants baseball in Washington, and the electric utility is ready to pay up. Under a proposal by Mayor Anthony A. Williams, it would pay $28,200 a year in new taxes to help pay for a ballpark.

That isn't much for a company that earned $107 million last year. "We're all for it," Pepco spokesman Bob Dobkin said of the Montreal Expos moving to Washington. "The tax isn't enough to make a very big difference to us."

A few miles away on Georgia Avenue NW, Dudley Dworken sees it a bit differently. He is the president of Curtis Chevrolet, which he expects will earn less than $150,000 this year. Under the mayor's proposal, the tax would cost Curtis $19,100 -- nearly 13 percent of its profit.
Pepco would pay less than three one-hundredths of 1 percent. "I want a baseball team as much as the next guy," Dworken said. "But I don't see why I should have to pay so much for it."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Game 1 of the World Series highest rated since 1999

The Associatied Press
October 24, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Boston's 11-9 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night got the highest TV rating for the first game of the World Series since 1999.

Fox Sports' prime-time coverage of the game got a 13.7 fast national rating, up 26 percent from Game 1 between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees last year.

An average of 23.1 million viewers watched the Red Sox win, making it the most-viewed Game 1 since the opening game of the 1996 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees was watched by an average of nearly 23.7 million people.

Read the entire article here on Yahoo! Sports.

[Marlins] Stadium deal and Lowell in limbo

The Miami Herald

The Marlins continue to have trouble completing their stadium deal, leaving Mike Lowell on the cusp of free agency and creating uncertainty about the franchise's long-term future.

Unless Lowell is traded in the next week, he will very likely be in position to declare for free agency in the first week of November. With a stadium deal unlikely to be completed by Nov. 1, the 2006 and 2007 seasons of Lowell's contract (worth $18 million combined) would be voided.


Does Lowell's situation create urgency to complete a stadium deal?

''The future of the franchise depends on a stadium,'' Marlins president David Samson said, ``and that is far greater than how it impacts one player.

''The Marlins and local government officials are no longer even discussing how to bridge the $30 million funding gap. With the Marlins, city and county not willing to put in the missing piece, the parties will try to get the money from the state legislature in March and deal with it later if the state doesn't deliver.

The biggest remaining issue, the county says, is that the Marlins have not provided a $100 million letter of credit from a bank, or other firm revenue sources, to guarantee they would pay for cost overruns beyond the $367 million price tag for the project.

Read the entire article here on the Miami Herald website.

For D.C. Mayor's Assistant, Baseball Is Latest Triumph

By Debbi Wilgoren and Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff WritersSunday,
October 24, 2004; Page C12

The party to celebrate baseball's return to Washington was winding down at Georgia Brown's, and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams had already left the downtown restaurant. With him was Stephen M. Green, the city official who had led the successful negotiations with Major League Baseball.

The two men enjoyed a victory cigar -- not as mayor and aide but as Tony and Steve, buddies since Yale University nearly 30 years ago.

Five years ago, Green was a developer who had never worked in government. Now he finds himself at the helm of one of the most important initiatives of Williams's tenure: the $440 million financing package to move the Montreal Expos to Washington this spring and house them in a new waterfront stadium by 2008.

Green, 49, whose title is special assistant to the mayor for planning and economic development, was one of three city officials who hammered out the District's agreement with Major League Baseball during marathon sessions last month. Now, most days, he appears before two or three community or business groups to tout the baseball project, trying to convince a skeptical public that the stadium will spur development in nearby neighborhoods, create jobs and generate tax revenue to support social programs.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Playoff ratings pure gold for MLB

By Eric Fisher
The Washington Times
Oct. 24, 2004

The bleary eyes. The frayed nerves. The fevered anticipation for yet another night of the same. These are the tell-tale signs of another October being taken over by postseason baseball.

The New York Yankees are gone and the Chicago Cubs never even made it to the party, but once again Major League Baseball is basking in the glow of a nation rediscovering and relishing the playoffs.

Football, of course, remains the country's truest sporting love and will be for at least the foreseeable future. The NFL, however, can't dominate water-cooler conversation as baseball does in October.

Wednesday's Game 7 of the American League Championship Series between Boston and New York generated an average audience of 31.5 million, the second-most watched baseball game ever on Fox behind Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

The total beat any single night of the 2004 Summer Olympics. And in Boston, more people watched the game than either of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl wins. Comparable audiences for another LCS game go back to 1988 and 1991, years before the Internet, satellite and digital cable TV became national staples.

