Major League Baseball Advanced Media has purchased the domain name Rockies.com for an undisclosed sum from a Canadian organization that promoted tourism in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
MLB Advanced Media vice president of corporate communications Matthew Gould confirmed the transaction but declined to comment on the amount MLBAM paid for the domain.
The sale gives MLBAM the rights to all but four of the nickname domains for major league team Websites. It still does not own the rights for the domains of the Giants (which belongs to the NFL's New York Giants), Rays (owned by a Seattle restaurant and catering service of the same name), Rangers (owned by the web development company Future Media Architects) and Twins (a blank page owned by a company called D&D Miller).
MLBAM had most recently purchased the domain Angels.com for $200,000 in 2010, according to industry expert Domain News Wire.
Correction (Jan. 9, 2013):
A previous version of this story stated that MLB had paid a seven-figure sum for the rights to the Rockies.com domain name. Matthew Gould said the figure was inaccurate, though he said he could not release the correct amount due to confidentiality agreements.
For Major League Baseball, the Fall Classic doesn’t just refer to Tigers vs. the winner of tonight's Cardinals-Giants game. It’s also about Democrats vs. Republicans.
Many corporations and labor groups have Political Action Committees in place as a way to donate money to political candidates they feel will act in their best interests. Major League Baseball is no different.
The Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office PAC has been in existence since 2001. During that time, the PAC has raised more than $2.3 million.
MLB employs three lobbyists from the Baker & Hostetler law firm who serve as liaisons in Washington: Bill Schweitzer, Josh Alkin and Lucy Calautti. All three have a history of working in politics and are fans of the game. They spend their time meeting with politicians and political groups in an attempt to educate those groups on how legislation or potential legislation could affect Major League Baseball.
“Our interactions with elected leaders and other officials in Washington have addressed labor issues, security, immigration and taxation, among other topics,” MLB spokesman Michael Teevan said via e-mail. “Our Government Relations office, which stems from the vision of commissioner (Bud) Selig, allows us to communicate quickly and efficiently with leaders in Washington on significant issues and to provide another important resource to our clubs.
“For example, our presence in Washington has helped us navigate issues pertaining to ballpark security, the fortification of our joint drug policy, greening and other topics on which we have made great strides over the last decade. With the re-establishment of a major league franchise in Washington during this time as well, our expanded presence in the nation’s capital has been invaluable in many ways.” [...] Continue Reading »
The chances of baseball needing an extra game to set its postseason field dwindled last night after the Nationals and Tigers each secured division titles and the Athletics locked up at least a wild-card berth. But a Game 163 remains a possibility—the Orioles could catch the Yankees in the American League East, the Rangers have yet to pull away from the A's in the AL West, and the Dodgers could still catch the Cardinals for second National League wild card—and any extra action will be available for everyone to see.
No television blackout restrictions will be in place if major league baseball’s regular season requires overtime and extends to a one-game playoff on Thursday. Any such game will be televised exclusively by TBS and will not be subject to Major League Baseball’s blackout restrictions, an MLB spokesperson confirmed today.
A Game 163 would be considered part of the regular season, but will not be blacked out because local broadcast rightsholders will not be televising the game in addition to TBS.
“Even though the game would be considered a regular season game, it is broadcast along the lines of a postseason game,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.
However, fans accustomed to watching baseball online or through mobile devices will have to put away their iPads and turn on their televisions, as a Game 163 would not be available through MLB's Extra Innings or MLB.tv services within the United States. According to Major League Baseball Advanced Media: "Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, any play-in game to determine the final team(s) to reach the MLB Postseason, i.e. a 163rd game, will be blacked out in the United States (including the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands)."
Jimmie Lee Solomon, who once oversaw all of Major League Baseball's on-field operations, is now out at MLB.
Two baseball sources confirmed that Solomon, whose current position was executive vice president of business development, had been fired by MLB after a 21-year career there. When reached by telephone Tuesday evening, Solomon declined to comment.
One MLB source said Solomon's firing became known on Monday, though he said no official announcement had been made to employees.
(UPDATE: On Thursday evening, MLB announced in a press release that Solomon had resigned from his position. As part of the statement, commissioner Bud Selig thanked Solomon "for his 20-plus years of service" and "contributions he has made in a number of different areas throughout the game.")
