Dodgers president Stan Kasten, others, react to death of Michael Weiner.

Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, died Thursday after a prolonged battle with brain cancer. He was 51.

According to a statement released by the MLBPA, Weiner passed away quietly at home in New Jersey surrounded by his loving wife, Diane, and three daughters.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Michael Weiner, with whom I had the pleasure of working for many years,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a statement. “I had so much respect for him and admired his leadership of the players and Players Association. He was truly a great individual, a brilliant lawyer and a thoroughly decent person. All of baseball, labor and management, has suffered a great loss. Michael was always viewed as the path to a reasonable resolution. He will be missed. The Dodgers and I send our deepest condolences to Michael’s family.”

Many from around the baseball world expressed their condolences.

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Daily Distractions: IBWAA announces its end-of-season awards finalists.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu (center) was honored at an awards gala in Korea yesterday. Lots of awards these days. (Photo by Jun Park/Asia Society)


The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America was founded here, in the awards capital of the world, so naturally the IBWAA gives out awards at the end of the season. This year there are “finalists” too, just like the BBWAA has “finalists” who really represent the top vote-getters in each category.

The IBWAA has more categories, and more Dodgers, than the BBWAA awards. Clayton Kershaw (National League Cy Young), Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu (NL rookie of the year), Don Mattingly (NL manager of the year), and Kenley Jansen (best NL reliever) are all in the running for the virtual awards.

Jose Fernandez and Adam Wainwright are the other Cy Young finalists, same as the BBWAA awards. Fernandez is the other rookie of the year finalist. Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are the other finalists for best reliever. Fredi Gonzalez and Clint Hurdle are other manager of the year finalists, (same as the BBWAA.

Winners will be announced as follows:

Relief Pitcher, Friday, November 8, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Rookie, Monday, November 11, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Manager, Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Cy Young, Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
MVP, Thursday, November 14, 2013, 11:00 a.m. PST.
Some bullet points for a Thursday afternoon:

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Report: Dodgers’ TV deal close to gaining approval from Major League Baseball.

This was just reported today on Bloomberg.com:

Major League Baseball is close to approving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ planned regional sports network in time for next season, preserving a major part of the record purchase of the club.

“That process is at a point where it’s pretty clear there will be approval of the Dodgers’ arrangement well before the 2014 season starts,” baseball’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said during an interview at the league’s New York headquarters.

Manfred wouldn’t give details on what remained to be cleared by MLB before the network could begin operation.

Nothing earth-shattering here; the league’s approval has been deemed a formality for some time. We know that the Dodgers are well along in the hiring process for the new network, called SportsNet LA. But it’s always worth checking in with the man who is performing the day-to-day duties of MLB commissioner.

Tommy Lasorda fact-checks TBS’ Craig Sager on live television.

Tommy Lasorda

Tommy Lasorda spoke to Craig Sager during TBS’ broadcast of Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday.

For all the flash that Craig Sager loves to bring in the wardrobe department to a TBS telecast, he leaves something to be desired when it comes to flashy fact checking.

During Friday’s Game 2 in Atlanta, he interviewed former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and asked him about his 53 years as part of the organization.

“Sixty three,” Lasorda growled at him to correct the mistake.

After Sunday’s Game 3, Sager interviewed the Dodgers’ Carl Crawford and asked him about his “two-run homer in the second inning that gave them a lead they kept building on and building on.”

Crawford actually hit a three-run homer in the second to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. In the top of the third, the Braves tied the game at 4-4.

–reporting by colleague Tom Hoffarth

Networks announce Braves-Dodgers National League Division Series broadcast schedule. (Updated with start times)

Ernie Johnson will provide play-by-play, while retired players Ron Darling and Cal Ripken will provide the color commentary, for the TBS broadcasts of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

TBS is broadcasting every game in the best-of-five series. Craig Sager, more famous for his suit choices than his in-game reporting, will be the in-game reporter.

The radio plan is as follows: On 570-AM, Vin Scully will call innings 1-3, followed by Rick Monday and Charley Steiner in innings 4-6, followed by Scully again in innings 7-9. Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman will call the first-round series on ESPN Radio (710-AM in Los Angeles).

Here’s the first-round schedule again, in case you missed it. Start times for Games 3, 4 and 5 have yet to be announced:

Game 1    Thu Oct. 3, 5:37 p.m.    Dodgers at Braves
Game 2    Fri   Oct. 4, 3:07 p.m.    Dodgers at Braves
Game 3    Sun Oct. 6, (TBA)          Braves at Dodgers
Game 4    Mon Oct. 7*, (TBA)        Braves at Dodgers
Game 5    Wed Oct. 9*, (TBA)       Dodgers at Braves

*if necessary

Vin Scully will open and close the Dodgers’ playoff broadcasts on the radio.

While the national networks handle television duties for the Dodgers’ first-round playoff series, Vin Scully will start — and close — for the Dodgers on the radio.

Scully will call the first three innings and the final three innings of each Dodger postseason game on 570-AM, the Dodgers announced Monday. Charley Steiner and Rick Monday will call the middle three innings.

TBS, and possibly the MLB Network, will televise the Dodgers’ first-round games. All National League Championship Series games will be on TBS while all World Series games will air on Fox, should the Dodgers make it that far. Click here for the complete postseason TV schedule.

The Dodgers’ Spanish-language radio broadcast on Univision America KTNQ 1020 AM will be led by Jaime Jarrín, who is in his 55th season with the Dodgers. Fernando Valenzuela, color commentator for all home games and select road games for the Dodgers’ Spanish radio broadcast, will call all postseason games along with Pepe Yñiguez. Valenzuela has been a part of the Dodgers’ Spanish-language broadcast team for 11 seasons and Yñiguez is in his 16th season with the club.

Scully is in his 64th season with the club.

Daily Distractions: Yasiel Puig jersey sales already rank 10th in 2013.

A list of the most popular jersey sales on MLB.com/shop was released today:

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
3. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
4. David Wright, New York Mets
5. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
6. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
7. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
8. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
9. Mike Trout, LA Angels of Anaheim
10. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
13. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
14. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel PuigIndeed, a player who began the season in Double-A has sold more jerseys than all but nine players through early July.

More on Puig in a bit. Let’s not overlook that Ryu jersey sales rank 11th, only Puig separating Ryu from the buzz-worthy title of “Dodgers rookie sensation.” And that four Dodgers (with the cross-cultural appeal that comes with representing four different ethnic groups) rank among the top 15.

Onto the bullet points:

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Report: Ratings for Monday’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game set season high.

The Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday drew a 4.1 rating on Fox Sports Prime Ticket in the Los Angeles market, according to Sports Media Watch. That’s a season high and the network’s best Dodgers rating since 2009. The Dodgers’ season average has improved by 6 percent since mid-June.

The hype surrounding rookie right fielder Yasiel Puig is certainly a factor in the Dodgers’ improved ratings. Monday also held the intrigue of a rematch between two teams who brawled in their last series, and are currently first and second in their division.