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Volume 24 No. 158

People and Pop Culture

RICHARD FINN, the Dir of Media Relations & Sports Strategy for the N.Y. Road Runners and ING N.Y. Marathon, has confirmed that he will be parting ways with the organization at the end of the month. Finn's departure was originally mentioned in a N.Y. Times story on Saturday. Finn has been with the NYRR for 14 years. Finn said, "It has been an unbelievably rewarding experience to lead our media efforts during this period of tremendous growth for the marathon, for NYRR and of running as a way of life for so many in New York.” Finn said there is a possibility he may work with the NYRR on a consulting basis for specific projects. He did not give specifics for his parting with the NYRR, or whether the organization would fill his position.

Fox' "The Cleveland Show" this week featured the Dodgers as a central plot element, with the show's main character Cleveland Brown landing a job as a scout for the team. Cleveland reports to work at Dodger Stadium, wandering onto the field during a game. Dodgers RF ANDRE ETHIER says to Cleveland, “Aren’t you a little old to be a rookie?” Cleveland replies, “Rookie? I don’t think so.” After being hit in the leg by a ball, Cleveland yelled angrily, “I’ll sue you!” Dodgers CF MATT KEMP yelled back, “Get that fat man off the field!” After Cleveland is kicked off the field for interrupting game play, he reports to his new office, which is far from Dodger Stadium. Cleveland is then told to “log 17,000 hours of Venezuelan high school baseball games." During a front office meeting, one exec says of a prospect, “We project his BABIP to return to his mean, increasing his WAR by...” Cleveland interjects, “Can it, nerd!” He then announces he has “discovered some players,” which turn out to be Red Sox DH DAVID ORTIZ, Phillies SS JIMMY ROLLINS and Reds 1B JOEY VOTTO. The exec in charge replies, “Cleveland, you do know that these guys are current Major League players on other teams.” Cleveland: “I offered them a billion dollars. Don’t make me look like an (expletive)."

TRADIN' PAINT: Another episode of “The Cleveland Show” this week featured several prominent NASCAR drivers. Cleveland and his wife Donna have too much to drink due to the stress of Donna's political campaign, and unexpectedly wind up at Richmond Int’l Raceway during a Sprint Cup Series race. Cleveland runs onto the track and yells, “Caution, caution!” This causes a wreck, after which DALE EARNHARDT JR. asks, “What the heck are you doing, buddy!? You could get killed!” Cleveland replies, “My wife’s running for school board and there’s a debate in an hour.” Earnhardt: “Why didn’t you say so? Nothing is more important to NASCAR than education.” TONY STEWART then pulls alongside Earnhardt and asks, "What’s going on over there? We’re trying to have a race.” After being informed Donna would be late to her debate, Stewart says on his radio, “Guys, we got a school board emergency." With Donna in Earnhardt's car, and Cleveland riding with Stewart, they race each other to the meeting. KASEY KAHNE says, “With Dale and Tony and all the rest of the cars wrecked, I can win this thing just by driving sensibly" (“The Cleveland Show,” Fox, 3/17).

U.S. Speedskating last night named MIKE PLANT its new Chair. The Braves Exec VP/Business Operations and former USOC BOD member takes over the volunteer leadership of an NGB that has been plagued by scandal over the last year. Plant, a former Olympic speedskater, steps into an organization that has been reeling ever since a dozen speedskaters charged one of their coaches with physical and emotional abuse. Its finances have been challenged for years, and its most recent audited financial statement from last spring shows a deficit of $752,414 (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).