Solomon’s dismissal comes nearly two years to the day after he was reassigned from his post as executive vice president of baseball operations, in which he oversaw all on-field activities of MLB—including security and umpiring. He had held the position since replacing Sandy Alderson in 2005, and was reassigned by commissioner Bud Selig after an uproar over the poor quality of umpiring and one week after umpire Jim Joyce blew a call that cost then-Tigers pitcher Armando Gallaraga a perfect game.
After his reassignment, Solomon had much less responsibility, chiefly overseeing MLB's relationship with the minor leagues, its Urban Youth Academies and the Civil Rights Game. Even so, those contacted by Baseball America said Solomon’s dismissal comes as a surprise. Last year Solomon helped negotiate a six-year extension of the Professional Baseball Agreement with Minor League Baseball, keeping the relationship between the majors and minors in tact through the 2020 season.
Solomon joined MLB in 1991 as director of minor league operations and steadily climbed baseball’s corporate ladder. He played a key role in many of MLB’s recent diversity initiatives, including the development of the Urban Youth Academies and the growth of the Civil Rights Game, and helped add the Futures Game to baseball’s all-star celebration. Before joining MLB, Solomon spent 10 years as a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of the Baker & Hostetler law firm and primarily served corporate and sports industry clients.
The Puerto Rican League, which missed an entire season four years ago, will be down to four teams in 2011-2012, according to El Nuevo Dia, a Spanish-language newspaper based in San Juan. Two agents who represent players from Puerto Rico confirmed the move, though attempts to contact officials with the league were unsuccessful.
Puerto Rican League president Antonmattei Giotia said the league’s board of directors had decided to play the upcoming winter season with Carolina, Ponce, Caguas and Mayaguez. The league played with just five teams last year as the Santurce Crabbers were on hiatus, and this year the San Juan Senators will also go dark. Giotia told El Nuevo Dia this was no hiatus. “The league will be four franchises,” he said. “It’s not temporary . . . This is over.” [...] Continue Reading »
While labor strife looms in other professional sports, Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL) agreed to an extension of their working agreement—three years before it expired.
MLB and MiLB announced today a six-year extension of the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) six years through the 2020 season. The PBA, the agreement that guides the two organizations' relationship, ensures major league teams will field at least 160 minor league affiliates through the life of the extension.
A source confirmed that the only significant change in the agreement is the tax rate on tickets that minor league teams pay major league clubs. The rate was supposed to increase from 6.5 percent to 7 percent after the 2014 season, but will remain at 6.5 percent for an additional two years, the source said. The agreement essentially saves minor league baseball $2 million over the two-year period, the source said.
Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner first broke news of the PBA extension at the Winter Meetings in December, with MLB executive vice president of baseball development Jimmie Lee Solomon confirming that the deal was close to finalized pending approval from commissioner Bud Selig.
"Major League Baseball is very happy to continue its partnership with Minor League Baseball," Selig said in a release today. "Nearly 115 million fans attended major league and minor league games last season, and the security of this agreement will allow us to build on the prosperity that our game has achieved."
"The extension of the Professional Baseball Agreement ensures the future of professional baseball through the end of the decade," O'Conner said in the release. "I would like to thank commissioner Selig for his leadership and support in ushering this agreement to fruition. The major league owners have shown great confidence in our relationship by agreeing to this extension, and the cooperation, hard work and diligence of Jimmie Lee Solomon in spearheading the effort of the Office of the Commissioner exemplifies the trust of our relationship."
A little over one week after hiring Joe Torre as his top lieutenant and one day after announcing the dismissal of three veteran Major League Baseball executives, commissioner Bud Selig continued his structuring of MLB's executive office by announcing two new hires this morning.
Former Dodgers assistant general manager/vice president Kim Ng and former Diamondbacks assistant GM/VP Peter Woodfork will each join MLB as senior vice presidents for baseball operations, Selig announced in a press release this morning. They will report to Torre, whom Selig unveiled as MLB's new executive vice president for baseball operations on Feb. 26.
Selig also announced changes to several existing executives' job duties. Joe Garagiola, who had served as senior vice president of baseball operations since 2005, will now serve as senior vice president of standards and on-field operations. He will focus on player discipline for on-field infractions, pace of game issues, uniform policy and stadium configurations. Randy Marsh and Rich Rieker, each of whom had worked as umpire supervisors, were promoted to director of umpiring.
The new ownership group at low Class A Hagerstown continues to reshape the franchise, on and off the field.
With the ballpark undergoing a variety of renovations, the Suns announced that it is promoting assistant general manager Bill Farley to general manager. Farley joined the team last year and replaces Bob Flannery, who left after the season to join the front office an Oklahoma City minor league hockey team.
