Sports TV News
Ojeda Explains Reasons For SNY Exit
Someone asked Bobby Ojeda what he would have said on SportsNet New York last Saturday after Jenrry Mejia was suspended 80 games for testing positive for Stanozolol. We could almost see him glaring intensely into the camera before he decided there was much more to offer than knee-jerk commentary concerning the closer’s selfishness.
“I would have said, ‘Bud Selig, thank you for not initially addressing the problem. Thank you for sweeping it under the rug for years,’ ” Ojeda, sarcastically, said. “What we see now is some 20-odd years later guys are still using the drugs.”
Ojeda continued ranting, resurrecting memories of the six years of viewer whiplash he caused with fearless unpredictability anchored with analysis built through the course of a baseball life. His summer pulpit was chopped down when Ojeda and SNY brass, who hired Nelson Figueroa to replace him,could not reach an agreement on a new contract.
Money, as always, played a role. Our guess is they were not that far apart, more like five figures than six — but what do we know? “I know a lot was made about the difference and the money, although it was minor,” Ojeda told me over the telephone. “But I didn’t make a decision like that based solely on one thing, which would have been money. That would have been disingenuous on my part.”
See, on his way to becoming the top local studio analyst in baseball, Ojeda learned you don’t arrive at that destination without plenty of help. Walking the high wire like Ojeda did necessitates a safety net. For the first four or five years, he worked largely with the same production personnel. They made it possible, and provided everything, for him to focus solely on working in front of the camera.
Last August, Ojeda said, he saw things beginning to change. Craig Germain, the senior coordinating producer, who oversaw the pre- and postgame shows, left SNY to join NFL Network. Gerard Guilfoyle, who produced the shows, began taking on other projects.
Ojeda looked down from that wire and saw nothing but concrete.
“All of a sudden it was, this is going to be a daunting task ahead of me. Am I able to do it? Are we going to be able to continue doing as good a job as we had been doing?” Ojeda asked. “When the players (production personnel) started to change, then go, the uncertainty started creeping in. . . . I found myself almost having to train people, very good people, to do what we had been doing.”
Through almost all of Ojeda’s SNY tenure, Guilfoyle was his producer. “(Last season) his time in the producer’s chair was starting to turn over,” Ojeda said. “Honestly, it was Gerard who was driving this thing. I cannot be more emphatic about that. His ideas, his insight — especially with the man on the street. He knew what the man on the street was curious about. Gerard really fueled me. He was a big boost to me.”
Let’s look at this logically, which may not be a great idea. But what the hell? Last season, Ojeda saw the infrastructure SNY built around its Mets studio beginning to change. That has an affect — even on little things. Like while the core group knew exactly what video to pull when Ojeda wanted to analyze a certain style of pitching, Ojeda now had to get more involved in the production process. Get it?
On top of the changes, Ojeda was looking down the barrel of a contract negotiation. In his mind, he was worth more dough not only because of his performance but he believed his job description changed.
“It began to be a little bit more than I signed on for. I was willing to do it,” Ojeda said. “But with that added responsibility, I think there should be added compensation. That’s quite fair. It’s that simple.”
The “responsibility” includes the prospect of being a target of criticism that is not deserved because of a behind-the-scenes glitch. “If it doesn’t fly, me and Gary (Apple) are going to take the fall,” Ojeda said. “Sure I miss doing the show. But it started to become a lot more than I felt I was able to do.
“But the reality is that’s just my own shortcomings I was afraid of,” Ojeda continued. “That was part of it. I had so many people helping me do that job and they began to turn over. And I began questioning my abilities a little bit.”
History tells us insecurity is in the air all these guys breathe. Yet Ojeda is quick to embrace the idea of a return to broadcasting. Or a front-office position. Or becoming a member of a coaching staff. For through all that went down, all the experiences over six years behind a microphone, Bobby Ojeda learned something about himself.
“I found out I still have a passion for the game that I didn’t know existed,” he said. “Now, I’m sort of in between innings.”
Credit to the NY Daily News who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
JJ Redick: ESPN Sells The NBA As ‘Only 5 or 6 Teams Matter’
“To me, this could be the best thing possible for the NBA and its fans because we have not done a good job of selling the rest of the NBA.”
Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ elimination from the NBA Playoffs, the matchup between the Association’s two most accomplished clubs – the Lakers and Boston Celtics – is no longer a possibility. On Tuesday morning’s edition of First Take on ESPN, JJ Redick suggested how it would be a seminal occurrence for the NBA to have teams from smaller media markets square off for the championship, familiarizing basketball and sports fans at large with new teams and players.
“We somehow have sold the NBA as a league where only five or six teams matter and a league where only five or six players matter,” Redick said on the program. “To me, this could be a watershed moment for the NBA. To me, this could be the best thing possible for the NBA and its fans because we have not done a good job of selling the rest of the NBA.”
Redick pointed out how after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the talking points were focused on the Lakers and what the team needed to do to have a legitimate chance to win the series. He reminded people that Nuggets center and two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokić had his third consecutive triple-double, posting an unparalleled statline of 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists.
