Covering major league baseball has never been more all-encompassing than it is today, given the multiple platforms for content and the intense competition both locally and nationally. To give readers some insight into the job, I gathered five well-respected media people who cover the sport in different capacities.
(Editor's note: The panel was asked to go as long or as short as they wanted with their answers. They were free to skip any questions.)
1. How would you define your job?
Jaffe: I blend a bit of reporting, a bit of opinion, a bit of humor and a whole lot of analysis. SI's Strike Zone is a blog in that things get published at all hours of the day and have a feel of immediacy, but we're selective about what we cover, and we strive for substance when we weigh in. My focus is generally on the biggest topic of the day -- a big move, a new controversy, a look at the top pitchers available at the trade deadline, or what Mike Trout's next contract could entail, whatever.
Neal: I don't know if "Twins beat writer" covers it anymore. I cover a beat. I break news. I write features and game stories. But you really have two jobs now: You write for your paper and you write for your website. We also use a lot of video. I use a smartphone to record video interviews. I also head to the office to shoot video updates for the website. We blog before and after games -- sometimes during games, if there's breaking news. And, my goodness, who can forget Twitter, how it's tied into all of the above on a daily basis. I'm open to suggestions on what the job title should be!
Rosenthal: Good question. My responsibilities at Fox alone seem to change every year; we've got a new network, Fox Sports 1, and the evolution of technology forever creates new wrinkles. Twitter obviously was the biggest adjustment, but in my home office now I've got a camera, television lights and a backdrop that descends from a remote control; no longer do I have to go to a studio to tape "hits" for television, and that's pretty amazing to me. As for the job itself, the essence of what I do is information. By that, I don't just mean breaking news, though that certainly is a large part of it. On a Fox broadcast I might relate an interesting personal anecdote about a player. For Foxsports.com I might write a column that attempts to put information into context and reflects my own views. If I can tell the reader/viewer something they didn't know, give them a fresh perspective, then I'm happy.
Sherman: Whether it is with The Post or MLB Network, the job is can you take what you think fans should know or want to know or what they would find entertaining, and present it well? To me, that means making things understandable, but without treating readers or viewers poorly. I don't like the idea of talking to the lowest common denominator. Be informative, funny, dramatic -- use the tools that you think provides the best presentation. The goal is to make the reader or viewer leave saying, "I didn't know that" or "that makes me think of the argument in a different way" or --- at the very least -- that was five minutes well spent.
Slusser: Full-time coverage of the Oakland A's, year-round, with the occasional quick foray into hockey in the baseball offseason when I can.
2. How many hours do you work per week?
Jaffe: It can vary greatly. Generally 45-50 during the regular season but stretches of 60 in July (near the trading deadline), October (postseason) and December (winter meetings and Hall of Fame season, which has become my specialty). It's a gentler schedule in January and February, thankfully.
Neal: If you're worth a damn as a beat writer you are on the phone during the day, checking in with sources or working on features and projects. You can make over a dozen phone calls before you get to the park at 2:30 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. game. The final blog is dropped around midnight. So you can rack up the 12-hour (and more) days during the season.
Rosenthal: Do I have to answer this? If I'm awake, I'm generally plugged in, reading, monitoring Twitter, checking email, etc. Baseball news literally breaks at all hours. Obviously, some periods are more intense than others, but the job has become 24-7-365. And the offseason can be crazier than the season. Just for perspective, there was no Internet when I started as an Orioles beat writer for the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1987. We did not use cell phones. And my newspaper did not publish Saturday and Sunday. Things were a little different then, to say the least.
Sherman: Too many. I love the technology, but I am Type-A and I never shut off now. There are no weekends, vacations, at least not pure ones where I don't check Twitter or respond to a text or email or see something that interests me, which leads to a text to a source, etc.
Slusser: It varies depending on the time of year, obviously, but during spring training the days can go from 8 a.m. to 7-8 p.m. and during the season on road trips, it's seven-day weeks that include lots of plane flights and those can be 17 hour days if it's coast to coast, as is often the case with a West Coast team. Weeks with lots of breaking news plus travel and no days off can easily be 80-90-hour work weeks or more. Add in the time on Twitter and keeping up with baseball news on the Internet and I don't even want to think about how many work hours there really might be.
