Seton Hall has spoken: Fans don’t want Dodgers to be taken over by the MLB

A press release by Marty Appel Public Relations in New York:

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By a margin of 45 percent to 34 percent, sports fans oppose Major League Baseball’s involvement in the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers, according to a poll conducted this week by the Seton Hall Sports Poll.

The poll was conducted by random dial across the country of 726 people, of whom 495 said they followed sports. The results have a +/- margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Remarkably, among sports fans, it was women who provided the difference, opposing the move by MLB by 49 percent to 24 percent. Men were almost equally divided, 44 percent in favor, 42 percent opposed, and 20 percent said they didn’t know.

“This action still has a number of acts to play out,” noted Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is conducted by The Sharkey Institute. “But for now, in the court of public opinion, the team’s ownership seems to be winning versus MLB’s decision.”

The Seton Hall Sports Poll, the nation’s only academically-based sports polling service, has been conducting polls since 2006 with Gentile, the former vice president of sports for CBS, as the poll’s director.

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’11: Day 28 — How a mensch like Hank Greenberg finally meshed his baseball life with his Jewish roots

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The book: “Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One (Jewish Lives)”

The author: Mark Kurlansky

The vital stats: Yale University Press, 192 pages, $25

Find it: At the publisher’s site (linked here) as well as at Powell’s (linked here), Amazon.com (linked here) and Barnes & Noble (linked here)

The pitch: The intent of the publisher’s series on “Jewish Lives” is to create what they call “interpretive biographies” on “eminent Jewish figures” in literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and arts and sciences. Authors are then matched up who can “elicit lively, deeply informed books that explore the breadth and complexity of Jewish experience from antiquity through the present.”

As we found earlier with Jimmy Breslin’s Penguin series biography on Branch Rickey, this objective can really bring out some talented insights on subjects that often get buried in the weighted words of historians who don’t know what to include or delete from their tireless research.

So, before Bob Dylan is deconstructed by Ron Rosenbaum, or Leonard Bernstein by Allen Shawn, we have this Greenberg-Kurlansky matchup.

Sports, apparently, fits into one of those categories spelled out above, and Kurlansky, who last year put out a fascinating book on Dominican baseball players called “The Eastern Stars,” drew this assignment, culling through more than 30 books done either on or including Greenberg. A large part of that was Greenberg’s autobiography with Ira Berkow in the late 1980s as well as an extended interview he did the American Jewish Committee Oral History project.

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What Kurlansky (right) seems to have rediscovered, and makes sure to repeat as much as possible in this otherwise modest book of less than 150 pages, is Greenberg didn’t want the weight of the Jewish culture to affect his baseball playing days. But it did. And mostly, he accepted that, based on trying to honor his parents.

Otherwise, his much debated decision in 1934 to not play on Yom Kippur, even thought he did play nine days earlier on Rosh Hashanah, goes far deeper than just his personal relationship with his cultural ties. Kurlansky examines more of the realities of the decision — the Detroit Tigers’ place in the American League standings in relationship to the New York Yankees, for one. Even so, when the 23-year-old in his second full major-league season decided it would be OK to sit out the game on Sept. 19, 1934, it defined his career “for the rest of his days” because he became “a national Jew, a symbol.” But, he was really “caught between the Jewish world and the baseball world, and there was no way to please everyone, not even to please all Jews.”

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Bob Miller moderates panel on careers in sports broadcasting at UCLA

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The Southern California Sports Broadcasters’ second “Careers in Sports Broadcasting” panel discussion is set for Sunday, May 15 at UCLA’s Ackermann Hall, starting at noon.

Hockey Hall of Fame and Kings broadcaster Bob Miller, the SCSB president, will moderate the pannel that includes UCLA football and basketball radio voice Chris Roberts, Kings’ FSN reporter Heidi Androl, KSPN-AM (710) sports talk host Steve Mason and Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket executive producer Tom Feuer.

“The SCSB’s first panel, in January of 2010, was so well received our goal now is to make it an annual event for students majoring in broadcasting,” Miller said. “The panel can provide wide-ranging insight into the employment requirements and opportunities in sports broadcasting. Although the primary goal for many students may be on-air sportscasting, the panel can advise the attendees of the variety of very rewarding and challenging careers behind microphones and cameras.”

