Chicago story: Buffone and O’Bradovich give voice to disgruntled Bears fans

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on how former Bears Doug Buffone and Ed O’Bradovich still hit hard after all these years. This time on their Bears postgame shows.

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

This is one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve written in 30-plus years in the business. I hung out with the two throw-backs last Sunday. All I can is that it was the most fun you can have watching the Bears lose 51-23 to New England.

From the column:

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I could have gone to Rush Street last night and found 24 players who could do better than the Bears did today.”

Doug Buffone opening last Sunday’s “Doug and OB Show.”

The game is only a couple of minutes old when Doug Buffone and Ed O’Bradovich erupt for … Continue Reading

Game 7 shows potential for underachieving baseball in postseason

Even though I have been a resident curmudgeon in this space when it comes to baseball, I’ve never been in the camp that says the sport is dying. Far from it.

The game has many positive indicators that attest to the game’s health. There are plenty of sports that wish they were dying like baseball.

However, there seems to be little question that baseball is underachieving when it comes to the postseason. As I have written many times, World Series ratings declines of 20 to 30 percent aren’t a function of a changing media landscape. This is a relatively recent trend in the last 10 years. In 2005, there were plenty of viewing options when the White Sox four-game sweep of Houston averaged an 11.1 rating.

Back then, that rating was an all-time low for the Series. Now Fox and … Continue Reading

Former Washington Post NFL writer remembers Bradlee always had his back

My old pal and golf book co-author, Leonard Shapiro, asked if he could have this space to share some memories on Ben Bradlee. Shapiro had a long and distinguished career at the Washington Post as a sportswriter and editor. How good was he? Well, his name is on a plaque at the NFL Hall of Fame.

Looking back, Shapiro recalls he likely wouldn’t have gotten to Canton if not for Bradlee. Here’s Len.

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He gave the stamp of approval to my hiring. He always had my back while covering the media-unfriendly Washington Redskins. And he once saved my career.

That would be Benjamin C. Bradlee, the long-time executive editor of The Washington Post who died last week at the age of 93.  Countless tributes have poured in from around the planet, each one so well-deserved for a man myself … Continue Reading

Van Gundy: With new mega TV deal, NBA should look to cut prices for fans; reduce back-to-backs

Yet more reasons to love Jeff Van Gundy.

The ESPN/ABC analyst showed he is in mid-season form on a teleconference yesterday. He gave some advice on something that needs to be done in the wake of the NBA’s new $24 billion TV deal. Are you listening, Adam Silver?

“I just think we have to keep the fan in mind.  And I think sometimes when you’re in this prosperity era, where everything is going well, we can lose sight of who are the main reasons for our successes – the great players, the people who drive the business aspect, but it’s also the fans that continue to buy the product.

“I think we have to look out as all this money is getting passed around. How can we make it better for the fan?  Is there a way to cut concessions … Continue Reading

Rice, Lardner, Runyon: When true giants roamed press box at World Series

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on the sportswriter equivalent of Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio covering the 1932 World Series.

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If I could go back to a moment in sports history, I definitely would place myself in Wrigley Field on Oct. 1, 1932.

After being fully immersed in writing my book, Called Shot: The Myth and Mystery Behind Baseball’s Greatest Home Run, it would be great to determine if Babe Ruth really pointed to centerfield during Game 3 of the Yankees-Cubs World Series. However, I also have another reason.

As a sportswriter, I would have given anything to be in that Wrigley Field press box.

I dedicated a chapter in the book to what the sportswriters wrote, or didn’t write, about Ruth’s “Called Shot.” In the early days of radio, and way … Continue Reading

Will KC-SF produce all-time low rating? Fox really needs a 7-game Series

On the one hand, Kansas City is a great story. America loves an underdog, and the small market Royals returning to the World Series fills the bill.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of other hands for this year’s World Series.

The series features two wildcard teams, neither of which won 90 games. There is a huge vacuum of star power.

Kansas City doesn’t have a George Brett to give it instant identity. However, you can be sure Fox will show plenty of shots of Brett cheering in his private box.

While the Giants could win their third World Series in the last five years, they might go down as the dullest dynasty of all time. Buster Posey is a great player, but you don’t stop everything to watch him at the plate.

The Giants have not been much-watch TV.

The Giants’ … Continue Reading

It isn’t just Thursday night: Bad run of one-sided games for NBC on Sunday night this year

Prior to the last two games, CBS’ Thursday night package had come under fire for delivering a series of boring routs. Well, don’t look now, but Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have had plenty of time to use their blowout material on Sunday nights this year.

Sunday, after Peyton Manning set his records, Michaels got to tell the national TV audience all about his back-up, Brock Osweiler, in the fourth quarter.

Denver won 42-17, and it wasn’t that close.

It was the fifth straight blowout for the NBC crew:

Sept. 21: Pittsburgh 38, Carolina 17.

Sept. 28: Dallas 38, New Orleans 17.

Oct. 5: New England 43, Cincinnati 17

Oct. 12: Philadelphia 27, Giants 0.

The NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano did the math in a tweet:

“2014 Average margin of victory Sunday night: 18.8. Thursday night: 21.6.”

So don’t completely blame the … Continue Reading

Big Hurt: Frank Thomas set to take big stage at World Series for Fox

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on Frank Thomas, who will be analyzing the World Series for Fox.

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

From the column:

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Baseball came easily to Frank Thomas as he was on the fast track, barely spending a season in the minors before launching his Hall of Fame career with the White Sox in 1990.

Broadcasting? Now that’s a different story.

Thomas admits he still is a work in progress.

“I want to get better at this,” Thomas said. “You don’t know all the questions when you step from one arena to another. Being a ballplayer for 20 years prepares you to be in front of the camera. But doing live commentary is a little different. I’m learning every day.”

While his ascension hasn’t been as quick, Thomas has … Continue Reading

Stopwatch patrol: Great playoffs games, yes, but also incredibly long

On Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. (Central), I had a few hours to kill before going out at 5 p.m. I decided to watch Game 2 of the ALCS, figuring I could see a significant portion of the game.

I was wrong. As the clock neared 5, the game, with Kansas City leading 4-3, only was through four innings. I didn’t have a clock on it, but I’d bet there was an average of 30-40 seconds between pitches.

I texted my friend Ira: “You could play an entire World Cup game in the time it took to play four innings.”

Ira responded: “Yes, but the score in the soccer game would be 0-0.”

Well, Ira has a point there.

At least there is some scoring in baseball. And there’s no denying that 3 of the 4 games over the weekend … Continue Reading

David Diehl: Ex-Giants lineman takes unlikely fast track to NFL booth for Fox

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on David Diehl, who is starting his second career as an NFL game analyst for Fox.

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

From the column:

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Graduating straight from the field to the analyst’s chair on network NFL games is usually reserved for Super Bowl glory guys like Phil Simms and Troy Aikman.

Then there’s David Diehl. The 11-year offensive lineman for the New York Giants has two Super Bowl rings, but hardly the glory.

Yet Diehl, who retired after the 2013 season, bucked the odds by landing the coveted gig at Fox. Sunday, he will analyze his second straight Bears game in Atlanta on WFLD-Ch. 32.

This opportunity, though, didn’t just happen for Diehl. It was the result of a master plan that dates back to … Continue Reading