It's been a busy week with probably the biggest and most anticipated book in sports media dropping and excerpts, controversies, and all sorts of fun arising. So, you'll have to forgive us if we're a little behind on the news in Gus Johnson World. It's been rather quiet since Gus officially left CBS for Fox, but the favorite announcer of the blogosphere recently gave an interview to Greg Bishop of the New York Times and had some rather revealing quotes on the process and his thoughts on not broadcasting the NCAA Tournament next year.
Gus on leaving the NCAA Tournament behind...
“I’m tired of thinking. Weighing. Grappling with my thoughts. You’re giving up something to gain something. But you’re still giving up something. I’m leaving something that I love. And I love that thing. That was my thing. Sometimes, you’ve just got to walk away.”
Gus on his own abilities...
“I believe in myself,” Johnson said. “I believe in my ability to do my job, whether it be the N.C.A.A. tournament or the world tiddlywinks championship.”
Gus on his cell phone the day the news dropped...
It was, Johnson said, “like, boom goes the dynamite.”
Gus on his new role at Fox...
“They’ve elevating me to a status I’ve never been before. For the first time, I’m No. 1 at something. I’m at the point where I’m not a kid anymore. I’m in my 40s. I’ve paid my dues.”
There are a few more interesting details from the Times on Gus' contract situation and how things developed between Fox and CBS. In the end, what we wrote back when the story broke remains the take away from this move. The dominoes were always in place for Gus Johnson to move from CBS to a network where he would be utilized more outside of his starring role in March Madness. The opportunities at Fox and the walls to Johnson taking on a starring role at CBS were always going to result in a likely departure. Gus Johnson still isn't coming back to March Madness, but the move to Fox may be the best decision for his career and result in fans ultimately getting more Gus.
And of course, how awesome is it that Gus references the greatest video in internet history? How does that never get old?
Gus Johnson Is Eager to Expand His Horizons at Fox - NY Times
Perhaps nobody symbolizes ESPN's meteoric rise to total dominance of the sports world in the last decade than Bill Simmons. Simmons came to ESPN in 2001 as the Boston Sports Guy - an entertaining bloggerwriter with a relatively small, devoted following. In the last decade, Simmons has grown to the biggest online force in sports. Those thousands of readers have turned to millions. Millions also download his podcast as well. Bill Simmons has grown his online platform to starting the new Grantland.com project as an extension of his online work the last decade... and millions will flock there as well. You may or may not be a fan of Simmons, but one can't deny his monumental success.
But, Simmons isn't just an online presence - like ESPN itself, he has come to grow his own brand in many ways. Some would say Simmons has his own world. He was instrumental in the success of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary series, widely praised as one of ESPN's best ever efforts. He's written a #1 New York Times Best Seller. He's filled in as a guest host of PTI. He's even announced an NBA game with Dan Shulman and Mark Jackson (although he evidently doesn't think announcers matter at all... I guess that means he's not an AA reader?). In truth, Simmons is ESPN in 2011... which is what makes his conflict with ESPN so intriguing.
There have been many controversies regarding Bill Simmons and Bristol. Whether it's nixing President Obama on his podcast, a suspension for combative tweets (ESPN book excerpt here), or general feuding with the network... there always seems to be some sort of drama pitting the Sports Guy against his ESPN bosses and the Bristol machine. Perhaps then, it's not a surprise that Bill Simmons is one of the most outspoken and honest ESPN personalities in Those Guys Have All The Fun when it comes to being critical of ESPN. We shared some of Simmons in our excerpt yesterday going after Mike Tirico for how he handled the Tony Kornheiser experiment on Monday Night Football. Today, our excerpt (albeit much smaller, we've hit the 500 word limit, sorry folks) is a revealing statement from Simmons on the culture of ESPN and Bristol that gives insight into the relationship between Simmons & ESPN and a window into what one of ESPN's top personalities thinks about the Bristol mothership...
"I need to figure out a way that I can operate in my own sphere and not deal with Bristol as much. Nothing against Bristol, but I do worry that it becomes a little cultish after a while. You go there and there’s ESPN everywhere. At the cafeteria, there’s Mike & Mike getting a sandwich… It’s really hard to think out of the box when you’re trapped in that box the whole time… that’s one of the reasons PTI succeeds – it’s in Washington, it’s out of the box, they leave it alone."
Describing Bristol, CT and the beautiful ESPN campus as "a little cultish" will not make anyone in a cushy office there happy...
