SBJ/June 30-July 6, 2014/People and Pop Culture

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  • People: Executive transactions

    Baseball
    The Texas Rangers promoted Jim Cochrane to senior vice president of partnerships and client services.

    Basketball
    The WNBA’s Seattle Storm promoted Shannon Burley to senior vice president of marketing and business operations. The team also named Alisha Valavanis chief operating officer, effective July 1, and Nate Silverman vice president of marketing partnerships. Valavanis was assistant athletic director of development for annual giving and alumni relations at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Charlotte Hornets president of basketball operations Rod Higgins stepped down. General manager Rich Cho will assume responsibility for the team’s basketball operations.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers named Dionna Widder vice president of ticket sales and services. Widder was director of team marketing and business operations for the NBA, WNBA and D-League.

    The Los Angeles Clippers named Doc Rivers president of basketball operations in addition to his duties as head coach, Kevin Eastman vice president of basketball operations, Dave Wohl general manager, Gary Sacks assistant general manager, Gerald Madkins director of scouting and Jason Piombetti assistant director of scouting. The team also hired Jud Winton as director of analytics.

    Ron Walter stepped down as Milwaukee Bucks executive vice president of business administration.

    GOLDENBERG
    BAIER
    The Phoenix Suns named Maria Baier senior vice president of communications and public affairs, and Melissa Goldenberg vice president and general counsel.

    Boxing
    Bruce Binkow, Golden Boy Promotions chief operating officer and chief marketing officer, left the company.

    College
    Kansas Wesleyan University named Kyle Weiser assistant athletic director.

    The University of Iowa named Gene Taylor deputy athletic director. Taylor was athletic director of North Dakota State University.

    University of Evansville Athletic Director John Stanley is retiring.

    Paul Meyers resigned as University of Nebraska associate athletic director for the Huskers Athletic Fund.

    The University of Montevallo named Mark Richard athletic director. Richard was athletic director at Gannon University.

    Duquesne University named Natalie Hozak assistant director of athletic administration. Hozak was sport administration championships assistant for the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

    Manhattan College named Alison Fitzgerald assistant athletic director for compliance. Fitzgerald was assistant athletic director for compliance, student services and special events at Barry University.

    Virginia Tech named Desiree Reed-Francois executive associate athletic director. Reed-Francois was interim athletic director and senior woman administrator at the University of Cincinnati.

    Facilities
    Iowa Speedway named Trent Staley vice president of marketing. Staley was with the entertainment marketing division of NASCAR.

    Michigan International Speedway senior director of operations Barry Gibson retired.

    Hockey
    The Washington Capitals promoted Ross Mahoney to assistant general manager. Mahoney was director of amateur scouting.

    The St. Louis Blues named Chris Zimmerman president and chief executive officer of business operations. Zimmerman was president of Easton Sports.

    Marketing
    ZALASKI
    Freedom Sports and Entertainment named Brett Zalaski founding partner of its ticket sales training division. Zalaski is the founder of Get After It Sales and was senior director of ticket sales for MLS Columbus Crew.

    PrimeSport named John Walker president. Walker was president and chief executive officer of Tickets.com.

    S&E Sponsorship Group named David Chong senior director of client services, valuations and negotiations, and Andrew Shulman senior director of strategy development and planning.
    MARTIN

    U/S Sports Advisors named David Martin vice president of business development. Martin was vice president of marketing and ticket sales for Kentucky Speedway.

    Media
    ESPN named Steve Busfield managing editor of ESPN FC and ESPN.co.uk. Busfield was sports editor for The Guardian U.S.

    HOUSTON
    Entercom Boston named Matt Houston sales manager for WAAF-FM.

    One World Sports named Kristin McNeill senior vice president of the Western division and Mark Romano senior vice president of the Eastern division. Mitchell was vice president of affiliate sales in the Western region for the Tribune Co.’s broadcast television group and WGN America, and Romano was vice president of distribution sales and marketing for Outdoor Channel.