3. What players or managers have been the best to deal with as a member of the media and why?
Jaffe: I loved covering Jim Leyland in the 2011 and 2012 playoffs when the Tigers faced the Yankees, and at the 2013 All-Star Game. He's a quote machine, and his gruff demeanor has a softer side. I inadvertently got him to choke up talking about utilityman Don Kelly at the end of the 2011 ALDS. He'll be missed.
I've generally enjoyed dealing with Joe Girardi, Andy Pettitte and Curtis Granderson. All of them are pros at dealing with the media, and if they're not incredibly candid, they at least don't turn the process into a drag. Granderson's answers have always seemed a cut above the usual baseball patter.
Neal: This is my 20th year covering baseball. There are so many. Herk Robinson was great to me when he was general manager of the Royals. Mark Gubicza, after he suffered a broken leg, let me come to his house and write about him watching his team on TV while wondering about his career. Jay Bell, first class guy. George Brett was always great to talk to. [Twins GM] Terry Ryan is accessible on a daily basis. Beat writers for other papers have more contact with Ryan than they do the GM of the teams they cover. Torii Hunter, one of a kind. Ron Gardenhire can fill up your notebook on any aspect of the game -- and throw in a funny story or two. Paul Molitor articulates the game like no one I have encountered in my career.
Rosenthal: There are many, but I already miss Jim Leyland. He could be cantankerous, but he understood and at times even enjoyed the give-and-take. Among players, Adam Wainwright is a personal favorite -- he is very forthcoming and well-spoken. My goodness, we all love Torii Hunter. And the 2013 Red Sox, as a group, were a blast to cover.
Sherman: The answer is many, but I will cite one person -- Buck Showalter. And not because he is the best to deal with in a traditional way. Especially when he was Yankees manager and I was the beat guy for The Post, he could be deceptive, misleading, etc. But when I was a young beat writer in the early 1990s (I started on the beat in 1989 at 25), Buck was a coach for the Yankees. And no one took more time to break down what was occurring on the field. It was like taking a Ph.D course every day. He was gracious with his time and insight, and I really feel when I watch a game, I use more of the stuff I learned in those few years from someone who explained a hidden game to me than any other 20 people combined. I have thanked him many times for it and still feel like I leave every conversation with him a little more informed than I was when the conversation started.
Slusser: Bob Melvin and Billy Beane are spectacular. And the number of players I've covered who are terrific to deal with is so long I'll do a disservice to most of them by just naming a few, but Eric Chavez, Darryl Hamilton, Dallas Braden, Mark Kotsay, Jason Giambi, Jonny Gomes, Huston Street and almost every catcher I know are among the standouts. And among players I've only covered as a visiting writer, Torii Hunter is amazing.
4. How forthcoming are major league players and managers on the whole?
Jaffe: I don't spend a whole lot of time talking directly to players, in part because I've found they're not particularly forthcoming, at least to an unfamiliar face. So that cycle can feed on itself. That said, when I'm on site covering games, I do like asking managers about key moments in the game, where they might give you a nice bit of insight as to why they chose this particular tactic or that particular matchup.
Neal: Everyone is different. Some of the people we encounter are engaging and love to articulate the game. Some are respectful but aren't going to go beyond the nuts and bolts. Some would rather not talk to us. Comes with the territory.
Rosenthal: Depends upon the person. Depends what you ask. I will say this: I find players to be generally more cooperative than they were when I broke in during the late '80s. Today they grow up watching SportsCenter. They see how players conduct themselves during interviews. They're generally more media savvy, and in many cases receive media training. The occasional run-ins still occur -- they're inevitable -- but most players have at least a minimal understanding of our jobs. The environment is healthier overall.
Sherman: I don't think it is one size fits all. But, in general, this is a more-guarded era and I totally understand it while wishing it was not so. I see how minor stories gain life in social media or by being beaten to death on talk radio.
