95.7 The Game to become ESPN Radio affiliate

On Christmas Eve, 95.7 The Game announced that it will become an ESPN Radio affiliate starting on January 1. In the press release, parent company Entercom touted The Game’s coverage of the NBA, BCS, MLB, all through ESPN. It’s unclear which sports radio station in the Bay Area will carry Dial Global’s NFL national radio broadcasts. Both of the KNBR stations are signed with new Cumulus property CBS Sports Radio, leaving Dial Global/NBC Sports Radio on the outs. I had opined that The Game might hook up with NBCSR because of its somewhat cozy relationship with Comcast SportsNet, and because in the spring Entercom worked a deal with Dial Global to broadcast the NFL and NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Obviously that did not come to pass.

What will change? Well, if you’re sick of ESPN’s relentless self-promotion, prepared to be sickened even more by The Game. Periodic news and score updates should carry the branding. Interview segments will frequently carry ESPN reporters like Buster Olney and John Clayton. Overnight and early morning shows from the national ESPN Radio feed will be on The Game, including “Mike and Mike in the Morning”. Other short segments like Mike Tirico’s “SportsMinute” should follow. As for the actual lineup, there are no changes to the talent. After a bit of scheduling weirdness when Eric Davis and then Brandon Tierney left within weeks of each other, the lineup appears to have solidified.

  • 6:00 – 10:00 AM: The Rise Guys: Whitey Gleason, Mark Kreidler, and Dan Dibley
  • 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: The Pulse with Matt Steinmetz [and a rotation of co-hosts]
  • 12:00 – 3:00 PM: The Wheelhouse with John Lund & Greg Papa
  • 3:00 – 7:00 PM: Bucher & Towny: Ric Bucher & Chris Townsend
  • 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM: Guy Haberman
  • 3:00 – 6:00 AM: Mike & Mike In The Morning (ESPN Radio)

Going forward, the best thing about the schedule is that Haberman’s show runs until midnight, allowing for extended postgame A’s talk, which will be driven in large part by the team’s success. Chris Townsend continues with the drive-time slot he has richly deserved. That won’t be enough to hold the interest of those who believe local radio is one Giant suckfest, but what are you going to do? Radio and TV ratings for The Game and CSNCA correlate directly with interest in the A’s, and when the A’s aren’t winning all that’s left are the hardcore fans. We’ll see if many of the fans who came back during September and October stick around this time. One thing’s for sure – as a presence The Game isn’t going anywhere for a while. Considering the nomadic existence the A’s lived on the radio prior to The Game, we can only be grateful.

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P.S. – Logo shown is an approximation. Hat tip to Bay Area Sports Guy/Ruthless Sports Guy for picking up the news first.

News for 11/16/12

Belated congratulations to Bob Melvin for winning AL Manager of the Year. While there’s no photographic evidence, Melvin’s daughter Alexi admitted to pieing him in the face recently. All in celebration, of course.

On to the news.

  • MLB’s big three national television contracts were approved this week during the owners meetings. Apparently this was so anticlimactic that only a single tweet about the news emerged, from Eric Fisher of Sports Business Journal.
  • As mentioned yesterday, all ballots in Alameda County have been counted. With that, Measure B1 appears to have been narrowly defeated by less than 700 votes. Perhaps the backers had a false sense of security due to the lack of fervent opposition. Back to the drawing board, I guess. [Contra Costa Times/Denis Cuff]
  • Fox is fixin’ to buy a big piece of the YES Network. Not the Yankees’ piece, the part owned by Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity. The network is worth as much as $3 billion, making the two-thirds share up for grabs worth $2 billion. [NY Times/Amy Chosick, Michael Cieply]
  • The Rangers have announced that they will play two exhibition games at San Antonio’s Alamodome in March. The stadium’s only full-time tenants are the UTSA college football team and the AFL’s San Antonio Talons. The seating bowl layout (see pic below) makes it even less baseball friendly than previous square/rectilinear multipurpose domes like the Metrodome and Kingdome because it has a very limited number of corner seats. It’s also a bit narrower along the football sidelines than the Metrodome and not all of the rows retract, making the right field line dimension perhaps as small as 280 feet. Backers of MLB to San Antonio see this as a good sign, but the arrangement is a double-edged sword. Just as the Cowboys staged training camp in the same Alamodome multiple times, the Ryans are doing this to reaffirm the brand throughout the state, not to promote MLB there. After all, the Rangers have some solid TV money to protect.  [San Antonio Express News/Josh Baugh]

Picture of one side of the Alamodome stands retracted for a 2010 Dallas Cowboys training camp session. Picture from Sports Nickel.