    ESPN promoted Rob Temple to senior vice president of its sports management group, Danielle Carney to vice president of multimedia sales, Deidra Maddock to vice president of sports management, Bill Condon to senior director of multimedia sales and Brant Allen to director of multimedia sales for the Southeast region, and hired Justin Hergianto as senior director of digital marketing sales and Scott Williams as senior director of multimedia sales.

    Motorsports
    LANG
    The NHRA promoted Bob Lang to senior director of safety and emergency services, and Dave Mohn to division director of NHRA’s Northeast division.

    Tommy Baldwin Racing promoted Kate Fegley to vice president of marketing.

    Soccer
    The Chicago Fire hired Doug Hicks as vice president of communications. Hicks was chief marketing officer at D.C. United.

    Sporting Goods and Apparel
    Loudmouth Golf named Dennis Green president.

    Skins, a compression apparel company, named Sean Logan independent sales representative in Southern California and Brad Barber in-house tech representative. Logan was key account manager for Reebok, and Barber was brand ambassador for Inverness Sales Group.

    Other
    Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education appointed Vince Gennaro director of its master of science in sports management.

    Bellator MMA named Scott Coker president and chief executive officer. Coker was chief executive officer of Strikeforce.

    StubHub global head of business development and partnerships Danielle Maged left the company.

    Ali Rowghani resigned as Twitter chief operations officer. Rowghani will continue to work for Twitter as a strategic adviser. Vice president of media Chloe Sladden is leaving the company.

    Awards and Boards
    Varsity Brands named Jeff Webb chairman of its board of directors. Webb is chief executive officer of the company.

    The NCAA appointed Tom Holmoe to the Division I men’s basketball committee. Holmoe is athletic director at Brigham Young University.

    BUTLER
    The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation named Mark Butler chairman of its board of directors. Butler is president and chief executive officer of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet as well as part owner of the Class AA Eastern League Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators.

    The National Athletic Trainers’ Association inducted Jon Almquist, David Draper, Mark Gibson, Katie Grove, Paula Sammarone Turocy and Ken Wright into its Hall of Fame.

    USA Cycling named Bob Stapleton chairman and Alex Nieroth vice chairman of its board of directors.

    People news
    To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to careers@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.


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  • Words of wisdom for the Class of 2014

    Members of the sports industry were among the commencement speakers on college and university campuses across the country this spring. Presented here are excerpts of their advice and words of wisdom for the Class of 2014. Comments have been edited for brevity and clarity. — Compiled by Bryan Ives


    Photo by: DOUGLAS PENHALL / UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD
    Joe Torre
    MLB, EVP, operations; four-time World Series-winning manager  |  University of Hartford

    A great American once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And we all know who that great American is: Yogi Berra. I thought it was over for me in 1984. I was fired from my second managing job with the Atlanta Braves and I was sitting there, sullen, with my wife at the kitchen table, and she says, “How do you want to be remembered?” I said, feeling sorry for myself, “Someone who never realized his dream,” and she just slapped me back to reality by saying, “Are you dead?” …
    When we did win the World Series in ’96, I found out later on that it was well over 4,000 games that I had participated in as a manager or a player and that was the all-time record of someone going to the World Series and how long it took me. I just want to caution you when you go out there — and I know you have a full head of steam and God love you; I think it’s great, because you’re our future. … Even though you go out there in your field of battle or your field of play and you do everything right and you give it every bit of energy you have and every bit of passion that you have, it may not work out. It may be a disappointment, but that’s when you check the character level and you bounce back.


    Mark Shapiro
    Cleveland Indians president  |  Baldwin Wallace University
    If I had to impart one thing on you today that I look at in people that I surround myself with, people I want to surround myself with, and people that I see successful in every single walk of life, it is simply this: I look at how they handle real adversity. When they face challenges, when they face disappointments, when they face setbacks, do they shrink from them, from fear of their limitations or failures being exposed, or do they bow up and do they find a way to learn to improve, to grow and develop from those setbacks? …
    People who succeed, who find fulfilling careers and happy lives, do not make excuses. Instead of spending energy offering excuses, even valid ones, they spend time using the challenge to grow, to develop, to chart a new strategy or plan. They take accountability or ownership of their process.