Slusser: It's a mixed bag, but I've been very lucky in my 16 years covering the A's because the Oakland clubhouse is annually among the best in baseball -- very few jerks or even just poor talkers. And every year, the A's have a few standout talkers, smart, perceptive and funny guys. Also, the A's might have the best GM/manager combo in the game from a reporter's standpoint, in Billy Beane and Bob Melvin, both brilliant in their own areas and both very good to deal with. Honestly, we're pretty spoiled.
5. Who should vote for the Hall of Fame and why?
Jaffe: People who put a lot of study into the thing every year!. Seriously, I'm in favor of an expansion beyond the BBWAA (of which I'm a member but still nearly seven years away from having the privilege to vote) for contemporary candidates -- I think broadcasters and MLB.com writers of similar service time should be eligible, and I'd favor bringing more historians into the process -- John Thorn, Bill James and more -- whether or not they're members of any of the aforementioned groups. The various iterations of the Veterans Committee (such as the Golden Era and Expansion Era committees) should have more historians and fewer execs and retired managers. If they can't figure out that Marvin Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame, they have no business being in that room.
Neal: No wonder you asked me to be on this panel (ha!). Look, I'm biased, but I think the BBWAA does an excellent job with Hall of Fame voting. Some fans might not like how some players need 15 years to be elected, or that haven't voted for certain players from the steroid era. But how many players are in the Hall right now who shouldn't be? I think we've gotten it right for the most part. We're open to tinkering with parts of the process -- we have a committee looking into that right now -- and there's a Veterans Committee to elect anyone it feels we've overlooked. I think the reaction to this year's vote reflects the passion that fans still have for this game. You don't experience the same reactions to Hall of Fame voting among the other major sports
Rosenthal: Loaded question! I actually think the BBWAA does a very good job, but that, of course, is not what people want to hear. I do think we need to reduce the size of our voting body while allowing newer members to get their votes quicker -- in this day and age, 10 years is too long to wait. As for broadcasters, I am not in favor of team broadcasters voting; the conflict of interest is just too strong. Yes, that would rule out someone like Vin Scully, which on the surface sounds ridiculous (and maybe it is). But that is where I would draw the line. I'd have no problem giving votes to national broadcasters who are not affiliated with teams -- say, Tim McCarver while he was at Fox. Some, of course, believe that writers should not vote at all, saying it is not our job to make the news. Technically that is true, but where exactly is the harm? I frankly think that newspapers and other outlets that bar writers from voting have far greater things to worry about.
Sherman: There is no such thing as a perfect voting body. Did you like all the Oscar choices? Who your president or governor is? I have found that if I do not vote exactly like you want me to vote, I am an idiot. Before the last Hall vote, someone who does advanced metrics asked me about my ballot and I told him who I was voting for and the person said, literally, "that is pretty good, you got some guys right, but not voting for (blank) makes that a bad ballot." So I was kind of smart for an idiot, I guess. I think in the broadest terms the BBWAA does fine with the vote. I think most voters take it as a big responsibility/honor and spend a lot of time considering the ballot from as many angles as possible. It is amazing how many 12-month-a-year conversations I have on the subject with folks I respect such as Jon Heyman, Kenny Rosenthal, Jayson Stark and Tom Verducci. I know I try to ask contemporaries of players I am on the fence about what it was like to play against so and so, do you think he was a Hall of Famer, etc.? I think that the players who should be in the Hall of Fame eventually get in -- perhaps not in the timeframe that will please all. But if someone said the Hall of Fame has decided there was a better mechanism to do this, I would be sad because I like the exercise of doing it and the responsibility. However, I would say, fine, and then guarantee that new entity would be criticized heavily within minutes. Again -- there is no perfect voting system. The BBWAA is not perfect. We should be pushed for accountability and to improve the process where improving it makes sense. But, again, I think the players who should be in the Hall, wind up in the Hall -- as imperfect as the group is.
Slusser: I'm chairing a committee on potential recommendations for Hall of Fame voting changes so I cannot comment on any Hall of Fame voting matters.
