SBD/August 12, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • Finalists For MLB Commissioner Job To Make Presentations At Tomorrow's Owners' Meetings

    Manfred reportedly has the support of at least 20 MLB team owners

    The three candidates to be the next MLB Commissioner -- MLB COO Rob Manfred, Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan and Red Sox Chair Tom Werner -- will each make formal presentations tomorrow to the entire group of team owners during league meetings in Baltimore, according to league sources. The presentations, covering the scope of their candidacies and vision for the future of MLB, will happen prior to a scheduled vote Thursday, and represent a rare gathering of the full ownership for business purposes on the first day of the two-day league meetings. Typically, the first day of the quarterly sessions is devoted to smaller committee gatherings and a dinner among the owners, followed the next day by a general session of the entire ownership. But the commissioner succession vote, following a search conducted by a seven-owner committee appointed in May, has prompted a change in the typical meeting routine. Approval to succeed the retiring Bud Selig requires at least 23 of 30 owner votes. MLB and search committee executives declined to comment due to the sensitive nature of the matter (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

    MANFRED MANN: Baseball writer Murray Chass reported it appears Manfred has the "support of 20 to 22 clubs, Werner six or seven and Brosnan one." One MLB official said that the Rays are "expected to support Manfred," and the Nationals are "leaning toward Manfred, but that is uncertain." Another official said that the Reds are "expected to vote for Brosnan on the first ballot because of his relationship" with Reds President & CEO Bob Castellini. But if no one is elected on the first ballot, the Reds are "expected to switch their vote to Manfred." If the Reds and the Rays vote for Manfred, he would have 22 votes, "one short of election." If Manfred receives 21 or 22 votes on the first ballot, it would be "difficult to see how the clubs," even under White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf’s "heavy-handed politicking, could not accede to Selig’s wishes and give Manfred the additional vote or two that he needs for election" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 8/10). In N.Y., Sandomir & Schmidt note if neither Manfred nor Werner get the 23 votes required for election, that "could lead owners to turn" to Brosnan. They also could "reconsider" Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio or Rays Owner Stu Sternberg, both of whom "met with the search committee." If Werner gets eight votes, he "can block Manfred and make the process chaotic." The "history of several other commissioner elections shows that a deadlock among the known candidates can produce the unexpected -- and can damage the chances of the favorites" (NYTIMES.com, 8/12).

    DOES WERNER HAVE A CASE? In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes, "Werner for commissioner? Please. The Red Sox 'chairman' is a nice guy, but he ran the Padres into the ground 20 years ago and nobody ever has been quite sure what he does for the Red Sox." However, Reinsdorf, Angels Owner Arte Moreno, and Red Sox Owner John Henry are "pushing for Werner." Reinsdorf believes Manfred has been "too soft on labor" and owners often "like having one of their own (Selig owned the Brewers) as commissioner." A Commissioner Werner would "no doubt be good for the Red Sox, but if Manfred is named, the Sox are liable to lose some of their sweetheart status, including the value of NESN when it comes to revenue sharing" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/12).

    A PLAYER'S TAKE: Cubs P and MLBPA player rep Carlos Villanueva, who is a member of the union's Exec Committee, said, "We don’t know who we’re going to be dealing with from the commissioner’s side. Hopefully it’s somebody that’ll come in and understand it’s all about the people, and we want to keep our game obviously going. Nobody wants a lockout or strike" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/12).

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  • Death Of Sprint Car Driver Could Prompt Rule Changes In NASCAR, Other Series

    Proposed changes would penalize drivers who leave their car during a caution

    The death of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. on Saturday night has "prompted suggestions that rules are needed that keep drivers in their cars under caution until safety personnel arrive," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. At least two dirt tracks in New York made changes yesterday, as Brewerton Speedway and Fulton Speedway "announced in a website release that drivers would be required to stay in their cars" following an accident. If a driver were to "exit the car during a yellow, the race would be placed under a red flag, and the penalty could include a fine or suspension." But there is an "entertainment component to driver altercations, which often are used by speedways in promotions geared toward selling tickets." Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said that he would "support a rule that would limit the opportunity for such fracases." Gossage: "That is just common sense to have a rule that says guys stay in your cars. Obviously safety trumps entertainment. We can joke and carry on about it, but safety, safety, safety. It's a no-brainer in that regard" (USA TODAY, 8/12). North Carolina-based Carolina Speedway Promoter Clint Elkins said, "All of the people in the industry will try to learn from this. I'm sure this will prompt rule changes across the board." Former Charlotte Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler said that he "recommends drivers exit wrecked cars and stay beside them if they’re in a safe place near the edge of the track." Wheeler said that if the car is "in a dangerous spot ... drivers should move to the inside of the track when it is safe to do so." He added that this would "minimize the danger of getting caught in a burning car or getting hit by other cars" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/12).

