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This column comes bearing bad news: Vin Scully has officially turned down an offer from Fox Sports to be part of its MLB All-Star Game coverage on July 12.
Brad Zager, an executive vice president of production and operations for Fox Sports, spoke with Scully at Dodgers Stadium on May 17 at prior to the Freeway Series game that night against the Angels. Zager has known Scully for more than a decade, having worked as his producer from 2004 to 2012 for both Prime Ticket and KCAL-TV’s coverage of the Dodgers. On behalf of his network, Zager told Scully that Fox Sports would accommodate him however he wished, whether that was calling one inning, the entire game or even being a guest in the booth. “I told him, ‘Look, everyone would love to have you as part of the All Star Game,’” Zager said. “Anything you would want to do, we will make it happen.”
Scully was very appreciative, according to Zager, but he declined the invitation. This is consistent with similar offers over the years. Scully told Zager that he felt it was not his place to be in someone else’s broadcast booth and that he had already covered All-Star Games, the most recent coming in 1989 for NBC Sports (former U.S. President Ronald Reagan called an inning with Scully that year). Scully told Zager the last thing he wanted was for his name to overshadow the players in this year’s game. It’s also been an exhausting time for Scully with all the media requests and adulation he has received. Said Zager: “He told me, ‘I’m not Kobe Bryant. I’m just out there calling games.’”
Zager said he talked in general terms with Scully about working with Fox later in the year, possibly including the postseason, but he did not expect Scully to change his mind. “Knowing Vin the way I do, I don’t think it will happen,” Zager said. “If the Dodgers are there in the postseason, I think we would look to at least talk again. But I honestly don’t think he’d want to call his last Dodgers game—and then call games in the postseason.”
This is a bummer for baseball fans. You have to respect Scully for keeping to his principles—check out Tom Verducci’s remarkable Sports Illustratedcover story on Scully from two weeks ago—but it would have been such a treat for the country to hear the voice of summer one last time.
The Noise Report
(SI.com examines some of the week’s most notable sports media stories)
1. On Monday I previewed what to expect from an upcoming 30 for 30 documentary on pro wrestler Ric Flair. What is always interesting about professional wrestlers—and particularly the stars of the 1980s and 1990s—is to decipher where the distinction lies (if any) between the in-ring character and the real man. The terrific journalist David Shoemaker examined this duality in his sensational piece on the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage. If ever someone’s on-screen “Nature Boy” persona blended into his real life, from self-destructive behavior to high living to repeated bouts with legal authorities, it would be Ric Flair, who was born Richard Morgan Fliehr in 1949.
2. According to NBC, the Preakness Stakes averaged 9.4 million viewers—and peaked at 11.4 million—for Exaggerator’s win over Nyquist. That was up 6% from last year’s Preakness (8.9 million viewers) and marked the third time in four years that the Preakness Stakes audience topped nine million viewers.
2a. The top-rated cities for the Preakness:
West Palm Beach
2b. TNT sports reporter Craig Sager will receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2016 ESPY Awards. Sager will be honored on July 13
2c. Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals averaged a 6.8 overnight rating, TNT’s highest overnight rating for a Conference Finals Game 4 since 2011 (Heat/Bulls) and up 35% over last year’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 (Cavs/Hawks) on TNT.
3. Episode No. 58 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features Sports Business Daily media writer John Ourand for a conversation on various sports media topics.
On this episode, Ourand and Deitsch discusses the future of Chris Berman at ESPN, Sean McDonough’s emotional response to landing Monday Night Football, who will end up with the Big Ten television rights, the prospect of an ACC Channel or PGA Cable network, the potential ratings for this year's Stanley Cup , what kind of stand-alone TV contract Alabama or OSU football get on open market, whether ESPN has a perception problem regarding viewers believing they are too liberal, praise for Fox Sports for letting its executives talk with no hand holding from PR, the issues SporsCenter is experiencing and whether the 6:00 p.m. version should be changed, and the NFL changes at ESPN, and much more.
A reminder: you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher, and you can view all of SI’s podcasts here. If you have any feedback, questions or suggestions, please comment here or tweet at me.
4. Some pieces of note:
• SI’s Lee Jenkins wrote a great piece on Kevin Durant.
• From The Washington Post: After years of alleged bullying, an Ohio teen killed herself. Is her school district responsible?
• Via NPR: Business Of Disaster: Insurance Firms Profited $400 Million After Hurricane Sandy.
• From FiveThirtyEight: Why Pennsylvania Could Decide The 2016 Election.
• SI Films had a very cool 11-minute short on Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
• Nicholas Quah of The Nieman Lab on podcast economics.
• Really enjoyed this look at the death of the sports highlight from The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis.
5. beIN Sports announced a deal with Conference USA that includes 10 men's basketball games, 10 women’s basketball games, 10 football games, 12 baseball games, 12 softball games, 10 men’s soccer games and 10 women’s soccer games. CBS Sports also announced an extension with Conference USA. According to Sports Business Daily, CBS’s multiyear deal will see CBS Sports Network carry six football and six men’s basketball games per year starting in the ‘16–17 school year. Here’s ESPN’s Conference USA info.
5a. The 100th Indianapolis 500 will have a record 100 cameras covering it. The race airs on ABC Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.
5b. Here’s the World Soccer Talk review of NBC’s Premier League coverage in 2015–16.
5c. A column if you are interested in ESPN’s investment in e-sports.
5d. Annie Apple, the mother of New York Giants 2016 first-round pick Eli Apple, has joined ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown this fall as a contributor. Beginning in September, she will offer player profiles and other stories on the program.
5e. SB Nation’s Buffalo Rumblings on the Bills’ inane media regulations.
5f. Sports broadcaster Jacob Wilkins has started a podcast called “Let's Talk,” which focuses on the intersection of sports and mental health. The first episode is an interview with Brett Gravatt, a former Penn State soccer player who was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident. He is attempting to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Rio.