"Excuse me I got an appointment with the rim." Eh, come on Mark Jackson, let's come up with something a little more creative and exciting to express the ferociousness of this jam... not making me think about going to the dentist!
The hits just keep coming. Now comes word from Richard Sandomir of the New York Times that NBC Sports head honcho Dick Ebersol is resigning. From Sandomir's Twitter page...
This news is breaking by the minute and is huge for sports on television everywhere. Ebersol had been President of NBC Sports since 1989 and one of the biggest movers in the industry for a long time. NBC has struggled to get a foothold in the recent sports television rights wars, losing out on properties like college football and others. Could Ebersol's resignation be a sign that NBC will now lose the Olympics to an aggressive bid from ESPN and a sign that the NBC/Comcast sports group may not be able to compete with the leader as envisioned? Interestingly, the New York Post published this in April...
As US television networks put the finishing touches on Olympic TV rights bids due next month, there's growing friction between NBC Universal's longtime Olympics chief, Dick Ebersol, and network brass, sources tell The Post.
"This is a big test of what Dick's role is," said one source, talking about how free a rein new NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke will give to Ebersol, who has headed every US Olympics programming effort since 2000 and every Summer Games TV effort since the 1988 Games in Seoul.
Executives from each of the competing TV companies are expected to detail plans for broadcasting the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Companies can also bid on a package of four Games. The winner will be selected in the second half of June.
If NBC Universal isn't victorious, some believe Ebersol will opt to retire.This is big, big news, and we'll make sure to follow it as the story develops.
***Update: Here's the complete story from Sandomir in the New York Times.
***Update II: Mark Lazarus, President of NBC Sports Cable Group, will take over for the departed Ebersol. That information and a statement from Ebersol on his departure are at USA Today.
AA has just received an advanced copy of Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN, written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. Yes, it's true, the book does come in at 745 pages. It's an impressive piece of work. Judging from the excerpts released and what I've been able to skim through so far, the book will certainly be worth the read. Off the top, the first thing I wanted to investigate was ESPN's Monday Night Football booth and the Tony Kornheiser experiment, especially after reading this tweet from Deitsch. Was there any animosity behind the scenes regarding TK on MNF? The book makes it clear that Tirico and Kornheiser's working relationship was terrible and their lack of chemistry led to TK's ultimate departure from the MNF booth and the arrival of Jon Gruden. Below are actual excerpts from Those Guys on Kornheiser, Tirico, and Monday Night Football...
The football game is surrounded by a bevy of wide-ranging opinions in the pregame shows, the postgame shows, and the talk shows during the week. People come to the game for the game itself. So we were trying to make what Tony does best - strong opinions - work within the body of the game; that was the challenge.
We had a lot of philosophical disagreements, especially about the extent to which it was an entertainment show. When they had guests in the booth, many of them stunk beyond words. I was for MNF as I remembered it as a child with Cosell and Meredith and Gifford, but Mike really just wanted to be the play by play guy on MNF...
Early on together I said, "Mike you know what really works well on PTI is when Mike and I talk over each other -" and he cut me off right there and says, "That's a nice little studio show, but MNF is very important, so don't ever interrupt me when I'm talking."... for two years he didn't even look at me.
Look, am I happy now? Absolutely. In PTI, I've got the best show in America... But I thought I could have been better on MNF... But the happiest guy in America today is Mike Tirico, because I'm not in that booth and he's got a coach, so he doesn't have to worry about anything else.
Tirico's always been nice to me, and I think he's a talented guy, but I thought how he acted was unforgivable, and I continue to feel bad for Tony... I had watched all of those Kornheiser games thinking, "If I was in that spot, and the expectation was that I was supposed to entertain, and had this guy with me who was subtly undermining me, changing the subject on me and greeting my jokes with dead silence, I would eventually strangle this person on live TV." Kornheiser is a better person than I am, apparently.
Tirico doesn't sell for Tony for three f*cking years, then has the gall to say nice things about him after Tony leaves? Come on. What kills me is that Tony got the rap for blowing this when nobody on the planet can succeed in TV if their play-by-play guy isn't selling them. Five minutes into their first regular-season Monday night game, Tirico had already laughed at more Gruden jokes than he did for three years of Kornheiser.
Wow. A few thoughts on this excerpt and what I've gathered from the media coverage and other excerpts thus far...
It's been a couple days since our last Tony Kornheiser post - he demands more attention. Well, he's got it.
