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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

Marlins President DAVID SAMSON this winter will lead a team of club employees, friends and business colleagues in the ’18 World Marathon Challenge, an event organized by Global Running Adventures in which participants run seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents. Formed in ’15, the World Marathon Challenge has been completed by just 56 people, and requires a $40,000 entry fee in addition to the extreme running conditions. Samson, who already has completed an Ironman triathlon and a double marathon to raise funds for charity, said the event represented the next major fitness challenge for him. “I was looking for the next big thing, something even crazier,” Samson said. “But we’ve got a really eclectic group, and I think we can do a lot of good from this.” Samson’s team, named “Hold The Plane,” also includes Marlins Special Assistant JEFF CONINE, President of Baseball Operations MICHAEL HILL and Senior VP/Communications & Broadcasting P.J. LOYELLO, Boston Marathon race director DAVE MCGILLIVRAY and competitors from Samson’s ’14 stint on CBS’ “Survivor,” among others. The Samson-led effort is aiming to raise $2M for a variety of charities, including the Marlins Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of America, and ALS Association. The race route will start Jan. 30 in Antarctica, move to South Africa, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Colombia and Miami, which Samson was able to arrange to the race's conclusion on Feb. 5. Samson, who on Thursday was named to the new MLB Competition Committee, said the team will continue in the race regardless of what happens this year with the pending Marlins sale or his own job status. “It’s not about my title or anything like that,” Samson said. “I can’t hit a big league fastball and I’m never going to dunk a basketball. But this is something I can do, and really, anybody can do.”

Former NBAer STEVE NASH has "sold his home in Paradise Valley, Ariz.," for $3.175M. The Tuscan-style residence, "set on more than an acre, has a courtyard entry, vaulted beam ceilings and custom built-ins." The "nearly 6,500 square feet of living space includes a living room with a stone fireplace, a library, a game room, a wine cellar, five bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms." There is also a study with "wood built-ins, a chef’s kitchen and a master suite with a kitchenette, an exercise room and a steam shower" (, 5/11).

BUYERS & SELLERS: Warriors G STEPHEN CURRY's five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath East Bay estate "went on sale again with a lower price" of $3.5M on Sunday. The Mediterranean-style villa with a "modern flair was originally listed" for $3.7M in October '16. The couple "bought the 7,520-square-foot Walnut Creek home, with soaring 20-foot ceilings and outdoor patios off nearly every room," for $3.2M in November '16 (, 5/15)....Former U.S. sprinter MICHAEL JOHNSON has placed his San Rafael, Calif., home for sale at the "asking price of just under" $3.2M. The 4,500-square-foot home has "five bedrooms, four baths, and is on an approximately 1-acre lot." Built in '01, the "single-level gated estate has 10-foot ceilings, a three-car garage and Mount Tam views" (, 5/15)....Former 49ers GM TRENT BAALKE has "sold his San Jose mansion" for $3.1M, below the original $3.298M asking price. The "country club property has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths over 5,383 square feet." It features a "gourmet kitchen, wine cellar, game room, and outdoor kitchen among many other amenities" (, 5/17)....Former Galaxy F LANDON DONOVAN "needed all of one week to find a buyer" for his downtown L.A. condominium, but is still “accepting backup offers” for the unit priced at $1.995M. Within the 1,920 square feet of open-plan space is a "living room area, an eat-in kitchen, an office nook, two bedrooms and three bathrooms." Modern fixtures, tile work and marble flooring are "among appointments found in the master suite" (, 5/17). 

D-backs Exec VP & GM MIKE HAZEN was handed the reins to the organization last winter after about a decade with the Red Sox under tenured front office leaders like THEO EPSTEIN and DAVE DOMBROWSKI. Now he’s leading the D-backs’ brain trust as they attempt to get back to the postseason for the first time since ’11. With the club off to a 24-18 start to the season, Hazen took some time to dish on his adjustment to Arizona, how he’ll take in this weekend’s series against the Padres and just how deep baseball runs in his family.

GAME PREP: We wrapped up our draft meetings with our West Coast area scouts yesterday, then Friday morning I'm flying to San Diego separate from the club. I’ll get to San Diego around midday, then will head straight to the ballpark as I like to get there fairly early. Early in the day before things start keying up is a good time to spend with the coaching staff in a more casual setting. We’ll talk through long-term strategy plans, game strategies, etc. I’ll hang out, watch batting practice and then after that I’ll hit the stands. Typically, I’ll sit by myself during games as we normally have one person in the front office who travels at a time. So I’ll sit and take in the game, then head back into the clubhouse and spend 20-30 minutes there once manager TOREY LOVULLO is done with the media. We’ll talk about the game and what we may have coming up the next day. 