Farley previously served as a franchising agent for Jersey Mike's Subs, where he helped establish 30 franchises.
"No one wants this job more than I do," Farley said in a release. "I love baseball and I love the minors. (Team president) Bruce (Quinn) and I have a great working relationship. I knew what he was looking for in a general manager, (that) he wants someone who can get it done (the) way he wants it done."
The Suns also confirmed that Jon Peterson has been hired as a consultant to the team president in the areas of marketing and promotions. Peterson previously served in the front offices for Triple-A New Orleans, high Class A Kinston and short-season Aberdeen.
'Laugh. Cheer. Oink'
• The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have managed to do what many new teams have not: continue to increase its fan base. Within the story in The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.), Lehigh Valley general manager Kurt Landes explains the third-year club's continued pride in its nickname:
"We've always felt confident that our name and logo would be successful, and it is, not just because we're in the top 25 in sales but also because we've been able to integrate it into the Lehigh Valley community, from the 'Laugh-Cheer-Oink' slogan to 'Go Hog Wild' to the way we theme the ballpark.
"We're excited that our fans have loved the logo and we're one of the more successful minor league teams. It's a huge sense of pride when I'm out in public and see people wearing IronPigs hats and T-shirts."
After a two-year hiatus, the Pacific Coast League is set to return to Tucson—though it hopes the move is temporary.
The ownership group headed by Padres owner Jeff Moorad is planning to move the Portland Beavers to Tucson when its purchase of the franchise is completed in early December, several sources said. The team would play in Tucson for at least one season before moving to what it hopes will be a permanent home in suburban San Diego. Moorad’s North County Baseball group is negotiating a ballpark project with officials in the suburb of Escondido now.
“We are processing the transfer application of the ownership (of the Portland Beavers) to the Moorad group,” Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner said. “Once that transfer occurs, then they will have standing to file a relocation application. Until then, they don’t.”
Triple-A Round Rock is expected to confirm a summer's worth of rumors on Thursday by announcing that it will end an 11-year relationship with the Astros to sign a player-development contract with the Rangers.
The affiliation unites two Nolan Ryan-owned ballclubs: The Express are guided by the Ryan-Sanders ownership group and the Rangers finally became Ryan's after he and veteran minor league operator Chuck Greenberg completed an arduous process to purchase the
The move will come on the first day of a 15-day period when teams are allowed to negotiate player development contracts with other clubs and likely will be the biggest move of the affiliation shuffle. It also ends an era in Oklahoma City, Texas' Triple-A affiliate since 1983 and the home ballpark of the Triple-A National Championship game.
The Orioles era in Bluefield came to a close after 43 years last week when Baltimore decided to trim its number of affiliates down to six and exit the Appalachian League.
It didn't take long for a new era to begin.
The Blue Jays announced today that they have agreed on a four-year management agreement with Bluefield, a move that adds a seventh affiliate to an organization that has rededicated its focus on player development and scouting under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
"This is another example of our commitment to scouting and development as the driving force to move our organization forward," vice president of baseball operations Tony LaCava said. "The first step was to invest in our scouting staff, then allocating resources to the first year player draft and amateur free agents. Next year we will take another step forward by expanding to seven minor league affiliates. Bluefield is a tremendous partner for us and presents a great opportunity for our young men to develop."
Toronto joins the Appalachian League for the first time since the 2006 season, when the club pulled out of Pulaski shortly before the Winter Meetings under former general J.P. Ricciardi. The move came too late in the year for the league to find a replacement and forced it to play a nine-team schedule in 2007 before the Mariners brought baseball back to Pulaski in 2008.
Toronto had expressed interest about returning to the Appalachian league to league president Lee Landers during last year's Winter Meetings. When Landers told Blue Jays farm director Charlie Wilson about Baltimore's decision in late August, both Wilson and minor league pitching coordinator Doug Davis were in Bluefield checking out the field the next day.
"Like anything else, it's nice to be wanted," Landers said. "With Toronto, I didn't have to do a selling job. They know all about the Appalachian League. The front office staff that is there now isn't the reason they left Pulaski in (2006). They have made an aggressive dedication to their scouting and player-development staff and they felt coming to Bluefield is in the team's best interest."
