1. In December, ESPN announced it would no longer air The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on television or radio. The show then aired its final ESPN episode Jan. 4.
Since then, Le Batard has created Meadowlark Media and found a partner. The crew is now doing shows on YouTube, Twitch and wherever podcasts are available three days a week.
The show had some rocky moments with ESPN because Le Batard wasn’t afraid to talk politics, which ruffled the network’s chairman, Jimmy Pitaro. The network also cut the show’s hours last year and then fired one of Le Batard’s producers, Chris Cote.
Stugotz appeared on this week’s episode of the SI Media Podcast and I asked him when he knew the marriage between the show and ESPN would not be able to last.
“So this was unspoken communication because when you’re doing a show 20 years together and you have the relationship that Dan and I have developed and you get to know someone the way I’ve gotten to know Dan, I knew without even having a single conversation about it, it was the second ESPN decided to lay off Chris Cote.
"Chris’s dad, Greg, is a big part of our show. Dan will tell you that Greg was a mentor at one point at the Miami Herald. I would feel pretty safe in saying that Greg is one of Dan's five closest friends on the planet. They're really close and by extension very close with Chris, Greg’s son. So I knew the second they got rid of Chris, what that was gonna set off inside of Dan and I had a feeling that our time there was going to be short-lived.
"Dan and I didn’t speak about it; we didn’t talk about it. I never asked him a single question about what we were going to do. I didn't know what we were going to do until he actually did it and people find that to be amazing, but it’s the way it went down; it’s simply the way it went down. People in our own staff had trouble understanding how I didn’t know about it, but I know Dan; I know how loyal he is and I knew that was going to set them off in a way that wasn't going to be positive and it did.
"So I guess that was kind of the day where I said, ‘O.K., I don't know if we're gonna make it through the current contract that we're in. I can’t imagine we’re gonna be here much longer than a few months,’ only because I knew Dan, and just how loyal Dan is to his entire staff.”
Stugotz said on the podcast that he enjoyed his time at ESPN and the network didn’t interfere with the show, but the move to ax one of the show’s producers was unacceptable.
“Our show, as I think people have seen, it’s a family. It’s a dysfunctional family. It’s impossible for it to be perfect, especially for 20 years. There are so many people involved in the show, so many different voices,” said Stugotz.
“But we truly are a family and I include the audience in that. We all feel like we're in this together. So some of that stuff that Dan wanted to talk about, and quite frankly was hired to talk about—If you’re not gonna trust Dan with topics like that, who are you gonna trust in our industry? We had lived with that for a bit.
"Was Dan happy about it at times? No. Were we happy about it? No.
"But we were at ESPN; we were having a blast and for the most part, and Dan will tell you the same thing, they were great to us. They did not interfere with the show. They interfered with his staff. They interfered with loyalty. They interfered with family. In Dan and Greg’s case, 40 years of friendship. They got in the way of that and so we can put a lot of that other stuff aside and deal with it and when the contracts come up, we’ll kind of go from there, but when you start messing with the family a little bit that’s where it gets dicey for Dan and myself, quite frankly.”
During the podcast, Stugotz talked about the new version of the show and shared a great story about his dad asking if he gets YouTube.
Other topics discussed during the podcast include being a media person who has to keep up with what young people want, keeping up with the changing media landscape, how the passion for sports changes over the years, why we love Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and much more.
2. Last week, I tweeted about how much I've enjoyed watching the college softball playoffs.
And I'm far from the only one, with the championship series drawing far more viewers than the NHL playoffs.
3. This Suns fan felt every single moment of Phoenix's 123–98 win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night.
4. TNT's production staff decided to surprise Charles Barkley with a snake Wednesday night. Charles, however, wanted absolutely no part of it.
5. Mariners play-by-play man Aaron Goldsmith went all Sean McDonough while calling an unreal catch by Seattle left fielder Jake Fraley, who robbed the Tigers' Isaac Paredes of a game-winning home run, and it was great.
6. Greg Olsen shared an incredible video Thursday morning of his eight-year-old son, TJ, telling his brother and sister last week they found a donor for the heart transplant. TJ had the surgery last Friday.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Fourteen years ago today.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.