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Volume 24 No. 155

Thursday 9:00am ET....Today's News....Young At Heart

  • Manfred Makes First Appearance As MLB Commissioner-Elect
  • Fernando Soler Signs Contract To Remain Head Of IMG Tennis
  • Verizon Agrees To Carry SEC Network On FiOS TV Service
  • The Whistle Signs Content/Distribution Deal With MLS, KickTV

Manfred Makes First Appearance As MLB Commissioner-Elect

Rob Manfred last night made his first public appearance as MLB Commissioner-elect at the LLWS in South Williamsport, Pa., throwing out the first pitch prior to the Philadelphia-Nevada game. The working relationship between MLB and Little League "is one Manfred wants to continue to foster," but his "interest in other youth programs is also strong" (, 8/20). Manfred said, “It was not thoughtlessly that I made this really my first outing since we finished the owners’ meetings in Baltimore. I was very, very interested in doing something associated with youth baseball” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/21).

Fernando Soler Signs Contract To Remain Head Of IMG Tennis

IMG, a division of William Morris Endeavor, has re-signed Fernando Soler as head of the tennis division. IMG confirmed the Spaniard had re-signed, but declined to provide other details. A source said he signed for another three years. Soler assumed the top tennis spot in '06. He has been with the firm since '86 after playing professionally from '79-84. Since the William Morris deal closed earlier this year, IMG Tennis has been particularly aggressive signing players, recently adding Petra Kvitova and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The company is also actively looking to sign Eugenie Bouchard, whose deal with Lagardere ends at the end of next month.

Under Soler, IMG Tennis has maintained its status as a premier tennis agency, with stars like Maria Sharapova, Li Na, and Novak Djokovic, not to mention events like the Miami Open. During Soler’s time running tennis, the agency lost star clients Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. They left with their IMG agents to form their own boutique agencies.

Verizon Agrees To Carry SEC Network On FiOS TV Service

One week after its launch, Verizon FiOS has completed a deal to carry SEC Network, sources said. The channel will be on an expanded basic tier within SEC territory and include access to WatchESPN. It is not clear where Verizon will carry it outside of SEC territory. A formal announcement could come as soon as this week. The deal pushes SEC Network's subscriber count up to the mid-60-million-home range. Verizon has around 5 million subscribers nationally; within SEC territory, it operates systems in Texas and Florida.

The Verizon deal leaves Cablevision as the only top 10 distributor without an SEC Network deal. Cablevision does not operate systems in SEC markets.

The Whistle Signs Content/Distribution Deal With MLS, KickTV

Digital youth sports programmer The Whistle has signed a content development and distribution agreement with MLS and KickTV, based around The Whistle's recently launched Xbox application. KickTV will become part of The Whistle Sports Network, an aggregation of more than 140 channel partners comprising some of the most popular creators of digital content, including trick shot artists Dude Perfect. Content will be accessible through connected Xbox gaming consoles. The deal also expands a battery of league-level relationships for The Whistle with the NFL, MLB, NASCAR and PGA Tour, among others.

KickTV, which debuted in early '12, is a venture from MLS Digital but is a far broader soccer destination on YouTube that is part of Google's ongoing effort to develop original, themed channels on YouTube. KickTV now has about 900,000 subscribers.

Paramus Police Ramp Up Security For PGA Tour's The Barclays

The PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup begin today with the start of The Barclays at Ridgewood. Paramus, N.J., police provide security for the tourney, and it is "one of the force's biggest events." A total of 25-40 officers "are working at the country club at any time." All costs are reimbursed by the PGA Tour and The Barclays "and not on taxpayer dime." A few members of the department's Emergency Service Unit "served as some of the top golfers' personal security on the course" (Bergen RECORD, 8/21).

Meanwhile, "only an Aug. 28 membership vote stands between Crooked Stick Golf Club and a signed contract" to host the '16 BMW Championship, the third of four FedExCup Playoff events. Of 225 members of the club in Carmel, Ind., 133 "already have cast electronic ballots," and the vote is 133-0 in favor of hosting (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/21). 

Rock Cats Pay Tax Bill, Can Play '15 Season At New Britain Stadium

The Double-A Eastern League Rock Cats "can now stay" in New Britain, Conn., to play the '15 season after team Owner Josh Solomon "showed up at city hall Wednesday afternoon with a check for $164,569, paying off the tax bill on New Britain Stadium and keeping the team's lease valid." The city was "planning to evict the Rock Cats on Sept. 1." The "club still appears intent on relocating to Hartford" for '16 (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/21).

Comcast Targets New Customers With Xfinity On Campus Service

Comcast today is expected to announce the "official launch and expansion" of Xfinity On Campus, which "allows students at seven colleges to watch live TV and video on-demand on their computers and mobile devices via campus Wi-Fi." Available "only to students who live in university housing on campus, the service won't mean any extra fees." Comcast's strategy "marks an effort by the nation's largest U.S. cable provider to entice young customers to cable at a time when the industry is plagued by cord-cutters" (USA TODAY, 8/21).

Speed Reads....

Tony Stewart will not drive in Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, sitting “out his third consecutive” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since his Aug. 9 dirt track incident that resulted in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/21).