6. If you had the power to change one thing regarding baseball broadcasting, what would it be and why?
Jaffe: While I'd like to see more non-players in the booth, or at least more stat-savvy analysts on the in-game coverage, to me the bigger issue is blackout rules. The territorial ones that can block people from watching local or regional teams via MLB.tv or Extra Innings on a daily basis can be exasperating, and while I know that some of the national blackout rules for weekend games are loosening a bit, I think that fans anywhere should have access to any game if they've paid the subscription cost.
Neal: Can I get back with you on this one? Kind of a head-stumper.
Rosenthal: Obviously, I would make greater use of field reporters! Actually, I probably can guess a change that many fans want -- greater use of advanced statistics. We've discussed this at length at Fox, and while we've made some adjustments (including OPS in our graphics), it's difficult to satisfy everyone. National broadcasts, particularly during the postseason, go to a broad audience. Many in that audience are not interested in WAR, FIP, etc. And our job is not to educate (though certainly we can and should do that at times), but to entertain. Certainly, it would be foolish for any baseball broadcast to ignore the changes in the way that teams evaluate players, and we often acknowledge that evolution. But I know for certain readers/viewers, we will never go far enough.
Sherman: I don't know that there is anything universal. I do not like the homerism in too many booths. Often times, I find myself wishing the ex-players would be more critical of what they find displeasing on the field rather than finding tortured language that strangles observation -- "That was not the best play you can see in a situation like that." No, it was a horrible play, now tell me why. In all sports, I find myself disliking when there is no feel for what is occurring on the field, where the storylines are and, more and more, I see cuts to pre-packaged graphics or interviews because they are scheduled in, say, the top of the fourth, but there is something going on now that should not be moved away from. Get to the package in an organic dead moment.
Slusser: There's a trend, especially in the postseason, toward non-stop close-ups of fans, rather than setting the scene on the field, showing where the defense is aligned, how the first baseman is playing, etc. Face, face, face, pitch. Some of that is OK, but jeez, show the game. And the screen is often over-cluttered with graphics.
7. What part of the game is undercovered and why?
Jaffe: During the Hall of Fame debates, when it comes to handling Hall of Fame candidates who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, we hear a whole lot of sanctimony from the voters over how what those players did was cheating. What I feel is underreported is the role that many of the same individuals spouting that sanctimony played in underreporting the influx of PEDs into the game during the time before testing was in place. A sizable faction of voters -- who by definition have been covering the game for more than 10 years -- are the ones who failed to recognize and report the infiltration of those drugs, but now they're judge, jury and biochemistry experts. I wish some of those voters would look back and recognize how they're part of a larger institutional failure that involved not only the players and their union but also owners, the commissioner and the mainstream media.
Neal: What goes on in international scouting, particularly Latin America. How kids are discovered, scouted, signed and developed.
Rosenthal: Latin America -- the poverty that many players experience, the influence of middle men ("buscones") in getting players signed, and yes, the temptation of performance-enhancing drugs. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't speak Spanish. I've also never been to the Dominican Republic (earlier in my career I could not justify more time away from my family; these days the offseason never stops, preventing me from getting away). As the game grows more international, writers need to gain a better understanding of the different sacrifices and transitions that players make. Of course, all that travel costs money and few media outlets are willing to make such an investment.
Sherman: I think the advanced metrics are useful and have helped us better understand what to value and not value in the sport. But I now think the legacy of good newspaper reporting is dying and not just because newspapers are dying. It feels like too many reporters are hiding behind the numbers rather than using the hard-earned access won over years to ask questions at the very heart of the craft -- why did you do that? Who else did you consider to do that? I feel like we know the Matrix better and the people worse -- and the people, for now anyway, are still operating the Matrix and I want to know what is on their minds.
Slusser: I hate to say the obvious, PEDs, because I know exactly how hard it is to cover steroids, being in the Bay Area (and in Texas) in the pre-Balco days: you can ask players every question under the sun and there's no way to compel them to answer or answer honestly. You know there are always going to be some players trying to find an edge but just asking the right questions isn't going to do much; it takes a federal investigation or some leaked paperwork by a disgruntled lab employee to get any traction on the topic.
