Posts Tagged ‘Rob Manfred’

The ongoing effort to bring a Major League Baseball franchise to Portland has a prominent new booster, as Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson announced Friday that he and his wife, Ciara, have joined the Portland Diamond Project as investors.

The extent of the couple’s financial contributions wasn’t disclosed – Wilson and Ciara each invested individually – but the one-time Super Bowl champion said they’re now “part owners” of the Portland Diamond Project, the management group spearheading the drive for a big-league club in the city.

“It is time for MLB in Portland,” Wilson said in a news release obtained by Andrew Greif of The Oregonian.

The management group, formed last July by former Nike president Craig Cheek, has already made preliminary bids for two potential stadium sites in Portland, and a Port of Portland spokeswoman confirmed earlier this week that a third site is being considered as well. Wilson and Ciara will tour the first two sites Saturday.

Wilson was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 draft and spent two seasons in the minors before electing to play professional football instead.

In September, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred identified the West Coast as fertile territory for potential expansion, and specifically listed Portland – the 26th-biggest city in the United States by population – as a candidate.

“Portland would be on the list,” he told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. “I think Portland is a possibility. You can think about the prospects on the West Coast probably as effectively as I can.”

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Despite numerous setbacks in the past 12 months, Oakland Athletics president Dave Kaval is confident his team’s quest for a new home remains on schedule.

Last year, the A’s announced plans to build a privately-financed stadium at their preferred site near Laney College. That appeared to put an end to the franchise’s longtime search for a new home to replace the aging Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, until the college shocked the team by voting against the proposal.

Although there haven’t been a ton of updates on progress since then, Kaval told Forbes’ Barry M. Bloom on Tuesday that all signs are still pointing toward a new ballpark in the East Bay by their targeted date.

“We’re working to determine an economic deal with the key players by then on the site that works best for the community and the team, so we can get to an opening by 2023,” he said. “We’re still on track for that.”

Kaval added that he expects an official decision on the team’s new first choice for a home – more than likely the Howard Terminal site in downtown Oakland – to come by year’s end.

Since abandoning a potential move to other Bay Area locations such as San Jose or Fremont, several sites in Oakland besides Laney College have been proposed. The Coliseum site itself is still being evaluated as an option, Kaval said, but Howard Terminal – located just 6.5 miles to the north – appears to have emerged as the new favorite.

In January, the A’s moved their offices from the Coliseum to downtown Oakland, mere blocks from Howard Terminal. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was recently given a tour of the Howard site that was led by Kaval, and Manfred said last month that he was impressed.

“We had a great time,” Kaval said of Manfred’s visit.

The 52-year-old Coliseum has been the Athletics’ only home since moving to Oakland from Kansas City in 1968. It has been plagued with many issues in recent years, including plumbing problems, and is widely regarded as one of the worst stadiums in baseball.

Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright is attending spring training despite Major League Baseball’s ongoing investigation into his offseason arrest on domestic violence charges.

Wright was charged with domestic assault and preventing a 911 call following an incident with his wife, Shannon, in December. The charges were retired by a Tennessee court on Dec. 21, and will be dismissed in December provided there are no other offenses committed before then.

Wright spoke publicly about the charges for the first time Wednesday. Though the league’s investigation prevented him from getting into specifics – he said he’s yet to talk with investigators – the 33-year-old denied assaulting his wife.

“I never touched her. And that’s probably the hardest thing for me: to sit there and see people talk about being a wife beater all that stuff when I didn’t even make physical contact,” he said, according to MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “But that’s really all I’m allowed to say right now because I want to honor MLB and their investigation.”

Wright added that he and his wife have been attending counseling.

While the court retired the criminal charges against him, he still faces a possible suspension from commissioner Rob Manfred if MLB finds he violated the league’s joint domestic violence policy. There’s no timetable for the internal investigation’s completion.

Wright, an All-Star in 2016, only pitched in five games last season due to knee surgery, and his status for Opening Day remains unknown.

The current dismantling of the Miami Marlins following the sale of the team to a group led by Derek Jeter has not gone smoothly so far. Jeter faced plenty of jeers during a recent town hall with season-ticket holders, and even the loyal “Marlins Man” let the team know of his disappointment.

Amid the strong backlash from fans after multiple star players were traded away, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday that his office was unaware of the Marlins’ intentions to slash payroll to this extent.

It turns out that may not be accurate. When Jeter’s ownership group was pursuing the franchise, they were required to tell other owners of their payroll-related plans, sources told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Owners were told the plan was to cut payroll from $115 million to a range between $85 million and $90 million.

When asked if he knew of Jeter’s plans on Wednesday, Manfred replied, “No. We did not have player-specific plans from the Miami Marlins or any other team during the approval ownership process. Those are decisions the individual owners make. We do not approve operating decisions by any ownership, new owner or current owners. As a result, the answer is no.”

However, that answer was disputed by one of Jackson’s sources.

“Commissioner said (he) was not aware of (Jeter’s) plan to slash payroll,” the source said. “Absolutely not true. They request and receive the operating plan from all bidders.”

Wherever the truth lies, the relationship in Miami between the franchise, its fans, and both current and former players is in need of some serious work.

 

Less than 24 hours after Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter defended his recent moves to slash payroll to a group of aggrieved season-ticket holders, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred threw his support behind the team’s new ownership group, saying they deserve a chance to show their “long-term commitment to winning.”

In a tense interview on “The Dan Le Batard Show” on ESPN Radio, Manfred also snapped back Wednesday at the accusation that he cared more about maximizing the franchise’s purchase price than finding an ownership group that was both financially capable and inclined to operate the team in good faith.

“Can I tell you something? You actually have no idea what I care about and don’t care about,” Manfred said. “The fact of the matter is, a competitive club in each one of our 30 markets is my foremost concern.

“This is really simple. We approved a very well-funded group that made numerous presentations to us about their commitment to provide winning baseball in South Florida over the long haul. That’s generally what we look for in the approval process.”

Since buying the club for $1.2 billion in October, the Marlins’ new ownership group, fronted by Jeter, has traded away Giancarlo StantonMarcell Ozuna, and Dee Gordon to offset expected financial losses in 2018 – a series of cost-cutting moves reminiscent of the fire sales engineered by former owner Jeffrey Loria.

Though the deals have sparked considerable ire in south Florida – both at the Marlins’ new owners and the league for approving them – Manfred explained that the club’s level of debt was the same before and after the sale, and emphasized that the commissioner’s office doesn’t get involved in operating-level decisions or ask for player-specific plans in the ownership approval process.

“I understand the concerns that have been expressed in South Florida …” Manfred said. “There have been two World Series champions in South Florida. Whether people like everything that’s happened in between, after, or not, there are a lot of markets that would make that trade in terms of having those two World Series champions.

“I said this before. This group deserves a fair opportunity to demonstrate that they have a long-term commitment to winning.”