John Ourand of Sports Business Journal just put together his 2012 sports media predictions and given his track record, access, and insight, it's definitely worth a read. Looking back, Ourand has a very respectable batting average despite the fact that some of the predictions are swinging for the fences rather than playing it safe.
A lot of the 2012 predictions are things I'd openly welcome, which got me thinking -- what would be on my sports media wish list for the new year? After some brainstorming, here is the first half of ten things I'd like to see happen in the coming year:
A Healthy Recovery And Return To Work For Steve Sabol
It's been a while since we've got an update on the health of Steve Sabol, as the NFL Films President has been very private about his battle with cancer. In August, it was a watershed moment as Steve introduced his also ailing father for his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame. The impact of the Sabols and their legacy can be seen in this great video. In a nutshell, football wouldn't be America's most popular sport if not for their ahead-of-the-curve vision they've executed for nearly 50 years.
I've been trying to will good news from the silence surrounding Steve's time away. With that in mind, we'll lead off our 2012 wish list by wishing a healthy recovery and return to work for one of the most underrated people in sports media.
MLB Blows Up Their Truly Terrible Video Policy ...
After a bit of a hiatus, the AA Podcast is back! Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated is our guest on the newest edition to discuss the biggest sports and media stories of 2011. We examine the most impactful stories of the last year including the scandals at Penn State and Syracuse, TebowMania, Craig James, and much more. Richard also gives us his breakthrough announcer of 2011 and names to watch moving forward in 2012 as well as a bit of Rapid Fire on the most notable announcers in sports. All that and more on a jampacked AA podcast looking back on the year in sports for 2011.
Bill Conlin has been a sportswriter at the Philadelphia Daily News since 1965 and a beat writer for the Philadelphia Phillies since 1966. Earlier this year, Conlin was awarded the presitious J.G. Taylor Spink Award at the Baseball Hall of Fame, the highest honor given by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He was also a regular on ESPN's The Sports Reporters.
Conlin's 46 year career at the paper ended yesterday as he resigned immediately amidst four people raising allegations that Conlin sexually abused them in the 1970s. The story was broken first by the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Three women and a man say they were molested as children by Bill Conlin, a Hall of Fame baseball writer and Philadelphia Daily News columnist.
In vivid accounts, the four say Conlin groped and fondled them and touched their genitals in assaults in the 1970s, when they were ages 7 to 12.
"This is a tragedy," said Kelley Blanchet, a niece of Conlin's who said he molested her when she was a child. "People have kept his secret. It's not just the victims, it's the victims' families. There were so many people who knew about this and did nothing."
Conlin retired Tuesday from the Daily News, where he had worked for more than four decades.
Through his lawyer, George Bochetto, Conlin declined to comment.
The Inquirer reports further details from several sources about the alleged molestations and how the victims only began to speak about the events within the past few years. At the time, no charges were filed and the statute of limitations has long passed. Perhaps not surprisingly, this story is going public now due somewhat to the scandal at Penn State. More from the Inquirer:
Blanchet, now a prosecutor in Atlantic City, and the others said they were speaking out now because the alleged sexual assaults and cover-up at Pennsylvania State University brought back painful memories and reminded them of the secrecy that shrouded their own assaults.
They also said they wanted to bring attention to the shortcomings of the statute of limitations on sex crimes, which bars prosecution in their cases because their parents did not call police when the abuse occurred years ago. In several cases, the parents corroborated the accounts, and one - Conlin's brother-in-law - said the writer broke down in tears and insisted he had only touched the girl's leg.
It's another tragic story associated with the sports world. Who knows the true number of people that have suffered surrounding this developing story, again, because nobody spoke out to defend the allegedly abused children to the proper authorities. If there is any positive societal change to come out of the terrors that happened at the hands of Jerry Sandusky, it is a raised awareness of the horrible crime of child sex abuse. Expect to see many more stories like this come out in the coming months as victims continue to speak out.
