LATEST NEWS

Best time of year: NBC platforms superserve NHL fans during first round of playoffs

Tonight begins what might be the best two weeks of the year for NHL fans. It is hard to beat the quantity and quality of NBC’s coverage of the first round of the playoffs.

All games will air on its various platforms again. Tonight features Montreal-Tampa Bay on CNBC at 7 p.m. ET; Columbus-Pittsburgh on NBCSN at 7:30 ET; and Dallas-Anaheim on NBCSN at 10 p.m. ET.

There will be four games Thursday, including Chicago-St. Louis on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The multi-platform presentation has been huge for the NHL. Play-by-play man extraordinaire Mike Emrick recalled the old days of limited coverage and the contrast to what fans get today.

“I remember there were times when I was with other networks and I’d go into a city and fans say, ‘why aren’t you guys covering more of our series, … Continue Reading

Sorry Jason Whitlock: No Pulitzer Prizes awarded to sportswriters this year

Dang Jason, you were snubbed again for the Pulitzer.

If recall last year, Jason Whitlock took considerable flak for writing that he did Pulitzer Prize caliber work in 2012. He even compared himself to Mike Royko. He bemoaned the fact that contest isn’t opening to writers who worked for broadcast sites.

Have to admit, it takes some stones to say you should receive a Pulitzer.

Well, not sure if Whitlock had any worthy entries in 2013. He didn’t promote himself this year. Perhaps as a result, when the Pulitzers were announced this week, I didn’t see his name on the list of winners.

Maybe next year, Jason.

More importantly, there weren’t any Pulitzers awarded to sportswriters. Nothing really new there.

Last year actually was the exception–somewhat. John Branch of the New York Times won his wonderful piece on skiersContinue Reading

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Joe Buck, Greg Norman reportedly to lead Fox Sports’ coverage of ’15 U.S. Open; Who will join them? Gus Johnson?

John Ourand has the exclusive on Fox’s new golf team:

Joe Buck and Greg Norman will be Fox Sports’ top on-air voices when the network debuts its golf coverage next year, according to several sources. The two will be set up in the 18th green tower at the ’15 U.S. Open, when the event will be held at Chambers Bay outside Seattle. The decision to tap Buck and Norman comes as somewhat of a surprise, as neither has announced golf on television before.

Actually, it really isn’t much of a surprise. Buck is Fox’s lead voice, and reportedly a good golfer. It was a natural that he would be tabbed for the high profile assignment.

While Norman hasn’t formally worked as an analyst, he has appeared in the booth of golf telecasts of many occasions. He hardly is shy about … Continue Reading

ESPN 30 for 30 Soccer Stories debuts: The tragedy at Hillsborough

ESPN 30 for 30 is doing a special soccer series leading up to the World Cup. The debut is tonight with Hillsborough (8 p.m. ET), the story of an unthinkable tragedy at a soccer game where 96 fans died in 1989.

This is an interview Keith Olbermann did with director Daniel Gordon last night.

Here is the summary on ESPN’s 30 for 30 site:

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“Hillsborough” is a comprehensive account of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, a tragedy that occurred during an FA Cup semifinal soccer match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England. The film focuses on the events that unfolded before, during and after the horrifying afternoon that led to the deaths of 96 people as well as the injuries to several hundred more and the traumatization of countless lives.

Beginning on the fateful … Continue Reading

Decline of golf coverage: Dallas Morning News wasn’t at Augusta to cover local boy Spieth

I couldn’t help but notice that the Dallas Morning News wasn’t at the Masters this year. That means they wouldn’t have had a staff byline piece from Augusta if Dallas’ very own Jordan Spieth had won the tournament.

As it is, his second-place finish at the age of 20 was a big story in its own right. Yet the Morning News ran a Spieth story from Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Augusta.

I am not trying to knock the Morning News. There are plenty of big-city papers that no longer staff the majors. Budgets are tight, and it is expensive to send writers on the road.

However, the Morning News situation is different.

The Morning News used to be big time into golf. They sent their golf writers (Jeff Rude, Phil Rogers, Brad Townsend, Bill Nichols) to 10-15 … Continue Reading

Kevin Costner’s ‘Draft Day’ gets off to tepid start at box office

It looks as if the power of the NFL might not extend to Hollywood.

From Joey Morona of Cleveland.com:

‘Draft Day’ pulled in $9.75 million at the box office in its first weekend of release, according to industry estimates.

The movie — starring Kevin Costner as the Cleveland Browns GM juggling his personal and professional life in the hours leading up to the NFL Draft — underperformed by many accounts.

Entertainment Weekly called the film’s weekend take a “fumble,” while Forbes described it as “relatively sad.”

Box Office Mojo said Lionsgate was expecting an opening in the “low teens,” while BoxOffice.com projected an opening weekend of $13.5 million.

