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MLB, Players Announce Internet Deal

From News Services and Staff Reports
Thursday, January 20, 2005; Page D09

MLB and its players yesterday announced a five-year, $50 million deal aimed at increasing the league's presence on the Internet and allowing more joint projects involving online baseball games, fantasy baseball, merchandise and memorabilia. The deal also allows MLB to market and sell products linked to wireless communication devices such as cell phones.

"We believe this agreement will greatly improve the fantasy experience, narrowly, and more generally improve the online and interactive experience for all our fans," said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB.com "We believe we can grow the business tremendously."

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As part of the deal between the union and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the union's Web site will be hosted by MLB.com and re-launched as MLBPlayers.com.

Typically, sites such as ESPN and Yahoo! purchase rights to use players' names and uniform numbers from the union. Under the deal, sites will now purchase those rights from MLBAM and will package them with video highlights, images of uniforms, team logos and other intellectual properties owned by the league.

The agreement also will allow MLB to offer more player-related interactive experiences on MLB.com and the league's 30 teams sites, including player chats, diaries and auctions.

The agreement "will help restore competitiveness to the fantasy category [and] mean the creation of new games and the re-energizing of current games and will allow us to reach a wider audience in promoting Major League Baseball around the world," Bowman said.

BRAVES: Atlanta agreed to a contract with outfielder Brian Jordan, 37, who played with the team from 1999 to 2001. Jordan played last season with the Texas Rangers, hitting just .222 with five homers and 23 RBI in 61 games.

BREWERS: Free agent reliever Ricky Bottalico, 35, agreed to an $800,000, one-year contract with Milwaukee, which also settled its arbitration case with pitcher Brooks Kieschnick by agreeing to a one-year deal.

DEVIL RAYS: Outfielder Marty Cordova, who missed all of last season with the Orioles after his second elbow operation, agreed to a minor league contract.

MARINERS: Right-hander Aaron Sele, 34, and Seattle agreed to a minor league contract that allows him to earn up to $1.1 million.

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