“We don’t do a good job of selling what the NBA is, which is 30 teams, 450 players [and] multiple superstars,” Redick said. “The fact that people are now being like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize Nikola Jokić was good’…. Well, let’s put him on TV more!”
Stephen A. Smith told Redick that the NBA has not established its games akin to “events” as much as the National Football League. Smith expressed how he has seen pastors change the time of their Sunday sermons in order to ensure they were home to watch professional football games. While football is very much a team sport, Smith offered Redick his perspective that basketball is “built on superstars.”
“The NBA became what it is because it gravitated to individuality,” Smith said. “Even though the Boston Celtics were a great team and the Lakers ultimately were a great team, they sold Magic and Bird. Michael Jordan comes along – they sold Michael Jordan, and obviously, all the names that we don’t need to get into followed. They sold the individual.”
Smith addressed Redick and accentuated the incredible feats of Jokić, but part of what has made him one of sports media’s most prominent personalities is by having a shrewd perception of his audience. ESPN and other major sports networks are fully aware that Los Angeles supersedes Denver in terms of media consumers, and that the Lakers are recognized as an international brand.
“I’m not where I am today if it were not for the NBA,” Smith said. “Basketball has done wonders for my life, and I’m incredibly grateful and thankful, and the NBA will always be promoted on this show. Please understand in the same breath, we also have to pay attention to what the audience wants to hear too.”
Sports TV News
Diamond Sports Group In Danger of Losing Padres TV Rights
“The company has a grace period to deliver the payment that runs through May 30.”
Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after failing to make a scheduled debt payment to its creditors. At the time, the company had more than $8 billion in debt and was commencing a process of restructuring. Yet the company stated its Ballys-branded regional sports networks would continue to operate as usual. Major League Baseball decided to take action though and establish a plan to broadcast games locally if the company missed a rights payment.
Now, it is looking that is exactly what will happen. Diamond missed a payment to the San Diego Padres last week, meaning the team’s media rights could soon be the property of Major League Baseball. The company has a grace period to deliver the payment that runs through May 30. If it were to miss the payment, it would mark the first time it will relinquish a contract in this way.
“Despite Diamond’s economic situation, there is every expectation that they will continue televising all games they are committed to during the bankruptcy process,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “Major League Baseball is ready to produce and distribute games to fans in their local markets in the event that Diamond or any other regional sports network is unable to do so as required by their agreement with our club.”
The company’s current contract with the San Diego Padres has nine years and approximately $540 million remaining with an escalator clause built into the deal. This means that the final year of the deal would cost Diamond Sports Group more than $70 million in rights fees, and while the team is in the top five for television deliveries, the entity perhaps may not view it as sustainable. The momentum headed in this direction was first reported by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.
The company has also pushed Major League Baseball teams to agree to deals to stream the games in order to recoup lost cable revenue. By being granted the rights to stream games directly to consumers, Diamond Sports Group has vowed to pay the rights fees it owes to nine MLB teams. The company currently has the streaming rights for just five of the 14 major league clubs on its regional sports networks.
Some industry experts believe Diamond Sports Group is utilizing this stalemate to be able to exit media rights deals that are losing the company money. For example, the Diamondbacks’ media rights contract garners an annual payment of about $68 million while amassing the second-lowest local television ratings of any Major League Baseball team.
On May 31, a bankruptcy judge will establish how much money Diamond Sports Group owes its clubs for media rights fees while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and whether it can continue broadcasting games at this time. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins filed emergency motions urging the judge to coerce Diamond Sports Group to make their payments. If the company is unable to distribute payments, the emergency motion calls for teams to issue default notices to the regional sports networks, which could permit the termination of media rights contracts.
Sports TV News
Devin McCourty Joining Football Night in America on NBC
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity from NBC Sports to learn from great individuals, chase new goals and provide viewers with my thoughts on the biggest games every week.”
NBC Sports has enhanced its roster of football analysts with the signing of Devin McCourty. He will join the cast of Football Night in America leading up to each week’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football.
McCourty is a three-time Super Bowl champion and played his entire 13-year career as a defensive back with the New England Patriots, and has the record for most career playoff games started by a defensive player.
“It’s rare when you have the opportunity to add a three-time Super Bowl-winner to your team, and we’re excited to welcome Devin McCourty to Football Night following an incredible NFL career,” said Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production at NBC Sports. “Devin is a leader in every sense of the word, both on and off the field, and his dynamic personality and passion for the game will be a great addition to the show.”
McCourty’s twin brother, Jason, currently works on the cast of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, and the two co-hosted a podcast together while playing called Double Coverage. Devin was a guest host on Good Morning Football earlier in the season and also contributed to pregame coverage on The NFL Today and NFL Draft content for CBS Sports.
“I’m excited to be a rookie on the best team in America again,” McCourty said in a statement. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity from NBC Sports to learn from great individuals, chase new goals and provide viewers with my thoughts on the biggest games every week.”