  • The ballpark for the Midland Rockhounds (A’s AA affiliate) will soon be losing its naming rights partner. Citibank has been the sponsor since shortly after the ballpark opened. The ballpark sits as part of the nicely designed and manicured Scharbauer Sports Complex, alongside one of the best high school football stadia I’ve ever seen. It is the land of Friday Night Lights. [Midland Reporter-Telegram/Sara Higgins | Bud Swanson]
  • The Mariners are going a different route to make a splash in the offseason, unveiling plans for what will be the largest video/scoreboard in MLB. The display will measure 57 feet tall by 201.5 feet wide, with a resolution of 3840 x 1080. Effectively that’s two Full HD screens side-by-side. At 11,425 square feet, the display will be 70% larger than the display the Astros had installed at Minute Maid Park last year, and 30% larger than baseball’s largest current screen at Kauffman Stadium. Panasonic will be the manufacturer, displacing Daktronics. The display is part of a $15 million capital improvements fund, negotiated by Seattle/King County and the Mariners prior to the opening of Safeco Field. [MLB.com/Greg Johns]
  • Chris Hansen released renderings for his dream arena in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle. The concept, penned by 360 Architecture, is reminiscent of 360’s Sprint Center project in Kansas City. It’s meant to house both basketball and hockey teams. Unlike Sprint Center, Hansen’s arena won’t be built without commitments from existing NBA and/or NHL franchises. Ironically, the opposite is what occurred in Kansas City, as the city chose to plow forward with an arena with no permanent tenants. That would put KC and Seattle in direct competition for any future franchise moves. [KING 5/Chris Daniels, Travis Pittman | 360 Architecture]
  • Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) played to populist roots earlier this week by decrying the Vikings’ plans to sell PSLs at their $1 billion stadium. Most everyone throughout the Twin Cities expressed confusion at this sentiment, since it was pretty clear from the beginning that PSLs were a crucial piece of the financing plan. [MN Gov. Dayton | Minneapolis Star-Tribune Editorial Board]
  • Perhaps just in time for the start of the Mike D’Antoni era in LA, DirecTV and Time Warner Sportsnet agreed to a carriage deal of the fledgling regional sports network. (Laker fans weren’t missing much the last two weeks anyway.) Terms were undisclosed, but TWCSN has been seeking $3.95 per subscriber per month, making the channel among the most expensive RSNs in the nation. [LA Times/Joe Flint]
  • The City of Reno swore in a new City Council this week, and with that came swift action. They nixed the narrowly approved debt restructuring/refinancing plan completed just before the election. That puts both the team and the city in a bind. The team is threatening to leave without a tax subsidy. The Council clearly wants nothing to do with the debt liability. This snag gives the two sides about a year to figure out some sort of solution before Aces ownership figures out a move. If the Aces leave, Reno would be stuck with the debt anyway. Already the city has stopped making debt payments, pushing its credit rating into junk status. [Reno Gazette Journal/Brian Duggan]
  • Did you know about the Sacramento Sports Commission? If you didn’t , then it matters little as it’s about to be dissolved. The commission’s job was to attract different types of sporting events and maintain relationships with governing bodies like the NCAA, so that Sacramento venues could remain in constant rotation for major events such as NCAA championships. The task will probably end up with Sacramento’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. One of the reasons for the dissolution is that SSC failed to repay a $400,000 loan taken out for the 2011 World Masters Athletics Championships. [Sacramento Bee/Ryan Lillis]

That’s it for now. Feature on media coming over the weekend.

News for 10/5/12

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done one of these. Time to catch up.

