Tag Archives: ESPN

Curt Schilling’s Lesson Learned: Fleeting Bad Actions Can Have Permanent Bad Consequences

By now it’s pretty well known—even by people who don’t care about baseball, media, or baseball media—that Curt Schilling made a horrible decision to tweet the following:

Schilling did not create the meme in question—he “merely” tweeted it out.  I put the word merely in quotes because the gravity of his action is hardly mitigated even by the realization that he merely agrees with the sentiment enough to repeat it publicly, rather than authoring the sentiment himself.

You can’t see the tweet live anymore, since Schilling has deleted it from his feed.  Too late to reverse the condemnation he has received, of course, but at least he’s not doubling down on the sentiment by maintaining its presence on his feed or, worse, tripling down on it by defending or flaunting it, as some might.

As a result of this loose cannon act, Schilling swiftly lost his job as an analyst on ESPN’s Little League World Series baseball telecasts. Swiftly as in same day.

Now comes word that Schilling’s punishment by ESPN is extending to his regular gig on their Sunday Night Baseball telecasts as well, as The Worldwide Leader announced late last night that Schilling is being pulled from this week’s Cubs-Dodgers tilt.  No word yet on whether the ban will extend beyond this week, but it’s hard to envision Schilling returning to the booth any time this year, given how raw the original story is at the moment.  There’s a lot of noise surrounding Curt Schilling right now, and if there’s one thing megabillion multinational media and entertainment companies despise, its noise of exactly this type.

Curt Schilling is a very smart man, so he had the good sense (and decency) to express a feeling resembling remorse over his bad decision:

This tweet occurred the same day as his LLWS telecast suspension.  It is, at the moment of this post’s publication, his most recent tweet, so we do not yet know publicly his reaction to his removal from this Sunday’s telecast.

Now, articulating “my bad” for expressing an opinion is not the same as feeling shame for having the opinion in the first place.  Schilling must certainly understand that difference, and while I can’t read the man’s mind, it strikes me as doubtful that he feels any differently about Muslims (extremist or not) today than he did two days ago. But the bar at hand does not extend as high as prohibiting the most secret thoughts and opinions a man might want hold in his head.  It extends only to expressing them in a public forum.  In America and most of the rest of the First World, you have the freedom to express such thoughts, but that freedom does not extend to exemption from the consequences of expressing them.

Schilling is smart also because, unlike some knuckleheads imploring him to “NEVER apologize for telling the truth especially if the PC bullies don’t like it“, he understands that when you are the public face of a very high profile organization, the thoughts you express for public consumption, even in your off hours, reflect on the organization you’re associated with.  Schilling does not work 24 hours a day seven days a week, but The Walt Disney Company does, so there is no off-hours period of freedom from his public representation of them. Plus, The Mouse as a corporation has accountability to an international and multicultural audience that extends far beyond defending the right of their employees and representatives to publicly express whatever they believe their truths to be, never mind any obligation to maintain their full status in good standing within the corporation afterwards.

Whether this will cost Schilling any chance to work a booth at any point in the future is still unclear.  What is clear is that any sports broadcasting concern interested in maintaining politics-free output will think twice about hiring someone who, intelligent though he may be, has a history of exhibiting poor impulse control and bad judgment when it comes to putting his innermost political thoughts out there for the purpose of the entire world enjoying them.

In Case You Missed It …

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted anything in the way of news here.  Bad on us, and we’re working to be better in 2015.  We have to, because it’s our New Year’s resolution.

So we’re jumping back in by providing links to some of the top baseball media stories that have broken just since the end of the season.

World Series TV Ratings: Giants/Royals Game 7 Nears Ten-Year High: Game Sevens really do matter. The only game with a higher rating in the past ten years was also a Game 7 (2011 Rangers/Cardinals).

MLB’s Low National Ratings vs. Record-High Local Ratings: I love dichotomies, and not just because it’s a fun word to say.  Although as the Sporting News says in that first linked article, it might be more of a Fox problem than a general national problem. If you want to know what I think, ask me offline.

DIRECTV and Disney sign long-term agreement; adds WatchESPN and Longhorn Network: Oh my god, THANK you. Finally. This means you (and I) as a D*TV subscriber will soon be able to watch baseball on your smartphone or tablet without begging a friend for their Dish or WOW login credentials.

Early overdose: Even without Jeter, ESPN still loves Yankees for Sunday night: You probably already saw this in Chad Osborne’s post from last week.  Eye rolls, yeah, I know, but let’s face it: almost 9% of the entire US lives in the New York and Boston TV markets, but also, according to Facebook, the Yankees and Red Sox are among the top teams in basically every county in the United States. Just goes to show you: you don’t always have to rob banks to know where the money is.

