As the podcast turns 20 (who would've thunk it), we welcome in the voice of hockey in America, Doc Emrick. Doc is the lead announcer for the NHL on NBC and has called countless Stanley Cup and Olympic hockey games. This week he'll be calling two Game 7s in two days in Boston and New York. In this wide-ranging podcast, Doc chats with AA about...
*How exactly he got the nickname "Doc" *Favorite moments from his career *His thoughts on the difficulty calling hockey compared to other sports and his broadcasting style *The transition to working with an ice level analyst inside the glass and some of the unique challenges that entails *The rise in ratings and the special qualities of playoff hockey *How the NHL is handling discipline and the big hits in this year's playoffs
All that and much more with one of the great play by play men of our generation, Mike Emrick. Doc is someone I've been looking forward to having on the podcast for a long time, hopefully you'll enjoy our conversation.
In case you've missed any of our podcasts, check out all of our interviews on iTunes.
Remember back in February, when Bill Simmons went on a Twitter tirade about Duke refusing to access Shane Ryan of Grantland? Well, Simmons is at it again, and his target this time is the St. Louis Blues.
Baker had no immediate tweet about Simmons' snipe at the Blues, and I couldn't find a response from the Blues. But really, is anyone surprised that Grantland got denied media access again? This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they're likely credentialing a lot more journalists than usual... journalists who cover the team and the league on a daily basis. While Baker is Grantland's resident hockey columnist, she essentially writes between one and three columns a week about the league, with coverage more plentiful over the last two weeks as the playoffs have started.
Furthermore, it's not even as if Baker and Grantland have been doing a lot of coverage of the St. Louis Blues. Doing a search on Grantland for "St. Louis Blues", I get a total of three results.... the most recent of which is from October 28th. If you search for "Blues" you get 65 results. However, the most recent result from Baker (the person who was supposed to be credentialed, mind you) or anyone referring to the hockey team is from November 10th, and the reference is a passing mention to Ken Hitchcock being hired as the team's coach. That was nearly six months ago.
In summary, Simmons is just being petulant again, and I completely understand why the Blues wouldn't credential someone who hasn't said a word about their team in six months. I'm just wondering which league or team Simmons is going to start whining about not credentialing next. Maybe it will be the Olympics, since Grantland has spent so much time talking about Olympic sports in recent months. Maybe the PGA won't credential Grantland for the US Open, and Simmons will start a crusade against golf. All I really know at the end of the day is that Simmons is managing to come off really, really bad by sniping at various teams for not giving credentials to his writers that barely cover the teams on his site.
Being a sideline reporter is no easy task. You have to stay updated on all the game’s key moments, interview various fans, coaches and players and sometimes have to keep your composure when things don’t go exactly as planned.
Such was the case for Fox Sports sideline reporter Shannon Hogan who was given the assignment to go into the stands of Comerica Park during a Tigers home game and try to solicit fans to submit their favorite memories of being at Comerica.
Little did she know the fun time being had at Comerica was at her own expense thanks to a fan of the visiting team.
A Rangers fan who clearly had a little too much to drink jumped behind Shannon during the middle of her live report to give her a good “tongue lashing.” While no words were spoken during the “exchange,” it’s pretty clear Shannon had no idea what was going on behind her until it was too late and the cameras had panned away.
While we can all feel bad for Shannon, who should feel worse are the actual Tiger fans around her that allow a Rangers fan to get away with something like that. Chances are by the way this Rangers fan was acting, at some point during the game or following it, a Tigers fan knocked him out.
ESPN's relationship with the Poynter Institute is back in the spotlight thanks to a letter to the Editor column on the Sports Business Journal by Patrick Steigman, ESPN.com's Editor-in-Chief. The letter is a response to another takedown of ESPN's lack of transparency, perceived conflict of interest, and Poynter's role as watchdog by Auburn professor John Carvalho, also on SBJ's website. If you're interested in this sort of big picture ethics-type stuff (and I assume you're at least a little interested) take the time to read both the initial letter and ESPN's response.
Aside from the actual details in ESPN's response, it's fascinating that someone from the WWL felt the need to respond so strongly to a critique of their perceived conflict of interest and their much debated relationship with Poynter. For so long, ESPN has ignored cries that they've lost their journalistic integrity because they can basically print their own money while dominating the sports landscape. With that being said, let's distill the important points that are debated by the two regarding the Poynter Institute and ESPN's transparency initiative. And no, this won't be as simple as juding a classic Deitsch/Rovell Twitter War.
