McHenry fallout: Peeping-Tom journalism will have TV personalities on best behavior

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana.

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This is a guarantee: Every personality in TV sports, big or small, now will be the nicest people in the world in the wake of what happened to Britt McHenry.

Chris Berman will bring flowers to the IRS auditor who will be dissecting his taxes. After making a trip to renew his driver’s license only to hear he is missing a form, Bob Costas will flash a big smile and tell the DMV clerk, “Oh, you’re so kind.”

And you can sure if a big TV sports star gets a car towed, he or she will merrily pay the fee and depart by telling the person in the booth, “Have a lovely day.”

Nobody will dare make the same mistake McHenry did in verbally abusing a towing attendantContinue Reading

Readers respond: Why is Britt McHenry’s rude behavior a story?

Last Friday, I posed these questions about the uproar on social media for somebody most people had no clue about prior to her ill-fated trip to retrieve her towed car.

Why does a bad moment in someone’s personal life suddenly become news?

Did Britt McHenry’s behavior merit a suspension from ESPN?

What does the entire saga say about our priorities in news coverage?

I received many responses via comments, tweets and emails. Here are a few.

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Amy Trask, the former CEO of the Oakland Raiders and now a NFL analyst with CBS, sent me a thoughtful email.

Trask: The fact that it is a story – irrespective of whether it should be – is a reflection of the age in which we live;

Whether it should be a story is another subject altogether – I would posit that many … Continue Reading

Author Q/A for Billy Martin biography: ‘So accomplished, yet so self-destructive’

My latest Poynter column is on Bill Pennington’s new book, “Billy Martin: Flawed Genius.”

Here is an excerpt:

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Pennington’s detailed biography is filled with countless stories of the combustible Martin settling his many differences during his eventful 61-year life. He had a wild ride with stunning ups and downs as one of baseball’s most compelling characters.

“For the last 30 years, I felt like I had some insights about him that were valuable,” Pennington said. “Whenever his name came up, people always were asking me questions, wanting to know more about him. I knew there was a fascination about him. He was so accomplished and yet so self-destructive at the same time.”

Pennington thinks the biography provides a vivid snapshot of baseball in the ‘80s, and that includes how the game was covered. Back then, the beat writers had … Continue Reading

Remembering Stan Hochman: A Philadelphia icon in the press box

Been tied up on several fronts, but wanted to pay tribute to Stan Hochman, the long-time columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. He passed away last week. Hochman, a workhorse, grinded it out almost to the end, filing his last column in February.

From the Daily News:

Hochman, according to Pat McLoone, managing editor of the Daily News, could be summed up in one word: “Great.”

“When you think that Stan Hochman came on the Philadelphia sports scene in the late ’50s, made a mark right away and has been great, truly great, for more than 50 years, it really is overwhelming,” said McLoone, who was sports editor from 1989 to 2008. “I mean, Stan was great as a Phillies beat writer covering Gene Mauch in the collapse of 1964, great covering Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Doctor J, Bobby Clarke, Reggie White

Continue Reading

Good or bad, focus always on Tiger for golf reporters

An excerpt of my latest column for Poynter.org.

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At one time, Robert Lusetich didn’t cover golf for FoxSports.com. He covered Tiger Woods.

Lusetich was assigned to all of his tournaments in 2009. Part of it was due to a book he was writing on Woods, but it also was the result of the insatiable appetite for all things Tiger. After winning his 14th major at the U.S. Open in 2008, the countdown was on for Woods’ inevitable march to Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major victories.

So if Woods was teeing it up in competition in 2009, Lusetich was there to write about it.

“Tiger moves the needle, not just in golf, but in the world of sports,” said Lusetich of the unique assignment.

The all-Tiger-all-the-time coverage hardly has dulled through the years. The nature of the beat, though, has changed … Continue Reading

Cubs get love from national TV; Not so much for White Sox

An excerpt from my Tribune column on how things are not equal in Chicago:

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The Cubs and White Sox each lost 89 games last year. Both teams were lauded for making bold moves during the offseason. Expectations are high on the North and South sides of town.

Yet only one of the Chicago teams is scheduled to be featured prominently on national TV during the first portion of the season. Care to take a guess?

In the some-things-never-change department, naturally it is the Cubs. The networks are ready to ride the Theo Epstein train this year while taking a wait-and-see approach on Rick Hahn’s work with the Sox.

The Cubs were tabbed for the much-hyped major-league season opener Sunday night with their game against the Cardinals being shown on ESPN2. The “Baseball Tonight” crew will converge on Wrigley Continue Reading

An idea for MLB: Schedule full Sunday of Opening Day games

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center. Any thoughts?

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Opening Day always has been a very special day for me. Baseball brings the promise of spring, even though winter seems to linger into mid May in stupid-weather Chicago.

My first vivid memory of Opening Day was in 1968 when the White Sox opened at home against Cleveland. I was an 8-year-old just beginning my obsession with baseball. Somehow, I always seemed to manage to will myself to get sick so I could stay home from school to watch the season opener. And it wasn’t some wimpy cold. I had a conveniently-timed string of mono, measles and strep throats in successive early Aprils. I couldn’t have been happier with my 102-fever as I settled into the couch for a day of baseball.

The record shows Cleveland, behind Sonny … Continue Reading

Basketball writers president on battle to maintain media seating in NCAAs: ‘We’ll never get back what we had’

An excerpt from my latest column for Poynter:

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When Tyler Hansbrough led North Carolina to the national title in 2009, Dana O’Neil left her seat on the floor and climbed a few rows into the stands to talk to his family. The access allowed the ESPN.com reporter to get a quote from Hansbrough’s father, Gene, on how it was the culmination of a dream for his son.

O’Neil cited that anecdote when she told NCAA officials why it is important for reporters to have courtside seating during the men’s basketball tournament.

“It allowed me to tell a much more compelling story,” O’Neil said. “If you put me in [a far-away press box], I’m not going to have that kind of access. I won’t be able to write that story.”

O’Neil, now the president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Continue Reading

Onions! Raftery gets big spotlight for NCAA tournament; Joins Nantz, Hill on No. 1 team

An excerpt from my Tribune column on one of my favorite guys.

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

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If the NCAA tournament follows its usual script, it will deliver several feel-good stories on the court in the upcoming three weeks. However, a heart-warmer also will occur at the broadcast table.

After more than three decades as one of college basketball’s most popular analysts, Bill Raftery finally will get his chance on the game’s biggest stage. He will join Jim Nantz and Grant Hill on CBS and TBS’ No. 1 team for the tournament and will be spotlighted in their coverage of the Final Four in Indianapolis.

Admittedly, the circumstances of how Raftery landed the role aren’t the best. CBS and Turner needed to find a replacement for its lead analyst Greg Anthony, … Continue Reading

Q/A with J.R. Moehringer: Why he didn’t use a quote from ARod in 12,000-word ESPN Magazine story

An excerpt from my latest for Poynter.

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J. R. Moehringer spent more than 100 hours with Alex Rodriguez. He saw him in a Batman costume during a New Year’s Eve celebration with his children. He was with him on a day in New York when he met with the new Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred. And then he accompanied him on a visit to the surgeon who worked on his hip.

They had numerous intimate conversations that carried on into the night. At times, it got to be too much—for Moehringer.

“I told him, ‘Alex, I’m tired. I’ve got to go home,’” Moehringer said.

Yet despite almost unlimited access, Moehringer decided not to use one quote from Rodriguez in his riveting 12,000+-word piece on the disgraced star in the March 2 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

Ironically, it all … Continue Reading