Bidding is currently at $3,750 for the opportunity of a lifetime! The chance for you and your buddies to hang out with the mountain man, Bill Walton, at his house! The charity benefits a very worthy cause, the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Don't worry, you got time to pool your money together with your friends because there's just over 40 days left in bidding with the estimated value being $100,000 for the winning bid. That might seem like a lot, but if you're an avid reader of Awful Announcing, I think it's fair to assume that you are extremely successful with all your endeavors and you undoubtedly have the coin to drop on a lavish hangout session with Bill Walton.
The charity page is delightfully vague in what it is exactly you would do with Bill Walton. It really sounds like there is no set plan at all (which is fantastic) and I see no way that the night doesn't end with your group huddled around a fire discussing the art of how to make the perfect s'more, likely with some edibles, discussing the solar system and/or the greatness of Arvydas Sabonis.
SportsCenter anchor and ESPN Radio host Scott Van Pelt will make his debut on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight. It's a major crossover appearance for any television or radio sports personality to appear with Letterman as it signifies widespread appeal. Over the years, Van Pelt has slowly but surely broken out of the pack of the thousands of on air personalities at ESPN.
Van Pelt left Golf Channel for ESPN ten years ago and worked his way up to being arguably the number one anchor at the company. With his prominent SportsCenter role and national radio program, one could argue he's the closest thing ESPN has now to Dan Patrick. When ESPN struggled to fill the afternoon drive time slot, they tried out Mike Tirico and various co-hosts. Van Pelt once again emerged from the pack as the best option and Tirico & Van Pelt evolved into The Scott Van Pelt Show with Ryen Russillo alongside SVP.
As a SportsCenter anchor, Van Pelt separates himself from others at the network because he doesn't depend on schtick or catchphrases. He's also not afraid to editorialize and add his own thoughts to a story, which further distinguishes him from the cookie cutter anchors ESPN has drifted towards since the days of Patrick and Keith Olbermann. And, SVP is one of the few ESPN personalities that engages with bloggers and fans, especially on Twitter (check out his Twitter avatar). I asked Van Pelt this afternoon if he was anxious about his Letterman appearance and living up to the high standards of Michelle Beadle's memorable appearance...
My guess is Van Pelt won't be rocking any red dresses tonight though. In short, the Letterman appearance is well deserved for Van Pelt's decade of work in Bristol. Below is a video from ESPN's Front Row PR blog that features Beadle, Golic, and Greenberg giving SVP advice on going on the late night show. The highlight though? Definitely a random appearance by Tommy Smyth in the background. I was beginning to worry for his whereabouts...
A few days after the NFL renewed its broadcasting deals with NBC, the NFL announced today that they will for the first time ever be live streaming all of this season's playoff games on the web, including Super Bowl XLVI on February 5, 2012. The streaming will also be available to Verizon smartphone users.
The games will be streamed online at NBCSports.com and NFL.com through SNF Extra, which features an HD broadcast, DVR-style controls, additional camera angles, in-game highlights, live statistics and interactive elements. [...]
NBC's streams on Sunday nights typically average 200,000-300,000 viewers, compared with 21 million for the telecasts. The network has seen no evidence it hurts the traditional broadcasts' healthy TV ratings. If anything, the extra options online may help keep fans glued to the games on their sets. [...]
“By adding multiple camera angles, HD-quality video, DVR controls along with social interactivity, our online streaming represents a compelling, second-screen experience that nicely complements NBC's on-air presentation.”
Smooooth, very very smooth stuff, very classy. Fans already tuning into telecasts are going to continue tuning in, but now they have multiple options of doing so. Schedules are all of a sudden a little more flexible. As for the fans who couldn't watch the games at all before, now you might be able to. It's science.
ALSO, gone are the days of risking soiled undies and/or serious bladder problems for fear of missing the next best commercial during the Super Bowl. Now you can just fire up the stream on your Verizon iPhones, iPads or laptops and take it with you. Stream while you stream! I look forward to hearing unfortunate stories of people accidentally dropping said devices in the toilet (but I don't wish that on anyone).