Wilson and Davis were back in town this morning for a press conference, along with pitching instructor (and former Cy Young Award winner) Pat Hentgen. The team announced that Dennis Holmberg will manage the team in 2011 after spending nine season with short-season Auburn (New York-Penn League).
The Blue Jays and Bluefield still need to formalize the agreement, Landers said. Appalachian League teams do not sign player-development contracts like most minor league circuits, but instead are operated by their major league affiliate.
The affiliation shuffle doesn't get going until September, but that doesn't mean there is no activity to report.
Teams are free to extend player-development contracts with their current affiliates during the season, and the Dodgers did that with two of their clubs last week. Los Angeles signed deals through the 2014 season with both low Class A Great Lakes (Midwest League) and Double-A Chattanooga (Southern). That leaves just high Class A Inland Empire (California) and Triple-A Albuquerque (Pacific Coast) as the Dodgers' remaining unsigned full-season affiliates.
There is little reason to believe Los Angeles won't re-up with both clubs. The Dodgers certainly want to remain in the California League. Besides Bakersfield and High Desert—two affiliates in flux—just Rancho Cucamonga and Modesto are the only remaining unsigned clubs in the Cal League.
The Reds got high marks for a job well done hosting the Civil Rights Game the past two years as the event transitioned from its birthplace in Memphis to a big league ballpark for the first time.
Cincinnati, a city not know for its civil rights movement history, packed the ballpark for a pair of regular season games while mixing in a variety of fan-friendly and educational events—like round-table discussions and awards galas that have become staples of the Civil Right Game as well as highlighting the city's role in the Underground Railroad.
Perhaps no higher praise can come from Dave Chase, the former Memphis Redbirds general manager who created the Civil Rights Game in 2007 before seeing Major League Baseball relocate it two years later. "They did a marvelous presentation that I thought tied in the Civil Rights Movement with the game," Chase said before last month's event.
Here's hoping that Atlanta can follow in the Reds' footsteps as it hosts the Civil Rights Game over the next two seasons.
No big league city can match the historical significance in the civil rights movement of Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (of which King was its first president). The local historically black colleges produced many leaders of the movement and organized many sit-ins during the 1960s.
Atlanta is also home to the King Center and the Carter Center.
"The Civil Rights Game weekend has become one of the premier celebrations on the Major League Baseball calendar. We are pleased to have the Atlanta Braves and city of Atlanta as hosts for this imporant event remembering a significant era in America's history," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a release.
Added Braves president John Schuerholz: "The Atlanta Braves are extremely proud and honored that our organization and our great city were selected to host the Civil Rights Game for 2011 and 2012. We look forward with great anticipation and excitement to presenting these significant, meaningful games in the finest fashion."
There simply was not enough space in my 900-word article on Astros announcers Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond to include all of the great tales about their adventures in the minors en route to their current major league gig.
They each spent 12 years in the minors, enough time to hone their craft in relative anonymity. It was also more than enough time to experience most everything the minors could throw at a person.
Giving plasma to make ends meet, sleeping out of your car, living in the umpire's clubhouse and transporting prisoners from the local jail to help out a short-staffed groundscrew. These were included in the article. Below are a few more details that did not make it into print.
Many of the obituaries running on Tigers legend Ernie Harwell state that he is the only announcer ever to be traded, when Dodgers owner Branch Rickey dealt for him out of the minors. Dave Raymond may care to differ. After all, his stay with the Charleston RiverDogs came to an end when Mike Veeck swapped him with the St. Paul Saints broadcast team.
So Rangers owner-in-default Tom Hicks thought it would be a good idea last night to express his concern over the delay of the team's sale to the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan ownership group.
"I think the lenders feel that [the Greenberg-Ryan] group may not be the highest option," said Hicks, according to BA correspondent Evan Grant. "It's something that has to be worked out between MLB, the lenders and the Greenberg group. When we agreed to this sale in January, we said it was a complicated deal, and it's only getting more complicated. At the end of the day, the lenders have the final say."
Whatever was Hicks' motivation for speaking up, whether it be to pressure the lenders he still owes money or to express frustration that the Greenberg/Ryan group may not have been the highest bidder, MLB clearly was not impressed. Selig came out with a statement a few hours later, essentially telling Hicks to zip it.
"As part of the Texas Rangers sale process, Tom Hicks selected the Chuck Greenberg/Noan Ryan group as the chosen bidder on December 15, 2009 and entered into an exclusive agreement with that group," Selig said in a statement. "Major League Baseball is currently in control of the sale process and will use all efforts to achieve a closing with the team chosen bidder. Any deviation from or interference with the agreed upon sale process by Mr. Hicks or any other party, or any actions in violation of MLB rules or directives will be dealt with appropriately by the Commissioner."