For more information contact SCSB’s event coordinator Jeff Rose (323 650-1151) or UCLA director of student media Arvli Ward (310-206-4043, award@media.ucla.edu)

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’11: Day 27 — Who’ll save Charley Rosen from himself?

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The book: “Bullpen Diaries: Mariano Rivera, Bronx Dreams, Pinstripe Legends, and the Future of the New York Yankees”

The author: Charley Rosen

The vital stats: Harper Collins, 384 pages, $25.99

Find it: At the publisher’s site (linked here) as well as at Powell’s (linked here), Amazon.com (linked here) and Barnes & Noble (linked here)

The pitch: By chance, we happened to look at the blurb on the inside bookflap:

“Baseball is the only game where the defense has the ball.

“So begins an inside look at baseball’s most scrutinized group of players — relief pitchers — and life in the most intriguing bullpen of all, that of the New York Yankees.”

Really? You’re going to take us from that obvious Point A, to somewhere on Point X that says you’ve got it figured out how relief pitching in the big leagues works?

Read on, and amazingly, that pretty much sums up all the worthy insight as you’ll get from Phil Jackson’s former CBA sidekick/pal who insists that, even though his whole life has been spent in and chronicling basketball, baseball was his first love. Enough so that he says he had a pitching tryout with these Yankees when he got out of college. And that apparently qualifies to kill a few trees and get this book out there.

The execution of this effort is as scattered as the subtitle implies. There’s some history of relief pitching that Rosen digs up and throws out there. Then there’s tedious documentation of the Yankees’ 2010 season, only from the bullpen’s peformance, where Rosen is in charge of doling out letter grades for each performance. At last, in the third section, Rosen rambles on about his memories, his hopes, his dreams. Because, it matters to him.

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The Dodgers-Fox courtship, in the face of TWC

Norm Macdonald on tonight’s episode of “Sports Show” for Comedy Central: “First McCourt loses his wife, then he loses his baseball team. From the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.”

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How much blame should Fox Sports be saddled with in the recent downfall of Dodgers co-owner Frank McCourt?

Did it send up the ultimate warning flare to Bud Selig and expose the McCourt house of cards by agreeing to take on $30 million personal loan just so he could make payroll?

It depends on how much fault you put on a business that is by all measures trying to retain a client in the face of competition.

Long before Fox drew up the papers with McCourt, Major League Baseball had picked up troublesome scent of the ownership team it once approved of, and had been tracking him step by step for the last couple of years.

Commissioner Bud Selig’s ability to invoke the “best interest of baseball” decision-making clause could have put the breaks on the McCourt roller coaster ownership ride months ago. The fact is, even before the McCourt’s messy, public divorce proceedings started unraveling last year, Selig could have appointed an outside caretaker to oversee the team’s business matters last off season, preventing all the latest day-to-day drama from overshadowing the team’s performance on the field under first-year manager Don Mattingly.

The fact that Selig let this all go on so long really is really his issue.

The way it looks now, Fox granting McCourt a personal loan to help him through a payroll might have been the proverbial last straw, but the team with a springtime home at Camelback Ranch in Arizona had camel back-breaking straws to deal with long before that act of desperation.

The reports now are that Fox has a 13-year, $1.8 billion TV deal on the table with McCourt – not a 20-year, $3 billion agreement that’s been widely reported, and even quoted as fact last week by new vice chairman Steve Soboroff.

All of McCourt’s business dealings to this point have been working toward this kind of payoff.

And then, Time Warner sticks its head into the fray.

If McCourt had run the Dodgers franchise down, why would this cable giant be so anxious to want to give him more money for broadcasting rights?

Just months after it laid the groundwork on an unsettling 20-year agreement with the Lakers to create two new channels for the franchise, Time Warner was throwing its weight around again.

Fox had to answer.

It could have done it without the McCourt loan, but . . . If you’re focused too much on that aspect, you’re missing the point. This is what businesses do. If Fox saw someone trying to pry “American Idol” to another channel, it would put up as much a fight as it could to keep its business relationships stronger.

All things equal, Fox provides what Time Warner hasn’t shown that it can – history and stability. Fox has been a partner with Major League Baseball for more than a decade, and pays out millions for cable and national rights to regular season, post season and All-Star games. Fox Sports’ cable arm has the rights to 16 teams – including the Dodgers and Angels.

What has Time Warner done except erect websites telling customers to boycott certain channels all in the name of consumer advocacy?

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