Sports Law Roundup – 4/7/2017

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I used to write the sports technology roundup at TechGraphs, an internet website that died, and now I am writing the sports law roundup at ALDLAND, an internet website.

Here are the top sports-related legal stories from the past week:

    • MLB defamation: A judge will allow a defamation lawsuit brought by Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and former Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Ryan Howard against Al Jazeera and two of its employees to proceed. The Ryans’ case relates to a documentary that aired on the television network in 2015 that included claims that they were among a group of players who purchased performance-enhancing drugs from an anti-aging clinic. In partially denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, the judge explained that the argument that Al Jazeera and its employees simply were reporting the statement of an employee at the clinic “is unpersuasive, because a reasonable viewer could certainly have understood the documentary as a whole to be an endorsement of Sly’s claims.” The ruling was not a total victory for Howard and Zimmerman, however, as the judge did dismiss claims related to a related news article about the documentary, as well as all claims against one of the Al Jazeera employees, an undercover investigator. Since the airing of the documentary, the clinic employee has recanted his statements.
    • Athlete financial adviser: A former financial adviser to former San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan pled guilty to wire fraud in connection with allegations that the adviser tricked Duncan into guaranteeing a $6 million loan to a sportswear company the adviser controlled. He could spend as many as twenty years in prison and owe a fine of as much as $250,000, plus restitution to Duncan. Duncan filed a separate civil lawsuit against the advisor, which was stayed pending the resolution of the criminal action.
    • NFL streaming: The NFL and Amazon have reached a one-year agreement, reportedly valued at $50 million, that grants Amazon the exclusive streaming rights for ten of the NFL’s Thursday night games in 2017. Last year, the NFL partnered with Twitter on a streaming deal for the Thursday games reportedly worth $10 million.
    • NFL fax machine: A court has preliminarily approved a settlement in a case involving a claim that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers violated federal law by faxing unsolicited advertisements for game tickets to local businesses in 2009 and 2010. Final settlement payout numbers are not yet available, but, in the meantime, we can ask: did the faxes work?
      bucs home attendance

Sports court is in recess.

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World Series Game 7 in two tweets

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Last night’s World Series finale had everything, and it was amazing to watch. You’ll find plenty to read about it across the web today. For now, anyway, my contribution to that plenty will be, like the bulk of what you usually find here, minimal, derivative, and frivolous.

The game had numerous memorable moments, and one of the most memorable was Rajai Davis’ game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning. You can see on the graph above right where it happened, and, if you want an even more graphical recollection, the video is here. As the above starkly illustrates, the Cubs were, more or less, cruising by this point. Sure, Chicago manager Joe Maddon was doing his best to keep the game interesting by mismanaging his pitching staff, but the Cubs’ lead appeared as solid as a lead reasonably can appear late in a game-seven setting. Roughly an hour before Davis’ world-inverting homer, though, when things seemed relatively quiet on the eastern front, came this tweet:

Then, a moment before Davis came to the plate, a second tweet arrived:

And then the rains came. What a night.

Braves finally strike a positive note in move to new stadium

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My opposition to the Atlanta Braves’ departure from their downtown home in Turner Field is well-documented in these digital pages, and it’s unlikely that we’ll make it to many games once the team moves to the corner of I-75 and I-285 (not exactly Michigan and Trumbull or 1060 West Addison). In the event we do hack our way through the asphalt jungle and make it to Cobb County, though, there’s good news. No, the team’s not likely to be much better next year, but at least Turner Field organist Matthew Kaminsky will be joining the Braves’ suburban exodus.

I didn’t know his name back then, but I remember Kaminsky’s work from my first Braves game, back in 2013. I even wrote about him here, in my post about that game:

It was good that we were closer to the game, too, because the Royals and Braves, who were off on Monday, were celebrating a belated Jackie Robinson day by having everyone wear uniform number 42 in his honor. This made it difficult to keep track of the players, particularly hitters and pitchers, a difficulty the apparent lack of an active stadium announcer compounded. Swinging hard in the other direction, though, was the overly detailed digital scoreboard in straightaway center that had almost too much information on it to be readily intelligible. Mitigating all of this, thankfully, was an organ player who kept the whole scene loose and made me smile by playing his or her own version of “Call Me Al” every time K.C.’s Alcides Escobar came up to bat.