    Photo by: JOHN GILLOOLY
    Billie Jean King
    WTA, Women’s Sports Foundation and World TeamTennis founder  |  Simmons College
    Sometimes I think it’s really important to see it to be it. When I was 13, I got to see the No. 1 player in the world, Althea Gibson, the first African-American to ever get to play in a sanctioned tournament in 1950. She was our Jackie Robinson of tennis. I got to see her at 13, so I knew what the No. 1 person in the world looked like, how she played, and I knew if I wanted to be No. 1 I would have to be at least as good or better. I learned a lot that day from her and how good I would have to be.
    Be a problem solver. It’s really important to be a problem solver. As you go through the day, that’s all we do; you know that? In 1970, there were nine of us that started women’s professional tennis, and it was very difficult. Nobody thought we would get it done. We signed a $1 contract with Gladys Heldman. We were called The Original Nine. We crossed over the line in the sand. We had no idea what was going to happen. We were going to be threatened. We weren’t going to be able to play Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, all these big tournaments ever again — and we didn’t care. We felt like we had nothing to lose and we had to go for it for the future generations. We talked about the future generations. We wanted any girl born in this world if she were good enough to have the opportunity to compete, to be recognized, and make a living. That’s what The Original Nine talked about: This is for the future.


    Photo by: BRIAN SMITH / BENTLEY UNIVERSITY
    Joe Moglia
    Coastal Carolina University football coach; chairman and former CEO of TD Ameritrade  |  Bentley University
    I would have no doubt that the coaches and the players of a national championship team would say be caring about other people on the team, worrying about the needs of other people on the team. Worrying about somebody else is part of the reason why they were as successful as they were. But I think where you really see this is in the family. … When I was 13, we had a little family meeting, and my parents told us that my mom was going to be in the hospital for a few days. Other than she having babies, nobody in our family ever went in the hospital. Frankly, we didn’t think much of it.
    That night I remember seeing my dad on his knees on his bed crying. My dad died about five years ago of Alzheimer’s when he was in his late 80s. It was the only time in my life I ever saw my father cry. I asked him what was the matter. He says, “Son I’m really worried about mommy.” I went to bed that night, and remember, I was a gang kid; I thought I was a real badass. … I was the oldest, and it hit me I had never ever told my mom that I loved her. I remember praying that night and saying “God, take care of my mom and I promise I’ll never let that happen.” Mom eventually came home, and I never let that happen again.


    Photo: COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
    Steve Ballmer
    Former Microsoft CEO; prospective L.A. Clippers owner  |  University of Washington
    I don’t know what got me to drop out of business school and come to Microsoft. My parents thought I was a whack-job. Neither one of them graduated college, and they thought this was really a wild idea. I was lucky. I seized the day. Microsoft. One day, some guys fly in from IBM, and all of a sudden, we figure out we could actually provide all the software they need for this thing that became the personal computer. …
    Seize the personal opportunities that are in front of you too. I really believe that people need to have more than one thing in their life. I feel fortunate: I have a life partner, I have kids, I have a family, and you need to seize those opportunities in addition to the ones that you will find in front of you absolutely professionally.
    I am 58 years old, and I too don’t know what I am doing again. I retired from Microsoft earlier this year. It’s a wonderful opportunity, frankly, for Microsoft. Fresh blood, fresh ideas, fresh thinking, a fresh leader who is outstanding in Satya Nadella, but new opportunities for the company, and I look forward to new opportunities for me. One of those, I’m afraid to admit, I might be pursuing down in Los Angeles. Please forgive me for that. That’s a passion for sports. … The search for opportunity doesn’t stop. It’s there in front of you at all times.


