Al Michaels: How he nearly became voice of White Sox instead of Harry Caray; ready for 9th Super Bowl

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on Al Michaels and how he nearly changed the course of sports history in Chicago.

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

From the column:

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Now this is a good what-might-have-been story.

Al Michaels, preparing to call his ninth Super Bowl on Sunday, was in line to become the voice of the White Sox in 1971. In fact, if the Sox had hired him, there’s a good chance Harry Caray never would have come to Chicago. Talk about altering the history of sports in this town.

Michaels’ first significant play-by-play job had a Sox connection. In 1968, he broke in calling games for their Triple-A affiliate, the Hawaii Islanders.

“Say hello to Bill Melton for me if you see him,” said Michaels, who covered the future Sox star.

When … Continue Reading

Boycott Skittles: Marshawn Lynch now monetizing mocking of media

I received considerable backlash for my latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana on Marshawn Lynch when it posted yesterday. Getting ready for round 2 today.

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Sports journalists unite: It’s time to boycott Skittles.

Don’t let your kids eat them anymore. Forget about handing out those small packets for Halloween.

Skittles should be considered poison to any sports journalist who asks for respect in dealing with  athletes.

You see, Marshawn Lynch’s stance with the media has evolved from more than just not wanting to talk. It now is a marketing vehicle.

Skittles, which is part of Lynch’s weird act, helped the Seattle running back’s campaign to mock the media this week. It got Lynch to do a fake press conference. He munches handfuls of the candy sitting in front of a Skittles logo.

The whole … Continue Reading

Memories of Ernie: The day I showed Mr. Cub his picture file at Tribune

Our town lost one of the faces on its sports Mt. Rushmore yesterday with the passing of Ernie Banks.

In listening to the tributes last night, what struck me was how everyone had a personal memory of being with Ernie. I can’t imagine a more accessible superstar ever. The platitudes were more about the person than the player, and man, he could play.

Luckily, I was fortunate to have a few encounters with Ernie. I’m going to share a few of them here.

My first meeting occurred during the 1994 baseball strike at a golf outing. To fill the massive space void in the Chicago Tribune with both the White Sox and Cubs not playing, we decided to run a classic games series, complete with box scores and old photos.

One of those games happened to be from a Mr. … Continue Reading

Sports TV’s roots: First Monday Night Football game laid foundation for modern NFL telecasts

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on watching the first Monday Night Football telecast and how set the template for what we see today.

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Last week, I wrote about ESPN’s Megacast offering a myriad of platforms to consume the college football championship game. Coming next year: A Megacast option allowing viewers to exercise with Richard Simmons while watching the game.

Next week, NBC will have 24,916 cameras for its coverage of the Super Bowl. Looking forward to the Tom Brady toe nail cam.

So it seemed fitting in a time when sports TV continues to push various envelopes, I got a chance to see where it all came from: ABC’s debut of “Monday Night Football” in 1970.

On Friday, Mike Bass, my old Daily Illini teammate, invited me to join his Northwestern sports … Continue Reading

Damn: Marshawn Lynch gets another chance to mock media in Super Bowl

I live in Chicago, but I’m not one of those Packers-hating Bear fans. I think Aaron Rodgers is terrific and love the tradition of what goes on in Green Bay.

However, I also had another reason to root for the Packers Sunday: Marshawn Lynch.

I really did not want to see Lynch get another shot at making a mockery of his media duties at the Super Bowl. Damn.

The Seattle running back already gave a sneak preview of his act in Arizona by completely snubbing the media after his terrific performance Sunday. It seems he also could be in line for more fines beyond not talking.

Ryan Parker of the Los Angeles Times reports:

The Seattle Seahawks controversial running back Marshawn Lynch had a huge game Sunday, helping his team beat the Green Bay Packers, and, for a second year

Continue Reading

Future of TV? My younger demo preferred old school over Megacast

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana looks at the future of sports TV with ESPN’s Megacast. I know two people who weren’t fans.

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I have two teenage sons who serve as my de facto lab for assessing trends in sports TV.

Matt, a 19-year-old college freshman, and Sam, a 17-year-old high school junior, are in the wheelhouse for sports programmers. They are sports obsessed. Our TVs have games or ESPN blasting nearly 24/7.

So I pay close attention to what they watch. Early on, I could see them gravitating to the Blackhawks when they were just beginning their run in 2009. It was a sign hockey could become huge in Chicago, which indeed has occurred.

Even though they are avid Cubs and White Sox fans, you couldn’t pay them to sit through a marathon … Continue Reading

Lesson to be learned from Deadspin mistake: Make sure story is true

Not to pile on my good buddies at Deadspin–OK I will–but the site helped reinforce a point I made to journalism students this week.

I spoke at a career panel for the University of Illinois’ College of Media. It was a tremendous event, giving the students an insight on what is required to get a job these days. Back in our day at U of I, the school’s career counseling program consisted of someone shaking your hand and saying, “Good luck.”

During the Q/A, a student asked about today’s 24/7, post-it-now journalism. She brought up the pitfalls and how people can get things wrong in the rush to be first.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” she said.

I quickly clarified her.

“In this business, you cannot make mistakes when it comes to the accuracy of a story,” I said. “You have to … Continue Reading

Why are they messing with playoff? Terrible decision to play next year’s semifinal games on Dec. 31

By all accounts, the first college football playoff couldn’t have gone better. The games did monster ratings on ESPN.

The three playoff games now are the three most watched telecasts in cable TV history. Yes, that qualifies as a win.

A big reason for the success was staging the semifinal games on Jan. 1. With everyone nursing hangovers, the Rose Bowl (Florida State-Oregon) and Sugar Bowl (Ohio State-Alabama) each generated more than 28 million viewers. The games created a huge buzz that carried over to Monday’s title game.

It seems like the perfect plan. So why are they messing with it next season?

In a shockingly bad decision, the semifinals will be played on Dec. 31 at the Cotton and Orange Bowls.

I may be headed for the senior citizen’s home, but we still go out on New Years’ Eve. … Continue Reading

Rory McIIroy stands up for Marshawn Lynch?

In case you missed it, Marshawn Lynch had another one of his non-press conferences after Saturday’s game. He began by saying, “You all going to try again?” Then he basically said, “I’m thankful” to each question.

Ridiculous.

However, there was one notable athlete who loved the act: Rory McIlroy. He sent out this tweet:

Now keep in mind, McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, is terrific with the media. He always is gracious and accommodating. If every top star was like him, our jobs would be much easier.

However, perhaps this tweet shows that McIlroy would prefer he didn’t have to be out there all the time. Maybe he wishes there were times he could be like Lynch and just say nothing?

Anyway, it is interesting to note that McIlroy received some tweets from people who didn’t … Continue Reading

Too late to the party? Cubs face challenges in landing game-changing local TV deal

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on the Cubs’ challenge to join the rich teams club with a massive local TV deal.

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

From the column:

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Theo Epstein has a phrase for the potential of local TV revenue. He says it will be “a paradigm shift” in keeping the Cubs on pace with baseball’s richest teams.

But will the Cubs president of baseball operations get his money?

In a rapidly-changing media landscape, there are questions whether the Cubs can forge ahead with their own network or another platform that will enable them to eventually match multi-billion dollar TV deals that teams like the Dodgers, Texas, Seattle and Philadelphia have landed in recent years.

Ed Desser, a sports media consultant who advises teams on their TV deals, believes the … Continue Reading