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News and information about the sale of all or part of any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

Who Will Wind Up Owning the San Diego Padres? PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 15:21

John Moores

John Moores has owned the Padres for 14 years.
Now, he is selling the club. The question is, who
might be buying?

John Moores, mired in divorce proceedings and coming off a 99-loss season, has officially announced that he has hired Goldman Sachs in an effort to sell the team to potential buyers. Moores, who has owned the club since 1994, has seen four postseason appearances (won the NL West in '96, went to the World Series in '98, and won the NL West back-to-back in '05 and '06). He also was able to get a new ballpark in PETCO Park built in 2004 amidst lawsuits and voter referendums.

The key reason for Moores' desire to sell centers on the divorce from his wife, Becky, with whom Moores has been married to for 44 years. The two own 90 percent of the Padres, but based upon community property laws in the state of California, Becky will be sharing 50 percent of the assets with John. Moores’ daughter, Jennifer, owns 5%, with the remaining 5% owned by San Diego-based businessman Glenn Doshay. Asked by Barry Bloom of MLB.com whether California state court presiding over the divorce would be the arbitrator, Moores weighed in.

"But that strikes me as very remote," Moores said. "There's a cooperative process between me and Becky ongoing now through Goldman Sachs."

The questions are, how much can the Padres be sold for, and who might the bidders be?

While Forbes placed the value of the Padres at $385 million, 19th among the 30 Major League clubs, the depressed credit market may play a factor in possibly moving that figure. Based on the Forbes valuations, the Padres had operating income estimated at $23.6 million on revenue of $167 million. However, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, debt service on Petco Park cut into the team's profit. Still, never underestimate how much a would-be buyer might be willing to spend to get into the MLB ownership game.

The club is also working to cut player payroll and instead focusing on developing young talent.

"For us to do it the Yankees way is just utterly foolish," Moores said to MLB.com. "I think most baseball people would agree with that. On top of it, it's been a bad year, going through a divorce and headed into a recession. That's as bad a combo as you can find. We're not going to risk the franchise by signing contracts that don't make any sense and put us in long-term debt.

"I don't want to go through another 2008. I think it was terrible. I think that shocked the system. It's not going to happen again in 2009. We're going to put together a much better team."

The Padres have discussed lowering their payroll to $40 million next year and have guaranteed $27.5 million to four players for 2009: Jake Peavy, who is guaranteed $11 million in 2009 as part of a four-year, $63 million guarantee through 2012, right fielder Brian Giles ($9 million), pitcher Chris Young ($4.5 million) and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez ($3 million).

At a time when the sale of the Cubs is nearing an end, it is possible that the losing bidders in that process may find interest in the Padres.

One name that was deeply associated with the Washington Nationals bid, and then briefly with the Chicago Cubs was Fred Malek. He was the founder and Chairman of Thayer Capital Partners. Prior to establishing Thayer in 1991, Malek co-led the buyout of Northwest Airlines and then served as its President and Vice Chairman; led the buyout of CB Richard Ellis; led the acquisition of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company; and participated in the acquisition and ownership of the Texas Rangers.

The other name that certainly has been discussed in Larry Lucchino, who formerly was the President and CEO of the Padres before heading to the Orioles, and then to the Red Sox where he currently holds the same titles.

The "outsider" might be Mark Cuban, who was involved in the bidding process for the Cubs, but does not match MLB personality profile of other owners in league. Cuban is also mired in charges made by the SEC of insider trading.

Reportedly, the financial book compiled by Goldman Sachs that will be presented to potential bidders will be ready sometime early next year.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Tribune Co. Could Declare Bankruptcy, Chicago Cubs Sale in Balance PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 08 December 2008 01:07

 

Sale of the Chicago Cubs

The sale of the Chicago Cubs is reportedly moving forward, with chairman Crane Kenny saying that he hoped that the deal would be completed by Spring Training. The deal may move forward, but the current owner of the Cubs could fall under the weight of its own debt.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Tribune Co. is preparing to possibly file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has “hired investment bank Lazard Ltd. as its financial adviser and law firm Sidley Austin to advise the company on a possible trip” through the process, according to the WSJ.

As reported by the WSJ, the company has been sliding ever further in debt since the company was sold.

Tribune has been on wobbly footing since last December, when real-estate mogul Samuel Zell led a debt-backed deal to take the company private. Tribune has stayed ahead of its $12 billion in borrowings with the help of asset sales. Now, however, shrinking profits are tightening the noose.

