Former Phillie Mitch Williams is suing his former employer MLB Network for breach of contract, wrongful termination and defamation, and Gawker Media, the company that owns the sports-news site Deadspin, for defamation, stemming from a story that Deadspin reported about Williams’ behavior at his 10-year-old son’s baseball tournament. The suit was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County.
“We are aware that Mitch Williams has filed a lawsuit against MLB Network,” a spokesman for MLB Network said in a statement. “We have not received it, but we have reviewed the reported claims in the statement issued today by his lawyer and there are inaccuracies included throughout.
“We can confirm that Mitch Williams is no longer an MLB Network analyst. We believe that the behavior he demonstrated at the youth baseball tournament speaks for itself.”
The news that Williams was no longer an MLB Network employee was not made public until the suit was filed yesterday.
Gawker Media did not return a statement by press time.
The lawsuit stems from a story posted by Deadspin’s Timothy Burke. On May 11, Burke reported, from anonymous sources, that Williams was ejected from his child’s baseball game for arguing and cursing.
Williams apologized, as ordered by the MLB Network, via Twitter: “I regret what happened at this weekend’s tournament & apologize. I love baseball & coaching.”
Another report from Deadspin followed, including allegations that Williams called a child a lewd name and ordered a 10-year-old to hit the opposing pitcher. Williams’ suit claims that there is “both written and video evidence contradicting the false and baseless accusations.”
On May 17, Williams took a leave of absence from the MLB Network, as requested by the network.
“There are people out there who love to bring down celebrities, and the Internet provides an incredibly easy and powerful forum to destroy a person’s reputation in an instant behind a veil of anonymity,” Williams’ lawyer, Laura C. Mattiacci, of Console Law Offices, said when asked about the May incident, as well as other reported incidents of similar behavior on Williams’ part. “When one’s reputation and livelihood are crushed by anonymous ‘sources,’ it is absolutely devastating, but there are legal recourses available.”
The suit alleges that the MLB Network wanted Williams to sign an amendment to his contract saying that he would no longer attend the sporting events of his five children (or as the suit says, “sign away his rights as a father”), including his 11-year-old autistic son. “As alleged in Mr. Williams’ complaint, for an employer to make a job contingent upon signing away your right to be with your children, it is crossing the line,” Mattiacci said.
When he refused, Williams said, he was fired, losing out on the approximately $2 million balance of his contract, along with positions at mlb.com, the Sports Network and Fox Sports. Williams is seeking damages separately from each party.
Credit to Philly.com who published this article
16.9% of All Sports Radio Listeners Are Streaming
The news comes as Nielsen reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
According to Nielsen, sports radio stations are the third-most streamed spoken word format, just behind Talk/Personality and News/Talk/Info. The trend is continuing to show that streaming is on the uptick.
The survey found that in May 2022, 16.9% of sports talk radio’s audience tunes in via the station’s online stream. That news comes as Nielson reported that 11.3% of all radio listenership comes thru a stream, up from 6.9% in May of 2020.
Nielsen notes that in the 45 PPM markets they are grabbing data from and the 4,800+ stations that stream in those markets, just 30% of them are encoded. That encoding allows for Nielsen to accurately measure the streams. They used the listener data from 1,500 stations across the U.S., in their latest report, AM/FM Radio Streaming Growth in PPM Markets.
The survey also showed that streaming levels differ widely by radio format. Spoken word formats display strong streaming listenership (Talk/Personality: 31.2%, News/Talk/Info: 19.1%, All Sports: 16.9%). In fact, Nielsen found that 1/3 of all AM/FM streaming in PPM markets is to spoken word formats.
New Study Finds Listeners to MLB on Radio Are Willing to Spend
More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team… 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
When it comes to advertiser’s attempting to reach an affluent and engaged audience, sports talk radio might have a whale on their hands. Major League Baseball play-by-play features an audience that has money and has no problems spending it.
In a recent MRI-Simmons study, data shows that consumers who listen to MLB broadcasts on the radio are the perfect audience for sports marketers. According to the analysis, done by Katz Radio Group, nearly two thirds (62%) of those surveyed consider themselves “super fans” of baseball. That number is 58% higher than the average.
Those “super fans” are willing to spend to support their team, as well. More than one third (34%) of the respondents recently purchased clothing/apparel that features their favorite team. Those fans are also far more willing to make the trip to see their team. The study found that 27% have visited a ballpark in the past year. That compares to only 19% of the average MLB fan base has made an apparel purchase to support their team while just 11% have gone to a game in person in that same time span.
The news continues getting better for advertisers. Continued analysis reveals that 66% of listeners are currently employed and have a median household income greater than $106,000.
Listeners to MLB games on the radio are also 34% more likely to place a sports bet and 106% more likely to be a participant in fantasy baseball.
Jeff Dean Signs Off At ESPN Tucson for The Final Time
Dean said on Facebook: “…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Fans will no longer be able to tune into ESPN Tucson and hear Jeff Dean hosting his show. Friday morning was his last show, according to his Facebook and Twitter pages.
The Jeff Dean Show had been airing from 7-9a MT weekday mornings. Dean took to social media to relay the news and the reason behind him stepping away from the microphone. Dean said on Facebook:
“This morning I signed off from my radio show on ESPN Tucson for the final time. I have been devoting too much of my life and my time to working multiple jobs…the years of burning the candle at both ends has taken a dire toll on my health and for the first time in my life, I’m going to put myself and my livelihood first”
Dean went on to emphasize that he isn’t stepping away from ESPN Tucson, he’s just taking himself off the air. He also added that “gladly, I will be continuing my position as PA announcer of University of Arizona Football and Men’s basketball.”
Dean would also go onto Twitter to add even further context for his self-removal from the ESPN Tucson airwaves. He added, “It’s not a decision I arrived at hastily, as it’s been a 6 month mental grind to make the ultimate decision that had to be made, and I’m not particularly happy about it, but I have to put my health first, we all do, and make sure we’re around long enough to enjoy life”.
Dean had been ESPN Tucson’s morning host since November 2019.