• TV Timeout: Eighteen & Life

    Channel surfing in the last 24 hours has seen plenty of reaction to the speculation that Alex Rodriguez could be banned for life from MLB. CNBC’s Jane Wells: "Why do these threats always come down when a player's best money-making days are behind him? A lifetime ban on Ryan Braun? That would scare players" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 7/29).

    ESPN's Tony Kornheiser asked, "Am I the only one troubled with the fact that we have known for months now that these suspensions are imminent and only one guy, Ryan Braun, has been kicked out so far? They have the cooperation of Tony Bosch, they have records, there's a list of about 20 people. Why is Ryan Braun the only one out?" Columnist Kevin Blackistone: "Because it's been poorly handled by MLB once again. They said a few weeks ago they wanted to take care of this in the summer. Now they're taking care of it piecemeal" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/29).

    But SNY's Jonas Schwartz notes MLB may not have an easy path to a life sentence for A-Rod: “I cannot imagine Michael Weiner and the players' union is ready to rollover on a lifetime ban for a guy who has never tested positive once." N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman added, "I don’t see the players association abandoning him" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 7/29).

    SWEET 16: SI’s Andy Staples reacted to the spate of injuries during the first week of NFL training camps, and opined on why the league should stick to a 16-game schedule, as opposed to expanding to 18 games. Staples: “You can’t do it. You can’t make yourself more liable when that lawsuit finally gets to court. You cannot press this issue anymore if you're Roger Goodell” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/29). 

    LIFE IN THE VALLEY: CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said of the 49ers potentially offering apps that allow fans to see the lines at concession stands and restrooms, “If you're in Northern California you have to have the next level stuff. Silicon Valley is right there, that’s who’s coming to this game. People who work for Apple are coming to your games, you got to have next level apps. … I’m going to be impressed, kind of, with the next level ingenuity to it and especially considering how long they’ve wanted to replace Candlestick” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 7/29).

    DADDY DEAREST: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke, on whether golfer Hunter Mahan's sponsors are comfortable with him withdrawing from the Canadian Open while leading after two rounds to attend the birth of his child: "It makes him even more endorsable" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/29).

  • TV Timeout: From Biogenesis To The Legacy Of 'JerryWorld'

    The MLB PED scandal involving the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic remained a hot topic, with many analysts discussing the scandal’s impact on MLB and beyond. Appearing on ESPN’s “Around The Horn,” Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the NBA is the “next big steroid busting” sport because “you see every four years at the Olympics all these players lose weight … because drug-testing is so much more difficult at the Olympics.” Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “I always wonder about the NBA and how it kind of skates in this process because … what players looked like just 15-20 years ago and what they look like today and you’re thinking, ‘Is that protein shakes? Is that what happened?’” Cowlishaw said “it’s all about star power” in these PED revelations and “in baseball, it’s MVPs, it’s Cy Young winners, it’s home run kings. That’s why baseball has been killed in this process.” Cowlishaw: “People always ask, ‘Why is baseball the sport that gets killed in this?’ One of the reasons is their commissioner goes out of the way to make this stuff giant headlines while the other ones shy away from it.”

    ESPN’s Bomani Jones said, “Unlike Major League Baseball, nobody else is going to go out of their way to talk to this man (whistle blower Porter Fischer) and say, ‘Hey, could you please give us a scandal that will mire us in the news and we won’t be able to do anything about it?’ Why would you do that? Only baseball has an incentive to do that because of its history” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/26). NBC’s Jay Leno noted Brewers LF Ryan Braun has been suspended by MLB for the rest of season for cheating using PEDs. Leno: “You know what’s the sad part? The Brewers are already 19 games out of first place. That’s with performance-enhancing drugs. How bad are they going to be now?” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 7/26).

    THE PATRIOT WAY: New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said the Patriots “have become the bad karma capital for all their success since the last time they won the Super Bowl.” The Patriots have had Spygate, lost “two unbelievable Super Bowls, a lot of stuff has happened” but the “machine keeps rolling along and it seems like every time you look up they’re 10-2” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 7/28). NBC’s Leno asked “SNF” announcer Cris Collinsworth, “The Patriots are always sort of the straight-laced team, right?” Collinsworth: “They are and it’s not good. There’s nothing good about it but they got Tim Tebow so maybe that will straighten them all out a little bit” (“The Tonight Show,” NBC, 7/26).

    HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS? ESPN's Skip Bayless said the comment by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that the newly named AT&T Stadium will be “more familiar than the White House” was “over the edge.” Bayless: “This was a 70-year-old Jerry Jones who has built a monument to himself, JerryWorld, who’s saying, ‘I want my monument to become more familiar to people in this country than the most important edifice in this country, the White House.’ Are you kidding me, Jerry?” Bayless said it has “become more about Jerry promoting Jerry than winning football games.” ESPN's Jemele Hill said the “reason that people don’t know how smart” Jones is because “he does stuff like this.” He is “always talking at the wrong time saying the wrong thing.” ESPN’s Michael Smith said, “I don’t think he literally thinks that the most important building in the country is going to be second to JerryWorld. But if you’ve been to JerryWorld … impressive doesn’t do it justice” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 7/26).

    • ESPN’s Zubin Mehenti said of NCAA reform, “You think conference realignment is a big deal. That’s going to be nothing compared to this if this goes down” (“College Football Live,” ESPN, 7/26).

    Tags: MLB, ESPN, NBA, Olympics, Baseball
  • TV Timeout: Varied reaction to Bill Belichick press conference

    Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s handling of Wednesday’s press conference, when he addressed the Aaron Hernandez situation, was the topic of the last 24 hours from TV’s talking heads. Here is a sampling of how it played:
    FROM THE HUB: WEEI’s John Dennis, on Belichick’s presser: “It was a sad mixture of candor and contrition, sadness and anger, and something we rarely, if ever, see from Bill Belichick: That would be humility and humanity.” WEEI’s Gerry Callahan added, “He surprised me at every turn. He genuinely seemed like this affected him and he did not downplay it, diminish it, dismiss it at any point.”

    Will Belichick’s reaction help the team going forward, help the organization, and help Belichick’s image? Callahan: “It could hurt the team because this is something new; because I’ve never seen him affected by something. This affected him. Why do we think, if it affected this coach, this rock, why do we think this won’t affect this team?”
    Dennis added that the Belichick comments can help the team “diffuse or mitigate this idea that the New England Patriots are arrogant, the New England Patriots have this superiority complex, the New England Patriots think their feces doesn’t stink, the Patriots are holier than thou, and while probably a lot of people still think that across the country, I think Bill Belichick, in that seven-minute statement, went a long way to say, ‘This is affecting us too. We are hurt by this.’” (“Dennis & Callahan,” WEEI-FM, 7/25).
    GOING AROUND THE HORN: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke: “For the most part, he was very un-Belichickian. He was very humble, he was somber, he was affected. He clearly knows his role as the leader of a team that is supposed to be one of the pillars of the community. He seemed very remorseful and he actually admitted that the Patriots could do things differently.” … Denver Post columnist Woody Paige: “This didn’t seem like the Bill Belichick that normally comes into press conferences and wants to be confrontational. I believe that he was very well prepared. I believe either the attorneys or the PR staff or a lot of other people — Robert Kraft — had said, ‘Here is what you’ve got to address.’” … ESPN’s Bomani Jones: “Given the fact he didn’t even bother to take the pencil from behind his ear before giving his talk looked to me like a man that just wanted to get this over with.” … ESPN’s Pablo Torre: “I don’t know why he couldn’t answer something that Bob Kraft did … which was that he felt duped. I don’t know if that’s really compromising a legal process. My frustration with Bill Belichick is that the guy isn’t an artist working in a room by himself, free to be unbothered by the public. He is the head of a very public organization, a very well-paid guy. We should expect a lot more of Bill Belichick.” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/24).
    • NFL Network’s Albert Breer: “If there’s one thing that surprised me, it was how far that he went with his tone. You could sense regret, you could sense sympathy and you sense even a little bit of embarrassment that his program is connected to this” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 7/24).

    • ESPN’s Tim Hasselbeck: “He did a good job of conveying the importance of the issue, but at the same time putting a lid on how much he was going to go into it and talk about it.” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 7/24).

    • NBC Sports’ Dave Briggs: “The ‘Patriot Way’ was considered the gold standard in terms of the players they brought in. Now it’s forever changed. That brand is forever damaged.” (“Today,” NBC, 7/25).

