Raftery brings onions to Fox Sports 1, pregame shows on NFL bullying

Monday November 4th, 2013
Bill Raftery (left) will be the lead college basketball analyst on Fox Sports 1 this season, teaming with Gus Johnson as the station's top broadcast team.
Courtesy/Fox
Several media outlets covered Jonathan Martin's mysterious departure from the Miami Dolphins this week, with varying degrees of success.
Tom DiPace/AP

7. It was a great week for notable sports pieces:

• Heat forward Chris Bosh wrote an op-ed piece for Wired on coding.

• Brilliant work by Boston Magazine's Joe Keohane on the burgeoning business of loathing Boston.

•Beautiful piece by New York Daily News sports writer Kevin Armstrong, who pays tribute to his late mother.

•Tim Layden's SI Longform piece on Jeff Lukas should not be missed.

•On life and Ultimate frisbee.

•ESPN's Seth Wickersham had a fascinating profile of Rolando McClain, who walked away from the NFL at 24.

•Packers tight end Jermichael Finley wrote a first-person piece on being injured for the MMQB.

•UN ambassador Samantha Power on the Red Sox win.

•Economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz examined how economic class as youths impacted black NBA players as a whole.

Non-sports pieces of note:

•Here's Kurt Vonnegut's letter to a group of NYC high school students.

•Presidential historian Michael Beschloss uncovered a never-aired 1976 Presidential ad from Gerald Ford. It was shelved because a focus group found it too shocking given the connection to the John F. Kennedy assassination. It's a fascinating piece of history and worth clicking.

•So good is this feature by Indiana Daily Student reporter Jessica Contrera on the closing of a Waffle House that I'm linking it again this week.

•Amazing work by The Center for Public Integrity's Chris Hamby, who conducted a yearlong investigation examining how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung.

8. ESPN announced that Jon Barry will serve as the lead analyst for NBA on ESPN Radio, working more than 40 regular-season and playoff broadcasts. He replaces Dr. Jack Ramsay -- whom I consider the best NBA radio analyst of alltime -- on the network's broadcast. ESPN Radio's NBA play by play voice will be Kevin Calabro, who has called NBA games on ESPN Radio since 2008. "For the past 18 seasons, it was my pleasure to call NBA games on ESPN Radio alongside the late, incomparable Hall of Fame broadcaster, dear friend Jim Durham," Ramsay said in a statement. "I'll always treasure our time together and the great games we were privileged to call. Now I look forward to listening to Kevin Calabro and Jon Barry -- both outstanding broadcasters who know the game."

8a. PJ Carlesimo will work select games throughout the regular- and post-season for ESPN, partnering with the excellent Marc Kestecher, who has worked Super Bowls, the NFL, NBA, MLB, BCS, college football and college basketball for ESPN.

8b. ESPN reached an agreement with Stan Van Gundy to join ESPN Radio's NBA coverage team. He will serve as a game analyst for 10 broadcasts during the 2013-14 NBA regular season and also work as one of the rotating guest hosts on the Miami-based The Dan Le Batard Show. Van Gundy's relationship with ESPN the last year has been quite interesting.

9. The late and brilliant writer Michael Hastings profiled radio sports-talk host Dino Costa for the Oct. 2012 issue of Men's Journal and in one memorable paragraph -- and Hastings wrote many -- the writer described Costa as "an extraordinarily talented radio host -- acerbically articulate, angrily funny, intense to the point of mental imbalance" and cited such outrageousness had cost him jobs. "Costa makes Colin Cowherd or Skip Bayless, two of ESPN'S best-known Angry Male alphas, seem mild and reasonable," Hastings wrote. "Compared with them, Costa is more like a militia leader broadcasting direct from Ruby Ridge under siege, an army of liberals blasting away from the other side of the barbed wire."