    Phil Knight
    Nike co-founder and chairman  |  Stanford University
    Ten years from now, the first of you will be asked to give the commencement speech to what will then be the finest class in the school’s history. You’ll be a bit torn. You will multi-task to the max. Two kids. One has an ear infection and needs to get to the doctor right away. Your husband is more needy than usual. And he has a flight in the morning to Europe for 10 days. Your company is at a critical point in its strategic planning and everybody looks to you for what the answers will be. Plus, the company has a PR crisis. And you have TV appearances scheduled for five days straight. And that golden Lab that you’ve had for all of two years has all of a sudden decided he’s not housebroken.
    There is no time.
    There is … no … time.
    And then you’ll accept — because of the honor, because it’s a chance to have some influence on the most able, best prepared young people on the planet. And you’ll accept, though it’s hard to see now, because there is a part of you that longs to go back to a place and a time and a self forever gone. And in looking for things to say, include in your consideration moments from the school’s history. You might even look back to that time in the deep past, that moment over six decades before, when Frank Shallenberger, the professor of entrepreneurship, said the words that meant so much to me, the words that became the mantra for his class, the words that said, “The only time you must not fail is the last time you try.”


    Photo by: TONYA VAN VALKENBURG / PHOTO SPECIALTIES
    Jay Bilas
    ESPN broadcaster  |  Queens University of Charlotte
    All I really have over you is experience, and I’m also taller than every one of you and can post you up. But there are a few things I’ve learned over the years that may make you think and may be of some minor help.
    First, take pictures. Take a lot of pictures. In the future, you are really going to like the way that you look now. This is probably the smallest that your butt will ever be, and you have the most hair now that you’ll ever have, so memorialize it. ...
    Next play. This is a concept in my life that has been really important. I learned it from the guy I played for in college, Mike Krzyzewski. I played for Coach K for four years, I coached on his staff for three, and it’s a thing I say to myself every single day multiple times. Next play. Coach K believes that basketball is a fast game and you can’t dwell on something that you do positively and you can’t dwell on the negative. You’ve got to move on to the next play right away. You can analyze things later. You have to move on and you can’t get upset and hang your head and you can’t celebrate. You’ve got to move on to the next play.


    Photo by: JAMES BYARD / WUSTL PHOTOS
    Tony La Russa
    Arizona Diamondbacks chief baseball officer; three-time World Series-winning manager  |  Washington University
    There’s a real emphasis now on machines, and what they produce. And baseball: It’s this thing with metrics and analytics, and they claim that they can tell you who to play, how to play, when to make changes, and that’s … a nice tool. I will suggest that you study and prepare with all that kind of information, but when you get into it, be aware of the reliance on machines and prepared knowledge. So those are the worst of times. It used to be easier.
    Now, the best of times. Because of what’s available to you, you can incorporate all that and go forward, and you actually have more opportunities. And here’s a really important message: We need you. All of us that are looking to the young folks coming forward — in your case: graduates — are very soon going to be in the workforce pursuing, personally and professionally. We need you. We need you to step forward and be as excellent as you can be.


    Photo by: KIM WALKER / ELON UNIVERSITY
    Mary Carillo
    NBC Sports broadcaster, former professional tennis player  |  Elon University
    My world in my 20s was all about trying to play professional tennis, but my knees were bad, and frankly so was my serve, and by 23 I was washed up; unemployed. So I needed another dream, and while I was figuring out what I should be, I was teaching tennis and doing some writing, and I started to get some TV work too. My love of tennis morphed into a love of all sports and the stories they tell, and I’ve been telling stories ever since.
    I’m lucky enough and maybe dumb enough to not have been terribly worried about what I was going to be when I was 23 years old. If you have an open mind, you can push in any direction you want. … While I’m happy to report that my salary is exponentially higher than what it was when I was 18 years old, I’m not exponentially happier than I was when I was 18. I wasn’t poor back then. I just didn’t have any money and truly enjoyed where I was and who I was with and what I was doing and all the stuff that I imagined was ahead of me. All of which is to say, whatever you do when you leave Elon, treat it like it’s the most important job you’ll ever have.


