What they said in 2012: Quotes tell tale of year in sports media

Part 1:

I’m a big quote guy, as evidenced by the quote I run at the top of this site.

While going through my review of sports media in 2012, I came across so many relevant quotes from my reporting and elsewhere, I decided to share them. Some are insightful; some are funny; some are just plain stupid. Yet they all tell a tale of what occurred on this beat.

I had so many, I decided to split them into two posts. Part 1 covers the beginning of the site in April through early August.

Frank Deford on current state of sportswriting: “Unfortunately, we’ve gotten swamped by the numbers. People have gotten buried under the numbers. Statistics. That has become everything. Pitch count is more interesting than what the guy is made of. I think that’s a shame because so much of sports is drama.”

Keith Olbermman tweet: “Mickey Mantle debuted in NY in an exhibition vs Dodgers 1951. Bryce Harper debuts vs Dodgers tonight. Announcer then and now? Vin Scully.”

Adam Schefter on taking heat for tweeting during the NFL draft: “I approach the draft just like any other NFL news story. When I learn informaton, it’s my job to report it. I didn’t report every pick; I was more interested in the trades, actually. But if someone felt it detracted from their experience, they could have unfollowed me or not paid attention to Twitter.”

Ohio State president Gordon Gee (a true goof): “‘Sporting News,’ ‘Sports Illustrated,’ a lot of them I don’t read. It’s bad journalism. And, so, why buy them?”

David Feherty on Hank Haney’s book on Tiger Woods: “The fact that Hank wrote the book – I wouldn’t have written the book. I just don’t think it has any class to it at all.”

SI’s Richard Deitsch on Chris Berman: “The bellowing never stops. It pummels you over the head like a hard rain, and  it’s forever accompanied by outdated references (“Mel Kiper, to quote Stan  Laurel, ‘Here’s another mess you have gotten me into, Ollie.’ “) and long-winded  intros that last nearly as long as a Presidential campaign. Mostly, there is  Chris Berman simply talking and talking and talking.”

Chris Berman:  “I just talk to people everyday walking down the street. That’s what I care about. That’s good enough for me. They didn’t like Ted Williams either. Now, I’m not Ted Williams.”

ESPN exec John Wildhack defending Chris Berman: “It seems that at times, criticizing Chris has become a pastime for some, as opposed to presenting an actual review of the work he does. What’s important is he works hard, he’s prepared, he’s extremely passionate about it and he is a huge sports fan which allows him to connect with the sports fans we serve.”

Bill Simmons in a tweet on Grantland being denied a credential to a NHL playoff game: “Still laughing that the Blues denied @katiebakes for a media credential last week. The NHL is the best. DON’T COVER US!!! STAY AWAY!”

Dave Kindred on the late Furman Bisher: “One time, two years ago, his glorious wife, Linda, called him in the Augusta  press room and Furman became a high school kid in love. “I just finished,  honey,” he said. “It wasn’t much. I keep trying. I’ll do that perfect column  someday.”

Saints owner Tom Benson on demise of the New Orleans Times-Picuyane: “It is hard for me to imagine no Times-Picayune on Monday, February 4, 2013, the day after our city hosts Super Bowl XLVII.”

Veteran sportswriter Tom Pedulla on being fired from USA Today: “If you think someone’s job was in jeopardy, you’d want to do it face-to-face to make the best possible decision. I never got a face-to-face interview to keep a job I had for 31 years.”

Former Fox Sports chairman David Hill on the future of sports TV:  “The next big development for all of us is the second-screen experience. I don’t believe that has been explored in terms of potential as it should be. If you look at multi-tasking that is going on, a valid second screen experience (people watching a second screen in addition to the primary screen) – which could be American Idol – is going to be a huge development down the road.”

Tiger Woods on new media: “You’ve got to be able to stand out somehow to get eyes going to your site or to your media, and I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s the criticism that there is. I was looking at it the other day, if LeBron didn’t have a good game, then the Heat are done and he should retire.  I’m like, geez, guys, he just won MVP.  But I think that’s just the nature of the volatility of the new media in which we are involved in now.”