The National League Championship Series between St. Louis and Houston, while not equaling the mammoth levels of the AL clash or last year's numbers generated by the Cubs, helped Fox close out the second round of the playoffs with its second-best LCS ratings ever, trailing the 2003 ratings by 4 percent.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Officials expect Expos deposits to be returned by next week

The Virginian-Pilot
© October 23, 2004 Last updated 9:40 PM Oct. 22

NORFOLK — If you’re one of the thousands of people who paid a $100 deposit for a season ticket to help attract the Montreal Expos to Norfolk and haven’t yet received a refund, Norfolk Baseball Co. officials say it’s coming next week.

More than three weeks ago, when Major League Baseball announced the Expos were headed to Washington , the company pledged to have deposits refunded in two weeks. William Somerindyke Jr., chief executive officer of the Norfolk group, conceded Friday that 25 percent of the nearly 10,000 pledges haven’t been refunded.

He said he hopes to have all the money refunded by early next week.

“This has been more difficult than we anticipated,” he said. “We’ve had to go through the parameters of all of the escrow agreements. We apologize that we haven’t gotten them all out. They should be out soon.”

Read the entire article here on the Virginian-Pilot website.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Game 7 highest-rated LCS game since 1991

ALCS Game 7 draws 19.4 national rating
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Boston Red Sox capped off an improbable comeback in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series Wednesday night -- and so did the TV ratings.

Boston's 10-3 win was the highest-rated league championship series game since 1991, drawing a 19.4 national rating for Fox Sports. That was up 13 percent from last year's Game 7 between the same teams, which the Yankees won on a home run by
Aaron Boone in the 11th inning.

Game 7 of the NLCS between Pittsburgh and Atlanta in 1991 got a 19.9 rating. Wednesday's game was the highest-rated ALCS game since Game 7 of the Boston-California Angels series in 1986 (21.2).

The ratings in New York and Boston were impressive. There was a rating of 56.6 in the Boston area, better than either of the Patriots' two Super Bowl wins. New York had a rating of 30.7.

Read the entire article here on

Major glory, maybe, but major gains? No.

Series appearance not expected to bring big windfall for Sox
By Naomi Aoki,

The Boston Globe Staff
October 22, 2004

Phones across Boston went down yesterday when World Series tickets went on sale. Hotel rooms are already so scarce that Major League Baseball booked rooms at a dozen hotels to come up with the 800 it needs.

Red Sox mania is so great that one licensee said it is printing twice as much American League championship apparel as it would have had the Yankees won and it expects to sell two to three times as much World Series championship merchandise if the Sox win.

''I want the Red Sox to win," said Rick Becker, vice president of sales and marketing for the major league licensee, VF Corp. The Greensboro, N.C., company is the maker of North Face, Nautica, Wrangler, and other clothing brands. ''Ultimately, we're a business, and I want what's best for our business."

For the Red Sox, however, making history doesn't necessarily translate into a mammoth windfall. A franchise's financial well-being rests largely on the willingness of fans to pay high prices for purely discretionary purchases. For most teams, that willingness waxes and wanes with their on-field success. But with such a devoted fan base, the Red Sox have relatively little to gain financially from winning.


''There's no doubt the Red Sox will see a financial boost," said Maury Brown, cochairman of the Society for American Baseball Research's business of baseball committee. ''It just won't be as significant as with the Marlins or the Diamondbacks because the Red Sox are already a popular brand. It's a nice problem to have."

Read the entire article here on the Boston Globe website.

Angels Plan to Train in Tempe Through 2007

By Bill Shaikin
The Los Angeles Times
October 22, 2004

The Angels plan to honor the three years left in their agreement to hold spring training in Tempe, Ariz..

"They told me they're going to be here through 2007," City Manager Will Manley said Thursday.

Angel spokesman Tim Mead confirmed the decision.

Owner Arte Moreno has yet to decide whether to move the Angels' spring home to a proposed new $40-million complex in the Phoenix suburb of Goodyear or remain in a renovated facility in Tempe.

Read the entire article here at the Los Angeles Times website

RFK due to retain prime soccer seating

By Eric Fisher
The Washington Times
October 22, 2004

D.C. United will retain its lucrative base of sideline seats at RFK Stadium despite the arrival of baseball at the 43-year-old stadium, according to plans being developed by the D.C. Sports & Entertainment Commission.

As the District vigorously pursued the Montreal Expos in Major League Baseball's protracted relocation chase, the long-held assumption was that about 5,000 of United's most fervent and well-paying fans would be moved to less desirable locations to make room for a baseball outfield.