Hastings, as usual, had it right. Personally, I found Costa infuriating at times, especially his anachronistic take on NFL injuries and his never-ending self-promotion. But I respected his honesty, his preparation -- he was an obsessed reader of all sports -- and how often he took his show meta (a Howard Stern specialty) by discussing SiriusXM and other programs on his network, including the namesake of the Mad Dog Radio Channel, Chris Russo. He also had a devout cult following. Last week, perhaps not surprisingly, SiriusXM removed Costa from its airwaves after a five-year ride.

Asked why it parted with Costa, a SiriusXM spokesperson said on Sunday, "We do not comment on personnel matters."

"I enjoyed my time with SXM for the five years I was with them," Costa said, in an email. "We had philosophical differences in regard to the my placement in terms of being a featured personality, as I believed I had earned by my work the opportunity for advancement with the appropriate promotional vehicles enjoyed by others on the air at the company. After five years of needle-moving radio, accruing consistent critical acclaim, I chafed at the idea of them placing my show on an irrelevant channel [SiriusXM Sports Zone] during a time that basically wiped out half the audience I had built the previous five years, and then not going about the transfer in a way that would allow my listener base to know where I was...The show was a core asset that I felt was never fully polished by SXM brass, which would have allowed the show to become an even larger asset for SXM."

Costa said he is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get back on the air. "I will make my next employer look brilliant for placing the faith in me, and then allowing me to go out and to justify that faith," he said. "I'd like to be involved with a set of creative and innovative people moving forward -- individuals who like to think outside the box -- people who recognize the need for sports radio that isn't the same old same old."

10. Ron Darling will work as an offseason analyst across MLB Network's offseason studio programming He'll make his MLB Network debut live on MLB Tonight on Monday at 6:00 p.m. ET.

10a. Fox averaged 14.9 million viewers for the World Series, up 17 percent over last year (Giants-Tigers) but down 10 percent from 2010 (Cardinals-Rangers). The final game of the series -- Game 6 in Boston -- drew 19.2 million viewers, the most-watched MLB game since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. The always-excellent Sports Media Watch has a good ratings breakdown.

10b. Locally, Game 6 drew a 55.2 local rating in Boston, the highest rating for any MLB game in any market since Boston got a 55.3 for Game 4 of the 2007 World Series. The game drew a 37.9 rating in St, Louis.

10c. According to the Nielsen SocialGuide, Game 6 drew 1,629,231 tweets, the most for any MLB game on record (since 2011), and included more than 125,000 tweets in a five-minute window after the Red Sox recorded the final out.

10d. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times had some pointed criticisms of Fox's World Series coverage for Game Six.

10e. Check out the classy and from-the-heart tribute from Joe Buck to Tim McCarver at the end of Fox's Game 6 broadcast of the World Series.

10f. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe reported last week that MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds is the clubhouse leader to replace Tim McCarver on Fox. As a serial on-air enabler of MLB ownership and the establishment, Reynolds getting that gig is a move that would please baseball. Personally, I think Fox can do better for viewers, though I don't discount Reynolds loves the sport. I do know the decision on who will replace McCarver -- and it might be more than one broadcaster -- is not imminent.

10g. ESPN college football analyst Robert Smith candidly discussed his alcoholism on First Take. Honest moment for that show.

10h. Allen Kenney of BlatantHomerism.com had issues with the above segment.

10h. Through Oct. 30, ABC has averaged 4,654,000 viewers for its college football package, up two percent over 2012.

10i. In his upcoming memoir, Usain Bolt reveals that he ate 1,000 chicken McNuggets at the Beijing Olympics.

10j. Sports Business Daily reporters John Ourand and Austin Karp co-wrote an interesting piece why the ratings of ESPN's Around The Horn and PTI have dropped.

10k. AP reporter Eric Olson on college athletes being attacked on Twitter.

10l. Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner will be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2013 on Nov. 9.

10m. ESPN NFL reporter John Clayton recently hung out with the band Slayer.

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