8. What is the most frustrating part of the job?
Jaffe: It's not easy to differentiate yourself from the pack given all of the outlets covering baseball, and sometimes it's frustrating when a piece you've put a lot of thought and time into just slips through the cracks, especially if bigger news comes along. That's part of the game, though. What's more frustrating is the presumption from a subset of readers that if something I write is steeped in statistics -- as my work tends to be, since that's part of the angle that my editors have asked me to take -- it means I'm somehow not watching the game or love it less than the guy who's not citing WAR or some other less familiar acronym.
Neal: I get to the park on game day, and I'm immediately scrambling to find out the lineup so I can blog it. It seems like now more than ever, that as soon as you turn on your computer you are constantly writing. Posting lineups, pregame blogs, updates, tweets, postgame blogs. Oh, and there are deadlines for the newspaper version. I told my editor last season that I feel like I'm that hamster just running and running and running on that wheel once I get to the park. When I leave the park at night, I cross my fingers that everything made sense and is interesting.
Rosenthal: Getting beat on a story, of course! Especially when I'm close and need just one more confirmation. I'll admit that I once reacted to such an occurrence by slamming my hand on the top of my laptop and breaking the sucker. Of course, I was a much younger man when this occurred. Well, maybe, not that much younger. I'm 51 now; I was in my 40s then.
Sherman: That I can't shut off.
Slusser: You'd think in the age of wireless communication and numerous ways to instantly file stories that deadlines would get later and later. Instead, for production and cost reasons, deadlines seem to get earlier and earlier. That's frustrating for the reporters hoping to get the freshest and best information into the newspaper and for the copy editors trying to spiff everything up with very little time.
9. What source do you consider your go-to for baseball analytics?
Jaffe: For basic day-to-day stuff and even some intermediate-level stuff, Baseball-Reference.com is where I spend a considerable chunk of my working hours. I look to BrooksBaseball.net and Baseball Prospectus (BP) for the best PITCHf/x stuff, including their new catcher framing metrics.
Neal: I find myself on Fangraphs.com a lot. I think the folks there do fine work.
Rosenthal: Fangraphs. Their writers are excellent, and you can find pretty much any advanced statistic you want. I also use baseball-reference.com quite a bit.
Sherman: I find myself at Baseball Reference more than any other site, but not sure that it is pure analytics site. I use Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, a few other public sites, and when I am working on something big picture in which I have time, I will ask officials with teams that have their own in-house stuff if the public stuff jibes with it.
Slusser: As a newspaper reporter, I don't use a ton of advanced metrics because we have a general readership. But for my own purposes, I bounce around, depending on what I'm looking for, hitting all the usual suspects (BP, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference of course.) If I'm writing an A's-related story and I'm looking for extra statistical insight, I check with the very best source possible: The A's front office.
10. On a daily basis, how many negative comments do you get on Twitter?
Jaffe: Very little, thankfully -- except maybe during Hall of Fame season, when the volume of disagreements skyrockets. HOF aside, that's not to say everybody's praising my work or nodding in agreement with what I say. But if somebody disagrees with something I've written and can say so via Twitter without resorting to a personal attack, I'm willing to walk them through my thinking.
Neal: Maybe 30-35 percent. Some people like to be smart-asses, but many ask questions like, "Do you think Jason Bartlett will make the team?" Of course, if you're talking about Hall of Fame voting, then the negative comments shoot up to about 95 percent!
Rosenthal: Oh, it's always something. The negative comments increase if I am critical of a certain team. People love to bitch about media bias, and I often respond by saying that I hate not only their team, but all 30. My bow ties and uh, lack of height are frequent topics when I'm on television. I usually tweet my height once or twice a year and explain that being short is not a new condition for me. In general, I consider the "block" key to be my friend. People may say, "You're a public figure. You're supposed to take it." But I look at it like this: If someone speaks to me on Twitter in a way that would cause me to walk away from a normal, verbal conversation, I'm certainly entitled to walk away from such a conversation electronically. More entitled actually, since I don't know 99.9 percent of these people.