Many of those seats will still be moved from the north end of the stadium to the west side in the reconfiguration for baseball. But for every United game, sports commission officials plan to use temporary seating on the baseball field to protect the soccer team's revenues.

The seats currently are occupied by the Screaming Eagles and Barra Brava fan clubs for United games and provide more than $90,000 in revenue for the team each home match. "We're going to do everything we can to keep the United fan support right around the field," said Mark Tuohey, sports commission chairman. "We need to make this work for everybody."

Read the entire article here at the Washington Times website

Without a New Owner, Expos Sit in Limbo

Until Team Is Sold, Making Moves on and off the Field Are Difficult; Top Priority Is Hiring a GM
By Barry Svrluga

The Washington Post
October 22, 2004

Somewhere in the whirlwind of logistics surrounding the Montreal Expos' move to Washington for the 2005 season lies the following reality: The Expos are a baseball team that, for now, has baseball on the back burner. They are without a general manager. Their field manager and coaching staff are in limbo. They have one free agent they would like to re-sign. They have arbitration cases to prepare. They have a team to reassemble.

"We're moving on that part, too," Expos President Tony Tavares said yesterday. "We have conversations about those issues all the time."

Since arriving in Washington last week, Tavares has spent most of his time on issues such as choosing a means to sell tickets and preparing RFK Stadium for its first baseball season since 1971. The first issue for the baseball side of things, Tavares said, is to hire a general manager, who will in turn have a significant say in whether Manager Frank Robinson and his staff come back for another season. Omar Minaya served as the club's GM from 2002 until last month, when he left for the same job with the New York Mets.

One interested party is Pat Gillick, the former GM in Toronto, Baltimore and most recently Seattle. Gillick said yesterday that he had not been contacted by the Expos, but that he would like a crack at being a general manager again, despite the fact that he stepped away from his post with the Mariners last fall.

Read the entire article here at the Washington Post website

D.C. Seeking Bids to Fix Up RFK in Time For Baseball

$13 Million Worth Of Renovations Planned
By David Nakamura and Paul Schwartzman
The Washington Post
October 22, 2004

District officials said yesterday they are soliciting bids for the estimated $13 million renovation to get Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium baseball-ready, with construction to begin in December.

Major League Baseball plans to sell the Montreal Expos and move the team to Washington pending the D.C. Council's approval of a proposed new baseball stadium on the Anacostia waterfront near South Capitol Street. Beginning in April, the team would play at RFK until a new stadium is completed.

With a temporary home plate lying in the western corner of RFK's soccer field, officials from the city's planning office and sports commission guided reporters on a tour of the stadium yesterday. They said the field, locker rooms, dugouts and stands would be ready for play April 15, when the new Washington team would open its home season against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The key elements include replacing seating for soccer that is in left field with retractable seats that would be removed for baseball; installing foul poles and backstops; cutting a baseball diamond into the grass; painting and carpeting the locker rooms; installing cables, phone lines and electrical wiring for the media; and fixing minor cracks in some parts of the concrete stands.

Read the entire article here on the Washingtong Post website

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dodgers to Offer Tracy Multiyear Deal

DePodesta says he wants a longer extension for the manager, and he also hopes to retain all of his coaches
By Bill Shaikin
The Los Angeles Times
October 21, 2004

The Dodgers plan to offer a multiyear contract extension to Manager Jim Tracy, General Manager Paul DePodesta said Wednesday.

"We haven't talked about a one-year scenario," DePodesta said. "One year doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Then I'm just back in the same spot next year."

DePodesta, hired on the eve of spring training and awarded a five-year contract, inherited Tracy, whose contact expires this fall. DePodesta deferred a decision on the manager's future at the time of his hiring and throughout most of the season.

The Dodgers won the National League West this season, for the first time since 1995. The club has posted a winning record in each of Tracy's four seasons as manager.

DePodesta said he planned to offer extensions to Tracy and all of his coaches, with the hope of concluding negotiations before the general managers' meetings Nov. 9-12 in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Read the entire article here on the Los Angeles Times website

Cashman returning in 2005

Steinbrenner tells Yankees GM his job is safe
By Mark Feinsand /

NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman wasn't worried about his job status after watching the Yankees lose the American League Championship Series to the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

It turns out that he had no reason to worry, as George Steinbrenner informed his general manager that he would be returning for the 2005 season.

"My mindset is not to worry about things like that. I worry about what I can control, and those are decisions that are above me," Cashman said. "If it was an issue, it would have been an issue whether I was worrying about it or not. I chose not to think about it."