Phil Mushnick controversial column on Jay-Z: “As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their  marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team  colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have  him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

“Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The  cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with  hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”

Michelle Beadle on rampant speculation about her future: “I find it ridiculous. It’s a little stupid. I’ve changed jobs a couple dozen times since I started in an amusement park at 16. … I got a little sick of myself. It’s been an odd situation. Hopefully, it will come and go and everybody will get back to their business. Very weird. Who knew?”

Ozzie Guillen on Twitter: “Yeah, I hate Twitter. Everybody following me can (expletive) his pants. You can quote me on that one. … Don’t follow me anymore. Twitter is a stupid thing. I never make money out of that. When you speak Spanish, you speak Spanish. When you speak English, you don’t know how to spell ‘English.’ Get a real job, get a life. I don’t make money out of that. I’m done.”

Colin Cowherd on hockey writers: “Hockey doesn’t get the cream of the crop in our business…What do you think I’m giving the kid out of Fordham? The New York Islanders. He’s cheap, he’s bright, and his brother used to play hockey.”

John Skipper on NBC Sports Network: “We’ve been doing this for 32 years and I do think  there’s a little too much respect paid to the great brand names. Everybody sort  of assumes, ‘Oh, my gosh, NBC is going to a 24/7 network and it’s a two-horse  race.” But they don’t look like we look. You guys saw all the stuff today –  mobile, Internet. We have more viewers in an average minute on ESPN mobile than  they have on NBC Sports Network.”

NBC Sports response: “The NBC Sports Group brands are among the most powerful brands in sports. We don’t look like anyone else and we’re very proud of that fact. They’ve been at this a long time and at a significantly higher cost to consumers. Our audience and market share are increasing as evidenced by the NHL playoffs and at great value to our viewers.”

CBC’s Ron McLean invoking images of 9/11 in open to a NHL playoff game: “From the capital of the U.S. of A., it’s New York and Washington. The economic and political engines of America, united in the birth of the country, they’re also linked in tragedy. They were the twin targets of the coordinated attacks on 9/11. It’s crazy to compare what the emergency responders did during that time, but a spirit has to start somewhere. And as you enjoy this series between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals — Game 6 comin’ up, 3-2 New York.”

Dan Jenkins: “Who is the best the sportswriter who wore shorts? I keep trying to envision Grantland Rice or John Lardner in shorts. It never occurred to me to wear shorts. I’d look too silly to wear shorts.”

ESPN’s Vince Doria on hockey: “It’s a sport that engenders a very passionate local following. If you’re a Blackhawks fan in Chicago, you’re a hardcore fan. But it doesn’t translate to television, and where it really doesn’t transfer much to is a national discussion, which is something that typifies what we do.”

Donna  de Varona on 40th anniversary of Title IX: “My work in Title IX gave me a voice I wanted to have as a broadcaster. But there was a lot of pushback. My visibility was often threatened. I often got comments about my activism being an issue, forcing me to make choices. That did two things for me: It made me fight harder and stay at ABC, and also to work on Capitol Hill.”

Darren Rovell announcing in a tweet (what else?) that he is jumping to ESPN: “I’m thrilled to have reached an agreement in principle with ESPN. No matter how others bash it, Bristol is truly a magical place.”

APSE president Michael A. Anastasi in speech to sports editors: “Many of you have heard me say this before, but I think it’s worth repeating. With so much change, so much challenge, so much new, this is exactly the wrong time for editors to stop talking to each other.”

ESPN’s Vince Doria: “If social networking never existed, we wouldn’t miss it. We wouldn’t know it ever existed. We wouldn’t feel our life was impaired in any way. We lived without e-mail. How did we operate without it?”

Geoff Ogilvy’s wife, Julie, on Twitter: “How does Johnny Miller have a job when he speaks such nonsense???”

Phil Mushnick: “Allowing ESPN’s Chris Berman to call golf’s U.S. Open is like giving the Class Clown a jumbo can of Silly String.”

Skip Bayless: “Miami was the heavy favorite to win it all and I’m not backing off. I’m not writing them off. I’m sticking with them in seven games, because they’re still the Miami Heat.”

Ken Harrelson after over-the-top criticism of an umpire: “I talked to Bud Selig yesterday. We had a talk. Actually, Bud talked and I listened. If it was a prize fight, they would have stopped it in the first round.”

Bob Costas on slain Israeli athletes not being honored at Olympics: “I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now.”