Chicago news: Harrelson pumped up about White Sox moves; won’t cut back schedule: Vin Scully isn’t the only multiple decade-tenured broadcasters working well into his golden years.  And just think, Hawk Harrelson is 13 years younger than Vin, so maybe he’s got a long way to go?

ESPN goes all in on Cubs to open 2015 baseball season: And really, who doesn’t want to spend a chilly Sunday night in April gazing at a Jumbotron rising from the surrounding wreckage whence people once watched baseball games?

Networks will be active in quickening the pace in baseball; New commish expected to be ‘open to new ideas’: This is one of those rare instances in which the interests of fans and of broadcasters are well-aligned.

Long-time Detroit baseball writer retiring after 29 years on the beat: Did you know that John Lowe invented the quality start?  He may be ink-stained, but he’s not a wretch.

The Sportswriter of the Year is Si’s Tom Verducci: Tom is both a baseball journalist and a baseball broadcaster, so he’s double trouble, and thus a favorite.

SportsNet LA standoff was top story: Because of TWC’s strong-arm methods, 70% of the LA market did not have Dodger games available to them, and there doesn’t appear to be any thawing for 2015 as of yet.

Scully may travel less in 2015: And really, who can blame him? After all, the guy is 86 freaking years old.  Most people born the same year as he was aren’t traveling anywhere anymore.  (Yes, it’s because they’re dead.)

Fox’s Chatty Booth Makes Few Good Points to Speak of During World Series: Two’s company, three’s a crowd?  Four is definitely a British Invasion band, though.

Postseason Vanishing From Broadcast Networks: But with the combination of cable and “alternate delivery systems” penetrating about 90% of TV households, will anyone really miss it?

Enberg, Gage Named Ford C. Frick Award Winners: Big shout out to two Detroiters made good in baseball media.  Hat tip to you both.  Congratulations.

 

Media salute ‘father’ of baseball cards

Baseball card pioneer Sy Berger died Sunday, Dec. 14, at the age of 91, prompting a multitude of media stories about the man who, as the New York Times stated in its obituary headline: “turned baseball heroes into brilliant rectangles.”

The New York Times’ obit delves briefly into Berger’s life and career, from collecting cards as a kid to his rise to Topps vice president to dumping dozens of unsold 1952 Topps cases  – yes, including the now treasured ’52 Mickey Mantle card – into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Times article also quotes Berger from an interview he conducted with SABR in 2004.

Tyler Kepner also penned a must-read piece for the NY Times saluting Berger.

In its own tribute, Forbes.com wrote “10 Business Lessons to Follow from Baseball Cards’ Father.” Berger also was recognized by People.com, and the Los Angeles Times, which led its article with the Atlantic Ocean anecdote.

On the broadcast side, ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, fittingly donning a bubble gum-colored suit jacket, beautifully eulogized Berger as only Keith can.

Notes…

Larkin leaves ESPN
A number of blogs are reporting that Barry Larkin has left his analyst role at ESPN. The speculation is the Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds shortstop wants a job in Major League Baseball. Larkin interviewed for the Tampa Bay Rays’ manager position last month.

How To Improve TV Ratings For Nationally Televised Games

Steve Lepore is mostly an NHL media guy, writing about that pucking sport for SB Nation and Awful Announcing, as well as being a correspondent for SiriusXM radio’s NHL Network.

But Lepore does write about other sports and topics, and he has in fact recently written an article for Awful Announcing about the problem, as he sees it, that Baseball has as a national broadcast property.

Lepore proffers a cogent hypothesis as to why nationally televised baseball games continue to suffer in the ratings—e.g., ratings for one network are down double digit percents in 2014 versus last year—and makes suggestions to fix it.

It’s a good read and I would recommend giving it a look, but I can give you some spoilers here.

The two biggest problems, as Lepore sees it:

  • There are simply too many national games on TV: ESPN airs them on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays; Fox has Saturdays; TBS has Sunday afternoons in the second half of the season; and MLB Network picks up the remaining days.  Yet in this era of game ubiquity through vehicles like MLB.TV and Extra Innings, why watch a national game with a so-so matchup over a game involving a team you actually care about?
  • Baseball has what Lepore might term a “matchups problem”, concentrating too much on both (1) showing traditional big market teams which had pulled good numbers in the past, and (2) trying to be fair and featuring as many of the 29 American teams as they can.

Lepore’s suggestions for Baseball to fix this state of affairs:

  • Dump Saturday national broadcasts, which is a relic of viewership patterns from over a half a century ago, since people simply do not watch live TV on Saturdays, period.
  • Develop exclusive national broadcast game events on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the season, with all other games played during the day, and split those nights between ESPN and Fox (or more exactly, their new FS1 property).
  • Keep schedules flexible in order to choose top matchups for those Monday and Thursday games, making the decision roughly two weeks out, rather than committing to certain games and teams at the beginning of the season, when no one knows what the color of the season is going to be.

