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The Biz of Baseball :: Business of Sports Network
Current MLB to Portland Effort Big on Dreams, Short on Answers PDF Print E-mail
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Maury Brown Article Archive
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 11 April 2014 15:47

A's“The A’s have a problem. Baseball has a problem. Portland is the solution.”

I’m talking with long-time Portland business associate, Lynn Lashbrook. Since 2000, he and I have been in steady contact about the possibility of bringing Major League Baseball to Portland. Lashbrook, the city’s biggest cheerleader for bringing MLB to the market, remains ever the optimist. I, given the changes in how the Montreal Expos relocation was structured, and the situation with the Major Leagues today, am not.

In a nutshell, the current effort to bring MLB to Portland is really Lashbrook, and architect Barry Smith. This was a far cry from 2000-2004 when MLB owned the Expos and were actively shopping relocation. At that time, the MLB to Portland effort included Mayor Vera Katz, the Oregon Sports Authority, a group called the Portland Baseball Group, a group of several lawyers, myself, Lashbrook, and others that had former Minnesota Timberwolves President and GM David Kahn pulling it all together.

The key then is nowhere near happening now: a club was owned by the league (Expos), and MLB was actively pursuing relocation. This simple, yet critical aspect, is why any discussion of the A’s or Rays relocating is a non-starter. Because without that, what you have are owners trying to leverage a ballpark deal, first in their market, and then only with the blessing of the league and a clear message that says, “Team up for sale,” does relocation to a new market occur.

But not even that has happened.

Time and again, the discussion has been that the A’s, mired for over 15 years in an effort to get a new ballpark while being stuck in an outdated facility (which has infamously saw toilets back up), is stuck in neutral. Owner Lew Wolff has pushed to get out of Oakland, and while San Jose has gone so far as to try and sue MLB to get the A’s to relocate there, that market falls within the Giants operational territory, which they’re holding onto like grim death. Since 2009, baseball commissioner Bud Selig has been “working on it” but the politics of the matter are far too thorny to get past. Force the A’s into San Jose against the Giants will, and what’s to keep that happening with other clubs elsewhere? Selig knows that with a majority of owners having to vote in favor of such a move, the consensus of the owners is not currently behind relocation to San Jose.

But, Wolff is actively looking to relocate. If not in the South Bay, then to Portland, right? No. In fact, Wolff has said his only interest in relocation is within the A’s own territory. From CSN Bay Area (emphasis, author):

“I am hopeful of expanding our lease at the Oakland Coliseum for an extended term," Wolff wrote. "If we cannot accomplish a lease extension, I hope to have an interim place to play in the Bay Area or in the area that reaches our television and radio fans — either in an existing venue or in the erection of a temporary venue that we have asked our soccer stadium architect (360 Architecture) to explore. Looking outside the Bay Area and our media market is an undesirable option to our ownership at this time."

So, the drum being banged on MLB to Portland is not due to any actions on the part of the A’s.

There are a host of logistic issues at play that even if the A’s were courting the Portland market, make it difficult, if not impossible.

The Mariners, Giants and the Issue of a TV Deal

Lashbrook was quick to tell me that unlike San Jose, the Mariners hold no rights to Portland. This is true to the letter of the MLB Constitution, but doesn’t address the 800-lbs. gorilla in the room, television.

The Mariners broadcast territory is vast, covering the entire corner of the Pacific Northwest (see purple in the image below), while the stripes in pink show where the Giants and A’s broadcast territory overlaps. Since the ability of any club to be successful is based in large part on their local television rights deal, Portland has to somehow carve up a place in the midst of the competing interests of the Mariners and Giants. You might be able to control as far north as say, Longview, WA, and south to the border with California, but along the way, sharing would come into play, and worse, some form of indemnification to the Mariners and to a lesser extent, the Giants. This means carving up the pie three ways, as opposed to the A’s sharing all of Northern California and half of Nevada with just the Giants. Lashbrook and other boosters in Portland will need to spend considerable time being able to answer this question in some capacity for a club to really consider relocation viability.

Mariners Broadcast Territory

Outlined in purple, the Mariners broadcast territory is the largest in
MLB, and an obstacle for Portland's MLB efforts

See the entire MLB television broadcast territory map

Select READ MORE to see the rest of this article

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Dale Murphy: PED Use with Current & Former Players PDF Print E-mail
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XM Interviews
Written by The Staff   
Monday, 26 February 2007 03:42

Dale MurphyDale Murphy was a guest Saturday, February 24th on XM Satellite Radio's MLB Live: Weekend Edition on Home Plate, XM 175 with host Holden Kushner.  He was asked if he believes some notable current and/or former players used performance enhancing drugs.  Below are some quotes from his appearance.

Holden Kushner:
One guy that’s trying to make a comeback right now, Sammy Sosa, do you think Sammy Sosa used performance enhancing drugs?

Dale Murphy: Yeah, I think so.

HK: Barry Bonds?

DM: Yeah, I think so.

HK:  What do you think your reaction will be if and when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s all-time Home Run Record?

DM: Well, I’m not that excited about it.  Let me put it this way, when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record, I pulled my kids into the living room, and said, “You gotta see this.”  This is not going to happen with Barry.  It doesn’t mean anything to me, ya know, Barry is a great talent, and would have been a great talent without getting involved in this kind of stuff, in steroids, and all the stuff like that.  People have said, “Dale, he hasn’t failed a drug test.”  That doesn’t matter to me anymore, it’s what I see, what I’ve read, what I’ve heard, and what I can see with my eyes, that’s my opinion, and a lot other people have that opinion as well.  You get back to the record; he’s a hall of fame player and would have hit a lot of home runs without it, and now that he’s breaking the record, I don’t think he went about it the right way.