    • SI’s Jim Trotter: “We’re kidding ourselves if we think that Robert Kraft and the team attorneys didn’t have something to do with the statement that went on today. He had bullet points there that he kept hitting over and over for us.” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/24).

    • N.Y. Daily News’ Bob Raissman: “That was more emotion than I’ve ever seen [Belichick] display. They’ll be haunted by this and it’s going to dog them all season.” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 7/24).

    • CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce: “I like that he said, ‘Condolences to the family, I care about you and I’m hurt by this as well.’” … CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb: “I will point out that these guys were invested in the Aaron Hernandez business until [they cut him]. Is that the reason that he is bothered by it? Yeah, he’s troubled by it, but at some point somebody needs to say, ‘He was one of us.’” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 7/24).

    Tags: Franchises, Law and Politics, People and Pop Culture, On The Ground
  • Yahoo — pleased with 49ers deal — open to talks with other teams

    Yahoo is open to the idea of partnering with other NFL teams on fantasy football lounges, as the company is pleased with the one it will be sponsoring at Levi’s Stadium. That’s according to Bob Stohrer, Yahoo senior vice president, brand creative, who said the company specifically chose to partner with the 49ers (in a deal announced in June) because of its close relationship with and proximity to the Bay Area, as well as the franchise’s commitment to making Levi’s Stadium the most technologically advanced facility in the league.

    But Stohrer added that although Yahoo is excited about its sponsorship at Levi’s Stadium — in a 10-year deal that will extend to more areas than just the 22,000-square-foot lounge — the company sees the lounge concept as something that could be part of other NFL facilities if they decided to build them.

    “Fantasy football lounges make a lot of sense both for Yahoo and for any team that we might partner with down the road, because it’s ultimately about enhancing the experience that the fan has at the game, and adding more value to the face value of the ticket price,” Stohrer said. “We’re certainly interested in continuing to build on our leadership position in fantasy, and while we love the partnership with the 49ers, we’re always going to be looking for additional ways to strengthen that position.”

    Stohrer did not say if Yahoo is currently involved in negotiations with any other teams regarding a lounge sponsorship, but with virtually every team in the league eyeing improvements to its game-day experience — with the Jaguars already stating their intention to open a fantasy lounge by the start of this season, on top of the Falcons saying they may build one at their new stadium — it is conceivable other teams will follow suit.

    Tags: On The Ground, Franchises
  • A Special visit

    Patrick McClenahan in Charlotte.
    Patrick McClenahan, the president and CEO of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, stopped by our office today to meet with members of our editorial staff. He is in Charlotte for the Special Olympics North America Conference, which is bringing together Special Olympics representatives from across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. He talked about Los Angeles’ plans to host the Games from July 24 to Aug. 2, 2015, as 7,000 athletes from 170 countries will participate in events across 27 venues. The event will mark the first time the World Games will be in the U.S. since it was held in Raleigh in 1999.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • ESPN, Turner out of NASCAR; Fox and NBC to share rights

    ESPN and Turner Sports will be out of the NASCAR business after next season, according to several sources. NASCAR is planning a press conference later today to announce that Fox and NBC will share rights to the sport starting in 2015. Financial terms of NBC’s deal and its broadcast plans aren’t known, but the network had been pitching NASCAR on returning the Sprint Cup series to broadcast TV and could air races on Sunday afternoons on NBC prior to "Sunday Night Football." NBC also picked up rights to the second half of the Nationwide Series. It’s unclear if those races will be on NBC or NBC Sports Network. Read the full story in today's SportsBusiness Daily. And the latest update from this afternoon's Closing Bell.

    Tags: ESPN, NASCAR, Fox, NBC, Sprint, Football
  • Business of mascots: Bonus material

    In this week’s issue of SportsBusiness Journal, we take a look at the business of mascots. In addition to those stories — including a firsthand account from a writer who spent part of his evening as a minor league mascot — here are some more things about mascots you maybe didn’t know, along with a look at two mascot contests that have found success.

    Compiled by SBJ editorial assistant Stephanie Brown.
    Mr. Met
    Originally with the Montreal Expos, when the MLB club left for Washington, D.C., in 2005, Youppi! stayed behind — and joined the NHL Canadiens as that historic club’s first mascot.

