SBD/March 11, 2011/People and Pop Culture

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  • Bookshelf: New Book Explores DiMaggio's 56-Game Hit Streak

    SI Senior Editor KOSTYA KENNEDY has written "56: JOE DIMAGGIO AND THE LAST MAGIC NUMBER IN SPORTS," and excerpts from the book appear in this week's SI. USA TODAY's Reid Cherner noted the book asks "whether DiMaggio would have been DiMaggio without the streak." Kennedy: "I don't think he would be the American icon and have the legacy he has today. ... 1941 is a year that has some resonance to it even if you are not a scholar of history" (USA TODAY, 3/9). In S.F., Al Saracevic wrote "the era, the ballplayer and the record are all laid out beautifully." Kennedy "reveals fascinating details of the notoriously private DiMaggio's San Francisco life, especially his first marriage, to actress DOROTHY ARNOLD." Kennedy also "delves into DiMiaggio's complicated relationships with his father and brothers" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/6).

    SHEDDING A RAY OF LIGHT: In St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin noted JONAH KERI has written "THE EXTRA 2%," a book about the Rays. The Rays "didn't grant Keri much inside access, just 15 minutes or so with their key execs, and as a result he didn't get much inside information in trying to explain, as the subtitle says, 'How Wall Street strategies took a major-league baseball team from worst to first.'" Instead, the book "tells a broader story of the evolution of the Rays franchise and little about the proprietary ways they became successful." Keri was "forced to turn to secondary and tertiary sources in amassing 175 interviews." He noted that several of the book's best passages "don't have to do with the stunning 2008 success but instead the past," including former Owner VINCE NAIMOLI's "reign of error and mistakes" by former GM CHUCK LAMAR's regime (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 3/6).

    LESSONS FROM BASEBALL: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Terry Eastland noted Slam Magazine Exec Editor LANG WHITAKER, a Braves fan, "has written "IN THE TIME OF BOBBY COX." In the book, Whitaker focuses on the "life lessons that he says he 'learned from Bobby and the Atlanta Braves.'" Eastland wrote there is "risk in bringing your own meager life-story into a chronicle that focuses on one of the greatest recent teams in professional sports," but Whitaker "succeeds in being interesting enough." Eastland: "He writes engagingly about his life during those years -- about school, his relationships with his parents and grandparents, career choices, marriage, and starting a family. And weaving together his own stories and those of the Braves, he identifies the lessons learned" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/7).

    BOOKSHELF:'s Jenny Zimmerman noted Baseball HOFer CAL RIPKEN JR. and Baltimore Sun columnist KEVIN COWHERD have written the "young-adult novel 'HOTHEAD,'" the "first of a three-part series about a baseball team full of kids who learn to deal with life issues as well as on-the-field situations." The book "features main character CONNOR SULLIVAN, whom Ripken says is loosely based on him" (, 3/9)....The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Tim Marchman notes ROB RUCK in his book "RACEBALL" explores the "twinned history of black and Latino baseball." The book "reminds us of the long, independent history of baseball in Latin America and of how it was intertwined with North America's Negro Leagues." Ruck "traces the decline of black participation in baseball to the way in which Major League Baseball handled integration" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/11)....TIME magazine's Eric Banks notes "AT THE FIGHTS," edited by GEORGE KIMBALL and JOHN SCHULIAN, "gathers the most stylish dispatches from the past century, with literary heavyweights (NORMAN MAILER, JAMES BALDWIN) sharing space with past champs like W.C. HEINZ and JIMMY CANNON." Banks: "For a nimble sample of prizefight prose, DON KING couldn't have put together a better card" (TIME, 3/14 issue).

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  • FanFeedr's Benn Gurton Talks About Upcoming Weekend At SXSW

    Gurton will sit on SXSW panel, attend Big Boi concert this weekend

    While most of the sports world will be focused on conference tournament basketball and the NFL labor situation this weekend, a handful of sports business execs will mingle with the music and film industry in Austin, Texas, for the annual South by Southwest festival. On Saturday morning, BENN GURTON, GM of API for N.Y.-based sports aggregator FanFeedr, will sit on a panel at SXSW titled “Brands and Digital R&D: PepsiCo10.” On his way to Austin Thursday afternoon, Gurton filled Assistant Managing Editor Brian Helfrich in on his plans for the weekend.

    Q: What are you up to this weekend?
    Gurton: I'm heading down to Austin for SXSW Interactive. I'm representing FanFeedr, a personalized sports news and information service for consumers and publishers, at an event run by one of our partners. I will also be speaking on a panel hosted by Pepsi on brands and startups.

    Q: Anything special planned while you’re in Austin?
    Gurton: Besides meeting up with an old high school friend I haven't seen for a few years, I'm just hoping to have time to check out the city. I haven't been to Austin before.

    Q: What bands or musicians are you going to see?
    Gurton: BIG BOI at a concert that Foursquare has put together.

    Q: What restaurants are you looking forward to visiting?
    Gurton: As many BBQ and Mexican places as possible! I heard Franklin Barbeque is opening on Saturday and is close to downtown, so I'm aiming to check that out.

    Q: What is a weekend must-read for you?
    Gurton: I really don't have one. I make sure to read JOE FAVORITO's sports industry newsletter. But I generally catch up on stories/blogs I haven't had a chance to read during the week from Business Insider, GigaOm, Techcrunch, various sports sites and tech blogs, and my Twitter feeds.

