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

What team was part of most watched World Series game of all-time? Hint: Think small market

Nope, it wasn’t the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers.

The answer: Kansas City-Philadelphia for Game 6 of the 1980 World Series. The Phillies victory over the Royals did a 40 rating with a 60 share.

Let me repeat that again: a 40 rating and 60 share are Super Bowl-like numbers.

Yes, the small-market Royals participated in the most-watched Series game of all time.

The television universe was much smaller back then, but still 54.9 million viewers tuned in to a World Series game on NBC. Overall, that Series averaged a 32.8 rating and 56 share. Fox would do handsprings if the current Series did one-third of those numbers.

Back then, nobody focused on Kansas City being a small-market team, ranking 31st overall. That’s the common narrative today.

In 1980, sports fans watched the World Series because it was the … Continue Reading

Fox needs a Kansas City win in Game 2; Opener was dreadful

Well, that was fairly terrible.

The only compelling thing about Game 1 was wondering how much money James Shields was costing himself on the free agent market with his dismal performance. Probably time to rethink the “Big Game” nickname.

The game was essentially over before the Royals came to bat, as the Giants’ big first inning sucked all that feel-good energy out of the Kansas City fans.

The game did a 8.0 overnight rating, down 15 percent from 8.6 in 2013′s Game 1.

Actually considering how bad the game was at a numbing 3:32 pace, the rating was higher than I expected. You know there was major tune-out when the Giants went up 5-0 in the fourth, and the game was past the 90-minute mark. Snooze city.

So perhaps there is some potential for ratings if Kansas City can rebound … 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.


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

Kornheiser on Ben Bradlee: ‘King Arthur in the newroom’; Wanted strong sports section for Post

The tributes are flowing in for Ben Bradlee, a journalism hero if ever there was one. While he always will be tied to Watergate, he also was an avid sports fan. He recognized the importance of building a strong sports section for the Washington Post.

Under the direction of sports editor George Solomon, Bradlee’s Post sports sections excelled with writers such as Thomas Boswell, Tony Kornheiser, Dave Kindred, Michael Wilbon, John Feinstein, Christine Brennan, Sally Jenkins and many more.

Solomon in today’s Post:

“When you’d be beaten by another paper (you’d make sure it did not happen often) on a story that interested Ben, he’d tear out the story and, with a red question mark, write: ‘What’s this?’”

I found this quote from Kornheiser on Bradley:

“I cannot describe to you what I felt, and I’m sure that so many, … 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

New 30 for 30: When Willis, Clyde and Knicks rocked the Garden

Bill Russell’s great Celtics teams were a bit before my time. So some of my first basketball memories were formed by the great Knicks teams in the late ’60s, early ’70s.

Tonight’s new 30 for 30 pays tribute that team and that era in “When The Garden Was Eden” (ESPN, 9 p.m.)

I did not have a chance to see the screener, but Ben Koo of Awful Announcing raved about the film in his review.

Here is the trailer.

A clip on Phil Jackson.

The magic of playing in The Garden.

l… Continue Reading

Notre Dame still No. 1: In the ratings, that is: ABC pulls big number for Florida State game

Once again, Notre Dame showed it still is the king when it comes to drawing viewers.

The Notre Dame-Florida State game on ABC pulled an 8.5 overnight rating of major markets on Saturday night; one national ratings point is worth over 1 million homes. Full ratings will be out tomorrow.

The rating was the best of the year for college football thus far. According to Sports Media Watch, the 8.5 rating is the fourth-highest in the eight-year history of ABC’s Saturday night package. Of course, two of the other games involved the Irish: the Notre Dame-USC games in 2006 and 2012 both did a 9.6 and Ohio State-Texas in 2006 at 8.8.

Notre Dame’s large following in Chicago, the nation’s No. 3 market, helped drive the rating. The game did a 10.4 in Chicago, peaking at 15.7 during the closing … Continue Reading

Manning interview with Costas: There will be only one Brett Favre

I wanted to share the highlights of Bob Costas’ interview with Peyton Manning on NBC’s “Football Night in America” prior to Manning breaking the touchdown pass record last night.

Kudos to Costas for coming up with a new way to get insights from Manning about the record. He asked him for his thoughts about the previous QBs who held the record.

As usual, Manning showed his knack for always saying the right thing.

First Costas started with a story of interviewing Sammy Baugh.

Bob Costas: “One of the greatest days in my professional sports career was an afternoon I got to spend with Sammy Baugh in Rotan, Texas. It was about 15 years ago. An interesting story about how I got there. We flew in to Snyder, Texas, but there were no rental cars in Snyder. So we drove from … Continue Reading