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Manfred Understands Why Minority Interviews Skipped

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Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred listens during a press conference after his first owners' meeting as baseball commissioner, Thursday, May 21, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred listens during a press conference after his first owners’ meeting as baseball commissioner, Thursday, May 21, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — New baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he understands why the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins did not interview any minority candidates when they hired new managers this month.

Then-Commissioner Bud Selig told teams in April 1999 they had to consider minorities when hiring a manager, GM, assistant GM, director of player development or director of scouting.

Milwaukee replaced Ron Roenicke with Craig Counsell, and Miami general manager Dan Jennings took over from Mike Redmond.

Manfred said the rule is difficult to apply to in-season changes “because time obviously is of the essence.”

“If a club has an internal candidate that they’re so sure about that they’re willing to forgo the opportunity to interview anyone, forcing people through an interview process doesn’t really make a lot of sense,” Manfred said Thursday following his first owners’ meeting since replacing Selig as commissioner in January.

“Everyone who has that sort of rule has over time realized there are situations in which either because of timing, exigencies or a decision that’s already made, that you have to be realistic in terms of the enforcement,” he said.

MLB managers identifying as a racial minority dropped from 10 in 2009 to five in 2014 to two this year, according to Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. There were four people of color in GMs spots, up one from last year and one below the high in 2009 and ’10.

“I think we also have some ideas that we’re working on that go beyond that rule,” Manfred said, “providing additional support for candidates in terms of not only getting an interview, but getting a job.”

SHORTENING SCHEDULE

While there has been talk of shortening the regular-season schedule from 162 games, it is too early to tell whether the clubs will propose it in bargaining with players.

“A 154-game schedule is a huge economic issue,” Manfred said. “It would require a lot of analysis before we would we would be prepared to bargain on a topic like that.”

PACE OF GAME

The average time of a nine-inning game has dropped to 2 hours, 54 minutes through Wednesday, down from 3:02 through a similar period last year, according to STATS. That follows several initiatives implemented by MLB and the players’ union, such as clocks for between-inning breaks and pitching changes, and requiring hitters to keep a foot in the batter’s box in many instances.

“We are very encouraged by early returns,” Manfred said. “We’d like to hold that number. That’s the trick now.”

OFFENSE DROP

MLB remains concerned about the drop in offense but is not ready to suggest rules changes. Average runs per team per game have remained at 4.2 and the batting average at .251, STATS said.

“We’re looking for another year of data, at least,” Manfred said. “Realistically, that’s an end-of-the-year evaluation.”

He also said changing the strike zone “was not something that was discussed at any length.”

EXPANSION

While he doesn’t “see expansion as a hot topic” now, it is possible it could be considered in five-to-10 years. “When the game grows, expansion becomes a topic,” he said. MLB is interested in a greater presence in Canada and Mexico, “but in terms of actual tactics and execution, we’re just not there yet.”

CUBAN SIGNINGS

The restraints on international signings of amateur players under 23, put in place in the current labor contract that started in 2012, have not worked the way MLB expected. “I think that the increased flow of talent from Cuba has stressed that system, and it hasn’t done as well in response to that stress,” Manfred said.

DRUG TESTS

MLB still is investigating positive tests for Stanozolol that resulted in suspensions for pitchers Ervin Santana, Jenrry Mejia, Arodys Vizcaino and Andrew McKirahan.

“Whenever we see a pattern like that, we do everything we can to figure out whether there’s a connection, whether it’s a pattern, whether it’s a coincidence. We’re just not at a point in that process that I can give you a good answer to that question,” he said.

DEAL APPROVED

Owners approved MLB’s four-year contract with the DISH Network.

CHANGES

Manfred staged the owners’ dinner at the Four Seasons restaurant rather than 21. He had ESPN President John Skipper speak to the group Wednesday.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Black History

Sheryl Swoopes, The Little Dribbler

Raised by her mother in Brownsville, Texas, young Sheryl Swoopes played basketball with her three older brothers. By age seven, she was competing in a local kid’s league, the Little Dribblers. It was her siblings, she said, that helped her hone her game. “At first, they didn’t like playing with me,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Then when they did, they wouldn’t play hard. But eventually one brother, James, played ball at Murray State. He’s 6-4. He wouldn’t play hard until he saw how good I was getting, when I beat him a couple of times.”