  • The A’s finished the season with a total attendance of 1,678,913, an average 20,727 per game. Not including the first two home games in Japan, the total attendance is 1,591,295 (20,143 average). That’s an increase of more than 200,000 fans over 2011, and the best number since 2007. MLB’s total attendance rose nearly 2% to 74,859,268, propelled largely by the opening of Marlins Park. If you assume that each ticket costs the FCI average of $27 and comes with $11 in additional spending (concessions, parking), MLB gets $2.84 billion in stadium revenue. If we project $7.7 billion for the 2012 season, then regular season stadium revenue accounts for 36.9% of total revenue. Wendy Thurm from Fangraphs/Hanging Sliders has more in-depth analysis. [MLB, Fangraphs]
  • TV ratings are out too. While the A’s showed marginal improvement throughout the year on CSN California (1.27 rating, 32,000 households), Wednesday’s AL West title showdown pulled an incredible 4.72 rating in the Bay Area (172,000 households), the highest rating since 2008. If the A’s could pull in half that number on a regular basis, they’d be in much better shape financially. [Sports Business Journal/John Ourand & David Broughton, Comcast SportsNet California]
  • Like the A’s and Giants, rivals Baltimore and Washington are also in the postseason. Their rivalry extends to off the field, as their ongoing battle over the Nats’ TV rights value on MASN continues. As part of the deal to move the Expos to DC, O’s owner Peter Angeles was allowed to set up MASN and own Nats’ broadcast rights, to which the O’s pay around $30 million per year. Angelos wants to raise the rights fee to $35 million, whereas Nats owner Ted Lerner is holding out for $100 million, which would put the team among the largest markets in terms of TV revenue. That number may not be feasible without a sizable bump in subscriber fees for MASN, which would get the channel into another battle with Comcast over carriage costs. ([Forbes/Mike Ozanian, Press Box/Tim Richardson]
  • The website UFE (Urine Feces Everywhere) did its own annual study of ballpark cleanliness, surveying all 30 MLB ballparks throughout the year. The Coliseum came in 4th worst in baseball (F grade), thanks to those oh-so-charming trough urinals and an embarrassing 56% of men not washing their hands. You people are disgusting pigs. For shame. The best ballpark? Busch Stadium. The worst? Wrigley Field (maybe that’s symbolic). AT&T Park came in 8th best, its only demerit being the composite trough sinks it uses (didn’t realize those were a problem). [UFE]
  • muppet151 sent a well-worded letter to City of Oakland and Alameda County officials asking about cleanup costs associated with the Howard Terminal site. I can’t say I have confidence it’ll be answered, considering how this week the City started limiting access to City Council sessions. We’ve discussed contamination and cleanup at Howard Terminal before. Furthermore, the Howard Terminal Land Use Covenant severely restricts what can be built on the site. Prohibited uses include residences, a hospital, a school or a day care center, or a park or open space (if the ground is uncapped). Here’s some relevant text from the request: [Twitter, TwitLonger, SFGate/Mattai Kuruvila]

A Removal Action Work plan (RAW) was drawn up, and the RAW leads to several questions that have yet to be discussed publically by officials who have spoken in favor of an A’s stadium at the Howard Terminal site, more specifically the role City and County governments would play in regards to the RAW.

The RAW states that should these asphalt concrete caps break, the removal of contamination would cost “in excess of $100 million. It would also require the terminal to shut down for a long period of time.” If the caps were to be broken during the building of a stadium, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say cost over runs could be in the neighborhood of $200 million (contamination removal and stadium building costs), and could delay the opening of a Howard Terminal stadium by at least a year and possibly longer. The worst case scenario being the project being permanently shut down causing the A’s to leave the Bay Area altogether. Such an accident would undoubtedly find its way into a court room as well. 

  • Arizona State University is in the middle of the Phoenix-Mesa spring training game of musical chairs. The school is looking for a much larger home than its on-campus facilities, so it is looking to either share the new Cubs’ ballpark in Mesa or move into Phoenix Municipal Stadium if the A’s vacate Muni and move to HoHoKam in Mesa. [Phoenix Business Journal/Mike Sunnucks]
  • Before the end of September, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a series of bills meant to revive redevelopment in one form or another. Brown didn’t rule out some of the ideas completely, giving credence to the notion that some aspects of redevelopment could be restored once the state’s budget shortfalls are resolved after the old institutions of redevelopment are completely eliminated (good luck with that). Meanwhile, the League of California Cities filed a lawsuit challenging last summer’s redevelopment laws. [LA Times/Patrick McGreevy, AP/Bloomberg Businessweek]
  • Tarps continue to be a sore spot, as the A’s refuse to remove tarps for the ALDS and will only consider removing them from the ALCS. Back in 2006 was when I had first heard of a MLB rule restricting capacity. If it’s entirely the domain of the team, then why not just take some or all the tarps off? Who is it going to hurt? Let’s Go Oakland has started an online petition, though that’s not going to actually get the tarps removed. The numbers on the petition will end up on some letter to the commissioner. Frankly, if people really want to get the tarps removed, they should show up outside the Coliseum Box Office/Ticket Services with news crews in tow. Get 2,000 people there who have been shut out of buying tickets. Protest. If you’re going to get ownership to budge or MLB to push ownership, the only way may be to put real pressure on them via the media. Otherwise this is little more than political fodder. [SFGate/Carolyn Jones, Let's Go Oakland]
  • An rally for the A’s will be held outside Oakland City Hall on Monday at 5:30 PM. The rally will be held despite the fact that Monday is a city government furlough day.
More as it comes.

