The so-called “promotion” of Pam Oliver at Fox: Deserved better

While I was gone, I only had occasional access to email. However, this release from Fox Sports caught my eye. It began:

“Pam Oliver, one of the premier reporters and interviewers in sports television, has been elevated to senior correspondent, FOX Sports, effectively immediately.”

I laughed, as did other media watchers, at the notion that Fox Sports was “elevating” Oliver while replacing her with Erin Andrews on its No. 1 NFL team. Oliver now will work with the No. 2 team.

Oliver deserved better after spending 19 years on Fox’s top NFL crew. She always was solid and was respected for her work.

But she knows it is a business. Fox made a huge investment in signing Andrews. Previous attempts to showcase her haven’t worked. Her role as a studio host for the network’s college football shows were miserable failures.… Continue Reading

Remembering Jim Brosnan: His book ‘Long Season’ was groundbreaking

Before there was Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay and Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, there was Jim Brosnan’s The Long Season.

In 1959, Brosnan, a journeyman pitcher, kept a diary of his year with St. Louis and Cincinnati. His subsequent book was the first inside account from an active player on the ups and downs of life in the big leagues.

It was a groundbreaking book and one of the most important ever written on sports. For many young fans of my generation, it was among the first relevant books we read.

Brosnan, 84, died on June 28. There were several obituaries and tributes filed about him during the holiday weekend.

From Bruce Weber of the New York Times:

In 1959, Brosnan, who played nine years in the major leagues, kept a diary of his experience as a pitcher, first

Continue Reading

What it all means: ESPN executive breaks down record ratings for World Cup

My latest Chicago Tribune examines the record ratings for the World Cup.

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

From the column:

*******

The TV in the restaurant’s bar had the Cubs game on Monday night. The owner, though, was completely oblivious to Jake Arrieta’s quest to throw a no-hitter against the Red Sox. His sporting mind was elsewhere.

“You watching the U.S. game tomorrow?” he said to a customer. “It should be something.”

That exchange wouldn’t have happened 12 years ago in Chicago, maybe not four years ago.

Clearly, this World Cup has been a watershed moment for soccer in the United States. Interest and awareness have been at an all-time high, delivering record ratings for ESPN.

ESPN hopes many of these new soccer fans will continue to tune in despite the elimination … Continue Reading

Recalling a memorable day with Errie Ball: Played in first Masters and with Bobby Jones

Sad to hear the news this morning that Errie Ball died. He was 103.

When I spent a day with him in Florida in 2008, he was a mere kid at 97. It truly was one of the memorable days in my career. Ball was the last living player from the first Masters in 1934. He played golf with Bobby Jones, for goodness sakes.

Even at 97, Ball still was giving lessons and displayed a swing that surely stood the test of time.

From my 2008 story in the Chicago Tribune:

STUART, Fla. — The oldest Master still has game.

Errie Ball wraps his hands around the driver with the same classic grip he has used for more than 90 years. His backswing is short and compact, definitely not as flowing as in his younger years.

But when his club

Continue Reading

Winter Classic: Blackhawks will go under 24/7 microscope

My latest Chicago Tribune column is on how playing in the Winter Classic means the Chicago Blackhawks will be featured on 24/7 this year.

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

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will have to go a long way to top Bruce Boudreau in the F-bomb department. A little memory from 24/7 in 2010.

From the column:

*******

The Winter Classic won’t be just a one-day trip to Washington for the Blackhawks.

Rather, it will be nearly a month-long invasion of their privacy. They will be tailed by cameras in the locker room, executive meetings, and even in their homes.

Part of the Blackhawks playing in Washington for the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 is agreeing to participate in HBO’s “24/7,” a behind-the-scenes series that chronicles both teams. Team executives declined … Continue Reading

We still care about Michelle Wie after all these years; Huge ratings for Women’s Open win

A few years back, there only were two golfers who moved the needle in terms of ratings: Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie.

That’s still the case.

Woods’ return this week figures to lift sagging ratings on the PGA Tour. Meanwhile, it appears Wie still is the face of women’s golf after all these years.

Her victory in the U.S. Women’s Open generated huge numbers for NBC. Saturday’s third round did a 1.24 overnight rating, up 80 percent from last year and the highest Women’s Open Saturday since 2008. Then Sunday, NBC pulled a 1.67 overnight rating, up 92 percent from 2013 and the highest for a final round since 2007.

By comparison, the U.S. Open only did a 3.3 rating for the Martin Kaymer show during the final round, the lowest ever. The Women’s Open rating was somewhat in the … Continue Reading

New SportsCenter set debuts Sunday: ‘Built for 24/7 show’

Random thought: Isn’t it funny that as the sets for news programs get bigger with more gizmos, the audiences get smaller?

Back in the day, Walter Cronkite sat behind a simple desk at CBS and read the news. And he did huge ratings.

Now the sets are ultra-modern, but with so much available on broadcast, cable, Internet outlets, the ratings for news shows are a fraction of what they once were.

Anyway, I had that thought in anticipation of ESPN making its debut for its new lavish studio for SportsCenter Sunday night at 11 p.m. It takes up a considerable part of the new 194,000 square foot Digital 2 Center in Bristol.

Below is an inside look by New England One.

It will include all the bells and whistles that $175 million can buy. Yet will the tech wizardry provide … Continue Reading

Power of nice: Tony Gwynn’s treatment of media should be example for all

At this point, virtually every pro and college team employs sports media trainers to work with athletes on dealing with the media.

Future lessons now should include sharing all the personal stories of baseball writers on their relationships with Tony Gwynn.

It is hard to recall such an outpouring of affection–yes affection–from the media toward an athlete. I would be a rich man today if I had a dime for every variation, “He was a great hitter and an even better person” that has been written about Gwynn in recent days.

Above is an interview Gwynn did with a St. Louis outlet on the eve of his 3,000th hit. Note how Gwynn patiently and thoughtfully answers each question in this 11:36 interview, which is an eternity for a big star.

Yesterday, I did a post on writers recalling Gwynn. Bob … Continue Reading

No tears, no drama, but a lot of class: NBC, ESPN sign off on final U.S. Open

NBC deserved better.

The golf Gods should have conspired to give the network something on the order of another Payne Stewart winning putt or a Tiger-Rocco playoff for its final U.S. Open.

Instead, Johnny Miller and company were subjected to four days of Martin Kaymer, who sucked all the drama out of the tournament with a Tiger-like performance. The show probably played well in Germany, but likely fell flat with American audiences.

NBC did get to tell the remarkable story of Erik Compton, and had the Dreamsicle-clad Ricky Fowler hanging around to make things colorful. But it’s never a good sign when the network calls it over by the 10th hole.

With nearly two hours to fill Sunday, I wondered if producer Tommy Roy would allow his NBC crew to reminisce about their 20 years of covering the U.S. Open. … Continue Reading

Scott Van Pelt on ESPN’s last U.S. Open: ‘We had a hell of a run’

My latest for Awful Announcing is a story on ESPN’s last U.S. Open. I’m going to miss Scott Van Pelt’s excellent work on the tournament, and he’s going to miss being there even more.

From the story.

******

When Scott Van Pelt first heard the news last August about Fox landing the U.S. Open, he was shocked. Then when he read the wording on the United States Golf Association release, he was fuming.

Reality, though, has settled in since then. Van Pelt now insists he will be just concentrating at the task at hand this week: Anchoring ESPN’s coverage from the 18th tower for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open beginning. He is in the lead role with Mike Tirico covering the World Cup in Brazil.

However, it will be a difficult moment for Van Pelt and … Continue Reading