This may be the most robust week of Straight Outta Stockton nominees. A full 20 mindboggling quotes are here for your enjoyment this week. And surprisingly, none of them come from current Dickies leader Dick Stockton or Brian Billick. Can Jon Gruden, Chris Berman, or Joe Buck have a big week to begin a comeback? Here are your Week 15 nominees...
1) "That's not unlike last Sunday night when the Cowboys thought they had Dallas put away." - Mike Mayock (via bigddan11)
2) "Patriots secondary. Much improved. Didn't blow any coverages, no miscommunications, big balls...big thrown balls over their head...much improved day." - Rodney Harrison (via DevsFan30)
3) "Tebow was riding his running back for a long time" - Phil Simms (via nro1111)
4) "Who gets in your butt?" - Deion Sanders to Tony Romo (via thedudeinatl)
5) "It's chilly today in New York. But it is November -- I guess it should be." - Joe Buck (via sys)
6) "I think Michael Vick is starting to come" - Chris Berman on NFL Sunday Countdown (via nro1111)
7) "Joe Flacco is as mobile as any QB playing the game right now" - Cris Collinsworth (via several)
8) "The Ravens score a meaningless touchdown ... Well except to some friendly degenerates we know." - Al Michaels (via joelb811) obviously referring to his own betting habits.
9) "When he hits you, you stay hit." - Cris Collinsworth (via TUrugby)
10) "LOOK AT THIS CLOWN!!" - Thom Brennaman (via Packey) [VIDEO]
11) "He has this great thing called the beard." - Jon Gruden (via deadgeneration4)
12) "They'll go for it here on first down." - Joe Buck (via sctvman)
13)"This is incredible getoff, he's got freakish size ... He's eating Max Starks alive" - Jon Gruden (via RunGNC)
14) "The ball is out of bounds. Let's see who touched it last." - Marv Albert. Is this basketball? (via bmitchelf)
15) "If you Google a picture of toughness, you'll find a picture of Roethlisberger. He's barn strong." - Jon Gruden (via FlowyDNA) Barn. Strong.
16) "I say it every year: know what the NFL stands for? National Fake You Out League" - Tim Ryan (via JeremyShermak). YOU MEAN IT'S BEEN THE NFYOL ALL THIS TIME?!?!
17) "Brian Beluga down for the Packers" - Daryl Johnston (via psiegfried). I know Bulaga is big, but to call him a whale is just plain mean.
18) "Caleb Hanie working his magic as he always does." - Curt Menefee (via natedog2827)
19) "You've gotta love Steven Jackson. He is a professional football player." - Dan Dierdorf (via mattmiller56)
20) "I'm not a doctor I just play one on TV." - Rich Gannon (via ConnorKiesel). No, you don't.
Vote For Your Week 15 Dickies Nominees! (vote for up to five)
The winners will come Wednesday so make sure you vote early and often and check back for the full NFL Week 16 announcing sked later this week. Remember, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, the full slate of NFL games are played on Saturday.
ESPN's pregame NBA coverage has been lagging far behind TNT's Inside the NBA crew for a long, long time. To try and bolster their on-air NBA lineup in the studio, ESPN pursued the biggest television free agent this summer, Shaquille O'Neal. However, Shaq decided to spurn ESPN to join up with Kenny, Chuck, and EJ to make for what will most likely be the most entertaining studio show in sports TV history.
Lost in the shuffle of Shaq's move to TNT though, was the response from ESPN. Losing out on one of the most coveted retired players in NBA history had to hurt ESPN's vision for improving their NBA studio coverage. The studio crew of MIke Wilbon, Jon Barry, Stu Scott, and intermittent doses of Magic Johnson was some combination of bland, forced, and uninspiring.
Well, with the lockout over, we finally have learned what tweaks ESPN is making to their NBA studio crew, and the result looks like a recipe for disaster.
According to SI's Richard Deitsch, ESPN is moving their NBA studio crew to Los Angeles to double down on, gulp, Magic Johnson...