(1) The Poynter Review Project is hidden on ESPN.com
"First, have you ever tried finding these essays? You’ll need help, and here it is: On the entry page, scroll down almost to the bottom. Under “Feedback” is a link to “Poynter Review Project.” The name “Poynter” is meaningless to most outside of the journalism industry. You’ll have to ask ESPN why they don’t put the word “ethics” there." -Carvalho
There is also an assertion that the Poynter commentaries are difficult to find on ESPN.com. That is a prima facie example of the absence of fact finding. We post every ombudsman column prominently on the ESPN.com home page, they remain easily discoverable for at least 48 hours, and all are searchable. And readers are aware: Ombudsman columns regularly generate hundreds of thousands of page views, some exceeding 500,000. -Steigman
There is some truth to what each claims in this case. To support Carvalho's critique, here's a screen cap of where to find the "Poynter Review Project" on the ESPN main page. Nowhere are the words ombudsman, ethics, or journalism to be found in association with Poynter, only the generic "ESPN Feedback." Its location is well near the bottom of the page.
Carvalho is correct that anyone without prior knowledge of the goals of Poynter and the role they serve at ESPN would be left wondering about the purpose of Poynter. However, Steigman is correct that some Poynter articles have received headline treatment, although most of the time they remain buried beneath the virtual fold on ESPN's front page. Overall, this one's not a big deal. Those who want to find Poynter's articles usually can, but it's not like ESPN is promoting Poynter with the fervor of their other endeavors.
Prior to UFC 145, commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan were preparing for preliminary fights to be shown live on the web via Facebook. As play by play man Goldberg welcomes the viewers to Philips Arena in Atlanta for the night of fights, he immediately botches the introduction. Goldberg attempts to hype the main event of Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans, but can't quite nail that pesky "s" at the end of Evans' name. The result is swear-filled banter by both Goldberg and Rogan that would make Rex Ryan proud over how much the intro sucked. No need for any enforced apologies ala Lee Corso and Ron Jaworski here, folks, this is the UFC!
Finally... finally the NBA has reached the conclusion of its regular season. Who would have thought a truncated regular season thanks to the lockout would still feel like it was about 10 games too long. With the final week of the regular season, it seems like teams are battling each other to lose playoff postitioning instead of gain it. The Heat losing to the Wizards, the Thunder choking against the Lakers minus Metta Ron Artest. Thus, matchups like the Heat/Celtics on Tuesday night may be more notable for who doesn't play than who actually does. The most important matchup looks like Suns/Jazz on Tuesday night with both teams fighting for the 8th seed in the West. That is, unless you're dying to see the Cavs, Bobcats, or Warriors one last time this season.
Monday April 23
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Memphis Grizzlies (NBA TV 8PM) Local Broadcast
Tuesday April 24
Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics (TNT 8PM) Marv Albert, Mike Fratello, Steve Kerr
Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz (TNT 10:30PM) Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller
Wednesday April 25
Los Angeles Clippers @ New York Knicks (ESPN 8PM) Dan Shulman, Hubie Brown
San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns (ESPN 10:30PM) Dave Pasch, Chris Mullin
Thursday April 26
New York Knicks @ Charlotte Bobcats (TNT 8PM) Marv Albert, Mike Fratello
San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors (TNT 10:30PM) Kevin Harlan, TBA
Just one round into the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the league is setting ratings records on NBC. Sunday's game six battle between the Bruins and Capitals drew a 2.5 overnight rating, which was up 56% from the Flyers-Sabres game in 2011, and 92% from the Coyotes-Red Wings game in 2010. Futhermore, the 2.5 that the game drew was the highest rating of the season for NHL games on NBC, topping even the Winter Classic in January. That 2.5 is also the highest rated Stanley Cup playoff game (excluding the finals) since 1998, when the Red Wings and Stars drew a 2.6 rating in game four of the Western Conference Finals.
Not to be outclassed, the Flyers-Penguins game six that aired earlier on Sunday drew a 2.4 overnight rating, falling just behind the game that happened later in the evening. There was no comparable game last year to this one, but it still crushed the primetime games that the Bruins-Capitals game also destroyed. In fact, that 2.4 is the second highest rating for a Stanley Cup playoff (again, excluding finals) game since 1998.... second behind the game that aired later that evening.
Saturday's game five between the Bruins and Capitals was also up, though not to the extent of Sunday's game. Game five had a 1.5 overnight rating, up 15% on both the 2011 (Capitals-Rangers) and 2010 (Predators-Blackhawks) games.
When you compare this weekend's ratings to the ratings from the first weekend of the playoffs last week, it's apparent to me that the NHL is on an absolute roll right now. The mainstream media will focus on the abundance of big hits and suspensions in the first round, but the fact of the matter is that the hockey that's being played is really evenly matched up, with the Bruins-Capitals series having all six games thus far decided by one goal, and all five of the Coyotes-Blackhawks games heading to overtime. The ridiculously entertaining Flyers-Penguins series drew in oodles of fans, due to the bad blood between the teams and an inordinate amount of goals. If the level of play stays this high as we head into the conference semifinals, the NHL could continue to break ratings records, and that is nothing but a good thing for the league, and the sport as a whole.
