Tiger Woods succeeds in alienating media again

Yell fore, Tiger Woods, because you just hit–to quote the title of a certain book–a Big Miss.

This time, it comes in the form of the former No. 1 doing a Q/A with fans on his website Monday rather than meeting with the media in advance of this week’s Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte.

Here is a link to the so-called press conference.

Basically, it is Woods first reading the question and then supplying the answer. The difficult (not!) queries include:

How many practice rounds do you play before a tournament?

What do you think is the coolest trophy among the four majors? (A: Claret Jug)

Do you have a good chance of winning?

The video session lasted 14 minutes, and surprise, surprise, it included two sponsor-related questions that produced nice plugs. His public just has to know about Fuze.

Naturally, Woods’ critics pounced. Geoff Shackelford wrote:

Love the minimalist hostage video and echoey (sound)…The only thing missing is Tiger holding up today’s paper.

Stina Sternberg of Golf Digest did this tweet:

Downloading Tiger’s video for those sleepless nights when counting sheep doesn’t work.

Jason Sobel of GolfChannel.com said.

Boy, that Tiger Woods is a swell guy.

He obviously knows how overworked we in the golf media are on a week-in, week-out basis. He undoubtedly understands our difficulties in trying to ask and re-ask new, exciting interview questions in hopes of writing and rewriting new, exciting pieces about him.

(Your sarcasm detector should be beeping feverishly by now…)

And so what has Tiger done for all of the hardworking members of the press focused on his every move? He gave us the day off.

Prior to most tournaments, Woods usually meets with the media in an interview area just off the green following Wednesday’s pro-am. It usually lasts 10 minutes tops.

Why couldn’t he have done both the fan Q/A and his media Q/A this week? I don’t think it would have been that taxing.

And it would have saved him from taking more shots from his critics.








Sports Emmys: And the winner is…Skip Bayless?

This is going to be a big day for me. I’m traveling to New York to cover the 33rd Annual Sports Emmy Awards.

I can’t wait to see the Red Carpet with thousands of fans cheering wildly for their sports media favorites. And then there’s the fashion component. Wonder what Joan Rivers will say about Jim Nantz’s tie?

Oh, the glitz and glamor of it all.

OK, so maybe not so much glitz and glamor. I’m going because it is the one night that brings together virtually everyone in sports TV. It’ll be a one-stop shop for me to make the rounds.

I can’t say that I am a big awards guy. They are way too subjective, although I am looking forward to seeing who wins for best supporting analyst in soccer.

However, awards shows thrive because society demands we need to have a best in something. That includes sports on television. And let’s not forget, they are important to the nominees.

And there will be plenty of nominees: 175 in 33 categories. Really, 33 categories? This thing could last longer than a Yankees-Red Sox game.

If you’re a Sports Emmys junkie (there’s got to be someone out there), here’s a link with all the nominees. Here are a few that captured my attention.

Outstanding  Sports Personality ‑ Studio Analyst: Al Leiter, MLB Network; Charles Barkley, CBS/NBA/TNT; Cris Collinsworth, Showtime; Harold Reynolds, MLB Network; Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN; Skip Bayless, ESPN2; Trent Dilfer, ESPN.

And the winner: Skip Bayless! Probably not, but I just want to see the explosion from his critics if he wins the award. Bayless always is controversial, and his mere inclusion in this category had some people going ballistic. Twitter might blow up if walks away with an Emmy. The nomination shows how far my old Tribune colleague has come.

Outstanding Studio host: Bob Costas, NBC/MLB Network; Bryant Gumbel, Real Sports, Dan Patrick, NBC/DirecTV; James Brown, CBS/Showtime; Ernie Johnson, TNT.

And the winner: Feeling like JB here, but perhaps the always entertaining Ernie Johnson could sneak in.

Outstanding Sports Personality-Play-by-play: Al Michaels, NBC; Jim Nantz, CBS, Joe Buck, Fox, Marv Albert, CBS/TBS/TNT, Mike Emrick, NBC/Versus.

And the winner: Hey, they’re all solid. Emrick is amazing. His call of the last few minutes of the Rangers-Ottawa in Game 7 was epic.

Outstanding Sports Personality — Game Analyst: Cris Collinsworth, NBC; Gary Danielson, CBS; Jim Kaat, MLB Network; Jon Gruden, ESPN; Mike Maycock, NBC/NFL Network.