EXECS: Electronic Arts CEO JOHN RICCITIELLO will step down and no longer serve on the company's BOD, effective March 30. BOD Chair LARRY PROBST, who previously served as EA CEO from '91-'07, has been appointed Exec Chair (EA). Riccitiello said he was "accountable" for the company missing its operational targets (REUTERS, 3/18)....Delaware North Cos. promoted TD Garden Dir of Operations JASON BECKETT to VP/Operations (Delaware North)....The Thunder named Wasserman Media Group Senior VP/Team Sports JASON RANNE Dir of Strategic Planning (Thunder)....Electronics company Skullcandy named former Nike+Digital Sport GM HOBY DARLING President & CEO (, 3/18)....Tennis Channel named VIRGINIA HUNT Exec Dir of Programming. Hunt previously served as L.A.-based KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV Program Dir from '98-'10 (Tennis Channel)....USA Hockey named MATT HERR American Developmental Model Regional Manager (USA Hockey).

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Gold Medal-winning U.S. wrestlers RULON GARDNER and HENRY CEJUDO took their campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics to NBC’s “The Tonight Show” last night. Gardner said, “This is kind of the call of arms that I think everybody in the sport of wrestling around the world has kind of come together to say, ‘Hey, this isn't right. The IOC, we want you to relook at this.’” Cejudo said, “They get rid of wrestling at the Olympic level, more likely they’re probably going to take it out of the NCAAs and then high school.” Leno closed the segment by promoting a website to help save wrestling,, and telling viewers to “go to our ‘The Tonight Show’ Facebook page for all the details.” Leno: “Just send an e-mail, that's all you have to do. Or write a letter if you’re old school, whatever you need to do. But I really think we need to save this because, to me, it is one of the core sports” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 3/18).

: MLB Giants P BARRY ZITO claims in court that a "friend duped him" into investing $3M in a "fitness software scheme that never materialized." Zito claims that MICHAEL CLARK "told him that dotFIT 'was in the midst'" of a $20M equity campaign. Barry Zito Enterprises seeks damages of at least $3M for "breaches of contract and fiduciary duty, fraud, gross negligence, unfair business practices and civil conspiracy" (, 3/18)....An Atlanta woman who claimed that her 16-year-old son was fathered by Basketball HOFer MICHAEL JORDAN is "dropping a paternity suit" (, 3/18).

NAMES: Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT yesterday acknowledged "having a pre-cancerous stage of melanoma, as several substantial blotches were visible on his face" at the NFL owners meetings (BOSTON HERALD, 3/19). Meanwhile, the Kraft family and New England Patriots Charitable Foundation announced the opening of the '13 Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards as part of the Patriots' ongoing Celebrate Volunteerism initiative, which honors the late MYRA KRAFT (Patriots)....ARNOLD PALMER yesterday made a $200,000 donation "to the First Tee of Central Florida to set up the Arnold Palmer Scholarship Fund." The chapter is "committed to growing the fund to more than $1 million in the next ten years” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 3/19)....Golf Digest Writer-At-Large DAN JENKINS is the '13 AP Sports Editors Red Smith Award winner. Jenkins, a '12 World Golf HOF inductee, will be honored on June 28 in Detroit (Golf Digest)....Tennis HOFer ANDRE AGASSI, UFC President DANA WHITE, Las Vegas Events President PAT CHRISTENSON and Las Vegas Motor Speedway President & GM CHRIS POWELL will be among those inducted to the Southern Nevada Sports HOF on May 31 at Orleans Arena (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/19)....Under Armour Founder, President & CEO KEVIN PLANK's total compensation package rose 35% in '12, "most of which was tied" to the company meeting set performance goals. Plank last year made "more than" $1.5M, up from $1.1M in '11 (, 3/15)....The Collegiate Event & Facility Management Association announced that Magic CEO ALEX MARTINS will be the keynote speaker at its annual convention on June 12 (CEFMA).

IN MEMORY: Former Canadian Sports Network VP FRANK SELKE JR. died at the age of 83. Selke also served as Canadiens Publicity Dir from ’51-65 (CP, 3/18)....Former Univ. of Oklahoma QB and TV analyst STEVE DAVIS died on Sunday at the age of 60 after a plane crash in South Bend, Ind. (, 3/18)….Former Cleveland State Univ. AD JOHN KONSTANTINOS died on Thursday at the age of 76 (, 3/18).