    Mr. Met
    First MLB mascot, in 1964 for the New York Mets

    Benny the Bull
    First NBA mascot, in 1969 for the Chicago Bulls

    Benny the Bull
    NHL Kings mascot wears No. 72 — because that’s the average temperature in Los Angeles

    The MiLB mascot contest

    Minor League Baseball last year hosted a contest it called Mascot Mania, featuring 64 MiLB club mascots. Fans voted for their favorites online, via the MiLB website, throughout the four-week contest, ultimately naming Orbit of the Albuquerque Isotopes champion. The contest is back again for 2013, debuting last week with 160 characters in the starting field this year.

    The Capital One/NCAA football mascot contest
    It started in 2002 with 12 participants; last year’s contest featured 16 characters. Run in conjunction with the college football season, the winners are selected through fan voting via Facebook, Twitter and the Capital One Bowl website. The champions through the years:
    2012: Raider Red (Texas Tech)
    2011: Wolfie Jr. (Nevada)
    2010: Big Blue (Old Dominion University)
    2009: Bearcat (University of Cincinnati)
    2008: Cy (Iowa State University)
    2007: Zippy (University of Akron)
    2006: Butch T. Cougar (Washington State University)
    2005: Herbie Husker (University of Nebraska)
    2004: Monte (University of Montana)
    2003: Cocky (University of South Carolina)
    2002: Monte (University of Montana)

    Tags: On The Ground, Franchises
  • Rousing sendoff for Granger

    NBA team presidents met on July 17 at the Wynn Las Vegas during summer league play and while there was much business discussed, the league’s top brass also gave Chris Granger a rousing sendoff as the executive vice president of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations (TMBO) departs to become president of the Sacramento Kings effective Aug. 1.

    After Granger gave what was his final presentation during the meeting, he was given with a standing ovation, with Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts delivering a speech praising Granger and TMBO. NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver also recognized Granger in front of the team presidents.

    Now the fun begins for Granger, who headed TMBO since 2008. He takes over business operations for the Kings as it looks to rebuild its alienated fan base in Sacramento following the team’s prolonged sale by the Maloofs. Granger must also help the team’s new ownership led by Vivek Ranadivé build a new arena.

    One of the main business topics discussed by the presidents was secondary ticketing issues.

    Ceasers Entertainment chief executive officer Gary Loveman also addressed the team presidents during the meeting. Loveman also owns a minority stake in the Boston Celtics.

    Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies, People and Pop Culture
  • Catching Up With Seth Abraham, Part 4: The Secret To Preparation

    In a final post, former HBO Sports President Seth Abraham remembers how Billie Jean King “worked” herself into a top broadcaster, and discusses the secret to preparation and his advice to young people looking to get into sports today:

    “When Billie Jean King retired from active tennis, HBO went to her and wanted to match her up with Arthur Ashe for our coverage at Wimbledon. And Billie had done no broadcasting, none. She had done nothing. So HBO hires her and she worked so hard to become a good broadcaster. She took lessons. She took elocution lessons. She spoke to dozens of people about what does it take to be a good broadcaster. She was the furthest thing from a natural. Mary Carillo is a natural, John McEnroe is a natural. Billie was the furthest thing from a natural, and yet within two years, maybe three, she turned herself into a first-rate tennis analyst by sheer hard work. I so admired that. She didn’t phone it in because her name was Billie Jean King. I so admired that in her. So she is way up there in my mind.”

    “When I give advice to young people about getting a start in sports business, I tell them the best ways in are in startups.”
    “When I left my office at night, my secretary gave me index cards, I don’t trust my memory anymore. So, my secretary would give me an index card with all my phone calls that I had not returned. And either on the way home or that night I would start returning phone calls. Just as a courtesy. I want my calls returned. You don’t have to return my call, but your office has to. The secretary or assistant, I don’t have to talk to you. But I want my called returned. So if I want my call returned, I’m going to return everyone’s call to me. Standing practice.

    “I went to the University of Toledo and I majored in baseball and fraternity. In my senior year, I actually started going to class and started paying attention to getting an education. Very rarely in my career, very rarely, was I the smartest person in the room. But I was always the most prepared person in the room. I would come into a meeting totally prepared. I wouldn’t wing it. I knew what people wanted, if they were selling something, I knew about them. If they were first-timers, people who I had not met before. And I say this to my daughter today, in your life you may not be the smartest person in the room, but you can always be the most prepared person by getting ready for the meeting.”