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WNBA All-Star and AAU alum Sheryl Swoopes.
WNBA All-Star and AAU alum Sheryl Swoopes.

By Tamara Shiloh

In April 1996, women’s basketball announced: “We Got Next.”

The WNBA was approved by the NBA Board of Governors, and games would begin the following year. The inaugural season proved successful as more than 50 million viewers watched the games.

Six months after the announcement, the league signed its first player, Sheryl Denise Swoopes (b. 1971–). In 1997, she was recruited for the Houston Comets. The signing of the contract had been long anticipated, far from the days when a girl turning pro seemed an impossible dream.

Raised by her mother in Brownsville, Texas, young Sheryl played basketball with her three older brothers. By age seven, she was competing in a local kid’s league, the Little Dribblers. It was her siblings, she said, that helped her hone her game.

“At first, they didn’t like playing with me,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Then when they did, they wouldn’t play hard. But eventually one brother, James, played ball at Murray State. He’s 6-4. He wouldn’t play hard until he saw how good I was getting, when I beat him a couple of times.”

Over time, competing with her brothers increased her confidence, making her eager to test her skills on the blacktop. Swoopes made the basketball team at Brownfield High School, where she developed into an All-State and All-American high school player.

“It helps to play with the guys,” she told the Washington Post. “They’re so much more physical than girls are. Once you go out and you play with guys, and you get in a situation with girls, you think, ‘Well, if I scored on that guy, I know I can score on her.’”

Six feet tall by high school graduation, Swoops stood among the most popular college recruits. Her choice: University of Texas at Austin. It was the only school she seriously considered, yet she’d never given the 400-mile distance much thought.

“It was a big national basketball power, and I thought they could take my game to another level. But once I got there … well, I just didn’t realize how far it was from home,” she said. Homesick, after four days she returned home, relinquishing her full scholarship.

Determined to take her game to another level, Swoops ignored the naysayers predicting her career was already over. She enrolled in South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas. There, after her second season, she was named National Junior College Player of the Year. Basketball, going forward, was an uphill climb.

In 1993, Swoopes won the NCAA women’s basketball championship with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders. She has won three Olympic gold medals, an NCAA Championship, and a WNBA title. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2017, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Share Swoopes’ story about the game with your young daughter. Read “Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable History of Women’s Basketball,” by Pamela Grundy and Susan Shackelford.

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Bay Area

Councilmember Carroll Fife: Let Voters Decide If They Want to Spend Public Money for New Ballpark and Real Estate Project

Councilmember Carroll Fife said that putting the Oakland A’s $12-billion real estate development project on the ballot would ensure that the public has a voice in the project and to discuss whether public funds should be used to pay for it. “What I find to be lacking in some of the decisions that are made by people who have a position of power is the lack of input from the community,” she said. At present, she said, “Nobody is talking to District 3 residents or businesses about what they want to see in the area.”

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Councilmember Carroll Fife
Councilmember Carroll Fife

By Ken Epstein

Councilmember Carroll Fife is considering a proposal to let Oakland voters decide in November whether to approve the Oakland A’s $12-billion real estate development on public land at the Port of Oakland, which would take the final decision on the project out of the hands of City Council members, who are under intense, behind-the-scenes pressure from the project’s powerful backers.

“I’m working on spelling out the details this week. The voters should decide,” Fife said in an interview with the Oakland Post. Fife, who first announced the proposal at a town hall meeting last weekend, represents District 3 where the new A’s stadium and real estate complex would be built.

According to observers, the City Council is under pressure from A’s owner, billionaire John Fisher, as well as powerful state Democratic politicians and the building trades unions to settle the deal in the next few months, even before all the evaluations of the site, potential costs and community benefits are discussed and approved.

The amount of public funds the A’s is seeking is estimated at more than $1 billion, including onsite infrastructure, offsite infrastructure, community benefits and other expenses.

Fife said that putting the project on the ballot would ensure that the public has a voice in the project and to discuss whether public funds should be used to pay for it. “What I find to be lacking in some of the decisions that are made by people who have a position of power is the lack of input from the community,” she said. At present, she said, “Nobody is talking to District 3 residents or businesses about what they want to see in the area.”

