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Major League brass share insight at sports panels

NEW YORK -- Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and D-backs president Derrick Hall were among speakers representing Major League Baseball leadership at the seventh annual Ivy Sports Symposium on Friday at Columbia University, dispensing plenty of sage advice and sharing insightful personal stories and philosophies to aspiring professionals in college and in the sports industry.

In Alderson's case, of course, some of the questions involved the megatrade announcement by the Mets' National League East division opponents in Miami and the latest on club negotiations with newly anointed NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and franchise cornerstone David Wright.

"It was probably a surprising development to a lot of people, those in the industry and those more casual fans," Alderson said of the Marlins' trade that sends a host of marquee players to the Blue Jays, including ex-Met Jose Reyes. "But that's as far as I'll go in commenting on it."

Alderson said he had expected Dickey to win the Cy Young and said that rubber-stamping doesn't affect those negotiations, but he said he expects more "clarity" in both players' cases by the Winter Meetings.

"We wanted to get started early and maybe reach a conclusion early on these negotiations," Alderson said. "We did get started early. But these things take on a life of their own. So I'm not surprised in either case that things have gone along as they have. ... Both discussions are ongoing.

"At some point, we need resolution on these discussions to be able to move on. But that time is not now. It's still very early. Now, between Thanksgiving and the Winter Meetings, we need to have a little more clarity than we have now, certainly."

Alderson's panel finished the full day at Columbia, as he shared the stage of the "Building a Winning Team" panel with Vikings GM Rick Spielman, Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King and Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz. A full crowd in the Roone Arledge Auditorium heard this approach by the Mets' GM:

"You have to divorce the interest of the institution from your personal interest, and sometimes it's difficult to do that," Alderson said. "It can be extraordinarily difficult sometimes. From my standpoint, it's about the long-term interest of the franchise. That doesn't mean that everything is decided in terms of the longer view. What may be in the best long-term interest of the franchise is to go out today and do something dramatic and make every attempt to win today, to build the brand, to re-establish the brand, to sort of re-establish the legitimacy of a franchise.

"That's the problem one faces on an annual basis. What's interesting in baseball is that different franchises have different views of where they are, along that continuum of short term vs. long term., and there is so much dynamism in the free-agent market as a result. ... From a strategic standpoint, you've got to constantly balance the short term with the long term with reference to the overall benefit of a franchise over a period of time."

Alderson said his biggest mentor in his career was not in the sports world. He served in Vietnam, as a journalist, and that mentor was a Marine major whom he still sees from time to time.

"A guy named O.K. Steele -- a great Marine Corps name, probably more inspiring than anything else," Alderson said. "In terms of discipline and structure and initiative and a whole host of other things that would serve you well in sports or anything else, I would have to go back to a Marine Corps major named O.K. Steele."

Arguably the most popular speaker of the day was Hall, who was absolutely swarmed with job hopefuls after an inspirational discussion as part of the Team Leadership panel earlier in the day, along with Celtics president Rich Gotham, Sporting Kansas City co-owner Robb Heineman and AS Roma CEO Mark Pannes. Hall made it clear why the D-backs organization often is viewed as one of the best places to work, in or out of sports, and he said the suit he was wearing was a complete aberration.

"We owe it to these students to be here," Hall said. "We were all in their shoes one day. I can remember being here in a very similar situation, hoping to have a career in baseball, and I feel blessed to do it. To be able to mentor and give back is a nice position to be in. I hope they learn from a lot of us.

"We find that we do get an influx of resumes, but that's OK. There's hidden gems in there, too. This is a recruiting opportunity for us, in my opinion, and I can get with our HR and sift through."

Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media, was on the opening Global Sports Leadership Perspectives panel in the morning along with Simon Cummins, managing partner at Odgers Berndtson; Electronic Arts CEO Peter Moore; and NBA International president Heidi Ueberroth.

Moore has been an MLB.TV subscriber for nine years.

"I followed his products when it was on Real Networks, and I learned two words: buffering and caching," Moore said, as Bowman sat next to him. "And with a 28K modem watching as an out-of-market Red Sox fan living in San Francisco. You look at his product today, you look at the analytics that are flowing.

"You're going to see an emotional experience that is baseball, married with the analytics of every pitch, every scenario. That's the type of people, why his product of today is a far cry from where it was four or five years ago. Even doing algorithms in real time, of the likelihood of someone scoring a run, it's 3-and-2, two men on base, a left-handed pitcher ... it is brilliant."

Bowman gave this advice for people looking for a job in sports -- or any job:

"Make sure that when you find your first job, you know you might not be there forever, but pick the person you work with. Forget the title, forget the company. The person you work with is going to be a mentor and friend you pick up for the rest of your life. He or she is going to help you the next 30 years of your career, so pick well. Don't worry about whether the title is right but the salary isn't. Take a risk when you are young. When you are in your 20s, take a risk. Do something, find a path that's not beaten and take it."

Lon Rosen, chief marketing officer for the Dodgers, participated on a Marketing & Revenue Generation panel along with U.S. Olympic Committee CMO Lisa Baird, Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter and Havas Sports & Entertainment senior vice president Mark Rothenberg. Speaking about the Dodgers' huge sale during this season, Rosen said, "The value of sports teams is not going down, it is going up. The number of opportunities [to work in baseball] continues to grow."

Caitlin Moyer, the Brewers' senior manager of advertising and marketing, was one of 10 young leaders given the event's 10 NEXT award, recognizing those who will shape sports' future going forward. She started as an intern for the club 10 years ago and began trying to learn as much as she could about what others do at the company and why.

"It's an incredible honor, just to be in the same sentence and recognized in the same way as those others this year and last; it's just amazing," she said. "I think you have to find something you love, and then find a way to get paid to do it. That's what let me find success. I am passionate about baseball and about marketing, and I have been able to find a position that marries the two. It's all about taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.