Not only is ESPN investing more time in one of the most overvalued studio analysts, they're shunning the use of a conventional studio host, swapping Stu Scott for Chriss Broussard?!? The move does give Broussard a bigger platform for some of his more infamous "reporting." At least we can all rejoice that it's Broussard instead of Screamin' A. Still, this fearsome foursome has the makings for trainwreck television on a weekly basis.
Perhaps ESPN has been wowed by their NFL show Audibles, where NFL analysts are able to have a free-flowing discussion about topics without the need for a traditional point man. But, ESPN's missing the fact that Inside the NBA's MVP isn't Charles Barkley, it's Ernie Johnson. EJ is the glue that makes Inside the NBA what it is because he allows guys like Kenny, Chuck, and C-Web to be the stars of the show.
Who will fill that role on the new ESPN studio crew? Mike Wilbon might be practiced at forced debate, but can he really play point guard with the likes of Jon Barry and Magic Johnson? Has Magic Johnson said anything interesting or relevant that wasn't about the Lakers? WIll Chris Broussard have any news or insight to break that isn't about LeBron? (Don't forget he was handpicked by Camp LeBron to break his move to the Heat before the Decision.) And God forbid this becomes another cavalcade of celebrity catastrophes by moving to L.A. like those awful MNF celebrity interviews.
You know what... on second thought, maybe this will be must-see TV.... as the worst pregame show in the history of sports. Someone get Shannon Sharpe on the phone quick, because these guys are going to have to practice hard on their forced laughter and hijinx.
Update:Jim Miller also reports that ESPN and ABC couldn't come to an agreement to have perhaps their most popular NBA pundit appear on the air. Bill Simmons.
It's hard to believe it would be so difficult for ESPN to have their top online presence appear on television, let alone the guy that literally wrote the book on basketball. What would be keeping Simmons from appearing on ESPN airwaves covering the NBA? Whatever the case, it's just another missed opportunity for the leader.
Craig James finally left ESPN officially on Monday to launch his campaign to win the Republican nomination for a United States Senate seat out of Texas. Although it'll be fun to watch James prance around in a cowboy hat and talk to voters about his values, he has absolutely zero chance of winning. He's a toxic name in West Texas. He has zero political experience. His top Google searches involve five dead hookers (thanks EDSBS). He's entering the race late and behind on everything. And to top it all off, he's somewhere between Snooki and Jim Traficant on the electability scale.
This means that it'll be all the more fun to watch his campaign go down in flames. But it also got me thinking... what announcers or television sports personalities would actually be electable? Who in sports media would you cast a vote for? While I'm not advocating the people below would actually make great politicians (although we can't do much worse than what we got now), they would certainly have the ability to get over with voters. You have to be smart, likable, stay on message, and connect with commoners like you and me to make this prestigious list...
Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN College Football Analyst
Herbie would be the total package as a political candidate. Well spoken, good looks, and incredibly popular for a number of years in an increasingly polarizing world of college football. He's become one of the top analysts in the country and rarely will you find anyone to say a bad word about Herbie. Plus, he proved earlier this year his ability to handle crisis situations with poise.
James Brown, NFL Today Host
Watch a full hour of The NFL Today and you'll see that the buffoonery James Brown deals with on a weekly basis is the perfect preparation for dealing with all the clowns in Washington. Not only is JB an affable personality, but he may be one of the most educated members of the sports media as a Harvard grad. Just look at that thinking man's pose, too!
Here's a clip that Timberwolves fans (all eight of them) should start getting used to: Ricky Rubio feeding Derrick Williams for the monster slam. T-Wolves announcer Tom Hanneman seems positively giddy to have their own version of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Also, take note of the ball smashing the Bucks player under the net in the face. Everyone that's a sports fan is usually unified by how awesome the dunk, especially the alley oop, looks. Once the season begins for real next Sunday, expect a lot more clips like this, and maybe even some more from Minnesota...