It's safe to say that the Oakland Athletics are happy with their situation in Stockton.
Oakland, which was already inked with the high Class A California League affiliate through the 2012 season, added another two years to their player development contract (PDC) with the Ports yesterday to extend their relationship through the 2014 season.
The two organizations have been linked since the 2005 season, when the Ports unveiled Banner Island Ballpark. The first-rate facility, and its proximity to the Bay Area, are apparently big draws for the Athletics.
"As a Single-A affiliate, Stockton provides us with an ideal situation in regards to a first-class playing facility, a supportive fan base and its close proximity to the Bay Area. We look forward to continuing this very successful association," Athletics general manager Billy Beane said in a statement.
The bi-annual affiliate shuffle won't truly kick into gear until this offseason, when roughly 90 PDCs expire for teams at all levels of the minors. However, the first week of the minor league season has seen two other minor league teams extend long-term agreements with their big league partners.
Willie Mays, Billie Jean King and Harry Belafonte will be honored when the Civil Rights Game returns to Cincinnati as the Reds host the Cardinals on May 15 for the second year of a two-year agreement with Major League Baseball.
Also to be honored at the Beacon Awards luncheon prior to the game are Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson and founder of The Jackie Robinson Foundation, and renowned recording artist Lena Horne.
The Reds sold out last year's game, which paid tribute to Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby. Solomon said that will be tough to match.
"Any of you who happened to be at that particular game (last year) saw a packed house, people moved to cheers, people standing up in unision, learning, experiencing and be very proud of this great game of baseball," executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon said at a press conference this morning at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark. "Commissioner (Bud) Selig and I stood side by side and said it will be hard to match this great game. Commissioner Selig is a visionary, and I asked him, 'Do you have any suggestions.' He said, 'That's your job.' "
I'm on the road in D.C. with my two sons snoring in the sofabed beside me, so I thought this would be a fine opportunity to post some early morning news from around baseball as Opening Day approaches.
* Minor League Baseball sought a local ownership group in Richmond when its first attempt to return baseball to the city failed last summer. Though new team owner Lou Dibella calls New York City home, he did find a local investor in Brian Callaghan, who he recently introduced at the refurbished Diamond.
* Ballpark renovations for new Bradenton affiliate are put on hold after expected federal funds don't come through. The projects, which included a tiki bar, parking and a children's play area, will now be spread out over several years instead of being completed in a single $7 million project.
* Gluten-free options and vegetarian offerings are among the new fare you can expect to find at ballparks around the country this season.
Whether Major League Baseball will use the minors as guinea pigs for HGH testing remains to be seen, but the minors will be a testing ground for baseball's continued effort to improve bat safety.
Many maple bats will be banned in the minors this season, the Associated Press reports, as part of MLB's effort to keep broken bats from striking players and fans. The AP reports that ultra-light maple bats will be banned this season and that red maple and silver maple bats will be eliminated entirely by bat-making companies.
Interestingly, the ban does not blanket all minor leaguers, but rather only players not on 40-man rosters and who have no major league experience.
News and notes from the business side of baseball
More Food My Kids Will Never Eat
In an attempt to grab headlines and re-shape the food pyramid, the low Class A West Michigan Whitecaps have proposed 10 new items to their ballpark menu. Fans now get a chance to vote on which one will be added.
Highlighting the bizarre and unhealthy, one item stands out: the Twinkie cheese dog. Do two delicacies sure never to go bad combine to make something good? The Whitecaps want to find out, by stuffing a hot dog in a twinkie and covering it with cheese.
West Michigan did garner attention—not all of it positive—last season with its gargantuan Fifth Third Burger, a 4,800 calorie cheeseburger that cost $20 and came with a prize if you ate the entire thing in one sitting. (That item is back this year in case you missed out.)
Other candidates for this year's menu include: chicken and waffles, chili mac tacos, chocolate covered bacon, Cudighi Yooper Sandwich (apparently an Upper Peninsula tradition), and the declaration of indigestion (a half-pound foot-long hot dog covered in a philly cheese steak).
A winner is to be announced in March.
Tulsa Ballpark on Schedule
Despite brutal winter weather, Double-A Tulsa is on schedule and on budget for opening $39.2 million ONEOK Field.
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