And the winner: A lot of guys left out of this category: Troy Aikman, Tim McCarver, Jeff Van Gundy, Dick Vitale, etc. The nod likely goes to Collinsworth. He did the Super Bowl.

Outstanding Live Sports Series: Monday Night Football, ESPN; WCB/PPV Boxing, HBO; MLB on Fox, Fox; NBA on TNT, TNT; Sunday Night Football, NBC.

And the winner: Sunday Night Football on NBC. It does the biggest ratings, and producer Fred Gaudelli’s crew always delivers.

Outstanding Studio Show–Weekly: College GameDay, ESPN; Football Night in America, NBC; Inside the NBA on TNT, TNT; Inside the NFL, Showtime/CBS Sports; Sunday NFL Countdown, ESPN.

And the winner: No nomination for Fox NFL Sunday? Interesting. Tony Dungy’s presence really lifts Football Night. Could be a winner.

Outstanding Sports Documentary: A Game of Honor, Showtime/CBS; Catching Hell, ESPN; McEnroe/Borg: Fire & Ice, HBO; Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, HBO; The Marinovich Project, ESPN; and Unguarded, ESPN.

And the winner: They all were excellent. Usually, a fair amount of pathos is required to win in this category. While Todd Marinovich had more than his share, it’s hard to beat what Chris Herren went through. Unguarded gets the nod.

Outstanding Sports Journalism: E:60, Nightmare, ESPN2; E:60, Stranger than Fiction, ESPN2; E: 60, The Athletes of Bahrain, ESPN2; Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Tennis coach/child molester, HBO; Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, College bowl game money trail, HBO.

And the winner: Again, all strong. It’ll be tough to beat Real Sports’ story on the tennis coach/child molester.





Twitter troubles for Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley

Not a good day for Joe Cowley, a columnist for the Sun-Times.

Apparently, his plane was delayed this morning, and instead of reading a good book, he did some tweets that weren’t nice to women. His tweets questioning the capabilities of a “Chick pilot” started an exchange with sport reporter Sloane Martin that I’m guessing he now regrets.

As a result, Cowley’s tweets have become a Sunday afternoon topic for Deadspin. And that’s not a good thing. The site did an original post and two follow-ups, including a report that Cowley de-activated his Twitter account.

As folks in Chicago know, Cowley is very active on Twitter. He enjoys being edgy, and ticking off people.

However, there’s always that line in everything, and it looks as if Cowley might have crossed it.

Here are some of his tweets:
I’m more likely to see a Squatch before I see a hot flight attendant. Then again, I think the airlines are hiring Squatch’s to do that job.
Chick pilot. Should I be OK with that or am I just a sexist caveman?
And then ultimately, he had this retort to Martin:
@SloaneMartin And when you come back, hottie up that pic a bit more. You look like the Russian icy villain from a 70s Bond movie. XOXO.


Joe Posnanski on Project X and Paterno book

It is hard to imagine anyone having a better gig in sportswriting than Joe Posnanski. He had emerged as one of the big guns at Sports Illustrated; was featured prominently with a popular blog on SI.com, and had his own podcast.

Yet Posnanski decided to leave SI to go to a new unnamed endeavor he calls “Project X.” It sounds like something run by Maxwell Smart with Chief as the publisher.

Actually, it is affiliated with USA Today Sports Group and MLB Advanced Media. More details will be revealed soon. He explains in an interview with Dave Kindred at sportsjournalism.org.

“The best way to define Project X,” Posnanski says, “is that it will be a multi-platform project with, we hope, great sports writing on all fronts. . . . the idea is to marry great technology and great writing.”

Later in the piece, Kindred writes:

It’s a decision made in favor of “an opportunity that’s really exciting,” he told me. Project X will create work available online, on tablets, on all the current mobile devices and, if anyone perfects technology that will imprint words on the back of your eyelids during sleep, X will probably use that, too. “The best part,” Posnanski said, “is that everything will be built around the written word. I’m not a TV guy. I’m not a radio guy. I write.”

He sounded like a man who made a decision based on the future rather than on the past or even the present. As good as SI has been, is, and will be, it yet is part of a legacy media that is attempting, without notable success so far, to adapt its values and retro-fit its practices to fit a 21st-century template.

Posnanski also is working on finishing his biography on Joe Paterno. The book is due out in August. It figures to be a blockbuster, considering he moved to State College last year and had an up-close look when the coach’s legacy changed forever in November.