The company's cash flow may not be enough to cover nearly $1 billion in interest payments due this year, and Tribune owes a $512 million debt payment in June.

The report goes on to say that one of the more pressing concerns for the publishing giant is that they may be in violation debt terms that limit borrowings at the end of the year to nine times its adjusted profits. How much was the ratio at the end of the second quarter for Tribune? 8.3. That was before a massive decline of 83% in operating profit for the three months that ended Sept. 28.

At is unknown, what, if any, impact Tribune filing Chapter 11 would have on the sale of the Cubs. At least three bidders are said to remain in the process to purchase the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp; Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff are still in the running.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Crane Kenney: Cubs Sales Should Be Completed By Spring Training PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 06 December 2008 03:01
Sale of the Chicago Cubs

Crane Kenney, chairman of the Chicago Cubs, said Friday that he hopes the sale of the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago to be completed by Spring Training, and that the Tribune Co., by way of Sam Zell, would not be retaining a large stake, as reported last month by the Wall St. Journal. That report said that Zell would look to keep as much as 50 percent of the holdings after early reports had Zell looking to retain as little as a 5 percent stake for tax-avoidance purposes.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Crane outlined where the process is currently at, and how the bidders are looking to control the club, even in exceptionally difficult economic times.

"The bids that came in were for control of the team where for Sam, any interest would be a small interest," Kenney said. "I think at some point people were talking about Sam holding almost half of it. That's not the way they [bid].

"People are ready to come in, and while the economy is as challenging as it is, I think the value of the franchise really hasn't changed long-term. I think the bidders are all well financed and understand that. They didn't deviate much from where the value should be."

While Kenny said that he hoped the deal would be completed by Spring Training, that timeframe is not set in stone.

"Sam doesn't operate under any deadline for this," Kenney said. "It could take as long as he wants it to, but for all of our benefit, we hope by spring training we're finished. And that will be good because there's a lot of planning we want to do that has some long-term implications. Not just the player contract stuff. Having an owner at the seat at the table would help."

At least three bidders are said to remain in the bidding process. Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp; Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff are still in the running.

Crane went on to say that he is unsure whether he would remain with the Cubs after the sale is completed.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Three or More Possible Bidders Meet Deadline for Cubs Sale PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 00:20
Sale of the Chicago Cubs

It appears that three – maybe more – bidders for the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago have delivered what could be the final offering figures. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, Thomas Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and the son of Joseph Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp; Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC; and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff are still in the running.

It is not known whether Jim Crane, the former chief executive of freight-forwarding company EGL Inc. is still in the mix. Nor is it known whether Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is completely out of the running, although reports are that he has not been considered to be in the mix for some time now.

According to the report, Crane and Cuban could not be reached for comment. Representatives from the other three bidders said to be actively in the mix would not comment.

The Biz of Baseball reported earlier that Thomas Ricketts was rumored to be the favorite to land the Cubs and its associated assets. The rumor of Ricketts being a front runner was before the heavy downward spiral of the financial markets. His stock remains high to land the Cubs.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Sale of Cubs Inches Forward. Final Bids Due by Dec. 1 PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 November 2008 08:49

 

The Sale of the Cubs

The sale of the Chicago Cubs could be finalized by the end of the year as the Tribune Co. has set a date of Dec. 1 for final bids to be submitted for the storied franchise, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Tribune pushed the date out by a week after initially setting a Thanksgiving Day deadline for bids – a date seen as too aggressive to meet given the current credit crunch.

“Bids are expected the week after Thanksgiving,” MLB COO Bob DuPuy said to The Associated Press after the first day of the MLB owners quarterly meetings. “Mr. Zell claims the team is for sale and they’re moving forward.”

Bidders have been in New York over the past two weeks meeting with officials from the commissioner’s office, MLB Advanced Media, and the MLB Network headquarters in New Jersey.

The deadline news comes at a time when baseball officials believe that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been out of the running for the Cubs for some time. Cuban was charged Monday by the SEC with insider trading involving shares of Momma.com.

While the credit crunch has increased the amount of ownership equity that Tribune is willing to retain from 5 percent to 50 percent, another looming aspect has been the amount of money in player payroll. The Cubs have been exceptionally aggressive in going after free agents, and with that, many have had backloaded contracts.

For 2009, 10 players (Zambrano, Ramirez, Soriano, Lee, Dempster, Lilly, Fukudome, Marquis, DeRosa, and Harden) will account for $116,025,000 compared to $118,345,833 for the entire 25 man roster on Opening Day last season.