Kaminsky’s signature is his musical puns or references played for the opposing batters’ walk-up songs, creating a fun game within the game for fans trying to follow his thought process. Other memorable selections include “Take Five,” a Dave Brubeck recording composed by saxophonist Paul Desmond, for Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, and various fish-related songs for Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

Kaminsky was a guest on a recent episode of The Ringer’s MLB podcast, hosted by Ben Lindbergh, which you can stream below. He discusses how he first was hired for the job; how he prepares for, envisions, and executes his role during games; and the particular musical equipment he uses. As mentioned above, he also discloses the news that he will be a part of games at the Braves’ new park next year, and that, as part of the move, the team will be supplying him with a real organ.

The segment with Kaminsky begins at roughly the halfway point, and is preceded by a Statcast conversation with Daren Willman (Baseball Savant) and Tom Tango (The Book) that also may be of some interest.

Kaminsky, who also plays for college teams (including Georgia Tech, Georgia, and Auburn), performs in a salsa band and a jazz band, and teaches music, takes suggestions for his baseball selections on Twitter.

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Previously
The political costs of a new baseball stadium
Previewing the 2016 Atlanta Braves
The Braves are failing on their own terms
New Braves stadium project continues to falter
Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Cobb’s Braves Stadium Bond Deal
Braves Break Ground on Baseball Boondoggle
The yard sale at Upton Abbey continues
From Barves to Burbs: What’s happening to baseball in Atlanta?

Review: MLB.tv

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For reasons not fully known but likely explained by a slow afternoon at work, I found myself casting online votes for Rick Porcello and Justin Upton to fill out the final spots on this year’s AL and NL all-star squads. Neither made the team, but all was not lost, at least for me.

A few days later, I received an email from Major League Baseball thanking me for voting and offering me a no-credit-card-strings-attached free trial of MLB.tv, the league’s online, live-game-streaming service. I said yes please sir and thank you m’am.

I had used MLB.tv before. Every day, they offer one game as a free game, which feels like an especially nice bonus when it’s your team’s game. Based on that sporadic experience and more consistent use of the service during my free trial, which ended yesterday, I’ve reached the following conclusions:   Continue reading

Roddy White TV

Roddy White jumped on the twitter horn Sunday morning to share his reactionary thoughts to the weird thing happening where San Francisco’s Aldon Smith was going to play despite having been arrested for DUI a few days prior. In particular, White didn’t like the way the pregame shows were covering the story:

The pregame shows didn’t like White’s tweets, unsurprisingly, and the message was that White, who has a history of tweeting sometimes cringe-worthy messages (telling the jurors in the George Zimmerman case to “kill themselves” being probably the most egregious example), should be quiet and focus on the game ahead.

While I can’t endorse White’s offseason tweet about the Zimmerman jurors, I think Roddy is thinking about the game ahead when posting tweets he knows will draw national attention to him during the season.

White is the ostensible “number one receiver” on the Falcons. True, Julio Jones would be the “number one receiver” on many other NFL teams, and Old Tony Gonzales and Harry Douglas aren’t bad options either. There’s a reason we refer to a team’s “receiving corps,” however: they function as a unit. The arithmetic of the game generally allows defenses to shut down the passing attack of a team with only one good passing option. (This fact makes Calvin Johnson’s accomplishments in Detroit all the more impressive.)

The important fact here is that White is playing with a high ankle sprain that appears to be significantly limiting him during games. He continues to play, though, because as the team’s ostensible “number one receiver,” he will draw defenders away from Jones, Gonzales, and Douglas. White’s decoy role is even more important following the injury to running back Steven Jackson.