    Kevin Plank
    Under Armour CEO, founder  |  Marymount University
    I’d like to encourage some, if not many, if not all, of you to think about what it means to be an entrepreneur. Thinking about the journey, class of 2014: The first piece of advice that I’d like to give you is something that I’ve lived my life by and really drive Under Armour by. It’s a very simple theme. It says that when I started my company, I was always smart enough to be naïve enough to not know what we could not accomplish. You’ve got to think about it for a second: Smart enough to be naïve enough to not know what we could not accomplish — because people start, and they have all these ideas of what right now you can do and frankly what you can’t do [and] what is outside of your grasp. And I’m here to tell you, less than just a few miles from where you sit today, I was a graduate exactly like you without an exact plan or specific route as to what I was going to do to run and drive my company, but I knew that I generally had an idea.


    Photo by: DEAN OREWILER / TRINE UNIVERSITY
    Jeff Saturday
    ESPN broadcaster, former NFL All-Pro center  |  Trine University
    People who succeed in life will be critical of themselves early and often. And so as you embark on your next journey, if you’re an employer, an employee, if you go back to school, I would encourage you to evaluate yourself often. Check and see, “Am I heading the right direction? Am I doing the things that I said I would do? Am I aligning with these goals?” And make them effective goals; don’t make them all be long-term. Give yourself short ones that you know you can manage.
    I had the opportunity to negotiate the CBA, which is a multibillion-dollar deal that lasts over 10 years. I felt very unqualified to go do it if I’m very frank with you. My teammates and other players in the league asked me if I would go and negotiate on our behalf, and I remember telling them, “I will go do it, and I will represent you men.” Now understand that I’m representing 2,000 active players, 18,000 former players and countless future players. I said I’ll do it under one condition: that you give me the goals that we’re trying to obtain. Because I can walk in any room and negotiate whatever you want as long as I know the direction I’m heading, but you have to give me these points of contact so I can go back and evaluate myself regularly. I try to apply that to my life in all different areas and different facets, and I would encourage you to do the same.


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  • Spotlight: Jordan Solomon, NBA

    From the excitement of working his first job at Fenway Park to the disappointment of a missed opportunity out of college, Jordan Solomon managed to keep a level head and now brings an outside perspective to his new role as vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA. Solomon spoke with staff writer Bryan Ives.

    Age: 35
    New title: Vice president of team marketing and business operations, NBA
    Previous title: Associate principal, McKinsey & Co.
    First job: Sold Coca-Cola in the bleachers at Fenway Park
    College education: Undergraduate degree, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2000; MBA, Dartmouth College, 2006; MPA, Harvard University, 2006.
    Resides: Manhattan. Two boys, 5 and 3 years old
    Grew up: Marblehead, Mass.
    Executives most admired: Warren Buffett and Greg Becker, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Bank
    Brand most admired: “Disney. I think the way they’re able to resonate with both young and old is extremely compelling.”
    Favorite vacation spot: Martha’s Vineyard
    Last book read: “Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem,” by Mac Barnett. Read it with his sons. “It’s an awesome kids book.”
    Last movie seen: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
    Favorite movie: “Good Will Hunting”
    Favorite band: U2

    What is the biggest challenge in your new position?
    The NBA is a fabulously run organization, as are all of our teams, so identifying the most impactful ways to apply data and analytics to help grow our businesses while maintaining a deep appreciation for what is already working.

    What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
    I left what was a fun and successful career in Silicon Valley to go back to graduate school and try something different.

    What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
    At McKinsey I worked closely with a client to increase the productivity in their sales force by combining art and science. So we used data to identify what the best sellers were doing and then developed and rolled out a training program to 15,000 salespeople.

    What is your biggest professional disappointment?
    I’d probably say it’s not playing point guard in the NBA. That would be my first answer, but my other would be out of college I interviewed and did not get what I thought was my dream job working at Disney.

    What career advice do you have for people wanting to get into the sports industry?
    Develop a set of skills and perspectives from outside of sports that can help the sports industry to innovate. So whether that is through analytics, customer experience, technology, marketing — but bring a new set of best practices and insights.

