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Dan Le Batard: Rob Manfred Could Have Had Me Fired From ESPN

“ESPN defended us a hell of a lot better than MLB Network defended Ken Rosenthal.”

Ricky Keeler

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Earlier this week, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that MLB Network decided to cut ties with Ken Rosenthal over comments that Rosenthal made in an article for The Athletic that criticized Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. While Rosenthal is still with The Athletic and FOX Sports, it was news that surprised many in the industry. 

On Tuesday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with StuGotzthe show dove into the surprising news story while also looking back at the interview Le Batard and StuGotz did with Manfred back in 2017. 

When looking back at the interview, Le Batard thinks it’s arguably the worst interview that a sports commissioner has ever given. Despite that interview, he thought ESPN was by his side more in that situation than MLB Network was for Rosenthal: 

“You can say that we’re terrible because we are terrible, but it was a terrible interview that he did,” Le Batard insisted. “He was defensive. We caught him saying some things that we could prove factually through documentation were not true. In doing that interview, what happened after that, ESPN defended us a hell of a lot better than MLB Network defended Ken Rosenthal.

“MLB Network is a propaganda arm. NFL Network is a propaganda arm. There are things that will not be discussed on those propaganda arms because they are not independent entities. If Rob Manfred could have gotten me fired at ESPN, he would have…It is a propaganda machine once you are eliminating the ability to criticize without punishment from your employers.”

While Le Batard thinks Manfred could have had him fired at ESPN, StuGotz disagreed.

“I knew it was dangerous. I remember thinking going into it, it doesn’t matter what happens here. We weren’t going to get fired for it…It would have taken a lot for them to fire us,” said Stugotz.

Stugotz noted that the big difference between them and Ken Rosenthal is that Rosenthal did have a paycheck tied directly to Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball. He argued that the reporter had to at least wonder what the fall out would be before he wrote about people questioning the league commissioner.

“At some level, Ken Rosenthal took a job at the MLB Network and should probably know better than to rip the commissioner on any platform.”

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Dave Portnoy: I Trust Penn Entertainment as Much as Ever

“Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.”

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Dave Portnoy may have had some public disagreements with Penn Entertainment, but he says that he still trusts the company to run Barstool. He took to Twitter earlier this week to dispel the myth that he is in a feud with the company.

“By the way everything I say or do nowadays is construed as me having beef with @PENNEntertain I 100% do not. Most of my net worth is still tied to $penn. The corporate woke overlord narrative is bullshit. They woulda never bought us in 1st place if that was true. I trust them now as much as when they bought us.”

Portnoy has not been shy about criticizing the company’s decision to fire Ben Mintz after Mintz said the n-word while reading rap lyrics. Several supporters, including Dana White, noted that it is the kind of decision that only happens when corporations take over creative enterprises.

Earlier this week, Dave Portnoy announced that he had hired Ben Mintz as the first employee of Brick Watch Company. Mintz was emotional in making the announcement. The decision was not made to stick it to Penn Entertainment according to Portnoy. 

Penn first acquired a stake in Barstool in 2020. It invested $163 million at that time for a 36% stake. Earlier this year, it completed its acquisition, investing an addition $388 million for the remaining 62% of the company.

Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.

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Multiple State Regulators Push Back on Effort to Legalize Gambling on WWE

“In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Despite speculation over allowing sports bettors to wager on WWE, there doesn’t appear to be much support at the state level to add it to sportsbook offerings.

Earlier this year, WWE officials had discussions with accounting firm Ernst and Young to secure pre-determined match outcomes in order to allow betting on events. But many states where sports betting is legal have restrictions on wagering on scripted events.

In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.

“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards,” Shannon Gray of the Colorado Division of Gaming told Sports Betting Dime.

In Ohio, the same rules apply. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has not fielded any requests to add WWE. Officials in Kansas haven’t received requests either by their residents.

Elsewhere, Maryland sees keeping WWE out of betting offerings as a way to keep the integrity of legal sports betting.

“Maryland’s sports wagering law and regulations prohibit forms of wagering that are contrary to public interest or unfair to bettors,” Seth Elkin of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency added. “We’ve determined that it is unfair to bettors and therefore not in the public’s interest to accept wagers on sports entertainment events that have scripted or predetermined outcomes, like professional wrestling.”

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Former Twitter Sports Boss TJ Adeshola Joins Arctos Partners

“We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”

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Less than two months after TJ Adeshola announced his exit from Twitter, he has resurfaced. Arctos Partners, a firm that he had been advising, named Adeshola an operating partner on Thursday.

In the new role, Adeshola will be much more hands-on with the firm, a private investment company that focuses its investments in the sports world. The firm says it focuses on unlocking “non-obvious opportunities long before others have noticed the market need or opportunity”.

TJ Adeshola’s digital sports marketing expertise will certainly come in handy with that.

“We believe TJ is an innovator in emerging digital and sports media trends, and his wealth of knowledge is a tremendous resource for our Arctos Operating Platform, the value-added capabilities we provide to our franchise partners,” Arctos’s Jordan Solomon said in a press release. “We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”

During his decade with Twitter, Adeshola served as the Head of U.S. Sports Partnerships. His title was Head of Global Content Partnerships at the time of his exit.

He is credited with securing broad strategic partnerships with the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and MLS as well as NASCAR, esports, college, and high school sports. He helped the platform grow the engagement and audience for those entities.

“I’m thrilled to expand my role with Arctos as an Operating Partner,” Adeshola added. “As the first investment firm to invest across multiple North American sports leagues, Arctos is an innovator and disruptor in the sports landscape. And true to form, the Arctos team recognizes the power of digital media as a tool for growth and an opportunity to drive value for its franchise partners.”

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