Chicago news: Cubs still in limbo over TV deal

It’s the end of September. Do you know where you will be watching the Cubs on TV next year?

My Chicago Tribune colleague, Robert Channick, has the latest on the Cubs TV situation, regarding the WGN part of their package.

It seems like everything is in play. Channick writes:

The Chicago Cubs may be headed for extra innings in their search for a new television home.

With one week left in the season, and its expiring agreement with WGN-Ch. 9, the team has yet to announce broadcast plans for 2015 and beyond. Sources say the Cubs are exploring everything from a private equity partnership to a new regional sports network, but a long-term deal may not be imminent.

I do get the sense that the Cubs are working on a long-term arrangement that will allow the team to form their … Continue Reading

Q/A with Ross Greenburg: Sports documentary master discusses his latest on early African-American players in pro football

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is a Q/A with one of my favorite people in sports media, Ross Greenburg.

From the column.


It is inevitable that Ken Burns’ name would be brought up during the course of a conversation with Ross Greenburg on documentaries.

“He is the master,” Greenburg said. “I don’t have the same moniker that he has, but I like to think we have similar styles.”

I quickly had to throw a flag on Greenburg for being overly modest. When it comes to sports TV, and especially sports documentaries at HBO, Showtime, NBC and elsewhere, he has 52 Sports Emmys that show the Ross Greenburg name is a strong moniker in this business.

“Thanks, I appreciate that,” Greenburg said.

That begs the question: What does one do with 52 Emmys? Build … Continue Reading

About time: MLB creates committee to speed up play

This morning, I received an email from a fellow baseball fan who is frustrated by the molasses pace of games. He noted the game times for the recent Cubs-Dodgers series in Chicago, all of which lasted nine innings.

Thursday: 3:53, Dodgers 8, Cubs 4.

Friday: 3:31, Dodgers 14, Cubs 5 (“the snappy one of the bunch,” my friend said).

Saturday: 3:44, Cubs 8, Dodgers 7

Sunday: 3:45, Dodgers 8, Cubs 5.

My friend added, with much chagrin, his three kids “have no interest in watching baseball.”

Yes, those games were high-scoring, but I have documented many times here that there are plenty low-scoring games that go long. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News noted last week Tampa Bay’s 1-0 victory over the Yankees took 3:28, the longest 1-0, 9-inning game in history. Talk about a snooze fest.

At … Continue Reading

ESPN OTL got it right: Exceptional reporting on Ravens story

As a connoisseur of sports journalism, I was blown away by ESPN’s OTL inside account of how the Ray Rice saga went down in Baltimore and the NFL offices. The depth of reporting by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg, the two “Vans”, was exceptional.

The story shows the power of investigative journalism still rules in the new media age. Nothing beats boots-on-the-ground, making calls, mining sources and doing scores of interviews to provide a perspective on a story you can’t get anywhere else.

In many cases, the reader had the feeling of being in the room with these executives when the important decisions were being made.

Despite the Ravens claims of “inaccuracies” and poor assumptions, you know that OTL’s account is exactly how it went down. The Ravens lobbied the NFL and Roger Goodell to be … Continue Reading

Another dump on Goodell Sunday: Praise for ESPN’s Jackson, NBC; thumbs down for Lewis

I’m fairly certain Roger Goodell is skipping the Sunday pregame shows these days. Or if he’s watching, the NFL commissioner is turning the sound down when he is the focus.

Yesterday featured yet another round of the analysts sharply criticizing Goodell for screwing up the Ray Rice situation. This time, the focus was on his poorly-received press conference.

Some of the harshest words came from ESPN’s Tom Jackson on Sunday NFL Countdown. As we’ve seen in the past, especially with the Rush Limbaugh fiasco on Countdown, you always can count on the former Denver linebacker to be a strong voice.

Jackson: “Until these men in these offices on Park Avenue really care about the women involved in these incidents we are not going to have real change. The good part of this – public pressure, political pressure, corporate … Continue Reading

Blackistone: Media perpetuating stereotypes about domestic violence and NFL

Wanted to share a commentary Kevin Blackistone wrote for the American Journalism Review about media coverage of the Ray Rice/domestic violence situation in the NFL.

The headline reads: “We haven’t let the facts get in the way of the Ray Rice react.”

Blackistone makes the case that the media is portraying the NFL as being full of players who commit domestic violence. By extension, the main targets are African-American players, who comprised 70 percent of the league.

He writes:

The new polling service Vox Populi reported Saturday that it found a majority of Americans believe the NFL has a widespread epidemic of domestic violence problems, including 70 percent of people who identified themselves as NFL fans and 73 percent who are women.

A college classmate and friend of mine, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan, commented during a PBS NewsHour

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Cheer up, Brandon: Marshall will like NFL Network’s film on him

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on all-Brandon Marshall, all-the-time. After his long, bizarre rant Thursday, which included railing on an ESPN E:60 profile, Marshall will should feel better after watching tonight’s A Football Life on NFL Network.

You also can access the column via my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.

Here is a video preview of the film.

From the column:


Brandon Marshall will like the NFL Network’s treatment of his life story better than ESPN’s.

The latest entry in the Marshall media blitz features him in “A Football Life” at 8 p.m. Friday. The one-hour documentary, produced by NFL Films, examines Marshall’s turbulent career and his battle to overcome borderline personality disorder.

“A Football Life” doesn’t use the term “domestic violence.” The film does acknowledge Marshall’s troubled past, which led to him receiving a personal-conduct suspension from … Continue Reading

APSE survey: Do sports journalism students come out with basic reporting skills?

Former APSE president Tim Stephens posted results of a survey with sports journalism hiring managers, instructors and students.

He writes: “(The goal is)  to learn more about the priorities in the classroom as well as the priorities in the newsroom. The goal is to outline where the interests of universities and the newsrooms are in alignment as well as areas upon which they could work together to strengthen the connection of interests and priorities.”

Definitely some interesting perspective. Here is a key finding about the preparation of sports journalism students:

– Hiring managers are concerned about recent graduates’ knowledge of basic reporting skills. Twenty-six percent of hiring-manager respondents expressed moderate to strong negative feelings when asked if recent graduates they have seen as job candidates in the past three years have the ability to obtain information from public records requests and

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Baseball card: Frank Howard, king of power in Washington

In honor of the Washington Nationals clinching the NL East title, here’s a D.C. favorite. Frank Howard didn’t play on any great teams with the Senators, but he was the undisputed king of power in Washington.

A massive man at 6-7, 255 pounds, “Hondo” could mash. From 1968 through 1970, he had seasons of 44, 48, and 44 homers. All told, he had 382 career homers.

Here are his stats of a memorable career.

 … Continue Reading