    What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
    I think the impact of technology on the in-game experience, especially virtual reality technologies like Oculus, could dramatically change the value proposition of coming to an arena or stadium.

    What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
    As the father of two young boys I’d like to see more games played at times when my boys can attend them and watch them live.

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  • Thinking Back with Howard Starkman

    H

    Photo: COURTESY OF HOWARD STARKMAN
    oward Starkman, who retired earlier this year as Toronto Blue Jays vice president of special projects, enjoyed a perspective that few have shared, watching the birth, rise, fall and redevelopment of baseball in Canada’s largest city. An original employee of the club and a former publicist with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Starkman joined the Blue Jays in 1976, mere weeks after Toronto was awarded an American League franchise and before the club even had a name. He proceeded to spend 38 years with the Blue Jays, seeing them transform the stadium landscape with the 1989 opening of SkyDome, win two World Series titles, and slowly rebuild their fan base after a devastating work stoppage in 1994. In addition, he spent years as a key aide and confidante to Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Beeston. Starkman spoke recently with SportsBusiness Journal staff writer Eric Fisher.

    I started July 4, 1976, and was arguably the fourth or fifth employee hired by the club, depending on who you talk to. Pete Bavasi hired me; he had come on board as executive vice president and general manager. Paul Beeston was already there. The first thing we did was hire a lot of people.

    I sort of took over as public relations director, but I had experience and worked before for the Maple Leafs, and had been director of administration and publicity for them. And I had done travel and worked with the league on PR, so I ended up doing some of those things at the start to get us going.

    The first major thing we did was have a name-the-team contest, and that’s how we came up with the Blue Jays.

    Baseball had not been in Toronto for about 10 years after an International League team moved. But we were the major business hub of Canada. We had a lot of business, a lot of banks, a lot of breweries. There was no reason why baseball would not succeed in Toronto. We were a major market.

    Starkman with the1992 World Series trophy
    Photo: COURTESY OF HOWARD STARKMAN
    Paul’s a unique individual. He had come out of Welland, Ontario, gone to the University of Western Ontario, gained his chartered accountant designation, and he happened to be living in London [Ontario]. He was a friend of Don McDougall, who was the president of Labatt. And Paul had the opportunity, always being a big baseball fan, to do baseball here, and he grew immensely in the sport.

    He’s a quick learner, and a people person. And he’s contributed a lot to what the organization has done over the last 38 years. His intelligence, I think, is underestimated by a lot of people because he’s sort of an outgoing, back-slapping type of person. But he’s very bright and gets along with everyone in the industry.

    Even when he was out of the industry for a while, he continued to keep up with Reinsdorf, Manfred, Selig, and those kind of people in the business. He does that constantly now, and it’s amazing to see him operate.

    We finally put it all together in ’92, and again in ’93. They were two wonderful years, but actually, the entire 11-year run [from 1982-93] was really quite outstanding when you step back and look at it all.

    I wonder if we had won in ’85 [when the Blue Jays blew a 3-1 ALCS lead to Kansas City] if the interest would have grown as much, as by the ’90s, we would have been there, done that. But the fact we kept it going for all those years before we won kept the interest growing.

    The SkyDome really added a lot. At the time, it was state of the art. The retractable roof is still amazing. But the one thing you realize now is that you probably don’t need a stadium that size.  

    The strike came in ’94, and that put a big damper on the business completely. We had 27,000 season tickets in ’93. We had the highest payroll in the league, and we thought we could sustain it with the crowds we were getting. But the strike just killed us. By the time we got going in ’95, we lost a lot of our season-ticket holders and weren’t able to capture them back.

    Starkman with Blue Jays President and CEO Paul Beeston. The Blue Jays named their Employee of the Year award for Starkman when he retired.
    Photo by: MICHELLE PRATA
    It was a huge hit for us. We were never able to recover fully. We’re still working at it now.

    Even now, to get to 2.5 million in attendance or 2.7 million, it takes a lot to get to that level. I knew that 4 million wasn’t necessarily a realistic number. But I thought given the market we had and the tourist business we have, it would be hard to go below 3 million. But it happened.