Cashman is closing out his seventh season as the Yankees' GM, and he has one more year remaining on his contract. Having watched his team blow a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven ALCS, Cashman knows that organizational meetings in Tampa are imminent, as the club will figure out a course of action to take this winter.

Read the entire article on

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

For Sale: One Baseball Team

Bidders for Expos Must Submit Their Offers by Nov. 1
By Thomas Heath and Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 20, 2004; Page D03

Major League Baseball yesterday officially announced that the sale of the yet-to-be-named Washington baseball team is under way and that prospective bidders have until Nov. 1 to throw their hats in the ring.

Baseball is hoping to earn at least $300 million, and possibly much more, from the sale of the Montreal Expos, which the league is moving to Washington in time for next year's Opening Day.

The Expos were purchased by the league's 29 owners in February 2002 for $120 million, and the league is eager to sell the team after losing millions in Montreal. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig last month made the decision to move the Expos to a $400 million, publicly financed stadium along the District's Anacostia waterfront.

"We have already had a number of expressions of interest and we want to move the process along as expeditiously as possible," said league President Robert DuPuy, who is heading up the sale of the Expos. "The announcement today is consistent with that goal."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

[Dodger] Stadium renovations set to begin

By Ken Gurnick /
Oct. 19, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- Construction is set to begin soon on a renovation of the dugouts, dugout seats and Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium.

The unforgiving rubberized warning track, despised by players, will be replaced by a traditional dirt warning track, and the dugouts will be relocated approximately 18-20 feet closer to the field.

Three rows of dugout seats will be constructed directly behind the dugouts, providing up to an additional 1,500 dugout seats. Because the conditional use permit for the ballpark limits seating to 56,000, a like number of seats in the outer Reserve Level will be decommissioned.

Read the entire article here on

Monumental task for Tavares

Ticket sales, renovations, front office top agenda
By Jeff Seidel /
Special to

When asked about how busy his first several days have been in Washington, D.C., Expos team president Tony Tavares gave a little laugh during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

"This has been the logistics week," Tavares said.

Tavares and other team officials have begun the monumental task of moving and setting up the franchise in Washington. They began working out of an area hotel last week and have addressed a number of different issues and projects as the team begins its long transition that it must both start and finish this winter.

The team faces a number of logistical problems as well as regular offseason issues. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it has started the process leading to the sale of the franchise. Tavares said the present team management won't be doing much early on in that process but would probably get involved later on.

"[But] that looks like it's eons away," Tavares said.

They're also setting up how to sell tickets and get information to the fans on buying them.

Read the entire article here on

Hargrove M's choice to manage

Skippered Indians to victory over M's in '95 ALCS
By Jim Street /

Mike Hargrove, whose Indians knocked out Seattle two wins shy of the 1995 World Series, will get a chance to help return the Mariners to their glory days as their manager.

Hargrove -- who managed Cleveland to two American League championships, in 1995 and 1997, and also managed the Orioles for four seasons -- was named the team's new manager in a release issued by the club Wednesday morning, ending a three-week search for Bob Melvin's replacement.

The Mariners and their new manager agreed to a three-year contract. Terms were not revealed by the club.

"I am very pleased to name Mike Hargrove as our new manager," general manager Bill Bavasi said in a release. "He has a tremendous resume and is battle-tested in every facet of leading a Major League club."

Hargrove and Grady Little reportedly were the two finalists for the Mariners managerial position, which became open after the two-time division champions (1995-2001) spent virtually the entire '04 season in last place in the AL West and finished with a 63-99 record, ending a run of four years with at least 90 victories.

Read the entire article here on

Stadium to limit roof moves

Trouble with drive system will force caution until 2006

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Posted: Oct. 19, 2004

The Milwaukee Brewers will have to be careful opening and closing the troubled Miller Park roof until the drive system is replaced after the 2005 baseball season, stadium district and Brewers' officials said Tuesday.

The reason, say engineering experts hired by the district, is that the potential for the current system being rendered inoperable "increases with every move."

"We have a patient on life support," said Mike Duckett, executive director of the Miller Park stadium district. "We will keep the patient alive until we get a transplant."

The transplant - the junking of the two-wheel "bogie" system in favor of a $9.44 million four-wheel system - won't occur until after the 2005 season.

On Tuesday, the district's Operations Committee recommended to the full stadium board that the work be done.

The committee's decision was expected, and was based on the advice of Hardesty & Hanover, consulting engineers hired by the district. At the same time, Hardesty said it could not predict when the roof might become inoperable.

"There is a limited number of moves in those bogies," Duckett said. "But our experts believe they can get us through the 2005 season."