We discussed the issue of NBA TV using local broadcasts of playoff games last season. Buried in this USA Today piece, we've learned that this year, NBA TV is going to use its own national crew for the games.
When you have oodles of playoff games in the first round like both the NBA and NHL do, there's bound to be some outsourcing. The NHL Network has done that this year by airing the local Blackhawks feed of their series against the Coyotes in several games so far. The same has been true for the Devils-Panthers series. It doesn't seem to be as highly discussed as the NBA's decision last year, mainly due to the presence of multiple viable NBA announce teams and the homerific calls that featured in last year's playoffs. For fans of those markets, the calls were fine, but for national audiences, they were just plain out of touch. Remember the silence that met this Gary Neal buzzer beater last year? Turner Sports owns NBA TV, and that makes it hard to believe they couldn't scrape together even a D-level announce team for some series that are airing on the network.
I can understand why networks would do this, but at the same time it cheapens the product for fans of teams who don't have their broadcast simulcasted. If I'm a Devils fan, and I'm sitting here listening to the Panthers announcers during the playoffs (and not by choice)... how in the hell do you think I'm going to feel? It's good to see that NBA TV rectified an issue that bothered a lot of people last season, but it would be nice to see the NHL Network follow suit soon.
But none is quite the perfect marriage of sound and pictures as what you'll see below. Metta World Peace going all Ron Artest on James Harden was the NBA story of the weekend and led Mike Breen to reminisce about a total Palace style breakdown. Breen was fantastic in calling out Artest and Lakers fans for their "cheers of ignorance" for Artest's zany antics. But even better is superimposing the crazed, bloodthirsty commentary of Celtics legend Johnny Most as if he would be describing the Bad Boy Pistons. Most was the voice of the Celtics from 1953 to 1990 and was one of the most recognizable announcers in sports due to his colorful, passionate commentary. When that is applied to Metta World Peace, it's like a cornucopia of NBA history in a neat 48 second package...
We can only hope the Johnny Most meme takes off soon.
Real Madrid all but clinched their first La Liga title since 2008 with a 2-1 victory over Barcelona in El Clasico. Real moved seven points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table with only four games remaining in the league. It was the first league victory in El Clasico for Real Madrid in eight games, dating back to when they last won the league in 2008 and only the second victory for Jose Mourinho since he took charge in 2010. The indomitable Ray Hudson of GolTV was there for the occasion, here's the transcripts of his best calls, including Cristiano Ronaldo's game winner in the 73rd minute...
1-0 Khedira Goal (2:00)
"Ay!... Goal!... they're molten celebrations now from the Madridistas in stunned Camp Nou looks on. A collection of errors. Carlos Puyol has the ball locked between his legs, in between his feet, and cannot shift it, doesn't get it here. Wonderfully won by Pepe. Valdes, perhaps should have had it pulled in once it goes to ground... it's just unfortunate between the captain and his goalkeeper. It falls right between the devil and the deep blue sea and Khedira says thank you very much. First blood to Los Blancos.
Xavi miss (3:38)
"OOOHHH... GENIUS BEYOND BELIEF FROM LIONEL MESSI... take a look at this and drop your jaws to the ground. Amazing from Lionel Messi on the run between three players, slips it in beautifully, should have been a corner. I don't believe Xavi appealed for that one even, but that should have been a goal."
Tello miss (4:40)
"THERE IT IS... AAAAHHHHH!!!!"
1-1 Sanchez (5:31)
"Oh, magic... brilliant... AH!... WOOHH... AH!... astonishing, wonderful buildup. Iker Casillas does everything he can spreading himself like a big yellow octopus to keep them out, but on and on they came and it's that man, man, I told you, danger in the Chilean. Alexis Sanchez totally like a shark and he dives in here. Wonderful buildup by the artful dodger Messi, backheel by Iniesta, Tello slapshots it, wonderful followup from Adriano, Sergio Ramos cannot get it out of dodge."
2-1 Ronaldo (6:33)
"GREAT BALL IN, HE'S ON... DEADLY FROM DARTH VADER!! The dark invader they call him, well this one is a DEATH RAY HIT from Real Madrid's glamour boy. It's a fabulous ball to find him again. When we see this again it's steered into him, it's curled into his stride and he ain't ever gonna miss this, even against Victor Valdes. Look at this ball, guess who it's from (Ozil). Wonderful Avatar eyes finds the dark invader who is in like a cat burglar behind the defense. He knows the goal posts ain't movin and he tells them be quiet, I'm runnin this show now, baby! What a game!"
"Big celebration days and they'll be some major hoochie gucci going on in the bedrooms of Madrid tonight!"