BTN president Mark Silverman on his network not covering important Penn State press conference: “We wanted to have covered it. Frankly, it was human error. There was an internal communications issue. We regret not having shown that press conference.”

Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertham on Joe Posnanski’s Paterno book: “The great lesson that Paterno may have taught (a player) pales in comparison to the cover-up. People who read the book will say they don’t care about (his great deeds). I worry this will be the literary version of the Matt Millen fiasco.”

Joe Buck on Tim McCarver going into Hall of Fame: “When I had him sitting to my right and I had him seconding an opinion of mine, it gave me instant credibility. I owe him a lot and I’ll be there, the proudest one there not at the podium when he goes in on Saturday.”

Tim McCarver: “If somebody told me back in 1980 that I would have a 32-year career, and that I’d be receiving this honor, I’d say no way. For three years, I couldn’t even break into the Phillies broadcast booth. I was just hoping to make it, much less be mentioned as a Ford Frick winner. Believe me, when I started out, this award wasn’t even close to being on the radar.”

Bob Costas on turning 60: “It doesn’t seem that long ago to me that the word irreverent seemed affixed to my name. ‘Irreverant newcomer.’ I went from irreverent to venerable in what seems to me like the blink of an eye.”









Watch Tiger Woods’ last interview with CNBC for a while; different from Bartiromo than Rovell

I’m pretty sure Tiger Woods won’t be popping up on CNBC any time soon. His recent appearance in an “exclusive” interview with Maria Bartiromo was awkward to say the least.

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg always has liked having his client appear on CNBC. He viewed it as a great way for Woods to reach corporate America.

Last November, Steinberg arranged for CNBC’s Darren Rovell to interview Woods live in Florida. Now Woods gives put exclusive live interviews almost as much as he gives reporters his cell phone number. So clearly Steinberg had an agenda here.

Of course! They discussed Woods’ endorsement of Fuse Science, which has something to do with energy and performance. Note that Rovell said it was “an equity deal” in prefacing a question to Woods.

Rovell said, “This is an equity deal. Would you have done an endorsement deal like this two or three years ago?”

Woods merrily said yes.

Well, Rovell has moved on to ESPN. So when the former world No. 1 went for another Fuse hit on CNBC Tuesday, the interview duties were handled by Bartiromo.

The end result probably didn’t go as planned for the Woods camp. Bartiromo’s first question was, “What are your financial interests in the company?”

Woods danced around the question.

Bartiromo then asked again, “Do you have an ownership in the company, Tiger?”

Woods declined to answer even though Rovell noted in the November interview that he had an equity stake. To be fair, I’m not sure why Woods couldn’t admit he owns part of the company.

Later, Bartiromo tried to compare Lance Armstrong’s situation to Woods’, at least as far as endorsements are concerned. Totally different situation: Armstrong cheated in his sport; Woods cheated on his wife. Armstrong is finished as an athlete and an endorser; Woods still is performing and winning again and getting endorsements.

Woods took out his tap shoes again and danced around the Armstrong question as best he could. You could feel Steinberg cringing in the background. The last thing he wanted was for his client to be dragged into a discussion about Armstrong.

Then Bartiromo asked why Woods wasn’t winning more majors. Woods had to remind her that he won three times in 2012 and that he still has plenty of golf left in him at age 36.

All in all, probably CNBC’s last “exclusive” with Woods for a while.






Golf: Woods didn’t appreciate constant questions about his game; Sorenstam says slow play hurting golf on TV

Now that Tiger Woods is back on top (with the exception of not winning a major since 2008), he likely won’t be hearing as many questions about the state of his game.

It doesn’t take much to annoy Woods. He admitted this week he didn’t enjoy questions from those pesky reporters asking why he no longer resembled Tiger Woods on the course during last two-plus years.

“I have to deal with it in every single press conference,” he said. “I have to  answer it in post-round interviews—whether it’s with you guys or in a live shot  [on TV]. You do that for a couple of years, sometimes you guys can be a little annoying.”

If anything, Woods used all the negative stories as motivation, according to his good friend Notah Begay. Appearing on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive, Begay said:

He doesn’t forget what people write. He probably has a list under his pillow that motivates him at night.

Indeed, from what I’ve heard, few players are more possessed about what’s written about them than Woods.

