Sports media Friday: Olbermann and ESPN could be done, but likely over money, not his commentaries; Fox defends U.S. Open coverage

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports media:

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Keith Olbermann and ESPN may be parting ways, according to Marisa Guthrie of the Hollywood Reporter. However, I am not buying that it is over a supposed demand by ESPN that Olbermann stop doing his commentaries on his show.

Guthrie writes:

ESPN and Keith Olbermann may be headed toward a tough negotiation to keep the outspoken host on the sports network. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that ESPN has floated a highly problematic condition for an extension of Olbermann’s initial two-year deal: that he cease engaging in “commentary” on his ESPN2 program.

The issue likely stems from Olbermann’s critical assessment of the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal that exploded last summer when an elevator video of Rice punching then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the face surfaced after the NFL had imposed

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New book highlights best work of incomparable W.C. Heinz; Interview with editor Bill Littlefield

An excerpt of my latest column for Poynter:

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The passage of time doesn’t do justice to the greats of sports journalism. Their vast works tend to get forgotten in the new media world, where today and tomorrow seem paramount. Who needs yesterday?

So many thanks to The Library of America and Bill Littlefield for reviving the brilliance of W.C. Heinz in a new book, “The Top of His Game.” Littlefield, the host of NPR’s “Only A Game,” selected the best  columns and stories from one of the best sportswriters of all time.

A noted columnist in New York during the ‘40s, Heinz became a freelance writer in the ’50s, pioneering long-form sports articles for magazines. When David Halberstam served as guest editor in 1999 for “The Best American Sports Writing of the Century,” he included three of Heinz’s stories. … Continue Reading

Cowherd interview: Michigan in trouble if Harbaugh can’t do better

In case you haven’t heard, here is Colin Cowherd’s interview with Jim Harbaugh Wednesday.

I don’t think I ever listened to a worse interview by a big-time college football or basketball coach. Harbaugh not only wasted a huge opportunity to sell what he is doing at Michigan on a national radio platform, he sounded like an idiot with his non-answers to softball questions.

If I’m Michigan, Harbaugh is getting 24/7 lessons in PR, beginning today. He needs to do much, much better. College football isn’t the NFL, coach.

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Reunion for Costas, McCarver: Will work first game together in 35 years for MLB Network

Nice touch by MLB Network. Admit it, you have missed Tim McCarver. It will be good to hear him again.

The official release:

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Hall of Fame award-winning broadcaster Tim McCarver will join MLB Network’s Bob Costas to call the MLB Network Showcase telecast of the San Diego Padres at St. Louis Cardinals this Thursday, July 2 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Though they’ve each called MLB games over the last four decades, July 2 will mark the first time that Costas and McCarver will call a game together since two “Game of the Week” broadcasts on NBC in 1980, and it will be the first national MLB game McCarver will call since the 2013 World Series.

Over the last 35 years, there are only four World Series – 2014, 1983, 1981 and 1980 – in which neither Costas nor McCarver were part of the broadcast team. McCarver, who most recently spent … Continue Reading

Author Q/A: New book examines history of the knuckleball, baseball’s most baffling pitch

I have no desire, nor the courage, to stand in the batter’s box to see what it is like to face a Randy Johnson fastball. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t see anything. Not even the blur of the ball going past me.

However, I would like to get an up close view of a knuckleball. I have been watching baseball for more years than I care to admit, and I still don’t know exactly what it does.

My old Chicago Tribune colleague, Lew Freedman, examines the baffler in a new book, “Knuckleball: The History of the Unhittable Pitch.”

It is a fun read, especially for old Chicago White Sox fans like me who grew up watching Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm and workhorse Wilbur Wood.

Here is my Q/A with Lew:

What was the motivation to do this book?

If … Continue Reading

Cubs pitcher accepts apology from Bob Costas: ‘We all do stuff we have to apologize for’

This is how adults act.

Bob Costas knew he went too far in comments about Cubs reliever Pedro Strop during Friday’s St. Louis-Chicago game on MLB Network.

In case you missed it, Costas had this to say about Strop’s terrible outing as he was leaving the mound.

“Strop is on his way out, pointing toward the heavens. We can only ask, or wonder, that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance.”

The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales reports Strop said he points to the sky after an outing to “always thank God for the opportunity. It’s nothing to do with the performance.”

Saturday, Costas told Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News that he was way off-base with that remark. He said he “winced” when he watched the replay.

“The tone of it was not

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It is 66 years and counting for Vin Scully

The Washington Post’s Chuck Culpepper, one of the best in the business, talks to the all-time best, Vin Scully.

Culpepper writes on Scully’s staggering longevity:

This is Vin Scully’s 66th season broadcasting Dodgers games. Sometimes, if you repeat the truth enough, it can become almost believable.

Yet long past 1950 when he started mid-century, on past the end of one century and well into another, deep into the spring of 2015, here he studies his game notes with his highlighters. Here he walks through the Vin Scully Press Box at Dodger Stadium with a sturdy gait that makes age 87 seem a swell place to be. Here he sits in the dining room, receives a coffee from a Dodgers employee, says to her, “Thank you, Maria; how are you, dear?” and says, “She’s one of the pillars of the community

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Sports Media Friday: ESPN reverses changes to Mike & Mike show; Adam Schefter, Review of new Nicklaus, Watson book

Spanning the globe to give you the constant variety of sports media:

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Joe Lucia of Awful Announcing reports on “Mike & Mike” not moving to New York as had been previous announced. Also, it appears as if Molly Qerim won’t be joining the show.

 I wonder what happened to facilitate an about-face from ESPN so soon after the initial announcement about the show moving to New York. There hasn’t been much chatter about the thought process behind the show staying in Bristol, so all we have now are hypotheses… and I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

Qerim’s new (interim, at least) role is a tough break for her sanity, but might result in her being exposed to more viewers. For as much as we lambaste First Take, it draws plenty of eyeballs to ESPN.

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Spin the numbers: Telling different story of ratings for U.S. Open

The narrative for this year’s U.S. Open was that the ratings were at historic lows.

From Sports Media Watch:

Fox Sports’ first ever U.S. Open ended with near-record low numbers.

Final round coverage of the U.S. Open earned a 4.2 final rating and 6.7 million viewers on FOX Sunday, up 40% in ratings and 46% in viewership from last year’s record-low (3.0, 4.6M), but down 22% and 20%, respectively, from 2013 (5.4, 8.4M). Compared to previous West Coast editions of the U.S. Open, ratings and viewership declined 30% from 2012 (6.0, 9.6M) and 28% from 2010 (5.8, 9.3M).

From Paul Dougherty of the Albany Times-Union:

The final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament, played in prime time on the East Coast, delivered a 4.8 overnight Nielsen rating on Fox, perhaps a bit of a disappointment considering the closeness of

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Bob Ryan to receive prestigious Red Smith Award: ‘Secret is to cover great teams’

An excerpt of my latest column for Poynter on Bob Ryan:

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Ryan also struck an immediate bond with Larry Bird. John Havlicek asked him to assist on his autobiography. He calls Dave Cowens “the most interesting character I ever encountered in sports.” The former Boston center asked Ryan to help write his retirement announcement.

Ryan immersed himself in the beat by closely monitoring practices and expanding his education over discussions with players and coaches. He earned their credibility and respect. He treasures a statement in which Bird once said, “Bob Ryan could be a coach.”

“Baseball and basketball are my passions,” Ryan said. “I’ve always felt very comfortable in that world. I always was able to convey an enthusiasm and an eagerness to listen and learn. I couldn’t get enough.”

Another key, Ryan said, was doing his homework in … Continue Reading