    TAKING THE NEXT STEP: In Dallas, Gerry Fraley writes NASCAR can "make something positive out of Ward’s tragic death with the simple act of ordering drivers to stay in their cars, unless there is imminent danger." Ward’s death "took place on a track that has no affiliation with NASCAR," but the governing body "nonetheless can have influence." If NASCAR "orders drivers to stay in their cars unless there is imminent danger, other racing groups in this country will follow" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/12). Meanwhile, in Norfolk, Bob Molinaro asks, "In some way, has NASCAR's indulgent approach to driver altercations played a role in the death of Kevin Ward Jr.?" The "on-track tantrums, the near fights and rare real ones are all part of the show within the show." Molinaro: "Because fans eat it up, NASCAR takes a permissive, boys-will-be-boys approach to confrontations" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 8/12).

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  • Analytics Gaining Steam In NHL As Clubs Delve Deeper Into Advanced Statistics

    The NHL in the future will "hinge -- and change -- upon the explosion of hockey intelligence," and is in the middle of an "IQ transformation," according to Fluto Shinzawa of the BOSTON GLOBE. The "figurative data asteroid is expected to strike the NHL" in '15-16. By then, the league could "introduce player motion tracking via SportVU," which has a league-wide deal with the NBA. Assuming the NHL "welcomes player tracking, everything will be automated." The result will "be clean, dependable data: a statistician's dream," and smart people "currently on the sidelines will sprint into the market." The Oilers recently hired hockey blogger and statistician Tyler Dellow "as a statistical consultant," while the Devils named former professional poker player Sunny Mehta Dir of Hockey Analytics. Harvard chemistry grad Eric Tulsky and West Point mathematical sciences professor Brian Macdonald also are "consulting for undisclosed clubs." They are "studying hockey’s granular events -- odd-man rushes, zone entries, shots taken early and late in a shift -- and uncovering information that complements intelligence gathered by traditional scouting." But going the analytics route will "require courage," as it runs "counter to generations of hockey tradition" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/11). GRANTLAND's Sean McIndoe wrote it is "rare to go a week without hearing about yet another team staking out its territory in the world of advanced stats, or revealing that it has been there all along." But it "wasn’t hard to see this coming ... since the whole process has already played out in virtually every other major team sport." Many fans "have found that getting their heads around analytics helps them understand the game better and makes the whole thing more fun, but some fans prefer not to get into that level of detail" (GRANTLAND.com, 8/11).

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  • Int'l Skateboarding Federation Partnering With Street League To Create Event Guidelines

    The Int'l Skateboarding Federation has partnered with Street League Skateboarding to create guidelines for street skateboarding competitions. The partnership, which was announced today, also will result in Street League's Super Crown World Championship becoming the official street skateboarding world championship for the ISF. Previously, the ISF partnered with the Dew Tour on world championship events. ISF President Gary Ream said in a statement, “For competitive street skateboarding, we believe there is no better place to start than Street League Skateboarding. Not only do they have the support of the top skateboarders but they have also revolutionized the competition format in a way that is perfect for skateboarding on this global stage.” The ISF is participating as an exhibition sport in the Youth Olympic Games this month in China.

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  • NFL's New Sideline Tablets Face Logistical Dilemma Of Stadium Wi-Fi Connections

    Spotty Wi-Fi connections may not allow tablets to function for the entirety of games

    The Wi-Fi at FedExField for Thursday night's Patriots-Redskins preseason game was a "little wonky," making it "difficult for the coaches on the sidelines to use tablets," according to Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. However, this likely "isn't a problem unique" to FedExField, as "most stadiums still don't have the infrastructure to allow 70,000-plus people to use wireless internet at stadiums during games." Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "I’d say the quality of the tablets is good, and the clarity of the pictures and all that is good, better than what we had. The issues are that ... if the Wi-Fi isn’t connected or isn’t working or something happens, then you have nothing, you have zero. That happened in our game." He added, "So in the press box, they’re good. On the field ... again with the people I've talked to, there haven’t been a lot of instances where they functioned for the entirety of the game" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/11). Lions President Tom Lewand said of the tablets, "This is much more immediate, much more dynamic, much clearer. And like a lot of technology, it’s easier to organize once you get used to the technology" (FREEP.com, 8/8).

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