    Q: What’s your weekend exercise routine?
    Gurton: Yoga. Running. Biking when it gets a little warmer.

    Q: What’s an ideal Friday night for you?
    Gurton: Going out to dinner with close friends.

    Q: Guilty weekend pleasure?
    Gurton: TV sitcoms.

    Q: What do you do to pass time on a plane?
    Gurton: Surf the Internet, watch downloaded movies, and read magazines/books. I'm really hoping my flight has Wi-Fi because I'm a little lacking in those last two areas today.

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  • This Week's Newsmakers: Sporting K.C. Scores With Livestrong Naming-Rights Deal

    Sporting K.C. lauded for naming-rights deal with Livestrong foundation

    THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week's newsmakers:

    WIN: SPORTING K.C. -- The MLS club takes a bold step and strikes a six-year naming-rights agreement with LANCE ARMSTRONG's Livestrong cancer foundation for its new soccer-specific stadium. The club will receive no fee and will donate between $8-10M to the foundation over the course of the deal, with the hope that Armstrong will be able to attract big concerts at the venue to make up for cash given up by the team. The unique mix of business and charity is new for the U.S. sports landscape and is well received locally, while it also puts an otherwise not-so-well-known franchise in the headlines.

    LOSE: TMZ SPORTS -- It was announced with great fanfare in December '09 when TMZ Exec Producer HARVEY LEVIN confirmed plans to launch a sports website, which he felt would be unburdened and free of potential conflicts of interest, like league deals. Levin said at the time: "I don't really see a difference between a sports star and a celebrity." Teams, leagues and agents surely all shuddered at the thought. Well, they can breathe a bit easier as Levin much more quietly announced this week that plans were shelved.

    DRAW: AIR CANADA -- Sponsors have the right to go public with any grievance they have, and Air Canada certainly did that this week in stating its concern about player safety in the NHL. But you must question whether the move was more for headlines and PR rather than real change, as most partners would choose a course of direct communication with its league partner rather than go through the press.

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  • Executive Transactions

    The MLBPA has made several executive staff changes to its business affairs group, including the promotion of assistant general counsel TIM SLAVIN to Dir of Business Affairs & Licensing/Senior Counsel, Business. Reporting directly to Slavin will be existing staff members RICHARD WHITE, promoted to GM of Business Affairs, Media & Int’l, and EVAN KAPLAN, elevated to Dir of Licensing & Business Development. The union additionally promoted NANCY WILLIS to Senior Category Dir of Retail Development & Apparel and Events Dir. The moves come in the wake of a restructuring of the department under Exec Dir MICHAEL WEINER following the '09 departure of JUDY HEETER as Dir of Business Affairs & Licensing after more than 19 years with the union. Slavin will now oversee all the day-to-day operations of MLBPA's commercial activities (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    EXECS: Churchill Downs Inc. has hired LG Electronics Mobilecomm USA VP & General Counsel ALAN TSE as Exec VP & General Counsel, effective March 22. Tse will report to CDI President & CEO ROBERT EVANS (CDI)....The Hornets have hired Predators President of Business Operations ED LANG as CFO (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 3/11)....Steelers Communications Coordinator DAVE LOCKETT is "leaving the team." Lockett, who has been with the team for 13 years, "will work his last day on Friday" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/11)....The NASL has hired MLS Chivas USA Dir of Operations DARREN MCCARTNEY to the same position (NASL)....Competitor Group has appointed JENNIFER PURDIE as Senior Editor of Inside Triathlon magazine (Competitor Group).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

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  • Names In The News

    Writer describes first eight weeks of "Onion SportsDome" as rough around the edges

    In Chicago, Becky Schlikerman reports former White Sox scout VICTOR MATEO "pleaded guilty Thursday to mail fraud as part of a kickback scheme that led to three Sox staffers pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from poor Latin American prospects." Mateo "pleaded guilty to mailing an unnamed player a $70,000 signing-bonus check in November 2007." A sentencing date "has not been set" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/11).

    SPOILED ONION: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes, "As rough around the edges as Comedy Central's 'ONION SPORTSDOME' has been through eight weeks of programming -- the snarkiness we thought would reverberate from it so far has been drowned out in too much potty-flavored junior-high school humor -- the real problem we've discovered surrounds 'reporter MELISSA WELLS.' Repeatedly fending off sexual banter from the two male hosts, Wells is played by DANYELLE SARGENT, a real life host on the 'Fox Final Score' news desk and part of Fox's NFL sideline reporting crew." Hoffarth: "Confused yet as to who's legit and who's playing up the satire? Viewers very well could be" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/11).

    NAMES: New MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations and former Dodgers manager JOE TORRE is "making his first tour of Spring Training camps," and he visited the Dodgers' at Camelback Ranch Thursday. It was Torre's 12th camp since his appointment two weeks ago (, 3/10)....The Univ. of Washington "managed to stay under budget" for the football team's trip to the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. UW "received a total allowance from the Pac-10 of $1,093,190 and spent $1,089,394." The school reported that it "sold 9,116 tickets and absorbed 1,587 at a cost of $102,130" (, 3/8)....NHRA team owner and driver JOHN FORCE will be inducted into the Texas Motorsports HOF April 7 during a ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway. Force "will become the 14th member" and the fourth NHRA driver in the HOF (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/9). The HOF also will award motorsports writer TERRY BLOUNT with the Excellence in Motorsports Journalism Award (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/11).

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