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

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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.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.