He said:

“It’s a very, very different book now,” Posnanski said. “But, in many ways, it’s still the same. It’s still about his life – a life that changed dramatically at the end. And in the last three months of his life, when nobody else had access to him, I was with him quite a bit.”


Rose injury: What they’re saying in Chicago; differing views

The sun finally is out this morning, but it is a dark, dark day in Chicago.

Sports talk radio almost sounds as if it is in mourning. Perhaps, the hosts are mourning the likely end to an NBA title run.

Interesting to note the views from the various columnists on the Derrick Rose injury, especially on if he should have been in the game with the Bulls up by 12.

David Haugh in the Chicago Tribune:

There’s also little doubt in my mind that Rose’s season-ending injury occurred due to bad luck, not bad judgment by Tom Thibodeau.

Later, Haugh writes:

Rose needs to work on closing sounds as silly as Thibodeau needing to practice on his intensity. But Thibodeau had nothing to apologize for regarding Rose playing. You didn’t have to be the best coach in the NBA the past two years to understand why Rose was on the floor.
This wasn’t a meaningless regular-season game. This was the NBA playoffs. Momentum matters. Sixers coach Doug Collins sought any glimmer of hope in the final minutes to make Game 2 less daunting psychologically for his team. Thibodeau wanted to do everything to prevent that momentum from developing.

Rick Morrissey had a different view in the Sun-Times:

It had been established by the middle of the season that Rose’s body and hard-driving game were not built for a condensed schedule. He had gone down with a sprained left toe in January that caused him to miss five games, and from there, his season read like the index to a human-anatomy handbook: lower back, right groin, right ankle and right foot. In all, he missed 26 regular-season games.

It meant that every decision the Bulls made during the season should have flowed from the simple truth that he was brittle. The idea should have been to keep Rose healthy, to keep him off the floor whenever opportune and, above all, to keep him away from banana peels.

Later, Morrissey writes:

“It’s part of the game,’’ Thibodeau said. “There are going to be injuries. A guy can get hurt in practice. He can hurt in the first five minutes of the game. He can get hurt at the end of the game. You can get hurt any time.’’

You can get hurt playing in highway traffic, too, but it doesn’t mean you should be doing it. It’s the coach’s job to look at the scoreboard, see that his team has a double-digit lead and get his injury-prone point guard out of the game to fight another day.

Michael Wilbon at ESPNChicago.com:

It’s an unbelievable downer that Rose is now done for the season, just when the season starts to truly matter. And I’m dogged by this feeling there was something inevitable about it. But a very smart man I know who makes his living in the basketball industry is miffed by the notion, held by many of us, that the compacted season contributed mightily (not at all, in his opinion) to Rose’s injury. While, like the rest of us, he finds the injury to be a downer, my friend says Rose’s playing in five games the past 46 days and only 39 games in four months suggests he had plenty of time to recuperate. He contends the schedule didn’t have the wear and tear on him it might have had on others, and this was just a freakish thing the schedule had nothing to do with.

Melissa Isaacson at ESPNChicago.com:

While it is entirely fair to question Thibodeau and to engage in the debate, particularly given the fact that this was the league MVP who had five previous injuries, this was not February and these were not the New Jersey Nets. Rose was en route to a game-high 23 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds. He was driving effectively though less frequently, shooting the 3 at a 50 percent clip, looking better than he has in any game since returning from his last (ankle/foot) injury a week and a half ago.

But he was also shooting 9-for-23, had five turnovers and needed the work. This is presumably what he was being saved for.

Sam Smith at Bulls.com:

 I can’t fault Thibodeau. There’s no blame there. He has been consistent and always coached this way. It is the playoffs, and the 76ers had shaved eight points off the lead in the last few minutes. They were about to have it down to 10 with over a minute left, and you still can lose that sort of lead as the 76ers shoot threes well in streaks. Rose had played 37 minutes and sat out the first four minutes of the fourth. Yes, he’s had multiple injuries this season, which was a concern. But he just jumped and was hurt. He wasn’t hit. So that could have happened anywhere and at any time. He jumps at all times in games.


Lifetime Achievement Award overdue for Jack Whitaker

Jack Whitaker finally will get his due Monday night. The legendary sports broadcaster will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 33rd Annual Sports Emmy Awards in New York.

You have to wonder why it took the Academy so long to get to Whitaker. Surely, they heard his wonderful lyrical essays on CBS and then ABC. He was a pioneer, showing sports on television could be about words as well as pictures. Perhaps even more so.

