Magic Johnson’s group among seven bidders still in running for Dodgers

4 Comments

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten group is among seven bidders left in the running to buy the Dodgers.

The field was whittled down to nine after the groups headlined by Peter O’Malley and Joe Torre dropped out over the past week. The groups led by Memphis Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley and Tony Rossler, a minority investor in the Brewers, were eliminated today.

The remaining bidders include groups led by Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten; Connecticut investment king Steven Cohen and longtime Los Angeles agent Arn Tellem; Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney; and New York media executive Leo Hindery in partnership with Tom Barrack, chairman of Santa Monica-based Colony Capital.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Beverly Hills-based real estate developer Alan Casden and Jared Kushner, owner and publisher of the New York Observer and son-in-law of Donald Trump, also remain in contention.

The seven remaining groups will now advance to a review process by MLB, which includes voting by two committees of owners. MLB is expected to inform outgoing owner Frank McCourt which bidders have advanced by mid-to-late March. McCourt will then hold one more round of bidding before identifying a winner by April 1. He is required to close the sale by April 30.

Shaikin notes that the Dodgers are expected to sell for more than $1.5 billion, which would establish a new record sale price for an American sports franchise.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

Getty Images
1 Comment

Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.