White’s effectiveness as a decoy depends, in some part, on the extent to which he is on the minds of defensive coaches and players as they prepare for and play games against the Falcons. Within reason, anything White can do to draw attention to himself– even just keeping his name, but not his injury, of course, in the news– should result in some benefit to his team. That may be the reason his team has never (publicly) reprimanded him for his outspoken ways.

Wrapping up the 2013 Masters

Just over a week ago, Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters, beating Angel Cabrera in a sudden-death playoff to claim the green jacket.  It’s true that such a playoff in a major golf tournament always is exciting, but the way we arrived at this one– Scott holding steady as numerous golfers faded back to (in Cabrera’s case) or below him on the leaderboard– felt a little anticlimactic. Still, among those leaders, Scott did the best job of holding steady while the course conditions did anything but, and after near-misses on his putts all day, he finally sunk them when he needed to on eighteen and the playoff hole.

A big thanks to guest blogger Luke Watson, who stopped by to lend ALDLAND the benefit of his golf acumen and insight as a guest blogger. (His posts are here and here.) Back at his own site, Hotdogs and Golf, he recently published a very thoughtful post-Masters post that’s worth your time.

While Luke’s collaboration with this site was the big media story of the tournament, another story about a broken golf collaboration has received almost no attention anywhere but these very pages. Continue reading

ESPN’s disjointed approach to social media

The right and left hands are not talking to each other at ESPN when it comes to social media forays. While everyone’s busy rubbernecking at the bizarreness that is the Worldwide Leader’s entrance into the Tumblr world, the folks trying to coordinate excitement about ESPN.com’s NCAA tournament contest on Twitter have come up with a veeerrrryyyyy creative suggestion:

untitledAs Kenny Mayne would tweet, hash mark bracket.

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Related
ALDLAND’s 2d Annual Mad as a March Hare March Madness Challenge
ALDLAND Podcast (March Madness edition)

ALDLAND college football weekend update, part 1

As announced, Brendan will be attending and (has already begun) live-tweeting The Game. If you want to follow along, make sure you’re following ALDLAND on Twitter (@ALDLANDia), something you probably should be doing anyway.

Although I am indeed in the midst of a relocation project, I’m taking a break to attend senior day in Ann Arbor, where the Wolverines will be hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes. Key questions include: 1) Will Michigan senior QB Denard Robinson play a meaningful snap, and if so, at what position? 2) Will the mobile reception situation be as bad as it was last time? and 3) Without my charger, will my phone battery even last long enough to make the answer to question (2) relevant? Strategic packing during a move is difficult.

For live coverage of both games, follow @ALDLANDia on Twitter.

The DET Offensive: World Series Edition

The Tigers are in the World Series! As I wrote to reader and White Sox fan chikat this week, the AL Central ended the way we all thought it would, with Detroit in first place, and Chicago and the rest of the ragtag divisional band lining up behind them. The journey from game one to game 162, though, as documented here from the Tigers’ perspective, did much to raise doubts about what was once thought to be a foregone conclusion. When Detroit, after losing Victor Martinez– an offensive leader on the field and an emotional leader in the clubhouse– to a season-ending injury in the offseason, signed Prince Fielder, they had upped the ante in a big way. For reasons I explained at the time of the Fielder signing, the window on a Tiger World Series victory had been accelerated and focused on the immediate next few seasons, beginning with the present one. For a variety of reasons, enunciable and otherwise, I had pegged next year in my mind as the year this Detroit team would play for a world championship. But here they are, facing off against the San Francisco Giants, who are just a year removed from defending their own World Series title.

I don’t think the Tigers are a year early. I do think they have more confidence in themselves than I do, as evidenced by that prediction and by some of the things I’ve written about them this season. I also think that baseball, for all of its extended, plodding slowness, is a sport of fleeting opportunity at least as much as the other, faster-paced games we play on a major level. (Brendan and I criticized the Washington Nationals for ignoring this fundamental premise when they shut down their ace this season.) There’s no reason to shy away from this moment or otherwise treat it as a test run or bonus opportunity, and this Tiger team has a variety of means by which they can and should seize this opportunity to bring Detroit its first World Series championship since 1984 and its second since 1968.

Keep reading…