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
Wish Bone? Next Bids on the Cubs Due by Thanksgiving PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 23:42

 

Sale of the Cubs

 

 The remaining prospective bidders for the Chicago Cubs, a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and Wrigley Field have been given a Thanksgiving Day deadline to submit details as to how they will finance the purchase, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The deal, which has a tax-avoidance structure for the Tribune Co., comes at a time when obtaining loans from the banks is exceedingly difficult due to the credit crunch.

In other news, the Tribune Co. announced yesterday that it lost $121.6 million in the third quarter of 2008. As reported by the LA Times:

During the quarter, Tribune repaid $888 million of debt using proceeds from the sale of receivables, Newsday and a 10% stake in CareerBuilder. Third-quarter operating costs rose 6.2%, including $45 million in severance costs, a $25-million software write-off and $14 million in compensation costs related to an incentive plan and the company's stock ownership plan.

"We are operating in an exceptionally difficult financial and economic environment," Chief Executive Sam Zell said in a statement. "The newspaper industry continues to see extraordinary declines in ad revenues, and Tribune is no exception."

The question is, why is Tribune, ergo Sam Zell, pushing for the Thanksgiving day deadline? With the credit markets exceptionally tight, even the reported increase to 50 percent ownership equity by Tribune makes for short window from which to work from and exceedingly difficult to complete.


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
Tribune Looks to Retain 50 Percent of Cubs. MLB Official Says Cuban is Out of Running PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 07 November 2008 11:53

 

Sale of the Cubs

The sale of the Chicago Cubs appears to be taking yet another interesting twist as a report in Friday's Wall St. Journal has Tribune moving from a proposed 5 percent retained ownership equity in the Cubs to 50 percent in an attempt to keep the remaining bidders in play during the economic downturn.

The shift would lessen the amount that Sam Zell and Tribune would stand to gain at the previous 5 percent ownership level, but, with the downturn in the financial and credit markets, keeping bidders in play appears to be a greater priority than sticking to the prior ownership equity figure. As reported by the WSJ:

"This will still generate substantial cash," said one person with knowledge of the sales process. "We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars."

But the likelihood of selling a smaller stake raises the question of whether Mr. Zell erred by not pushing for a quick sale after he took control of Tribune. Mr. Zell had said the sale of the Cubs, the stadium and a 25% stake in a regional sports network was a priority when he struck a deal to buy Tribune for $8.2 billion in April 2007. The Tribune acquisition saddled the TV and newspaper company with $13 billion of debt amid declining revenue at its eight major daily newspapers.

Then Mr. Zell spent several months working with Illinois officials to secure public financing to renovate its home, Wrigley Field, in hopes that such a deal would increase the value of the team. The talks ultimately failed to produce a deal, but by then credit markets had begun to seize up.
In other news, it appears that MLB has made it clear what many have suspected throughout the process: Mark Cuban will not be accepted as an owner based upon his personality dynamic, something that runs counter to the conservative nature of the ownership brethren in MLB. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times:
Global financial crisis or not, baseball's old guard plans to stand firm against letting Cuban into the club. ''There's no way Bud and the owners are going to let that happen,'' a Major League Baseball source said this week. ''Zero chance.''

As to whether the purchase agreement will be reached by the end of the year, with the change in the markets, and the new dynamic invoked by Tribune regarding ownership equity, don't bank on it.

''We'll be standing here at next year's GM meetings,'' the MLB source said, ''and this will still be unresolved.''


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Cubs Deal May Involve More Ownership Equity From Tribune PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 16 October 2008 09:43

 

 

The sale of the Cubs continues to twist and turn in the midst of the current financial crisis with word today that the Tribune Co. may consider retaining a larger ownership equity than originally planned.

With the deal being leveraged as a tax avoidance deal, initial plans were for Tribune to retain a 5 percent ownership stake. By retaining a partial ownership, Tribune would dodge approximately $400 million in taxes.

As we noted earlier this week (see Financial Crisis Impacting Cubs Sale in a Big Way), the credit crisis along with the leveraged deal that Sam Zell is proposing is creating problems for potential buyers. The deal structure requires the would-be owners to carry an exceptional amount of debt. That, in turn, means banks will need to be able to loan large sums of cash to the winning bidder. With banks under exceptional pressure, it may be some time before that could occur. The crisis has altered the playing field.  As reported by the Chicago Tribune:

"It would make sense in these times to retain a larger stake," Robert Willens, a leading New York tax analyst said. "But as a practical matter, I wouldn't want to retain more than 20 percent given the highly engineered nature of the transaction."