Read the entire article here on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website.

XM Satellite Radio to team with MLB in 10-year, $650M deal

By Terry Lefton
Contributing Writer

The Washington Business Journal
Oct. 20, 2004

D.C.-based XM Satellite Radio is close to taking the wraps off a deal with Major League Baseball that would be the largest in the brief history of satellite radio. Sources say the 10-year deal -- expected to be unveiled sometime before the first game of the World Series this Saturday -- is worth as much as $650M in cash and stock.

They added that the agreement won't begin until 2006.

The deal brings into sharp focus the competition between XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, the two heavyweights of the developing segment, each of which hopes that by signing big-name, big-dollar content deals, they will be able to grow what are now relatively small subscriber bases.

XM has about 2.5 million subscribers; Sirius has about 700,000. Steve Mather, a research analyst who follows satellite radio for Sanders Morris Harris, L.A., says, "I think it's safe to say this has become an arms race with the money they are paying for talent. At these prices, they'd be better off selling consumers on [satellite radio] itself."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Business Journal website.

MLB sets schedule for sale of team

By Eric Fisher
Weds. Oct. 20, 2004

Major League Baseball yesterday began the formal sale process of its Washington franchise and is making a push to name the club's new owners by the end of the year.

Working on a significantly faster pace than with most team sales, MLB officials are seeking requests for applications by Nov. 1. Formal bids likely will be due later in November, and a rapid winnowing of those offers will occur in December. Baseball franchises are typically sold over a four-to-six-month process, but some recent sales have required nearly a year to complete.

"This is the first step, simply trying to identify out there who's interested in the club," said Rich Levin, MLB senior vice president. "Right now we're obviously tied up with the [League Championship Series] and the World Series coming up in a few days. But once the season wraps up, we'll certainly need to focus as closely as possible on the Washington franchise.

"The naming of the team, formerly known as the Expos, is a big concern. While MLB commissioner Bud Selig said he wants a new owner to help determine the new name, both Levin and Expos team president Tony Tavares said yesterday MLB may select the name soon after the World Series.

"That's being considered," Levin said. "Bud does want to involve the new owner in this, but we also understand the importance of having a new name in place."

The leading candidates, as they have been for weeks, are Senators, Nationals and Grays.

Read the entire article here on the Washington Times website.

Stadium Support Seems Solid

Opponents Doubt They Can Block Financing in D.C. Council
By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 20, 2004; Page B08

Opponents of a publicly funded D.C. baseball stadium conceded yesterday that they are unlikely to stop the project, while aides to Mayor Anthony A. Williams said they are developing detailed plans to show how tax revenue generated by the ballpark could help schools, libraries and recreation centers.

As an Oct. 28 public hearing before the D.C. Council approaches, both sides are scrambling to make their cases and solidify support, even with Williams (D) and five council members on an 11-day tour of Asia.

Although critics of the mayor's $440 millionstadium financing package said they still intend to try to block the use of public funds for the project, they acknowledge that the battle in the end may not be over stopping the plan but amending it to ensure economic benefits to city neighborhoods.

"I do think that may be where it ends up, even though that's not where we want it to end up," said Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute and a leader of a coalition called No D.C. Taxes for Baseball.

"It's an uphill battle," Lazere said of stopping the stadium. "Our chances, if we had a vote today, are pretty slim. I don't think we'd win."

Read the entire article here on the Washington Post website.

Valentine Still Option for Mets

By Lee Jenkins
The New York Times
October 20, 2004

The Mets' search for a new manager is expanding outside the original pool of candidates and will extend into the World Series.

The leading candidates are believed to be the Texas Rangers' hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, who was interviewed for the job last Friday, and the Yankees' bench coach, Willie Randolph, who is scheduled to be interviewed on Thursday. But Terry Collins, the former manager of the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels, was interviewed for the position Tuesday, and Bobby Valentine, the former Mets manager, also remains in the running.

Omar Minaya, the Mets' general manager, had a casual dinner with Valentine last Friday night and said on Tuesday that he considered him a candidate. Even though Valentine is in Japan and under contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines, he has an out clause allowing him to accept a major league managing job.

"Is he an option?" Minaya said. "He's an option."

Valentine and Collins have to be considered relative long shots. The fiery Collins has a winning record and he provided an immediate boost for the Astros and the Angels; oddly enough, he replaced Art Howe in Houston. But he resigned in Anaheim in 1999 after players petitioned the general manager for his firing. He came under intense criticism for his clubhouse manner.

Read the entire article at the New York Times website