HK: A final name then, Mark McGwire, and if you think he used performance enhancing drugs, do you think he belongs in the hall of fame?

DM: I think he did.  Anybody who watched the testimony, it’s just not a great leap to say it’s kind of obvious.  Bottom line is, yeah, I think he did (use Performance Enhancing Drugs). I think he got some bad advice because you know we’re just kind of looking at him and saying “We obviously know you won’t address it.”  I think there’s ways for Mark McGwire to address this issue and to help baseball, and to reach out to kids. ….. Hall of Fame, I don’t think so, I wouldn’t vote for someone who I felt was involved with that.

To read a prior interview by Maury Brown with Dale Murphy, select: The Dale Murphy Interview

 
McNamee Sends Investigators to Houston PDF Print E-mail
Mitchell Report
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 08 May 2008 21:25
Clemens and McNamee

Lawyers for Brian McNamee are planning to send two private investigators to Houston to investigate Roger Clemens in an attempt to further discredit him as part of Clemens’ defamation lawsuit, and possibly unearth other damaging information.

The twist is, Clemens’ lawyer Rusty Hardin, did much the same less than six months ago, sending two PIs to New York in an attempt to discredit McNamee. As reported by the New York Times:

Richard Emery, one of McNamee’s lawyers, said Thursday that the two investigators — Gerry Kane, a former commanding officer of the Manhattan robbery squad, and Stephen Davis, a former detective — were already working on McNamee’s behalf and would go to Houston if the motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Clemens last January is denied.

“They are going to be my Belk and Yarbrough,” Emery said, referring to the two former Houston officers — Billy Belk and Jim Yarbrough — who, on behalf of Clemens’s lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin, interviewed McNamee in December and secretly tape-recorded the questions and answers.

“They will be looking at everything,” Emery added in reference to his own investigators.

As noted, the investigation can look into all facets of Clemens’ background, including any evidence that might point to him using PEDs. If that were the case, Jeff Novitzky, the former IRS agent, who is now with the FDA, could use the evidence against Clemens in a possible perjury case for lying before members of Congress.

Clemens, to date, has not dropped the defamation lawsuit. Recently, tabloid-esc reports have had Clemens connected to not one, but several, extramarital affairs, including one with country music star Mindy McCready that started when she was reportedly 15 years of age. The reports have further discredited Clemens' credibility.

However, it should be noted that while this news is damaging to Clemens in the court of public opinion, in the case of the defamation lawsuit, it revolves around Clemens' public standing at the time of McNamee's claims that he used performance-enhancing substances. Any of the news of his extramarital affairs after that point would irrelvant, no matter how damaging, and almost certainly be inadmisable in court. So, while McNamee's lawyers can sniff around for anything and everything as part of the discovery phase, and release damage information to the press, in terms of the defamation lawsuit, it may have little or no bearing. The actions of McNamee's lawyers are seen as a method by which the pressure of any negative findings being made public would force Clemens to drop the defamation lawsuit to prevent further embaressment, or in the case of possible findings on PED use, place him in the sights of federal investigators who are looking into whether Clemens perjured himself before Congress.

 
Audio Interview: Larry Baer, Exec. VP & COO of the Giants PDF Print E-mail
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Sports Business Radio
Written by Sports Business Radio   
Sunday, 08 April 2007 02:13

Larry BaerThe Biz of Baseball is pleased to publish an audio interview with Larry Baer, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for the San Francisco Giants. The interview is courtesy of Sports Business Radio, who we continue to partner with.

Baer is responsible for the overall day-to-day functioning of the Giants organization, both on the business and baseball sides of the operation. A key leader in assembling the new ownership group and negotiating the 1992 sale which kept the Giants in San Francisco, he has been a key strategist and negotiator of the club’s major transactions since that time, beginning with the Barry Bonds signing in November 1992.

Topics include the creation and private financing of PacBell Park and the difficulties of private financing today;  the process of bidding and landing the All-Star Game; how the Giants are planning to commemorate Barry Bonds’ surpassing Hank Aaron’s all-time homerun record; whether there are new sponsors that have come on-board due to Bonds’ home run chase; why Peter Magowan and the Giants sent a letter to season ticket holders after signing Bonds’ to an extension; how Baer views the relationship of Giants fans to Barry Bonds’; and his perspective on the Barry Zito signing.

Key quotes by Baer include…

On Barry Zito and his personal qualities: “On the last day of Spring Training he went down to the minor league complex and took every minor leaguer in the organization out to dinner.”

Sports Business RadioOn any plans the Giants have to commemorate Bonds home run chase: “The answer to that question is, we don’t have a plan.”

To listen to the interview in MP3, select the following link:

 (Audio) The Larry Baer Interview

 Tell Us What You Think. Add Your Comments

 
Two Tigers Heading to DL PDF Print E-mail
Injuries
Written by Kyle Deering   
Sunday, 29 March 2009 14:18

Injury ReportThe Detroit Tigers have placed pitchers Dontrelle Willis and Joel Zumaya on the 15-day disabled list. Zumaya’s placement on the DL is retroactive to March 27, according to the AP. A sore right shoulder is the cause of him being placed on the DL.

Willis has been placed on the DL due to due to an anxiety disorder. According to Willis, the diagnosis came from follow-up blood tests taken a couple weeks ago that revealed a reason of concern to the Tigers medical staff. 

MLB.com reported that Willis had said that doctors told him that this was easily treated. “It's unfortunate, but I'm just more concerned about my health. Don't get me wrong, I wish the best for this ballclub, and I love the game of baseball, and I want to be around for a long time. But you have to be honest with yourself. If your health's not right, you have to take care of it yourself," Willis said. “"I'm not crazy. My teammates might think I'm crazy, but this is not something like that. This is something totally different that I'm concerned about. This is something in my blood."

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