When Frank Gifford was given his lifetime award in 1997, he said:

To have a Sports Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award without Jack Whitaker on the list is hard to believe. He was the best of the best, a great friend and a terrific colleague.

For some mysterious reason, it took the Academy another 15 years to heed Gifford’s suggestion. Thankfully, Whitaker, 87, still is around to enjoy this honor. He will be presented by Jim Nantz, who learned his lessons well from Whitaker.

To see what made Whitaker so great, check out this video narrated by Brent Musburger. After you watch it, you’ll ask yourself: Why did they wait so long?

An exclusive interview with me

I never expected an interview with me ever to be labeled “an exclusive.” I’ll pretty much talk to anyone. Just call.

However, thanks to Paul M. Banks, who did an “exclusive” Q/A with me on his new site, Chicago Sports Media Watch.

And this is a first. I’m selecting an excerpt from myself:

Tell us about your experiences writing “Inside Media” for the Chicago Tribune, what was your favorite part of doing that column? What do you miss and not miss about it writing it?

ES: I really enjoyed doing the column for the Tribune. It was a position I wanted for a long time. There’s so many different facets of the industry. You could be writing on one thing and then suddenly have to transition to something completely different. It’s too bad many papers, including the three big ones in Chicago, have eliminated the sports media columns. I know that the columns get great readership, especially if there’s something controversial going on.

I remember there was a month at the Tribune when three of my stories ranked in the top 10 for most read on the website. And I’m not talking about the sport section. It was for the entire paper.

A big plus of the beat:

Unlike athletes, the people–play-by-play men, analysts, studio host etc–want to talk to you for the most part. And again unlike athletes, they understand the nature of our job.

The biggest plus:

Getting to know some of the giants of the industry.  A truly memorable day was having lunch with David Halberstam, one of my heroes. There weren’t a lot of negatives, which is one of the reasons why I’m jumping back in.

Debuts: Scully spans from Mantle to Harper

Just saw an amazing tweet from Keith Olbermann. He writes:

Mickey Mantle debuted in NY in an exhibition vs #Dodgers, 1951. Bryce Harper debuts vs Dodgers tonight. Announcer then and now? Vin Scully

Think about it this way: Scully called games involving the most celebrated rookie of my father’s generation. And now he is calling games involving the most celebrated rookie of my sons’ generation.

Scully once said:

All my career, all I have ever really done, all I ever have accomplished, is to talk about the accomplishments of others. We can’t all be heroes. Somebody has to stand on the curb and applaud as the parade goes by.

Of course, Scully has it wrong. Sixty-one years since Mantle’s debut, Scully is a certified hero. We’re so fortunate to still hear him “applaud as the parade goes by” as only he could.


Shaq not universally loved on TNT

I had hoped to ask some questions of Shaquille O’Neal this week, but the big man was a no-show for a TNT-NBA Network conference call. I wanted his evaluation of his first year as a studio analyst. Maybe another day.

Brian Lowry of Foxsports.com provided his answer: An emphatic thumbs down for O’Neal. He writes.

The former All-Star center might be a jolly giant to have around, but in terms of basketball analysis, all he proves is that the bigger they are, the harder they can be to listen to — and that star players, for whatever reason, generally have a hard time graduating from playing the game to talking about it.

Later, Lowry says.

TNT certainly didn’t need to shake things up, but the powers that be couldn’t resist enlisting O’Neal, an attention-getting hire who won championships with the Lakers and Miami before retiring. Always media-savvy, his career included detours to star in movies (“Blue Chips,” “Steel”) and novelties like the ABC reality show “Shaq Vs.,” so in theory, the transition wouldn’t be a huge leap.

Still, he’s never exactly been a natural as a commentator — for starters, he has a tendency to mumble and laugh at his own jokes — and he almost immediately felt out of place in his new assignment.

Weekend flashback: Howard Cosell on David Letterman

I’m going to offer a blast from the past on the weekends. It could be an old video, a print interview or profile of a famous newsmaker in sportswriter, or a classic story.

Since we’re in the beginning stages of this site, I felt it was appropriate to dig up something on Howard Cosell, the one and only.

In this clip, Cosell pays a visit to David Letterman in 1985. He’s promoting his new book, “I Never Played the Game.”

Cosell is engaging, but also he’s also pretty bitter about most things. Take a look.