These may not make for “must see TV”, necessarily, but Lepore believes these changes could drive better ratings than Baseball gets for nationally televised games today.

Read the full article here:

RETHINKING BASEBALL ON NATIONAL TELEVISION

Ratings for MLB and College Ball on ESPN: Good

Where Fox is flailing, ESPN apparently is succeeding.

On the major league level, Fox’s Saturday night games slate has so far registered viewer interest level in the range of , but ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is getting a  from viewers, averaging a 1.3 household rating, which translates to 2 million total viewers.

Astute readers might note that the Fox number (which you can see by clicking on the “meh” icon above) is actually bigger than the ESPN number, but remember that Fox is a broadcast network with practically 100% penetration and greater ratings expectations based on its heritage and place on the dial, while ESPN is available in only about 87% of households and lives in triple digit land on most systems.

Last Sunday’s game was likely helped by the US-Portugal World Cup soccer (or “fútbol”, if you prefer) match, as the Rangers-Angels drew a 2.9, best number since a Yankees-Red Sox tilt from last August.  Or maybe more people watched so they could espy the primo Yu Darvish-Mike Trout matchup.  You’re a baseball fan—you decide.  We just report.

On the college front, the College World Series final between Vanderbilt and Virginia helped the Worldwide Leader (in more ways than one, apparently) to a viewership number of 2.4 million, best since 2009’s LSU/Texas final.  The game was, in fact, the third most-watched baseball game of any kind on ESPN all year, trailing only two games of the major league variety.

Read more here:

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Up; Hits Season High Thanks to World Cup

College World Series Final Sees Increases on ESPN (includes nifty six year historical viewership table)

Costas cracks top ten; Chappell, Wedge, Virk, FS1 break in

Three new announcers, a new network, and one NBC stalwart replacing another in the top ten highlight today’s update to the national-telecast listing.

Fox Sports 1 became the first new network since 2009 to air an MLB regular-season game when it presented the Twins-Indians tilt from Cleveland on Saturday, April 5. MLB Network was previously the newest network in the fold; while TNT has aired five full games in the past (plus about 22 innings’ worth of overflow from TBS games that ran long), all of those were in the playoffs.

The Sydney Cricket Ground, home of the two-game LA/Arizona set in March is the 70th stadium to host a U.S. national television audience. With its first game, the Ground passed Colt Stadium (Houston),  Wrigley Field (Los Angeles) and Seals Stadium in San Francisco, which never hosted national TV. Later that night, based on Eastern time, the second broadcast from Sydney vaulted that venue past Aloha Stadium (Honolulu), Estadio de Beisbol Monterey and Sicks’ Stadium (Seattle), which each hosted but one game. The Ground now has 656 broadcasts to go before it catches Fenway Park for the most common host venue.

(Yes, even the lowly expansion Pilots hosted national television. The game was against the Tigers on May 31, 1969.)

That Australia series also introduced America to the 409th national commentator. Ian Chappell, the former captain of Australia’s national cricket team who now works for Channel Nine in that country, presided as a field reporter for the opening series.

Speaking of field reporters, FS1 used both Ken Rosenthal and Erin Andrews on the Giants/Dodgers game April 5. That was the first regular-season game with two reporters since Yankees/Tigers, on Fox April 6 of last year, and the first game to employ five commentators since Sept. 21, 2011.

ESPN’s Adnan Virk and Eric Wedge became the 410th and 411th announcers as the season continued stateside. Wedge analyzed the Red Sox/Orioles game on March 31 with Dave O’Brien and Rick Sutcliffe, while Virk teamed with Eduardo Perez to handle play-by-play of Astros/Blue Jays on April 9.

With the departure of Tim McCarver from Fox (and thus the dissolution of the Buck/McCarver tandem that had handled many Fox games for 19 years), O’Brien and Sutcliffe become the elder statesmen of active national-broadcast duos. The March 31 game, their only appearance to date this year, was their 220th game together. The pairing has appeared regularly for ESPN since 2002, also covering two games together since 2000.

In other news of longevity, Bob Costas cracked the top ten play-by-play announcers list, and he knocked out an NBC mainstay of an earlier age in the process. Costas, who started as a backup voice on the Game of the Week in 1982, then handled parts of three World Series and ten League Championship Series for the peacock network, called his 334th game when the Brewers met the Red Sox on April 4. That broke a tie with Jim Simpson, who appeared on NBC’s  Game of the Week from 1966 to 1979.

On tap: Fox Sports 1’s next game will be its fifth, as many full games as have aired on TNT … Tropicana Field is two appearances shy of 100 … The MLB Network broadcast Thursday night between Washington and St. Louis will make and break several ties in the record books as Matt Vasgersian, John Smoltz and Sam Ryan each appear … Tom Verducci‘s next game will tie him with Peter Gammons at 74 appearances.