Sherman: Probably less than I think. It is life, thus, the nasty sticks with you longer than the nice. For the first few years I was on Twitter, I never blocked anybody. I felt it should be a democracy. If you think I stink or my whole family should die because I wrote a certain player should hit lower in the lineup, then I have to own that -- whatever lack of civility or perspective you might have. My thought was that I was a critical columnist and if I was going to be critical in print, then I had to accept it back.
And I still believe that. But if you want to do it, do it on your Twitter or blog. At some point, I just decided it is my Twitter space and letting the same small group day after day attack was like letting someone defecate in my living room. I love constructive criticism. I send my columns out to friends for tough reads all the time, I ask the directors/producers at the network all the time what I can be doing better. But what is negative on Twitter is not constructive to the process, at least my process. So I would rather control the temperature where I can.
Slusser: Very few unless the A's are playing the Giants or in a playoff game. Or during the days right before and right after Hall of Fame voting.
The Noise Report
SI.com examines some of the more notable sports media stories of the past week
1. One of ESPN Films' most-anticipated 30 for 30 projects has an official airdate: The Bad Boys, which chronicles the dynastic Pistons teams of the late 1980s and early '90s, will debut Thursday, April 17, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. The film is a collaboration between ESPN Films and NBA Entertainment -- they partnered on the brilliant "Once Brothers" and the terrific "The Announcement" -- and Boys has the potential to be one of the better 30 for 30 efforts. (NBA Entertainment also produced the last year's sensational "Dream Team" documentary for NBA TV.) More than 40 people were interviewed for the film, including the Pistons' main principals (Isiah Thomas, Bill Lambier, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars, Adrian Dantley. Vinnie Johnson, John Salley, Mark Aguirre etc. ...) and rival Michael Jordan. Following the film, ESPN will air a one-hour discussion from 10-11 p.m. ET on the Bad Boys Pistons era. That show will be hosted by Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, and ESPN NBA analyst Doug Collins will also appear along with several Pistons players from that era. I'll have more on the "The Bad Boys" in a standalone piece on SI.com on Monday.
2. Will Fox re-sign longtime sideline reporter Pam Oliver, whose contract is up at the network? Like Fight Club, Fox Sports does not want to publicly talk about Fight Club. "Pam is an extremely valued member of the Fox Sports family, but we're not going to comment on contractual matters," said a Fox Sports spokesperson. As we've written before, Oliver is a reporter first and television personality second. Here's hoping Fox does the smart thing for viewers.
2a. The popular Fox Sports 1 college basketball broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson and analyst Bill Raftery will call seven of the Big East Tournament's nine games (from Madison Square Garden), including the Big East semifinals on Friday and the final on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Erin Andrews will serve as the sideline reporter on the broadcast.
3. NBC is airing 52 hours of coverage of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, including coverage all week on NBCSN. The commentators include 17-time Paralympic swimming medalist Jessica Long and 12-time Paralympic skiing gold medalist Sarah Will. Here's a schedule of the coverage.
3a. Per Robert Seidman of TV by the Numbers, Michelle Beadle's return to ESPN2's SportsNation last Monday drew 253,000 viewers, more than double the audience (123,000) from the previous Monday. The ESPN2 show drew 142,000 viewers on Beadle's second day back.
3b. Given that there are segments of ESPN Radio which are unlistenable -- the Sunday morning slot between 9-11 a.m. ET, for instance -- I suggested on Twitter that ESPN Radio could make an interesting decision by partnering Linda Cohn and Beadle together on a show, even a one-day spot. The suggestion was met by near-universal agreement on Twitter (something that never happens). Here's Cohn and Beadle together on Cohn's podcast in which Beadle discussed her rocky tenure with NBC Sports.
3c. Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Tim McCarver will work as a Fox Sports Midwest analyst on 18 road and 12 home games for the Cardinals this season.