NEW MAN IN CHARGE: Coming to Arizona and accepting this position obviously meant inheriting a different level of responsibility. But it still comes down to making decisions, and when you’re making a lot of decisions everybody has someone they report to. It’s a little different from a structure point than in Boston but not a whole lot when you get into the day-to-day aspects. It’s been great moving out here. Phoenix is a great city with a good environment to raise kids and that stuff is so important when you make a move.

LET’S PLAY TWO: I have four kids so I’m pretty much the most boring person on earth when you combine that with the amount we work. When I’m not in the office, I want to spend as much time with them as I can and out in Arizona one of the luxuries is you can play baseball January on. Sunday mornings my wife and I like to take a hike and go grab breakfast, but other than that, Saturdays and Sundays are for the Little League fields. It’s great watching your kids play -- even though it’s still baseball, it’s a great release for me.

FAMILY TIME: My family and I don’t have a favorite weekend getaway quite yet. My family was still in Boston this offseason and I was alone out in Arizona till January, so we’ll see what comes up next offseason. My whole family is back East and we’ve spent a lot of summers on the Cape. My wife will go back there this summer when it gets to be about 120 degrees here. That’s a place we really love to visit and spend time with extended family. One of my favorite new food spots out in Phoenix is The Yard. If you have kids, you can appreciate a place that has cornhole and ping pong tables while you wait for your food.

HOME BASE: I really enjoyed reading BEN LINBERGH and SAM MILLER’s “The Only Rule Is It Has To Work” about a couple baseball analysts running an independent minor league team out in California. That was a fantastic read. TV-wise we watch a lot of HGTV in my house. If the kids are involved it’s always some type of sporting event, but if my wife and I have the remote HGTV will be on.

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Fairfield Univ. AD GENE DORIS is leaving his position and will "work as a special advisor for the new AD until the end of the calendar year." Doris has been with the school since '94 (, 5/17)....Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe AD BRIAN WICKSTROM will not seek to renew his contract that ends June 30 (ULM)....Ole Miss Deputy AD & Senior Exec Associate AD/External Affairs STEPHEN PONDER has resigned because of personal matters (Ole Miss)....Arizona State named former U.S. Navy Commanding Officer NATESH RAO Associate AD. Rao served 20 years in the Navy (ASU)....Texas A&M-Corpus Christi named Arkansas-Little Rock Assistant AD/External Operations TRAVIS WHIPPLE Deputy AD. He will begin May 30 (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi).

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The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Alex Raskin notes boxer TERENCE "BUD" CRAWFORD and Berkshire Hathaway Chair & CEO WARREN BUFFETT two years ago "began an unlikely alliance," and Buffett’s support for Crawford now is "unabashed." Both Crawford and Buffett are natives of Omaha, and Buffett has "sized up the boxer’s game as carefully as the balance sheets of companies in which he invests." Crawford was "invited last year to an hour-long meeting at Berkshire Hathaway’s offices," but Buffett "didn’t offer any investing tips, instead sharing a few cautionary words about wealth" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/19). Crawford on Saturday will defend his WBC and WBO junior welterweight championships against FELIX DIAZ in MSG (THE DAILY).

: Broncos LB VON MILLER on Thursday "asked to join in honoring" the team's employees in an annual service recognition day for those who have reached milestones with the organization. Miller during the ceremony "took to the podium inside the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse and, on behalf of the players, thanked the 200-plus employees from both the stadium in Denver and the team’s practice facility in Englewood for their year-round work" (DENVER POST, 5/19)....The city of Philadelphia on Thursday renamed a "section of 11th Street" after late Flyers Chair ED SNIDER (, 5/18)....IndyCar driver TOWNSEND BELL was slated to be "among four Americans matched against four Saudis in the Race of Heroes Friday in Riyadh for a "male-only crowd." The race will take place on a “custom-built track inside a soccer stadium” (USA TODAY, 5/19)....Former NFLer BRANDON FIELDS and his wife, KATIE, plan to open a brewpub named Inside the Five Brewing Co. at the Maplewood Marketplace in Toledo next spring (TOLEDO BLADE, 5/19).

A Night of Networking with the Executives that Exemplify Excellence in Sports Business
Wednesday, May 24 at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square

In one week, the sports industry will celebrate the individuals and organizations who personify excellence in the business of sports. It will be a night you don’t want to miss.