Anheuser Busch-InBev is “down to three finalists in its domestic media agency search.” OMD, MediaCom and Spark “remain contenders.” Starcom has “handled research and media planning” for AB-InBev since '11 (, 8/20).

The Double-A Texas League Frisco RoughRiders announced that the team's sale to a group led by former MLB Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg has closed (Frisco RoughRiders).

The UConn men's basketball team yesterday announced deals for home-and-home series with Ohio State and Arizona in an effort to “play a strong out-of-conference schedule” (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/21).

A crowd of 9,992 attended last night’s Switzerland-U.S. int’l friendly at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., setting a state record for an int’l women’s soccer match (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/21).

Quick Hits....

“I do anticipate that it’ll be a hot topic at the competition meeting and at the Board of Governors meeting, just because it always has been” – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, on NBA players participating in int’l competitions (, 8/21).

“The sports community has played a key role in making this what it became. We’re very thankful of everything athletes and teams have done” – ALS Association President & CEO Barbara Newhouse, on the viral Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness and more than $31M in under a month (, 8/20).

“I’m learning about the WNBA, but I love it. I’ve dedicated the first season to learning and asking questions” – Dodgers President Stan Kasten, who co-owns the Sparks with Magic Johnson and Mark Walter (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/21).

“I’m not letting them get in my pockets” – Lions WR Calvin Johnson, on the NFL fining players this season for dunking the ball over the goalposts (DETROIT NEWS, 8/21).

“I do like 80s, 90s rock because it’s good for my voice. The thing about karaoke is picking a song that works for your voice, that way if you sing like a cat – like I do – you can still sound pretty good” – Serena Williams, who performed karaoke during an event last night in N.Y. for Delta Airlines (AP, 8/21).

Night Moves....Red Devils In The Details

The 2:00am ET edition of ESPN's led with three MLB game highlights, followed by the Browns naming QB Brian Hoyer the starter and NFL news and notes. ESPN reported on Tony Stewart not racing this weekend in Bristol 25 minutes into the broadcast. The 2:00am ET edition of FS1's "Fox Sports Live" led with four MLB reports, followed by Hoyer being named the starter and NFL news and notes. FS1 did not report on Stewart, but their telecast included other NASCAR-related news.

ESPN's Keith Olbermann called out his "world's worst" persons in sports: A Bulgarian man for winning a "15-year legal battle in his home country to legally change his name" to include Manchester United. Olbermann also criticized the Cubs grounds crew, who "for the second time this season" couldn't get the "tarp on the field in time" during rain delays, and the Univ. of South Florida for wanting to remove players names from the backs of football jerseys and replacing them with "The Team," which violates NCAA rules.

Twitter Me This....

Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran: “I've seen weirdness in Japan. A chance meeting on subway with ‘@JayOnrait: & @choyping might have been weirdest.’”

Grantland’s Bill Barnwell: “What does it say about the NFL’s marijuana policy that Bell and Blount were stoned in a car in the middle of camp?”

49ers CEO Jed York: “Not gonna lie, I'm pretty excited for the @RichEisenShow coming to @DIRECTV soon.”

Writer Steve Elling: “Watching listless Dodgers sleepwalk through another likely loss. During catatonic stretches like this, I wish MLB hadn't banned greenies.”

If you see a tweet we will not want to miss, send it to us at

Today's Events....

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit will kick off the JaxSports Speaker Series during a luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

Spanning The Global....

The most-read Global stories today on

1) Japan Skating Shocked By Sexual Harassment Scandal Involving Hashimoto, Takahashi
2) FIFA Relationship With Russia Hits Rough Spot Over 2018 World Cup
3) ManU Dominates New Sponsorship Trend Of Localized Partnership Deals
4) Australian Sports Commission Launches Review Of Athletics Following CWG Meltdown
5) Red Bull F1 Defends Decision To Make Dutch Teen Youngest Driver In Sport's History

Back Pages....

The Morning Buzz offers today's back page sports covers from some of the nation's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post N.Y. Daily News Philadelphia Daily News Boston Herald

Final Jeopardy!

Last night’s “Final Jeopardy!” category was “Four-Letter Words.”

“New research says this word that has become ubiquitous dates back to young men also called ‘macaronis.’”

Laugh Track....Command Performance

NBC’s Jimmy Fallon: “In the next Super Bowl, the NFL is going to ask artists to pay if they want to perform in the halftime show. The musicians have to pay. Can you imagine how much that's going to cost? I guess that explains why this year's halftime show is just 30 minutes of Bill Gates soloing on the keytar. … Matthew McConaughey was spotted wearing a fanny pack while he was at a Red Sox-Astros game this week. It really stood out because he wasn't wearing anything else. That explains his new catch phrase, ‘All wrong, all wrong, all wrong’" (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 8/20).

CBS’ David Letterman: “Every year they have the Super Bowl, and part of the fun of the Super Bowl is the big halftime show. They’ve had Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones, all of your big stars have performed at halftime. Now the NFL wants the groups to pay the league to perform at halftime. Isn't that crazy? It's like the NFL decided, ‘Hey, there's some money out there we don't have our hands on.’ I remember last year at the Super Bowl, a group barely played. Oh, that was the Broncos” (“Late Show,” CBS, 8/20).