“This is about responding to what I’m hearing from my constituents. I have to do what I think is right,” she said. “It’s interesting to hear some people speaking in opposition to a democratic process.”

A measure could be placed on the November ballot either by a vote of the City Council or community members if they collect sufficient signatures.

Opposing the proposed ballot measure, Mayor Libby Schaaf quickly published a video statement Tuesday on Twitter, based on an interview she gave to ABC7.

An outspoken backer of the real estate deal, Schaaf said the ballot proposal came as a surprise to her.

“It is not a good idea,” she said. “It is the responsibility of the council members, who are paid to work full time, who have full-time expert staff, who have access to expert consultants, to make these very complicated, technical and long lasting decisions.”

Besides implying that the decision was too complicated for local voters to understand, she emphasized that a ballot measure would be too costly, though she is already putting together almost $500 million in public funds to build infrastructure to support the Port real estate project.

“To put this on the ballot would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. It costs more than $1 million to place any item on the ballot…to ask a question, (though) polling has already shown there is wide support for keeping the A’s in Oakland (and) for a waterfront ballpark…I don’t need to put that on a ballot measure.”

Though she says a vote is not necessary, the City of Oakland has a history of taking large, long-term funding measures to voters. Since 2010, Oakland voters have voted on more than a dozen ballot measures that direct hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds for a variety of projects.

In her statements, Schaaf also tends to minimize results of polls that show deep community concerns about the costs to the public and negative impacts of the development on the Port and the city. In addition, the mayor ignores the voices of the ILWU, the longshore union that fears the project would eliminate waterfront workers’ jobs, as well as Port of Oakland businesses that say the project would jeopardize global transportation.

Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, who still holds a possible team move to Las Vegas over Oakland’s head, is against the November ballot measure.

“We were very surprised and, quite frankly, concerned,” to learn about the proposal, he said. “This is a project we want to do but we need decisions now,” Kaval said in an interview with KPIX5.

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#NNPA BlackPress

“Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR

CHICAGO DEFENDER — 300 Entertainment, the label home of Megan Thee Stallion launched a content and film division, 300 Studios. 300 Studios is headed by Kevin Liles, who is chairman and CEO of both 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group, with former Viacom executives Kelly Griffin as head of creative strategy and Nolan Baynes as GM.
The post “Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Danielle Sanders, Managing Editor, Chicago Defender

Race: Bubba Wallace is a six-episode docuseries following the life and career of Bubba Wallace, the only full-time black driver in the NASCAR cup series. “RACE” follows Wallace as he competes on Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s racing team and uses his platform to speak out about racial injustice.

Race: Bubba Wallace Chicago Defender
NASCAR Driver, Bubba Wallace
Photo courtesy of Netflix

300 Entertainment, the label home of Megan Thee Stallion launched a content and film division, 300 Studios. 300 Studios is headed by Kevin Liles, who is chairman and CEO of both 300 Entertainment and Elektra Music Group, with former Viacom executives Kelly Griffin as head of creative strategy and Nolan Baynes as GM.

Race: Bubba Wallace is 300 Studios’ debut project. The studio currently has 30 projects in development including films, TV Series, and podcasts.

Race: Bubba Wallace Chicago Defender
Chicago native, Kelly “Kelly G” Griffin, Head of Creative Strategy (300 Studios) and one of the executive producers of “Race: Bubba Wallace”.

With over 15 years in Music Programming, Development, and Marketing for various companies including Clear Channel, Viacom, REVOLT TV and, now as head of creative strategy for 300 Studios, Kelly “Kelly G” Griffith has honed a unique talent of identifying up and coming superstars that ultimately prove to be profitable on various linear and digital platforms through an increase in streaming, record and ticket sales as well as overall brand recognition. From his days at WGCI to his work at BET, Kelly Griffith has also established himself as a premier programmer, talent booker, and producer.

The Chicago Defender spoke with Chicago native, Kelly “Kelly G” Griffin, head of creative strategy and one of the executive producers of the docuseries, Race: Bubba Wallace about the impact Bubba Wallace is having on the sport, the Netflix docuseries, and the future of 300 Studios.

Race: Bubba Wallace is currently streaming on Netflix.

The post “Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR appeared first on Chicago Defender.

The post “Race: Bubba Wallace” and the Future of NASCAR first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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