    “When I give advice to young people about getting a start in sports business, I tell them the best ways in are in startups. Startups and companies, teams and leagues, that are in expansion. It’s not so easy to get a job with the NFL right now unless you are related to Roger Goodell. Well-established, pick of the litter. When I was at HBO, young people who couldn’t get a job at HBO went to ESPN. It was a startup. So now you have CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network and so many others. You have to look for the startups and don’t think to yourself, ‘I’m going to get a job with the Yankees. I’m going to get a job with the Mets.’ Those jobs are awfully hard to come by. So I tell people, look at companies, look at leagues that are in some kind of growth mode and that’s where I would concentrate their efforts. And I also tell them, if you can sell, that is a great skill to have. A great skill to have.”

    Click here to read:
    Part 1: Trusting The People You Hire
    Part 2: A Job Interview To Remember
    Part 3: Pursuing Bill Russell

    Tags: HBO, HBO Sports, DC, Tennis, Wimbledon
  • Catching Up With Seth Abraham, Part 3: Pursuing Bill Russell

    During his time at HBO Sports, Seth Abraham had one main subject in mind for one of the network’s much acclaimed documentaries: Bill Russell. Here, he recalls the story about his pursuit of the NBA legend and the mark it made on him.

    Abraham talks about his pursuit of NBA legend Bill Russell.
    “For years and years, I wanted to do a documentary about Bill Russell. He is a true Renaissance man, and I wanted to do a documentary film about him. Every time I spoke to him about it he said no. I went to half a dozen people to speak on my behalf to him and he said no to all of them. A very illustrious group of people, and he still said no. So, I dropped it; he obviously didn’t want to do it.

    A couple of years later, Lou DiBella, who worked for me at HBO and oversaw the boxing, said, ‘You know Seth, but I went to law school with Bill’s oldest daughter Karen, why don’t we go to Boston and meet her?’ So we go to Boston and I tell her the story. She says, ‘I don’t know if my father will do this, but I will talk to him.’ A month goes by, Bill Russell calls me. ‘You [expletive], I can’t believe you went to my princess. I can’t believe you found my Achilles’ heel. She thinks I should do it, I hate to disappoint her. I’m going to do it.’ He says, ‘The only thing I insist on, I want approval of the writer.’ I said, ‘Bill, I’ve been working on this show in my mind for six years. I have a writer. Frank Deford.’ He said, ‘Approved.’ They’re friends, I knew that.

    But here is another part of the story. As our producer Ross Greenburg is working on the documentary, I said to Ross, ‘It’s your call, but let me give you a suggestion. Let’s not use Liev Schreiber on this documentary, let’s use Bill. Let’s have Bill tell his own story.’ And Ross buys into it. So here we go. And one part just sticks with me. You’re now listening to Bill Russell. It’s his second exhibition game, he’s drafted by the Boston Celtics out of the University of San Francisco. The team flies into Syracuse to play the Syracuse Nationals in an exhibition game. A good-looking, well-dressed man goes up to Red Auerbach in the terminal, and says, ‘Mr. Auerbach, my name is Joe, I’m a real Celtics fan. Can I get your autograph?’ Auerbach says, ‘What’s your name again?’ He tells him. Auerbach signs a book. ‘To Joe, best wishes, go Celtics.’ Again you’re listening to Bill. Now Joe goes up to Bill Russell and says, ‘Aren’t you the new Celtics center? Aren’t you the All-American center and the new Celtics center?’ Russell says, ‘No.’ The guy looks at him and says, ‘No?’ Russell says, ‘No.’ The guy walks away with a strange look on his face. Auerbach sees this and walks over and says, ‘Bill, he asked you politely, he was respectful, why didn’t you sign his autograph book?’ And Russell, at 24 years old, says, ‘Mr. Auerbach, that’s what I do for a living, but that is not who I am.’ And I used to remind myself of that all the when I worked at HBO and Madison Square Garden: It’s what I do for a living, but it’s not who I am.”

     “Bill Russell: My Life, My Way” premiered on HBO Sports in 2000.

    Click here to read:
    Part 1: Trusting The People You Hire
    Part 2: A Job Interview To Remember

    Tags: HBO, HBO Sports, NBA
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