As for those pesky questions about his game, they won’t go away entirely. The British Open is in a couple of weeks. He’s going to hear plenty of questions along the lines of, “Tiger, why can’t you win in majors anymore?”


I’m still amazed that the leaders of the PGA and LPGA Tour aren’t doing more to curb slow play. The snail’s pace is making the sport absolutely dreadful to watch on TV.

The slow-play problem came up Wednesday during a Golf Channel State of the Game show prior to the U.S. Women’s Open. Host Rich Lerner asked Annika Sorenstam why it is an important issue? Sorenstam said:

I think for a lot of reasons.  You watch golf on TV, and it’s very slow.  It’s not moving.  I know that a lot of golfers are leaving the game because it takes too long to play.  I think as a professional we need to be role models and we need to show them you can play, and I think it’s hurting the game, I really do.

NBC’s Dottie Pepper, who also appeared on the telecast, is in favor of stroke penalties being assessed for slow play. She said:

In my mind it’s the thing that hurts most.  It’s the one thing that really gets you, it’s not in your pocket, it’s on your scorecard.

All I can say is that something needs to be done about slow play. And fast.





Golf ratings up 188 percent Sunday: Wonder if a certain golfer won?

The Tiger Woods factor strikes again. From CBS:

CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the AT&T NATIONAL on Sunday, July 1 (3:00-6:45 PM, ET), which saw Tiger Woods win his third PGA TOUR event this season and pass Jack Nicklaus with 74 PGA TOUR wins, delivered an average overnight household rating/share of 4.6/10, up 188% from last year’s 1.6/4 in the metered markets. (Note:  Ratings for Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Columbus are excluded due to severe weather).

This year’s rating tied with 2009 as the highest rating for the final-round since the tournament debuted in 2007.

 Sunday’s final-round rating peaked at a 6.8/14 (6:30-6:45 PM,)


And in a rarity, Woods is playing in back-to-back events. He is in the field in the Greenbriar Classic. Last year, Scott Stallings (who?) won.

If Woods is in the hunt again on Sunday, look for another 188 percent, and then some.



Ratings report: Despite Tiger struggles, U.S. Open still up; another big number for Game 3

Ah, what might have been for NBC and the U.S. Open. Imagine the rating if Tiger Woods actually had resembled Tiger Woods Sunday. Instead, his brutal start had him on the missing person’s report during the meat of the coverage.

As a result, we got a heavy dose of the plodding Jim Furyk and a U.S. Open where par was indeed a good score. It didn’t necessarily add up to compelling golf, but thanks to the primetime window, people still tuned in.

The numbers from NBC:

Sunday’s 6.5-hour (4-10:30 p.m. ET) final-round coverage of the U.S. Open on NBC delivered an 6.6 rating and 13 share, up 29% vs. last year (5.1/12).

The combined Saturday-Sunday overnight was a 6.1/13, up 39 % vs. last year (4.4/11) and the best since 2008 (6.8/15).

Despite competition from the NBA Finals, the rating increased every half hour from 8:30 p.m. ET on, peaking at an 8.1 from 10-10:30 p.m. ET. From 7 p.m. ET on, the rating never dipped below a 6.9.

Yes, there was a finals game last night. Another big number for game 3 on ABC.

From ESPN:

Through three games, the 2012 NBA Finals on ABC – Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – is the highest-rated series since 2004 and the second highest-rated ever on ABC based on overnight ratings, according to Nielsen. The Finals is averaging an 11.3 overnight rating, up 5 percent from a 10.8 last year (Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat).

NBA Finals Game 3 – Miami defeated Oklahoma City 91-85 – generated a 10.4 overnight rating, peaking with a 14.7 rating from 10:30 to 10:45 p.m. ET. The game generated a 41.9 rating in Oklahoma City and a 29.6 rating in Miami.



The decision: Game 3 or U.S. Open tonight? Tiger or LeBron?

So what are you watching tonight? Game 3 of the NBA Finals or the final round of the U.S. Open?

We have been handed this delicious Father’s Day bounty thanks to the Open being in San Francisco.

In a brilliant decision beginning with the 2010 tournament at Pebble Beach, NBC decided to air these West Coast Opens in prime time. The last group of Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell goes off at 6:10 p.m ET. That means the final putt won’t go down until 10:30-11 p.m. ET.