4. This week's sports pieces of note:
• The best piece I read last week: ESPN.com's Tommy Tomlinson on the final act of Dean Smith.
• Time magazine's Jack Dickey on Nate Silver's new enterprise.
• CBS Sports' Verne Lundquist talked to Sports Business Daily media writer John Ourand.
• Poynter examined ESPN.com's piece on Mike McQueary.
Non-sports pieces of the week:
• The New York Times' Dan Barry provided a brilliant examination of a group of Iowa men with intellectual disabilities who worked at a turkey factory for less than a living wage.
• The New Yorker profiles Peter Lanza, the father of the Sandy Hook killer.
• The NYT's Nick Kristof writes on an underreported topic: domestic violence in the U.S.
• New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan offers advice to young journalists.
• Via The Washington Post: The harrowing journey of a Muslim baby girl.
5. The Golf Channel will air a three-night documentary series (April 13-15 at 10 p.m. ET) dedicated to the career of Arnold Palmer. The network said it spent the last year traveling with Palmer and interviewed more than 100 people about his career, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Here's a trailer for the project.
5a. ESPN Films is running a six-part documentary series on the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team as they prepare for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. The series, produced by Jonathan Hock and Roger Bennett, will air weekly for five consecutive weeks beginning on May 13, with a finale airing in June. Episodes will also air on ABC following the ESPN premiere.
5b. Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho will provide exclusive video and digital commentary for Yahoo Sports during the World Cup.
5c. NBCSN has a huge Premier League lineup next Sunday. At 9:30 a.m. ET Manchester United hosts Liverpool (the analyst for the game will be U.S. Men's National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard; it will be Howard's third game in the booth for NBCSN this season.) That's followed by Tottenham Hotspur-Arsenal at noon ET with Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux.
5d. Fox Sports will air a six-part World Cup documentary series (Rise As One) premiering March 25 on Fox Sports 1. Each episode will run 30 minutes. Subjects include the 1998 World Cup game between Iran and the U.S; Germany and England playing a soccer friendly during World War I, and a profile of the 2011 Women's World Cup champion Japan.
5e. Fox Sports 1 will air the back leg of the Bayern Munich-Arsenal Champions League match on Tuesday (3:45 PM ET). Barcelona-Manchester City comes the following day at the same time.
5f. ESPN hired Britt McHenry to serve as a Washington, D.C.-based bureau reporter. She'll work on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and additional programming beginning March 17. McHenry previously worked as a sports reporter in Washington, D.C at ABC7/WJLA-TV.
5g. Great to see Longhorn Network ace producer Andrea Wall getting some in-house praise.
5h. The aforementioned Lundquist will receive the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting from Fordham University's WFUV Radio on May 8. Last year's award went to Bob Costas.
5i. In a move catering to those sports fans who favor reactionary and disconnected sports talk-show hosts (it's also a huge announcement if you favor radio hosts patting baseball officials on the back at every turn), MLB Network is launching a new weekday studio program with SiriusXM radio host Chris Russo. High Heat with Christopher Russo begins on March 31 at noon ET.
5j. The NFL Network has blowout coverage of the 2014 NFL free agency period this week, starting with NFL Total Access: Free Agency Preview on Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET. The network will also have 10-hour shows on Tuesday and Wednesday beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET. In a press release, the NFL Network said that the country of Sri Lanka will cover the free agent period. (Actually, 30 hosts, analysts and reporters.)
5k. ESPN's free agent coverage includes a three-hour block of programming (3-6 p.m. ET) on Tuesday featuring NFL Insiders and
5l. Rare to see the three most powerful people at ESPN all in one photo.
5m. Mashable's Sam Laird interviewed three digital media directors working in sports about how they obtained their jobs.
5n. Cool story about a University of Miami student calling a perfect game pitched by his brother.
5o. The Nate Silver-led FiveThirtyEight site will soft launch on March 17. This Hollywood Reporter piece has the network's digital Murtaugh and Riggs paying homage to each other.
5p. Recommend reading Matt Cronin of Tennis Reporters, on discovering a brain tumor on the left side of his head.