    Toronto has always been very fortunate as a newspaper town. We still have four papers here that cover the team. Not many cities have that anymore. And we have a number of network TV stations and a number of sports TV stations. So it’s a huge media market.

    Back in the ’80s, the key beat writers knew where to get their information, whether they worked scouts from other teams, or scouts from our team. But they were able to break news. Nowadays, it’s much more difficult. Information gets out so quickly, and it’s difficult for anybody to say they broke a story.

    The other thing you notice is that the writing, particularly the game stories, is all the same. It’s all the same quotes. In the old days, I remember going in the clubhouse and there’d be a few writers going to different players to get their stories. Now, everything’s organized, the PR directors bring the players out and everybody has the same quotes. So when you pick up the papers the next day, everybody’s basically got the same story.

    People often forget that a lot of players we had in the ’80s were pretty good. But I think the athletes now are very good. There’s a lot of skill. But there doesn’t seem to be as many superstars in the game.

    They obviously have a lot more reliance on the bullpen. A guy like Dave Stieb, he threw over a hundred complete games for us. Nowadays, you’re lucky if somebody does two or three a year.

    Base tags on April 10 saluted Starkman’s years of service.
    Photo: COURTESY OF HOWARD STARKMAN
    When we started, the first pitcher I saw actually do arm exercises for his rotator cuff was Doyle Alexander. That was like ’84-’85. Before that, I probably have more weights in my basement than we did at the stadium.

    I’m still doing some consulting, and I’m going to help out to transition some of the jobs. And I’m committed to the postseason that if we get there, I’ll be helping out to coordinate our activities with MLB.

    Last year was a difficult one. The organization made the big trade ... getting R.A. Dickey from the Mets, and signing [Melky] Cabrera. And things didn’t work out. But [general manager] Alex Anthopoulos and Paul stood their ground, and so far this year, it’s been pretty good. … If our team can stay healthy, it should be a good run toward the end.

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  • Plugged In: Mark Ein, Washington Kastles

    Mark Ein, 49, grew up in the Washington, D.C., area as a tennis fanatic, even serving stints as a ball boy at the local pro tourney fetching balls for the likes of Jimmy Connors. Ultimately, he made his money buying and selling companies, with his company, Venturehouse Group, serving as the holding entity for his collection of companies. But several years ago, Ein started playing tennis again and found himself at Ted Forstmann’s annual summer tennis pro-am, the Huggy Bear. There, Ein met a team tennis player, Chris Haggard, who sold him on the virtues of World TeamTennis. Since buying the WTT’s Washington Kastles franchise six years ago, the club has won four titles and at one point won 34 straight matches, a record for North American sports.


    I have always said when people come to root for the name on the front of the jersey and not on the back, you know you have it made.


    Photo by: CAMERAWORK USA
    Why have the Kastles been so successful among WTT’s teams?: I so appreciate that question. I have honestly found it fascinating myself. It’s the same balls, same court, same set of rules, even the same talent level. I could go through all of our matches player by player last year, and if you know tennis, you would say that was a toss-up. … I really think it comes down to culture, just like other team sports, where teams that have good cultures year in, year out, win.
     
    The importance of profitability: This was never run with a financial objective. Obviously what is important is it is long-term sustainable and long-term successful. In the early years, the key is investing heavily to build the brand. … I do think we will be fairly close to breaking even this year, but again, it is really not a hard-core objective.

    About WTT paying big-name stars to play the occasional match: One of the challenges of the sport of tennis is it tries to survive on the back of big names, and all the team sports have the virtue that anyone who puts on a jersey for a major sports team can go into a school, into the community, into the business community, and have an impact because they are wearing the jersey of that team.
     
    What people think about when they consider the Kastles: Really, hopefully it is a few things: the streak, the championships; we have won three straight titles. … We sell out every single match. I started this mainly as a platform to give back to the community and use it as a way to do all kinds of things for great organizations in Washington.
     
    — Dan Kaplan

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