The company appears in no rush to finalize a deal. No deadline has been set for the next round of bids. Prospective buyers are still waiting for key financial details about the broadcast properties up for sale.

As we reported last month (and filed under rumor), Thomas Ricketts was viewed as being the winning bidder in the deal. While Ricketts is considered to still be very much in the hunt, how the financial crisis has altered his bid is unknown at this time.

 


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
Financial Crisis Impacting Cubs Sale in a Big Way PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 00:15

 

The Sale of the Cubs

Just under a month ago, we heard through more than one source that the field had been narrowed down on the bidders for the Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in ComcastSports Chicago, and with it, the winning bidder was rumored to be Thomas Rickett’s group. The sale agreement between new Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell and the Cubs would come a couple of days after the end of the World Series (see Rumor: Ricketts Will Land Chicago Cubs).

As the saying goes, that was then, this is now. Since we ran the story the financial landscape on Wall Street has been rocked with the credit markets taking a massive hit. So large has the drop been that it has redefined the upcoming Presidential election and in a recent poll, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe a depression is likely.

With Zell looking to do a tax avoidance deal, the new would-be owners of the Cubs will need to be able to carry a large sum of credit, a near lofty notion given the credit crunch.

The Cubs deal has changed, and in a fashion far more dramatic than the Loveable Losers tanking in the first round of this year’s playoffs.

We had been hearing that the deal would be impacted with a possibility of the sale price dropping, to key bidders feeling the weight of the financial market crash, to an outright delay in the sale. Still, the deal was reportedly down to two bidders: Ricketts, and a second bidder not known.

The five bidders that have made it into the second round are Ricketts, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Houston transportation magnate Jim Crane, Clarion Capital Partners managing partner Marc Utay, and Chicago based real estate investor Hersh Klaff.

The reality of the financial crisis is that it makes investing extremely dangerous at the moment. The markets are so volatile that those interested in the Cubs (at least at the $1 billion threshold), are backing off the deal. In the simplest terms, it’s wait and see.

With bidders pulling back to see if the price will drop, while keeping a close eye on the credit markets, Sam Zell has to make a serious decision.

As of the end of the second quarter, Tribune’s debt stood at $12.5 billion due to declining readership and ad dollars. That’s an increase of $4.3 billion since Zell bought out Tribune for $8.2 billion last year.

Zell needs to weigh whether he needs to sell off the Cubs and their associated holdings now at a depressed rate, or find some manner to raise the cash needed to make a $650 million debt payment obligation due in December. On top of that, there is approx. $250 million in medium-term notes due in 2008.

If Zell hangs back on the sale of the Cubs to allow him to stay in that rarified “$1 billion+” space, he may be forced to negotiate with the banks in order to keep newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times from falling into default.

Coming back to that rumor – the one that had Ricketts winding up with the winning bid and the announcement shortly after the World Series – Ricketts could still wind up with the club. But then in this financial climate, it may be that the bidder that comes out the least scathed and with the most cash to package with the deal wins the day. Regardless, a delay in finalizing the purchase agreement will not be coming shortly after the World Series. At this rate, it would not be surprising to see the deal done in 2009. That is, of course, unless the markets continue to slide. As many analysts have said recently, it may be years instead of quarters before the economy begins to climb out of its malaise. As reported, The Cubs Sale Will Be Like None Other.

READ MORE ON THE SALE OF THE CUBS:


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
Rumor: Ricketts Will Land Chicago Cubs PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 15 September 2008 14:15
Sale of the Cubs

 File this under rumor…

Word on the street is that Thomas Ricketts and the Ricketts family are the winning bidders for the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in ComcastSports Chicago. Thomas Ricketts is the chief executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC, His father, Joe Ricketts, is the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

Word also is that the announcement will come 2 days after the end of the World Series.

One bit of news over the weekend that may bear this out was Steve Stone signing as color analyst for the Chicago White Sox for the 2009 season. Stone was interested in minority ownership in the Cubs, and his new deal with the crosstown White Sox may indicate he see Ricketts landing the Cubs.

What is unknown is how the approval process by MLB will play out.

Ownership transfer must be approved by ¾ of the owners, as well as by a vote of the Executive Committee. There have been concerns that the debt structure proposed by the Tribune Co. would saddle the new owner with excessive debt that would impact player payroll in the future.

MORE ON THE SALE OF THE CHICAGO CUBS


Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.

 
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