 … Continue Reading

Tiger effect? Day 1 Masters ratings down nearly 30 percent

This isn’t an apples to apples situation since Tiger Woods played early during the first round of the Masters last year. He went off at 10:45 a.m., meaning ESPN only got to show his last holes when it went on the air.

So why were ratings down considerably yesterday?

You wouldn’t be wrong if you said Woods’ absence has reduced the buzz for the tournament. Perhaps viewers weren’t as geared up to see Bill Haas at the top of the leaderboard.

I can’t think of another reason besides the Tiger factor. There was some compelling golf Thursday, especially with Phil Mickelson’s wild ride.

Will be interesting to see the ratings for Friday. Woods went off late in the second round last year, meaning ESPN’s afternoon coverage was wall-to-wall Tiger.

The release from ESPN:

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ESPN’s live telecast of the first … Continue Reading

Arnold Palmer: Golf Channel 3-part documentary befitting ‘The King’

Golf doesn’t end with the final round of the Masters on Sunday evening

If you love the game, or specifically one player, be sure to set aside time to watch Arnie, the first of a three-part documentary on the Golf Channel (10 p.m. ET; parts 2 and 3 air Monday and Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET).

Here is a preview.

The films are billed as the Golf Channel’s most ambitious project. Rightfully so, since Palmer was one of the founders of the network.

Obviously, Palmer’s life and enduring legacy make him more than worthy of such an endeavor. Part 1 gets the core of the man: the incredible connection he had and still has with fans.

More than anything else, Palmer is the quintessential people person. That trait makes him arguably the most beloved sports figure of his time, … Continue Reading

Another Masters tradition: Complaining about lack of TV coverage; Give us more, Billy

As I write this, it is 9:30 a.m. in Chicago. The second round of the Masters is well under way. Leaders Bubba Watson and Louie Oosthuizen are on the course.

I really would like to watch them and the others play. But I won’t be able to for another 4 1/2 hours. ESPN’s coverage doesn’t come on until 3 p.m. ET (2 Central). That means if Watson or any of other morning players go crazy low, we won’t be able to see one shot of their round.

Thus, my annual plea to Augusta National to please, please, PLEASE expand the live coverage of the Masters. Get with the program. All of the other majors feature Thursday and Friday action from sunrise to sundown on the various networks.

Yet the Masters continues to stick to its policy of limiting coverage of … Continue Reading

Faldo on new documentary: Nantz ‘put me through wringer’ of emotions

Everyone has seen Nick Faldo’s personality transformation ever since he gave up competitive golf to be a TV analyst. The ice-cold player actually has become an engaging, fun-loving guy.

Now viewers will get to see yet another side of Faldo, the emotional side.

Prior to the final round Sunday (1 p.m. ET on CBS), there will a special, Jim Nantz Remembers Nick Faldo at the Masters.

Nantz details Faldo’s three Masters victories and his life on and off the course. The film even includes a trip back to his childhood home in England.

It turns out Faldo needed quite a bit of Kleenex to get through his interviews with Nantz.

“He put me through the wringer of emotions,” Faldo said. “He winds me up pretty good. My kids are going to go, ‘Oh no, here he goes again.’”

Nantz said: … Continue Reading

Author Q/A: Book on Merion carries weight of history of iconic club

Augusta National is front and center this week, but a book about another iconic club also is receiving attention.

Jeff Silverman won the Herbert Warren Wind Award from the United States Golf Association for the best golf book, Merion: The Championship Story.

Silverman chronicles the vast history of the Philadelphia club that has been a vital part of American golf. This is the place where Bob Jones completed his grand slam in 1930 and Ben Hogan won his famous U.S. Open in 1950. Last year, Justin Rose won the Open at Merion, as the USGA went back to the course after a long layoff.

There’s much more in Silverman’s coffee-table style book that is 500 pages and weighs six pounds. Here is my Q/A:

Six pounds? Did you have any discussions about charging by the pound, not the page?Continue Reading

Master Tweeter: Dan Jenkins tweeting from Augusta; new ‘semi-memoir’ is highly recommended

Here’s another “tradition unlike any other”: Dan Jenkins at the Masters.

Jenkins will be covering his 64th Masters, dating back to Ben Hogan’s hey day. If Moses swung a club, Jenkins probably saw it.

Thanks to Twitter, we don’t have to wait to read what’s on Jenkins’ mind. We get his unique, shall we say, observations instantaneously via his Twitter feed; with the assistance of Golf Digest executive editor Mike O’Malley.

Here are some early tweets, as Jenkins is just loosening up.

Also highly recommended for Jenkins fans is his new book, His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir.

Jenkins details his own incredible life as only he can. At 84, he delivers one-liners that will have you laughing out loud.

The opening paragraph in the book gets to the essence of Jenkins.

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It seems to me that in my … Continue Reading