News Corp. Eyes the Dodgers; A Tight 'Game of the Century' Press Box

The Atlantic
News Corp. Eyes the Dodgers; A Tight 'Game of the Century' Press Box

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News Corp. Eyes the Dodgers; A Tight 'Game of the Century' Press Box

Today in sports: News Corp. considers buying the Dodgers again, LeBron James now insists he wants to play flag football, and the media crush ahead of Saturday's Alabama-LSU game will send some reporters to the nosebleeds.

  • News Corp. is reportedly considering a bid to reacquire the Los Angeles Dodgers when the bankrupt club hits the auction block. For a fanbase that's still giddy over yesterday's news that much-maligned, much-in-debt owner Frank McCourt reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to sell off the team, Dodger Stadium, and its adjacent parking lots, the possibility of News Corp. retaking control is a buzzkill. The company owned the club from 1996 until 2004, when it sold its majority interest to McCourt. During that time, News Corp. turned one of the game's model franchises into a wreck, to the extent that Fox Television chairman Chase Carey was allowed to broker a trade that sent All-Star catcher Mike Piazza to the New York Mets. The lowest point for fans and former players may have come in 2003, when the Murdoch-owned New York Post ran an item saying Dodgers great Sandy Koufax only agreed to be interviewed for a new biography because author Jane Leavy "agreed to keep it a secret that he is gay." Leavy said the paper's scoop was nonsense and The Post quickly issued a retraction soon after, but Koufax cut ties with the team as a result. News Corp. wasn't wild about owning the Dodgers the first time around (which is part of the reason they accepted McCourt's heavily-leveraged offer), but a source familiar with the company's thinking says the deal may too good to resist, considering the company offered $3 billion to keep the TV rights for the team earlier this summer. Said the source: "If it comes down to paying $3 billion for telecast rights or $1 billion for the team, the math may mean you buy the team." Meanwhile, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Los Angeles Times this morning that he offered to buy the team from McCourt, but decided he "wasn't interested" upon learning the expected sale would be in the $1 billion to $1.2 billion range. [Bloomberg]
  • NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher isn't happy with Fox Sports for reporting that he was confronted by NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and another player and talked out of agreeing to a 50-50 split with owners on basketball related income last Friday, even though such a compromise would probably be the silver bullet that would end the lockout. Fisher's lawyered-up and last night released a statement through his publicist calling Jason Whitlock's story "disgusting, defamatory and a flat out lie" and making it clear he expects "retraction for the libelous and defamatory stories the site and reporter have continued to publish." Expect to hear more about this, since the consensus among league observers is that there won't be meaningful progress to end the lockout before Christmas. [Pro Basketball Talk]
  • No longer content to tweet his desire to sign up with an NFL team or headline a possible series of barnstorming exhibition basketball games in London, Puerto Rico, and Macau while waiting for the NBA lockout to end, LeBron James is now challenging other NBA players to flag football games on Twitter. After learning Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant showed up for a game in Stillwater earlier this week, James tweeted Durant that he should come play "Team King James" in Akron. Durant tweeted back that he was accepting the challenge, so now Nike almost has to turn into a stylized TV spot.  [ESPN]
  • The University of Alabama is expecting to issue 625 media credentials for Saturday's "game of the century" against LSU. That's 200 more than the school usually hands out for the annual Iron Bowl game against in-state rival Auburn. This is creating a space crunch, since the press box at Bryant-Denny Stadium has a maximum capacity of 150. The school is bringing in extra tables and chairs to handle the overflow. The rest will be banished to the stadium's upper photo deck. [Montgomery Advertiser]
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