The 2014 MLB TV Windfall

Today’s report from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand indicates that MLB’s national television deals are just about locked in. We’ve discussed this a couple times now. I’ve done some rough math on it, and the financial picture looks even healthier than I previously projected. Sure, the TV deals will more than double in value, from $660 million to $1.55 billion. But it’s when that figure is coupled with all other sources of national revenue that the picture starts to really brighten.

Come 2014, every team could rake well over $80 million per year without selling a single ticket.

The table above reflects rising revenues from every source except for Sirius XM, whose deal was locked in years ago with the money paid in advance. MLB Advanced Media, the internet and broadcasting subsidiary of MLB, admitted last year that it was hitting nearly $500 million in revenue just for 2010. Combine each team’s share with other non-TV sources (adjusted for inflation), and each team comes away with $31.8 million per year. All told, that’s an estimated $83.5 million per year.

That doesn’t even include the dividend each team ownership group gets as an equity partner in MLB AM.

Every team is going to get this windfall, so it’s not as if the A’s or Rays are getting some great competitive advantage. It will allow both teams to be able to confidently offer FA-competitive long-term deals to their own free agents, though $100 million payrolls are still probably beyond reach. To get $100 or $110 million payrolls, both teams will need new stadia. The impressive thing about these bumps is that the A’s will get $10-15 million more via Central Revenue than they get from playing in the Coliseum. Add in local TV/radio and the usual $30 million or so in annual revenue sharing, and the A’s should net $180-185 million per year starting in 2014. Not rich compared to the other teams, but a far cry from destitute.

Fosse talks ballparks

The highlight of Blog Day may have been a 25-minute discussion with Ray Fosse that spanned all manner of subjects: broadcasting, teams he played on. At one point Fosse started talking, unprovoked, about the need for a new ballpark. As a great player and broadcaster, his words carry far more weight than mine ever will. So here’s the snippet of him talking ballparks, which started as a question about comparing the current team to previous teams he played on or covered. Without further adieu:

This group of guys has a chance to be as good as (the 1989 squad), but the thing they have to do is stay together. There’s free agency and arbitration, and lots of money, the most important thing now is that the A’s somehow get a new stadium. Because as soon as a shovel is in the ground, they can keep all of these guys. Because they know what the revenue stream is going to be. Until that happens, they don’t know.

Q: Would you say you’re in favor of San Jose or in favor of a new stadium?

I’d say a new stadium, wherever it is. I don’t wanna upset people here… but unfortunately that monstrosity (points at Mt. Davis) killed us. If you can imagine when you watched games before, you could look out and see the Oakland hills, see the ivy up there.

This is the last remaining multipurpose stadium in all of baseball. Clay Wood does a great job, but he can only do so much. So to think about minimizing foul territory, which you can do when the pitchers are good enough… You can tarp the upstairs, tarp Mt. Davis, people complain – well you fill it up, and they’ll take the tarps off.

I don’t even like talking about excuses about, “Well, if we don’t leave…” Listen. To me, leaving and going to San Jose, if that’s where they go, that’s not leaving, folks. Leaving is going to another state or across the country. Staying in this area and (going to) a downtown – we’re fortunate to go to Baltimore and Cleveland in particular. Of course Boston’s downtown. Seattle. You get a downtown stadium, and what it does to revitalize a downtown area, it’s tremendous. To be honest, I’ve never been to a Sharks game but all I’ve heard are great things about downtown San Jose when the Sharks play. They support the team, it brings everyone out.

He also talked A.J. Griffin, Yoenis Cespedes, Scott Hatteberg, Chef Rodney, and more. I can’t post the audio here per the terms of the media credential (no podcasts), but these subjects and Fosse’s quotes should elicit a good amount of conversation. I’ll leave it at that.

Radio switcheroo

Adding to the intrigue regarding last week’s reshuffling of 95.7 The Game, several radio announcements have been made in the last week or so. First, KNBR’s Tom Tolbert will contribute a minute-long segment at the top of every hour on CBS Sports Radio. (The segment is much like ESPN Radio’s Sports Minute with Mike Tirico, which is heard in other markets with ESPN Radio stations.) The new network was announced in June and will launch on September 4, anchored by numerous CBS and Cumulus stations, including the two KNBRs.

