ESPN’S OLNEY LIKES VEGAS’ MLB CHANCES

 
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Las Vegas’ prospects of getting Major League Baseball in the not-too-distant future might be brighter than popular belief: It has a big geographical advantage going for it..

“They need another team in the Mountain time zone or Pacific time zone,” ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney said Friday in an interview with Cofield and Company on ESPN Radio affiliate (1100 AM and 100.9 FM).

“One way or another,” meaning expansion or relocation, Olney said the team that makes the most sense to move is the Miami Marlins. “Absolutely,”he said.

Tampa Bay and Baltimore also fit in the category of distressed teams, but the Rays “have an onerous lease” that "would be difficult to break” for at least eight years, he said. The Orioles are “having all kinds of problems” and he has “great concern about the future of the Orioles’ franchise.” But, he added, being a historic franchise, “boy, it would be difficult for them to pull up roots.”

As for Miami, he explained, “I thought when Derek Jeter took over the Marlins it would be a really good thing for the team. But I think the strategy he went in there with was really bad because he missed the chance to distinguish himself from the previous owners by the fact that he came in right away and did another self-off, another major rebuild.

“My question about the Marlins moving forward is: have they effectively killed it off – this team that’s had repeated sell-offs. It’s the same thing that happened with Montreal, where it feels like they (the Marlins fan base) might say ‘Forget it, we’re sick of this team.’

“At that point you do question if the Marlins become available?” he said.

That scenario wouldn’t get MLB’s blessing until after the next labor agreement expires in 2021, he said.

MLB sent a strong signal, Olney added, that it had a “growing comfort level” with Las Vegas when baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced last November that MGM Resorts International had become MLB’s official gambling partner in the U.S. and Japan.

Olney recalled a conversation in the 1980s with Don Logan, then president of the Las Vegas Stars, the San Diego Padres’ Class AAA affiliate. The subject was the possibility of MLB putting a franchise in in Las Vegas.

Logan said commissioner Bud Selig was “never going to be comfortable with that.’ I think they have moved well past that time. If somebody steps up and it makes sense I think they would embrace it.”

Portland is likely in the mix as well, if MLB decides to add a team in the west, Olney added. He’s not counting out Nashville, North Carolina, or Montreal, he said.

STOTT’S A HOT COMMODITY

UNLV’s star shortstop Bryson Stott finds out Monday who has big plans for him.

Expect to hear his name announced about midway through the first round of MLB’s amateur draft on ESPN.

Scouts from nearly every Major League Baseball organization have been taking long looks at the Mountain West Conference’s co-player of the year. “Even GM’s (general managers),” a veteran talent evaluator told me. “He won’t last past the teens,” he said.

If that’s the case, here are the teams drafting 15th through 20: 15. Los Angeles Angels, 16. Arizona, 17. Washington. 18. Pittsburgh, 19. St. Louis and 20. Seattle.

Stott, who just completed his junior season, raised his stock considerably when he shined last summer in the Cape Cod League, the top collegiate league, and had a strong showing on the Collegiate National Team.

The Desert Oasis High grad hit .356 this season, with 10 homers, 20 doubles and a .599 slugging percentage. He’s a natural right hander who hits from the left side.

ENTERTAINMENT UPDATES

The MGM Grand’s newest attraction, The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, will have a V.I.P grand opening party Thursday for a spinoff of the blockbuster movie franchise. Hmm, any chance, Jennifer Lawrence shows up? Asking for a friend. A replacement for the “CSI” interactive experience, the new exhibit features an archery training experience within a 60-foot-wide interactive screen and an extensive costume display. Lawrence starred as the rebellion leader Katness Everdeen in the blockbuster Hunger Games sci-fi trilogy that came out between 2012 and 2015. It ranks among the highest-grossing film franchises of all time, cracking the top 20...

Anthony Crivello and Sierra Boggess, original leads in “Phantom: the Las Vegas Spectacular,” will team up again, this time for the Hollywood Bowl’s summer production of “Into the Woods.” Crivello, who starred as the Phantom for the show’s six-year run at The Venetian, will play the Mysterious Man. Boggess will play Cinderella. She turned her one-year stint as Christine in “Phantom” into her Broadway debut as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” Cheyenne Jackson, who has appeared solo at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, is cast as Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. Three performances are scheduled for July 26-27-28. Tickets: HollywoodBowl.com.

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

Ravaged by the Great Recession a decade ago, the construction boom is back.

Nearly 100,000 construction workers jobs were lost. Since the recovery, Las Vegas has become one of nation’s hot spots for the construction sector.

The new wave of projects are staggering. They include the 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion Las Vegas Stadium, the 18,000-seat MSG Sphere (behind The Venetian), Resort World (between $2 billion to $7 billion), a $935 million expansion and renovation of the Las Vegas Convention Center, $1 billion to complete the Drew (formerly the Fountainebleau), Circa hotel and casino (downtown), a new art museum, a new hotel near the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and a new event center at the World Market Center.

MAY I RECOMMEND…

Bobby Morris, best known as Elvis Presley's and Barbra Streisand’s musical director, has produced what might be the most definitive insider book on the Las Vegas entertainment scene from its greatest era.

Click Photo to order “ My Las Vegas ” by Bobby Morris

Click Photo to order “My Las Vegas” by Bobby Morris

A drummer extraordinaire, he played for Louie Prima and Keely Smith and Buddy RIch, booked 70-some bands through his agency, and accompanied other icons, from Judy Garland to Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin. He even got $1,000 in cash as a wedding gift from a mysterious man named Dr. Goldberg, A.K.A. Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, who insisted on being co-best man.

All that and much more in “Bobby Morris: My Las Vegas,” which is available on Amazon.com, HudsonMusic.com and at Barnes & Noble. His book signing is being held June 27, the 82nd anniversary of his arrival at Ellis Island as a 10-year-old refugee from Poland. Morris’ book party is from 4-7:30 p.m. at the Family Music Theater, 8125 W. Sahara. Bring a candle. He turns 92 on June 30.

He had Lady Luck on his side long before arriving in Las Vegas in 1950. Five months after the Polish ocean liner Pilsudsky delivered Bobby, his brother and father to Ellis Island, it sank off the coast of the English Channel, either torpedoed by a German submarine or sent to the bottom by a mine.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Life is an endless series of train-wrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness.” -- Superhero Deadpool.