John Smoltz, Hayden Nowkhah, Kara Lawson lead Media Power List
Smoltz, who works as a TBS MLB game analyst during the regular season and has served as a guest analyst for Braves games, has been prescient much of this series and educated viewers nightly on pitching. My colleague Lee Jenkins called him "the rare ex-athlete willing and able to explain complexities of the craft on TV."
Announcers, like hitters, sometimes find themselves in a groove and that's where Smoltz is in at the moment. He's having a postseason to remember.
While I've been critical of some of ESPN's editorial and talent choices, the company is world class when it comes to helping its employees in times of family crisis. Dari Nowkhah said he heard from people at every level of ESPN during Hayden's time in the hospital and the network flew anchors from Bristol to Charlotte (where ESPNU is based) to help alleviate his work duty as the lead anchor for ESPNU. There was also an outpouring from his colleagues on social media. "It alleviated one major stress at the worst time of our lives," Nowkhah said.
Nowkhah said he and his wife Jenn wanted to do something to keep Hayden's name alive, and to help others. They decided to honor Hayden's life by raising funds to assist the Children's Organ Transplant Association families. The money will be used to help defray expenses for families, which can be exorbitant.
The link for Hayden's
Nowkhah moved to Charlotte two months ago after working out of Bristol for seven years. He is back to work at his network and focusing on his two young children, Nicolas, who just turned 6, and Nahla, who will be 2 next month. "We've had our days and hours and thoughts like "How does this happen to a baby born perfectly healthy?" he said. "It doesn't make sense and it never will. But when we put the story
He's a young announcer (40) with a good voice and a nice sense for the flow of play. "I know there will be a lot more people watching and talking about me, and criticizing or praising," said Anderson, who
Anderson said he's exchanged text messages with his colleague Johnson. "He's a friend and someone I really look up to and respect," Anderson said. "I want to do right by Ernie because I know the pressure that comes in having to skip work or miss a job as significant as this because of family. I told Ernie I wanted to take as much stress away as I could from this side of it, hopefully do a good job, make the right calls, and make Ernie proud."
(Note: Turner Sports is in partnership with SI.com and runs the site's business operations.)
The result is surreal, though Gonzalo, who Dan LeBatard
The premise of LeBatard's show isn't radical: LeBatard offers his take on a series of
The interview segment is where
It was a terrific question and White froze for a second, a rare honest moment on shows like these. White said there was no one he turned to and LeBatard smartly picked up on it and followed up again. Gonzola then followed by asking White about romance, and again White was stumped. It was interesting television.
ESPN2's new afternoon block debuted Sept. 12 and LeBatard's show has averaged 152,000 viewers, according to
Can the show succeed for the long haul? It depends on what ESPN defines as success.
While I'm unlikely to make this destination viewing, I actually admire the effort, and this comes from someone who often finds LeBatard's sis-boom-bah-ing of Miami sports teams (while also trying to cast himself as Johnny Journalism) at times infuriating. If nothing else, LeBatard and his producers rolled the dice on something different and bravo to that. And if Gonzalo LeBatard has any interest in replacing Craig James on ESPN's Thursday Night football coverage, I'll start the campaign tomorrow.
Naturally, Russo didn't poll Red Sox fans, nor does he work out of Boston to glean such insight (SiriusXM is based in New York). It's no fun to criticize SiriusXM because the network features terrific sports programming, including on Russo's own Mad Dog Radio (Dino Costa being the best of the lot for doing something unique nightly, which is commenting on his own network). But the face of a sports radio network should be much better than the comment above, which gives credence to those who have said Russo would be served better by having a co-host to mitigate his occasional irrationalities.
In an attempt to provide context and fairness, I emailed the
"There's actually been a collectively reasonable perspective on all of this. I suppose I can see where Russo would assume that given the old woe-is-us perception of Boston fans and media. But 2004 changed things, and 2007 -- and the five other sports championships this decade -- erased a lot of that attitude. He should know better."
Williams has every right to speak his mind, and his employer has every right to pull him if it contends he went over a line of decency or political advocacy. Two weeks ago I wrote about the
Williams, too, is an independent contractor employed by ESPN, and I can only promise you one thing: This won't be the last time we see people on a sports outlet dip their toe into political commentary.