This CBS Sports Radio is different from the previous one, which was syndicator Dial Global’s (Westwood One) mostly game broadcasts with the CBS brand. The new CBS Sports Radio is a 24/7 sports talk network with no carriage of the four major pro sports at the outset. That’s no big deal for the KNBR twins since they have the Giants and 49ers. They’ll be fine, although I’m curious to see how much ESPN Radio remains in the lineup.

You may also remember that, back in March, Dial Global cut a deal with Entercom to switch its game broadcasts from KNBR to 95.7 The Game, coinciding with the NCAA tournament. Dial Global has the NFL, It’s additional sports programming to help bring in new listeners, though it’s not the same as landing a team like the Warriors or Raiders.

Turns out that Dial Global and NBC Sports are also launching their own network. They’ve announced a flurry of new hosts to fill their talk lineup, including the oft-traveled Erik Kuselias (meh) and former NY Giants (and De La Salle Spartan) Amani Toomer. Toomer’s show will be in the late night Eastern (10 PM – 1 AM ET) slot. Current NFL TV analyst Rodney Harrison will get his own weekend show. The interesting thing about NBC Sports Radio is its launch date: also September 4.

That lines up with The Game’s scheduled programming changes, which have a few details remaining to hash out. For now, Dial Global hasn’t said whether it’ll go whole hog with the NBC branding, but it stands to reason that it will. The name Dial Global has no recognition outside of the radio industry, and NBC has been thorough in having the NBC Sports moniker permeate all of its TV sports properties, from the former Versus network (now NBC Sports Network) to the Comcast SportsNets, which have NBC Sports as part of their tagline with every broadcast.

I’m merely connecting the dots, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? Come Tuesday, fifth tier Yahoo! Sports Radio will be ditched for NBC Sports Radio, which has much stronger recognition despite its startup status. Funny thing is that for decades, KNBR-680 was the NBC affiliate for Northern California, a stint that only ended as the station switched to the sports format full time. Throughout the 2000’s the A’s shuffled between CBS-owned affiliates before signing with The Game. Remember how I remarked how cozy the relationship was between The Game and CSN Bay Area/California? That may well have been a prelude to something much bigger. And there’s still the Warriors situation to shake out. September could be a banner month for 95.7, as The Game literally changes.

The Game reshuffles the deck, are W’s next?

95.7 The Game had another of its “blockbuster” announcements today during The Wheelhouse, and for once there was actual news. The lineup is changing from 4 shows spanning 6 AM – 10 PM to 4 shows from 6 AM to 7 PM, starting after Labor Day.

  • The Rise Guys (unchanged): 6 AM – 10 AM
  • Townsend & Steinmetz: 10 AM – 12 PM
  • The Wheelhouse (Lund & Papa, no rotating co-host): 12 PM – 3 PM
  • The Drive (Tierney & TBA co-host): 3 PM – 7 PM

Listeners are asking what happened to The Chris Townsend Show from 7-10. I think the answer is simple. The Warriors have been rumored to be talking to Entercom about switching from KNBR to The Game, so to properly accommodate W’s games and pre/post-game programming they had to move things around. Using the old schedule with Townsend from 6 to 10, he’d be preempted several times a week by the W’s during the fall/winter and then daily with the A’s. The 7 PM slot is plum when it isn’t being preempted, when it is you get Damon Bruce moving to 1050 after years of frustration.

Making Steinmetz a permanent host would seem to be clincher. He’s a good basketball analyst, though unfortunately he’s pretty bad or inattentive to other sports. Having Steinmetz on is good from a “morning after” analysis standpoint, and Townsend can deftly handle the other sports. The curious thing about the change is that the slot is only two hours, which is not unheard of in other markets but in the Bay Area is unusual. Seems like it would make more sense to shorten the morning show to 9 and give Townsend-Steinmetz 9-noon.

The 7 PM slot is a bit of a mystery. I could see rotating shows for the football teams and maybe a college football show, unless the station wanted to go cheap and use Yahoo! Sports programming. It’s also possible that Townsend could do double-duty with the 10-12 slot and night slot since he’s done it in the past. You’d think that if that were the case The Game would’ve announced it. Warriors broadcasts plus postgame will preempt regular programming for at least an hour 50-60 times throughout the season, and if the W’s go to the playoffs that number is sure to grow.

