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Five Sports Media Ramblings



By Russ Cress ~ October 3rd, 2011. Filed under: Digest Contributors, Sports Media Commentary.

1) A star has been born and his name is Dallas Braden who is an absolute natural as a studio analyst for the MLB Network, Usually players tossed into those positions spit the bit, but not Braden who has a natural camera presence and isn’t afraid to go beyond clichés to make a viable, insightful point. If he chooses to, he has a future as a studio analyst and that future is so bright, it’s time to go sunglasses shopping

2) Ron Darling was excellent covering Game 1 of the ALDS for TBS. He was out in front of everything all night doing what most color commentators are a afraid to do, he constantly first guessed everything from managerial decisions to pitch selection. It was a refreshing change from the regular season where analysts don’t analyze anything until it’s time for the replay.

3) Now, I bring you two big time poor jobs by the league leader in that category, WFAN. First up is the continued sloppy, shoddy performance by whoever is in charge of WFAN’s podcast feeds. If you came home and saw “Paul Dottino” and decided you wanted to hear the latest last minute news on the Giants injury situation you were in luck. Dottino filled a fine report on the latest injured Giants players, guys like Matt Dodge, Keith Bullock, Darius Reynaud and others. Yup, they once again uploaded the wrong file, giving us the Giants injury report from one year ago. So while you now know that last years’ team is quite banged up, you unfortunately learned nothing about week 4 of 2011 against Arizona. This happens all the time with the FAN. Sometimes it’s old files, sometimes they are mislabeled with wrong descriptions or guests, at times they are corrupt and don’t work, often you’ll get interviews posted 24-48 hours late. It happens all the time and with media going more and more towards an on-demand user cycle, it’s a major problem. That inept sloppiness should not be acceptable and yet they have never addressed it. By the way – It’s great that they give us Joe & Evan’s show open every day but is there any logical reason why Francesa’s daily monologue isn’t uploaded too? That’s like going to a concert and being able to buy shirts & CDs from the opening act but nothing from the band that’s headlining.

4) Professionals are supposed to learn with their experience and eventually stop repeating mistakes over and over again. It’s too bad then, that despite working for WFAN since day one that Steve Somers hasn’t learned anything about how to do his job. I guess you could make the conclusion that Mr. Somers is only a professional because he gets a paycheck from the station that lets him speak on the air because he surely never acts like one. On Saturday afternoon, he had on Sweeny Murti for a Yankees Report following the suspension of Game 1 of the ALDS due to rain the previous night. Any responsible radio journalist would understand that there is a lot of news for him to cover, and the people listening, who he serves, have questions that they want answers to. Things like the pitching rotation for the series being affected by the rain, where the aces like Sabathia and Verlander are going to start, whether Jim Leyland would change his line up immediately because he loaded it with righties when CC was starting but now that Nova would be pitching will he go to his lefty bats immediately or wait a few innings? So much stuff to cover and only 8 minutes to do it in should force a responsible host to dispense with the small talk and get right to the important facts the audience needs to hear. But then Steve Somers is always about Steve Somers and not responsible sports journalism or serving his audience. As a result, we got bad jokes about baby formula and other hooey and applesauce. The clown prince of 66 once again struck out on 3 pitches and left the audience as losers as he simply failed to do his job.

5) With the regular baseball season over, I feel it’s time to comment on ESPN’s Baseball Today podcast and their third line up of hosts over the past 3 years. Eric Karabell is consistently Karabell. Nothing changes, he’s Mr. Positive who likes everything and everyone in baseball. I have no problem with this because he’s always been that way. The problem with the show involves Keith Law, whose lack of interest comes through as it seems clear that he doesn’t want to be there. Having a former scout should have given the show a unique perspective. Instead, Law consistently provides laid back boredom and condescension. As someone who has watched ESPN grow since day one, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen nor ever heard another one of their programs with more awkward uncomfortable pauses than the episodes of this show that Law is the co-hosts. It’s magnified by the other host, Mark Simon who is both informative and energetic; the guy seems genuinely excited to be there and constantly came up with fun topics to make the show an interesting listen. If the people who run ESPN’s podcasts are paying attention, then Mr. Law should not return to the show next year since it seems like he doesn’t want to be there anyway. My advice would be to try and re-sign 2010 co-host Seth Everett, who was informative, energetic and insightful with a bit of a smart-ass edge. His sarcastic radio style meshed very well with Karabell’s gosh-golly-gee isn’t this great approach. Everett brought broadcasting experience and a natural affinity for radio.

Until next time, I’m Russ and this is the Cress Corner.

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Russ Cress

Russ has a Masters of Useless Information and is a proud Alumni of the Old School with a major in Trivial Crap. No, seriously, it's actually 2 degrees one in History the other in Broadcasting. He's worked for NBC Sports, worked on Trenton Thunder radio broadcasts, managed a video production company and taught at a major broadcasting school. A massive Yankee fan and student of baseball history, Russ' contributions will largely be in the area of media critiques, DVD & book reviews, retro-reviews of old sporting events with the occasional column on the current baseball scene. As a rotisserie baseball player since the late 1980's, he will also contribute the occasion musing on the world of fantasy baseball. He can be reached at rcressNYY at aol dot com.

5 Responses to Five Sports Media Ramblings

  1. Nik

    I think you and me are the only people on earth that don’t get Somers. I’m all about funny, but I can’t stand schtick. This guy is never not on…

  2. Chuck Johnson

    Wow, someone else that thinks Law is a condescending bleep.

    Go figure.

  3. Ralph C

    I can’t stand Somers either-he is the only host on the station that when I hear his voice, I put on music. Here are my main issues with him:
    1)He knows nothing about sports whatsoever outside of whether a NY team won or lost that night. When I occasionally used to listen to him, a caller would ask a question and Somers would just paraphrase the caller’s point without providing any meaningful answer/insight.
    2) This doesn’t apply, in all likliehood to Mets/ Rangers fans but most of the time he was simply bashing the Yankees and Islanders. I am a fan of both teams so “unknowledable” bashing of them by Somers was annoying.
    In general, the only thing worse than listening to Somers was probably listening to Somers with Russ Salzberg.

  4. Frank Russo

    Ralph,

    I totally agree. Somers constant Yankees/Islanders bashing is old and tired. Somers once made a nasty joke about Sidney Ponson’s alcohol problem on the air, When I called to complain, the producer would not allow me on the air to debate him. And of course, Somers knows nothing about the winning the Islanders did in the 80s. All he knows how to do is say the word Icelander and put an already hurting franchise down even more. He even got Salzberg to start using that term when they were together. He is a an old, worn out piece of garbage.

  5. Michael J

    I appreciated your comments regarding ESPN’s Baseball Today, Mike. I agree with your thoughts regarding Keith Law. Mark Simon is cheery and exceedingly knowledgeable. I enjoy his presence on the show, but find myself frustrated with him from time to time. Some of his segments are superfluous. I, for one, don’t care what elements of commonality players with first and last names of five letters each share,which was one topic that I considered baseball talk junk food.

    I miss Seth Everett and would welcome him back. For that matter, I’d be thrilled to have his New York Baseball Tonight podcast back, too!

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