Seattle brings democracy to MLS with GM vote

Seattle brings democracy to MLS with GM vote

SEATTLE (AP) Inside a voting stall adorned with all the usual trappings of the election process, Bill and Chris Schlittenhart let their voices be heard.

The Schlittenharts spent their time before a recent Seattle Sounders home game helping decide the fate of general manager Adrian Hanauer, whose future employment as the man in charge is now in the hands of season-ticket holders and fan supporters.

``It makes more of a complete team. We're all part of the team,'' Chris Schlittenhart said. ``It's not a matter of other people telling us what we can do.''

As part of the bylaws the club instituted when the franchise started was a stipulation that every four years the performance of the general manager would be put to a vote of season ticket holders and members of the Sounders fan alliance. All season-ticket holders, or those who pay $125 per year to be part of the fan alliance, get to have a say in the direction of the organization, which means voting to keep Hanauer or kick him out of office.

For some franchises in other corners of the world, this is common practice. In North America, it's unheard of.

Consider it a bit of democracy in the sporting world.

``I've gotten calls from other owners of other teams in other sports who tell me I'm out of my mind,'' Sounders majority owner Joe Roth said. ``Which tells me it's probably a pretty good idea, actually.''

There are no stump speeches for Hanauer to make or political ads. The product he's put on the field, coupled with incredible fan support not seen in a North American soccer market since the early days of the NASL, can be seen as a strong enough argument for giving Hanauer another four years running the organization.

Seattle again smashed attendance records this season, averaging 43,144 per game. The Sounders drew more than 66,000 for a home game against rival Portland and reached the MLS playoffs for the fourth straight season. In four MLS regular seasons, the Sounders are 59-32-37 with a playoff trip each year, not to mention three U.S. Open Cup titles and a fourth appearance in the Open Cup final this year.

Hanauer has been involved in all aspects of Seattle's success. Along with being the general manager, he's a part owner of the franchise. So no matter the outcome of the voting, he'll retain a role in the organization.

Yet come Dec. 7, when the voting results are announced, Hanauer could theoretically be out of a job - even though that's highly unlikely. The coaches who work under Hanauer, along with other members of the ownership group, also have a vote.

``I'm not telling you,'' Roth laughed when asked for his vote.

Hanauer, though, isn't worried about what the outcome will be. Perhaps because the resume he's created is so strong.

``This is not a paid gig for me. It's full time. I still own a third of the team. I'm comfortable I've done what I can do to make us successful,'' Hanauer said. ``If there is someone better out there and the fans think there is someone better, I'm very comfortable living with that. So I'm at peace with this whole process.''

The idea of giving fans a say came from co-owner Drew Carey. During his time in Spain, Carey became enamored of the organizational structure of FC Barcelona, whose supporters have the ability every five years or so to vote for the president of the club.

Carey was adamant when he met with Roth to discuss becoming part of the Sounders ownership group that fan rights - which included the GM vote, allowing fans to name the team and pick their seats - be part of the franchise's bylaws. Roth was intrigued by the idea and eventually agreed with Carey. They then turned to Hanauer to take on the role with his experience running the USL Sounders from 2001 until the MLS Sounders made their debut in 2009.

``It was a way to really integrate the fans as much as possible in the team and give them, if not ownership, as close to ownership as possible. At least emotional ownership,'' Roth said.

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

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Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3 despite Robles' heroics

Donaldson's 9th-inning single lifts Braves over Nats 4-3

ATLANTA -- Josh Donaldson's bases-loaded single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning lifted the Atlanta Braves over the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Friday night after Luke Jackson allowed a tying, two-run homer to Victor Robles in the top half.

Ronald Acuna Jr., who had three hits, led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk off Rodney (0-3) and took second on Dansby Swanson's single. Freddie Freeman walked on four pitches, loading the bases.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez brought in left fielder Juan Soto as a fifth infielder, including three on the left side against the right-handed hitting Donaldson.

Donaldson hit a 2-0 pitch over Robles to center-field warning track, and the Braves boosted their NL East lead to 6 games over the second-place Nationals. Atlanta had lost its previous five home games against Washington.

Robles' homer went 446 feet to left, giving Jackson his seventh blown save in 24 chances.

Julio Teheran gave up one hit through five scoreless innings and retired 14 consecutive hitters before pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra singled with one out in the sixth. Anthony Rendon chased Teheran with a two-out RBI single.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin couldn't win on his 30th birthday while paired with catcher Yan Gomes, who turned 32. Corbin and Gomes became only the second pitcher-catcher tandem to start together on their birthdays since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago Cubs pitcher Dave Hillman and catcher Jim Fanning did it against Pittsburgh on Sept. 14, 1957.

Corbin allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out Ozzie Albies with the bases loaded in the first and fanned Albies to end the fifth with two out.

Albies hit a two-out double in the fourth and scored on Austin Riley's double. Freeman was 2 for 20 in his career against Corbin before his RBI single in the fifth.

Acuna's RBI double against Tanner Rainey gave the Braves a 3-1 lead.


Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer, on the 10-day IL since July 10 with an injury originally announced as a mid-back strain, was given a cortisone shot on Tuesday to address inflammation in the bursa sac under his right shoulder blade. Scherzer still has some discomfort and must throw a bullpen session before cleared to pitch in a game. With Scherzer unavailable, RHP Austin Voth is expected to start in Sunday night's series finale.

Braves: RHP Patrick Weigel, who had Tommy John surgery in 2017, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make his major league debut Saturday. RHP Wes Parsons also was recalled from Gwinnett. RHPs Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint were optioned to Gwinnett.


Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71) is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Braves, his former team.

Braves: Rookie RHP Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will try to win his sixth straight decision on Saturday night. The 21-year-old right-hander became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to be selected an All-Star.


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A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

A timeline of Tommy Sheppard's moves as interim Wizards GM

The Wizards are naming Tommy Sheppard their permanent GM after he served in the role on an interim basis since April 2. 

Let's take a look back at the moves which earned Sheppard the long-term GM job:

April 2: The Wizards fire GM Ernie Grunfeld. Tommy Sheppard takes over the role on an interim basis. 

June 20: The Wizards select Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Later in the evening, Washington acquires Jonathan Simmons and the draft rights to Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons was placed on waivers on July 7.

July 5: The Wizards acquire Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones, and a 2022 second-round draft pick as part of the deal which sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers. 

July 6: The Wizards trade Dwight Howard to the Grizzlies in exchange for C.J. Miles and acquire Davis Bertans from the Spurs in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and San Antonio, sending the draft rights of Aaron White to the Nets. 

July 7: The Wizards re-sign center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal and trade guard Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls for a 2020 second-round pick.

July 9: The Wizards sign guard Ish Smith to a two-year deal.

July 10: The Wizards sign guard Isaiah Thomas to a one-year deal.