Ratings for the San Francisco market dating back to November 2011

Change is afoot, and Entercom clearly needs to ink deals to lift the station. The Warriors haven’t announced a radio partner yet and we’re only six weeks away from the first preseason game. The next move seems obvious.

News for 8/10/12

We’re overdue for a news roundup. Now seems like a good time for one.

From BANG’s Joe Stiglich:

Last week’s visit to Oakland and San Jose by Bud Selig’s three-man panel foreshadowed this.

Update 1:04 PM – Stiglich has a writeup with quotes from Wolff, such as:

“It’s up to the commissioner’s office,” Wolff said. “… This is a process that unfortunately is taking longer than I hoped, but it’s a fair process.” 

Other news:

  • Janet Marie Smith, who oversaw the construction of Camden Yards and the renovation of Fenway Park, is moving out west to Los Angeles to take a similar role with the Dodgers. If her previous work is any indication, she will keep it classy all the way. [Dodgers press release]
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has set a deadline of September 15 to wrap up labor negotiations before the league imposes a lockout. The NHL and NHLPA are always playing catchup with the other leagues in terms of CBAs. They imposed a 57% player share in the last agreement as other leagues were dropping towards the 50% mark. Now the NHL wants to drop it to 46%. It’s going to be a long winter. [AP]
  • A developer is proposing a ballpark for the Tampa Bay Rays in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg, just over the bridge from Tampa. St. Pete’s stance has been to not allow the Rays to get out of their lease at Tropicana Field unless a new stadium were conceived in St. Pete, not Tampa. No financial details were available. [Tampa Tribune/Michael Sasso]
  • The 49ers and the City of Santa Clara settled a lawsuit with a County oversight board. $30 million in redevelopment money was at stake. In order to keep local school budgets balanced, the 49ers won’t get the $30 million for several years. Seems fair. [SJ Mercury News/Mike Rosenberg]
  • Get used to metal detectors at NFL games starting this season. [Oakland Raiders]
  • Speaking of the Raiders, they are using the league’s new 85% measure to determine sellouts this season. The way it works, a team has to sell out 85% of its non-premium seats by the usual deadline (normally Thursday for a Sunday game) in order for a game not to be subject to a blackout. The catch is that any tickets sold between the 85% and 100% marks are subject to higher revenue sharing. Teams like the Raiders and Bucs chose to use the new standard, the Bills and Jags went with the old standard, which required all non-premium seats to be sold by the deadline.
  • The City of Industry approved a deal to buy 600 acres within city limits for up to $26.7 million. The land is where the somewhat-forgotten Ed Roski/Majestic Realty stadium would be located. The parties still have to scramble to find a proper replacement for now-evaporated redevelopment funding. [Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Ben Baeder]
  • MLB’s postseason schedule has been released (knock on wood). [Biz of Baseball/Maury Brown]

More if it comes.

Slanted Orange and Black

During last night’s game I made an observation on Twitter that initiated a robust debate.

That begat the following responses from BANG’s Tim Kawakami:

and…

and a bewildered response from the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser:

Clearly, I wasn’t referring to Slusser, who has been the best in the business for years, and her beat colleagues Joe Stiglich and Jane Lee. I was referring to columnists like Kawakami, or the Scott Ostler column from yesterday. To his credit, Kawakami’s interview with Billy Beane was very illuminating and should answer a lot of questions about the organization’s postseason intentions. That said, such columns are few and far between. What’s more common is the standard tripe proffered by Lowell Cohn or Ostler, who may have confused the column space for a long tweet.

I’ve been following the A’s for more than 30 years, well before the popularity of Sports Talk Radio and the Internet. I was aware as a kid of the coverage inequity between the two teams. It was something I simply accepted as part of the sports media landscape. Fortunately for A’s fans, the expansion of information sources and real-time availability has not only lessened the impact of the gruff, eternally cynical, cigar-chomping (or free-food chomping) columnist, it has made that character a dinosaur. The A’s get better coverage now thanks to the tireless work of the local beats and the added perspective of national writers who, frankly, love Billy Beane (which helps). I’m perfectly fine with that. I no longer worry much about the lazy, often provocative style of the local sports columnist. Well, enough to get it off my chest for two posts, but anyway…

FWIW – Kawakami’s best work was when he was covering the Lakers for the LA Times.

P.S. – If you want to see a lazy, provocative media type get thoroughly destroyed, check out former Merc columnist Skip Bayless shrink in the face of Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s withering commentary.