I love it, and so many other golf fans. Nothing like enjoying a beautiful day and then coming home to watch some big-time golf.

But there’s more. Also on the menu is Game 3 of the NBA Finals airing on ABC. Big game to see if LeBron James and the Heat can take control of the series at home.

The first two games have done huge ratings, and they only will get bigger.

For NBC’s sake, it would help if Tiger Woods gets back into the hunt quickly in the fourth round. He tees off at 4:50 p.m. If he makes a charge, people will tune in, especially the casual and even non-golf fan.

Either way, it should be a great night. My remote is in for a workout.



Made for TV pairing does no favors for Bubba Watson at U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is hard enough without having to be part of a circus.

So regardless of what he says, Bubba Watson can’t be pleased with a made-for-TV pairing that has him playing with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson during the first two rounds of the U.S. Open.

Did I say circus? It’s going to be an absolute zoo. You can be sure Woods and Mickelson also aren’t thrilled with this threesome, but at least they’ve had plenty of experience with massive galleries and people scurrying all over the place.

It’s a different story for Watson, who has struggled ever since winning the Masters. He’s only played twice and missed the cut at the Memorial a couple of weeks ago. Yes, the sudden spotlight can be overwhelming.

Clearly, the United States Golf Association wants to create more of a buzz for the Open with this pairing. But why? Isn’t the tournament big enough?

During a conference call today, I asked NBC producer Tommy Roy if the USGA consults with the network on the pairings. He said:

We talk about it, more about the timing that they go off so that it fits within certain windows.  But the fact of the matter is that the pairings are up to them.  But they have a good sense of what makes for good television, as well.  They play consult a little but it’s their pairings.

Obviously, NBC and ESPN will focus the majority of their coverage on that one pairing. Steve Stricker is 6-under through 13? Great, save it later for the Golf Channel. 

It’s going to be all-Tiger-Phil-Bubba, all-the-time when they’re out on the course. I asked Johnny Miller about the pairing. He said:

I’ve played in similar type of threesomes with Trevino and Nicklaus, and not so much in the U.S. Open, because they would never do that in the mid 70s, have the three biggest draws together.

But golf is a new world.  It’s a big sport now.  It will be very interesting to see how that pairing pans out or whether they all play poorly or they all play well or just one plays well.  With that many people and that much pressure, to be honest with you, at the Open, knowing this pairing is historical, the three biggest draws in the tournament being together, it will be fun to watch.  I can’t wait to watch it.  I hope they do great.

It’s just sort of unique.  So, is this a precursor of something of the future we are going to see a lot more of, where you put the best players together, or if it’s just a one‑time thing.

Is it fair? Frank Nobilo said:

(Watson’s) stated goal, he stated recently, is to be the best player in the world.  So I think he would embrace that opportunity to take them on.  You have got to beat them, whether it Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday; but for him, it’s something I think he would relish.

And just to add, you have three different types of fans that are going to come out, which I don’t think golf has really had.  Phil and Tiger ‑‑ but Bubba brings a different element to golf which we haven’t seen in many a year and that’s something that has to be said, as well.

Miller said as only he could:

Let’s put it this way:  I would much rather play with two guys that are shooting 67, than two guys that are shooting 79 going to every toilet, you know.

I’m not sure about the toilet part, but I’m betting Watson’s scores will be closer to 79 than 67.




CBS feels full power of Tiger Effect; ratings up 138 percent Sunday

This is why Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, TV executives and the PGA Tour got all excited Sunday.

The Tiger Effect was in overdrive. Tiger Woods’ victory saw CBS pull in a 3.8 rating for the final round of the Memorial Sunday. That’s up a whopping 138 percent from last year’s tournament, won by Steve Stricker. Yes, 138 percent.

The telecast peaked with a 5.7 rating. That simply is huge for a non-major golf tournament.

People watch because Woods showed he still is capable of delivering moments for the ages. As Gary McCord said, that chip on 16 was “sick.”

Nantz gushed:  “This is the one moment people have been waiting for for three years.”

Later, he said: “Is Tiger back? He certainly looked like it big-time today.”

I’m not so sure that Woods is completely back to who he was. He needs some strong showings in the majors to put the official stamp on that statement.

But it sure was fun to see a glimmer of the old Tiger Sunday. And look for NBC to hype him to death for next week’s U.S. Open.