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Volume 24 No. 178

People and Pop Culture

MLB Commissioner ROB MANFRED has started a "sweeping reorganization that unifies the league office," MLBAM and MLB Network into "one entity" and elevates COO TONY PETITTI and Chief Legal Officer DAN HALEM, according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Petitti will become Deputy Commissioner/Business & Media, while Halem has been named Deputy Commissioner/Baseball Administration. Also, Exec VP/League Economics & Strategy CHRIS MARINAK becomes Exec VP/Strategy, Technology & Innovation. Those three will be part of a "five-person senior team of executives reporting directly" to Manfred, along with Chief Communications Officer PAT COURTNEY and CFO BOB STARKEY, who "adds direct oversight of finance operations for MLBAM and MLB Network" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/11 issue). MLB also gave CHRIS PARK the title of Exec VP/Product & Marketing and NOAH GARDEN Exec VP/Commerce. JASON GAEDTKE remains CTO, and JOE TORRE keeps the title of Chief Baseball Officer (THE DAILY).

Under Armour named strategic communications agency SKDKnickerbocker Managing Dir KELLEY MCCORMICK to the newly created position of Senior VP/Corporate Communications. UA also named international sportswear distributor Oberlap Group CEO MASSIMO BARATTO VP & Managing Dir of European Business (, 12/11)....The Braves named Marlins Senior Dir of Analytics JASON PARÉ Assistant GM of Research & Development. The Marlins "don't have a replacement for Paré yet." However, Marlins President of Baseball Operations MICHAEL HILL said that the club will "temporarily split up his duties" (, 12/11)....Jackson State announced the decision to "relieve" AD WHEELER BROWN of his duties. Brown had "one year remaining on a three-year contract" (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 12/12)....Butler promoted Associate AD/External Operations MIKE FREEMAN to Senior Associate AD/External Operations. Freeman will now officially serve as second in command for the department (Butler).

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Marlins CEO DEREK JETER was seen at last night's Patriots-Dolphins "MNF" matchup in Miami while MLB's Winter Meetings "kicked off in Orlando." Jeter was "glaringly absent" as the meetings got started yesterday morning (, 12/12). Meanwhile, Yankees OF GIANCARLO STANTON -- who Jeter traded -- was the "toast of a pop-up party in Miami over the weekend, hosted by New York City club king RICHIE AKIVA" and rapper 2 CHAINZ. Former NBAer RICK FOX made an appearance (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12).

WELL DESERVED: Yahoo Finance named Fanatics its '17 sports business of the year (, 12/9)....The Single-A South Atlantic League Greenville Drive have been named the '17 winner of MiLB's John H. Johnson President's Award for overall excellence in franchise management and community relations, representing the most prestigious award given to a MiLB team. Drive Owner & President CRAIG BROWN accepted the award during a ceremony at this week's MLB Winter Meetings (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer)....A's Special Assistant to the GM GRADY FUSON at the Winter Meetings is the "first person ever to win both the Sheldon 'Chief' Bender award for player development and the Scout of the Year award" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/12).... Astros VP/Communications GENE DIAS won MLB’s Fishel Award for “excellence in his field” (, 12/11)

NAMES: NASCAR driver RYAN BLANEY will guest star in the upcoming season of NBC's "TAKEN." The episode, titled "Imperium," will air in '18 and feature Blaney as a special agent (NASCAR)....Pennsylvania-based venture capital firm SeventySix Capital closed on its latest venture capital fund. Those leading the fund include former MLBer RYAN HOWARD. Notable investors include Titans RB DEMARCO MURRAY and Fanatics Founder & Exec Chair MICHAEL RUBIN (SeventySix Capital)....Red Sox minor-league P JAY GROOME has “changed agents” and is now represented by BRODIE SCOFFIELD of The Legacy Agency (, 12/11)....CHARLES BARKLEY joined Alabama Senate nominee DOUG JONES on stage during a rally in Birmingham yesterday. During his opening remarks, Barkley “attacked” PRESIDENT TRUMP, former White House Chief Strategist STEVE BANNON and Jones’ opponent ROY MOORE (, 12/11)....The Heat on Sunday visited the National Civil Rights Museum before the team’s game against the Grizzlies at FedExForum (, 12/11)....Heritage Auctions on Sunday sold the Yankees’ “original one-page scouting report” on Jeter, along with two carbon copies, for $102,000 (, 12/11)....MLB umpire DALE SCOTT has “decided to retire at 58” to avoid the risk of getting more concussions (AP, 12/12).

IN MEMORY: Triple-A Int’l League Columbus Clippers clubhouse manager MATT PRUZINSKY died on Sunday after he “went into cardiac arrest” while attending Packers-Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Pruzinsky joined the Clippers in ’10 (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 12/12).