NSSA Honors Posnanski, Shulman; Inducts Costas, Feinstein Into HOF
BOB COSTAS and JOHN FEINSTEIN last night were inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's HOF in Salisbury, N.C. In addition to the HOF induction ceremony, the NSSA also honored ESPN's DAN SHULMAN as National Sportscaster of the Year and JOE POSNANSKI as National Sportswriter of the Year. Former NBC Sports Chair DICK EBERSOL was on hand to introduce Costas, calling him the “most complete broadcaster in sports history on television as a host, as a play-by-play man, as an interviewer extraordinaire, an essayist and a humorist.” Ebersol: “Bob sets the agenda for the next week’s conversations around the water cooler everywhere in America.” Costas stressed the importance of signature, global sporting events that draw in viewers. “The one thing I have learned -- even in a fractured media universe where everyone goes to their own little niche -- big time sports events draw just about everybody and it’s still the one thing that draws a wide cross section across every demographic.” He closed by noting the constants in a changing media landscape. “There are values that are, or at least should be, timeless. There is value in words. There’s value in craftsmanship. There’s value in dedication to quality and to truth and to fairness. If it’s good, it’s good, whether it is written with a quill pen on parchment paper or posted on a blog.” Washington Post Associate Editor DAVID MARANISS introduced Feinstein and joked that Feinstein’s passion got him fired (and subsequently rehired) 47 times by then Sports Editor GEORGE SOLOMON. Feinstein addressed the evolution of sports media, saying, “I would say that the news print business may be dying but there will always -- always -- be a place for great reporting and great writing.”
A LONG ROAD: Both Shulman and Posnanski recounted their journeys starting out in the finance industry as an actuary and an accountant, respectively, only to drop those jobs and pursue sports. Shulman told the story of how his first guest on his first sports radio show was DICK VITALE, who was in the audience last night and now works with Shulman on college basketball broadcasts. Shulman also joked about how he thought his first call from ESPN VP/Talent Negotiation & Production Recruitment AL JAFFE was a prank. “The only conclusion I could logically draw was this was my college roommate punking me by pretending to offer me a job that doesn’t exist from a man who’s not real. So I said, ‘Pretty good Rob, you got yourself a fake New York accent.’ And there is five seconds of deafening silence on the other end of the phone. And I hear, ‘I’m going to say this one more time.’”
THE NAME GAME: Posnanski earlier this year announced his departure from SI to join USA Today Sports Media Group and MLBAM’s new digital venture. He said with all the changes in the industry, there is still a place for good stories: “The things we do -- story telling, reporting, analyzing -- that’s not new. All that is exactly as it always was and people want it now more than ever.” Meanwhile, he dropped the name of the new USA Today/MLBAM group, “Sports on Earth.” Posnanski: “A few months ago I got an opportunity for something new that’s going to be coming out in late August that we’re calling -- I think I’m going to be announcing the name here -- that we’re going to call Sports on Earth.” Industry sources this morning confirmed Posnanski's comment that "Sports on Earth" is the working title for the new product. MLBAM and the USA Today Sports Media Group are targeting a late summer launch somewhere around the Sept. 5 start of the NFL season. "Sports On Earth" is already trademarked by MLBAM as it has been the name of a company subsidiary powering a variety of non-MLB websites, including those for MiLB and more than 150 minor league teams, golfer Tiger Woods, the MLBPA, USA Baseball, and several individual MLB players such as Yankees SS Derek Jeter.