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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

Fox suffers through shaky debut in U.S. Open

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

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I covered 12 U.S. Opens for the Chicago Tribune, and I came away with a headache from each one.

The cranky level always is at the highest levels. The five-hour-plus rounds leave everyone drained. The players are perpetually ticked off with the United States Golf Association’s wacky set-up. It wasn’t just last week at Chambers Bay. Check out the complaints from the first U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2002 and when the USGA lost the greens at Shinnecock in 2004.

As for the press, the logistics usually are challenging, and we live in constant fear of having to cover a Monday playoff. I imagine the press room delivered the biggest cheer at Chambers Bay when Dustin Johnson missed that putt at 18 Sunday.

It isn’t just the players … Continue Reading

MORE LATEST NEWS

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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What will he say? Pete Rose next appearance on Fox Sports 1 is July 1

I have a feeling there will be a bit more interest than usual in Fox Sports 1′s studio coverage of baseball on July 1.

Richard Deitsch of SI.com reports that despite the new developments, Pete Rose remains a part of the Fox’s team.

I emailed Fox Sports on Monday night for comment on ESPN’s Rose story. Here is their statement:

“FOX Sports has no comment on the recent news pertaining to Pete Rose other than his status as a guest baseball analyst for FOX Sports 1 is unchanged. Pete is next scheduled to appear on America’s Pregame, MLB Whiparound and FOX Sports Live on July 1.” 

Why not? The show likely will be the first time Rose addresses allegations that he bet on baseball as a player.

 

 … Continue Reading

An addition for Colin Cowherd: Jen Lada to join show

Jen Lada is leaving Comcast Sports Net Chicago to join ESPN, where she will be featured as a contributor on Colin Cowherd’s radio show.

While her exact role hasn’t been determined, Lada said she is looking forward to giving her perspective on issues and news in sports. She got a taste with multiple appearances on the “Kap & Haugh” show on CSN and WGN Plus.

“The great thing about Colin’s shows is that they go beyond the surface level and try to figure out why something is happening,” Lada said. “I’ve met with Colin. He’s great. We get along really well. This is a great opportunity to mix it up a bit.”

In addition to Cowherd’s show, Lada also will make appearances on “SportsCenter” and on other ESPN studio shows. She will join the network in August.

Lada said it … Continue Reading

What Fox needs to do for next U.S. Open

Thanks to Richard Deitsch at SI.com for including me in this column. He asked veteran golf watchers to make suggestions on how to improve its U.S. Open coverage.

Here’s what I wrote:

Forget about the individuals, although Holly Sonders showed she isn’t ready for prime time. The biggest item on Fox’s to-do list is addressing the overall production. Too often, the telecasts felt disjointed. There were several glitches, way too many baffling decisions, and a general lack of seamless flow that viewers have come to expect from NBC and CBS.

For instance, NBC golf producer Tommy Roy isn’t showing an interview with Louie Oosthuizen with Dustin Johnson getting ready to hit the paramount approach on 18. Viewers would have gotten Johnny Miller’s complete breakdown of the shot.

There is a steep learning curve in airing an unwieldy event like

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Front pages: Spieth rewards Dallas Morning News with victory

Last week, I did a column for Poynter on how the Dallas Morning News was wrestling with whether it should send its golf writer to cover hometown kid Jordan Spieth in the majors. Money is tight and the Morning News hadn’t attended a major since 2011.

However, after not being at Augusta for Spieth’s victory in the Masters, Bill Nichols was sent to Seattle for the U.S. Open. It proved to be a good move.

Now will the Morning News staff Spieth at the British Open in St. Andrews? Answer coming soon.

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Sports media Friday: How the New York Times broke Cardinals computer hack story; review of HBO’s Ballers

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

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New York Times sports editor Jason Stallman tells Brendan Marks of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the background on breaking the story that the Cardinals allegedly hacked the Houston Astros computers.

How long have you been working on this story?
“In this case it came together very, very quickly. Less than 24 hours.”
This is uncharted water for professional sports. Has this happened?
“It hasn’t. It was a tricky one for us to do. To our knowledge, we couldn’t find any examples.”

Dan Levy at Awful Announcing examines the concept of “vanity” sites.

The sheer notion of a vanity site isn’t new, nor was it created by or for Simmons or Peter King. (This coming from a guy who has a career now because of a show called

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