Colts owner Jim Irsay diminished the craft and nuance of writing when he tweeted recently that he and Jeff Saturday "could get this thing done on cocktail napkins, over a long lunch at Rick's Boatyard." 'This thing,' of course, is the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
Tony Kornheiser thought that to be a preposterous proposition coming from a man in 'the son business' -- cocktail napkins are way too damn small:
“What inflames this is a complete bozo, like Jimmy Irsay,” Kornheiser said. “Jimmy Irsay, who inherited his team. Worked very hard in the American way. He was in what Dan Jenkins used to call ‘The son business.’ He inherits a team, and now he says, ‘Jeff Saturday and I could hang out, we could go clubbing, we could work this out on a napkin at Ralph’s Boathouse.’”
"Jimmy Irsay, the rest of the owners wouldn’t trust Jimmy Irsay to call a cab for them,” Kornheiser continued. “Just so we understand that. They would not. Now, when the Krafts of the world, Kraft says, ‘This is hurting us with fans,’ he’s a reasonable guy. They would trust Kraft. There’s four or five owners that the other owners would trust to get involved in this.”
Irsay, who probably prefers to be called J.I., responded on Twitter:
“T.Kornheiser is a mean-spirited chump! When he can win 115 games n a decade,build a top 3 stadium,win n host a Super Bowl,then he can chirp! I think he used 2 b Bill Tobin’s mailman…but that would b an insult 2 mail men! I just droppin’ knowledge…”
San Jose Sharks' left winger Ben Eager was a frequent visitor to the penalty box on Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks - five trips to the box and six penalties for a total of 20 minutes. Maybe he liked the view, which was very clear on CBC's broadcast:
Even if it's because of a pair of blurry boobs, CBC has to enjoy the free advertising it'll receive as a result of this flash.
This also made for a rather fitting description of Eager's late, meaningless goal (which he aggressively celebrated while his team still trailed, 7-3) on NHL.com:
Ben Eager added a late goal for window dressing.
This isn't exactly sports media and you've probably seen a fair share of rain delay videos, but I'd be remiss if I didn't proudly say that I graduated from Davidson College in 2008 and played on the baseball team, so this is near and dear to my heart. I might also be able to add a little something extra on rain delay antics.
First, here's the video via Tosh.0:
These type of shenanigans never happened while I was at Davidson unfortunately, but we didn't just sit around and twiddle our thumbs. We'd play pepper, flip, pseudo-pebble tennis or whatever that game with a cup and a fake pebble was called, and other random things. Sometimes we'd tape up an old baseball, start a game of tic-tac-toe or draw up a hypothetical trade, and throw it to the other dugout. They'd either play their turn in tic-tac-toe/counter the trade offer, or just write "No" and toss it back. Good times. But, man, I wish I got a chance to partake in the above. The moose hunting and curling are instant classics, as was Clemson's tanning bed. If I had a shot at this I'd probably suggest, hmmmm, an aerobics class, a Beyonce music video, mock surgery or ... I don't know?! I don't think it gets much better than human curling - and it's less demented than the human centipede.
Wednesday May 18
Colorado Rockies @ Philadelphia Phillies (ESPN 7PM) Dave O'Brien, Nomar Garciaparra
Thursday May 19
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Cincinnati Reds (MLB 12:30PM) Local Broadcast [Alternate Game: Washington @ N.Y. Mets 1PM]
Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox (MLBN 7PM) TBA [Alternate Game: Baltimore @ N.Y. Yankees]
Friday May 20
Chicago Cubs @ Boston Red Sox (MLBN 7PM) Local Broadcast [Alternate Game: N.Y. Mets @ N.Y. Yankees]
Saturday May 21
Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago White Sox (MLBN 2PM) Local Broadcast [Alternate Game: St. Louis @ Kansas City]
New York Mets @New York Yankees (FOX 7PM) Joe Buck, Tim McCarver
Chicago Cubs @ Boston Red Sox (FOX 7PM) Kenny Albert, Eric Karros
Oakland A's @ San Francisco Giants (FOX 7PM) Dick Stockton, Mark Grace
Texas Rangers @ Philadelphia Phillies (FOX 7PM) Matt Vasgersian, Tom Grieve
Atlanta Braves @ Los Angeles Angels (MLBN 10PM) Local Broadcast [Alternate Game: Minnesota @Arizona]
Sunday May 22
New York Mets @ New York Yankees (TBS 1PM) Brian Anderson, John Smoltz
Chicago Cubs @ Boston Red Sox (ESPN 8PM) Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine