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Deitsch Asks Writers About Worst Team They Covered



Richard Deutsch has an interesting and fun piece series going up at The Athletic today. He has asked 39 different sports writers to recap tales from the very worst team they covered. The answers span all four major US leagues plus the WNBA and college sports. They also vary in reasons about what made each team the worst.

The series begins with NFL beat reporters talking about their season(s) in hell. The NHL will be in the spotlight on Tuesday. It’s Major League Baseball on Wednesday. The NBA and WNBA stories come Thursday. College teams are highlighted on Friday. Here is the full schedule:

NFL (Monday)

  • 1990 Denver Broncos (Adam Schefter)
  • 1994 Dallas Cowboys (Dale Hansen)
  • 2000 & 2001 San Diego Chargers (Jim Trotter)
  • 2003 New York Giants (Tara Sullivan)
  • 2008 Detroit Lions (Nick Cotsonika)
  • 2010 Denver Broncos (Lindsay Jones)
  • 2012 New York Jets (Kimberley A. Martin)
  • 2012 Philadelphia Eagles (Les Bowen)
  • 2016 Jacksonville Jaguars (Ryan O’Halloran)
  • 2017 Indianapolis Colts (Stephen Holder)

NHL (Tuesday)

  • 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins (Trenni Kusnierek)
  • 2005-06 St. Louis Blues (Jeremy Rutherford)
  • 2007-08 Atlanta Thrashers (Craig Custance)
  • 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs (James Mirtle)
  • 2010-11 New York Islanders (Katie Strang)
  • 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets (Aaron Portzline)
  • 2013-14 Vancouver Canucks (Jason Botchford)
  • 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres (John Vogl)

MLB (Wednesday)

  • 1983 California Angels (Gene Wojciechowski)
  • 1988 Baltimore Orioles (Richard Justice)
  • 1993 New York Mets (Frank Isola)
  • 1995 Oakland A’s (Pedro Gomez)
  • 1998 Florida Marlins (Dave O’Brien)
  • 2002 Chicago Cubs (Teddy Greenstein)
  • 2011-16 New York Yankees (Marly Rivera)

NBA/WNBA (Thursday)

  • 1998-99 Cleveland Cavaliers (Jason Lloyd)
  • 2005-06 Portland Trail Blazers (John Canzano)
  • 2005-06 New York Knicks (Howard Beck)
  • 2008-09 Los Angeles Clippers (Lisa Dillman)
  • 2011 Tulsa Shock (Kelly Hines)
  • 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers (Dave McMenamin)
  • 2014-15 Brooklyn Nets (Tim Bontemps)
  • 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers (Derek Bodner)

Colleges (Friday)

  • 1994 Kentucky Football (Pat Forde)
  • 1997 Maryland Football (Seth Emerson)
  • 2002 Stanford Football (Jon Wilner)
  • 2002-03 Villanova Basketball (Dana O’Neil)
  • 2014 Michigan Football (Angelique Chengelis)
  • 2015 Idaho Football (Michael Shawn-Dugar)

As for the first piece, the highlights include Dale Hanson of WFAA-TV in Dallas talking about the 1994 Dallas Cowboys, who were a good team according to their record. Hanson says that the hiring of Barry Switzer to replace Jimmy Johnson changed everything about the team’s culture. “But with Switzer’s ‘leadership,’ players were out of control. And there was no one to rein ‘em in. As one player said to me late at night near closing time in an Austin bar, ‘we have a curfew but Switzer’s coaching so who really cares.'”

Jim Trotter of NFL Media said one player ruined his experience with the 2001 San Diego Chargers. “That was the first time I saw up close how a team could splinter if one of its purported leaders was more concerned about himself than the club. That player was quarterback Doug Flutie, North America’s beloved underdog.”

The real gem though is from Nick Cotsonika, who now writes for, but in 2008 was a beat reporter covering the Detroit Lions. He writes about the first NFL team to ever go 0-16 with some real fondness for just how terrible they were. “As the losses piled up, each game became more important, not less. It was like covering a team chasing history, only this team was trying to run from it and tripping over its own feet. No NFL team had gone 0-16 before. Kicker Jason Hanson said the Lions were so bad they had something to play for now. It says something the kicker was the one with the cred and the guts to tell it like it was.”

You can read the full piece here if you are a subscriber to The Athletic.


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Dan Le Batard: Chris Russo is a ‘Caricature of a Sports Media Personality’

“He’s had a rejuvenation – a radiant rejuvenation.”



Chris Russo
Courtesy: Bedford & New Canaan Magazine

Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo has turned heads lately in his First Take appearance, specifically through his “What Are You Mad About?” segment where he waxes poetic on various topics that agitate him. It was during a usual sit-down conversation though that produced a viral segment when he intricately outlined his Saturday plans with his wife being out of town.

Throughout his monologue, Russo insinuated the use of THC gummies, stating that he will have half at 12 p.m. and the other half at 3:25 p.m. in order to watch the college football games. The fact that Russo was allowed to divulge details of such, along with the fact that he is betting $10,000 on ESPN, a network owned by The Walt Disney Company, surprised Le Batard, one of its former employees.

“He’s had a rejuvenation – a radiant rejuvenation,” Dan Le Batard said on Thursday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “He did something yesterday that I’ve never seen, [and] on Disney television – on Disney television!… I have never seen a media member just say, ‘Yep, drinking, drugs and gambling – that’s my Saturday,’ and I’m jealous of him. I want that to be my Saturday.”

Mike Ryan Ruiz, the executive producer of the program, chimed in on the situation and reminded Le Batard that Russo went to many Grateful Dead concerts. In response, Le Batard referred to it as “circumstantial evidence” that did not directly support Mad Dog’s drug use.

“Yes, his performance showed that he had short-circuited and fried all of his brain cells in a way that was obvious, but he wasn’t saying out loud, ‘You know what I’m doing during my sports analysis consumption time? I’m going to come on next week and talk about Colorado, and I’m telling you right now, I was high while I was watching,’” Le Batard said. “Not usually part of the commentary.”

Le Batard referenced former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who smoked marijuana on the night before games and tested positive for the drug three times. The reason he brought him up was to assert that he thinks Russo would have been one of the most likely people to defame Williams’ character.

“[He is] one of the guys most likely to rip him as a character assassination for daring to do marijuana that all of it would get so normalized that my media member who’s on ESPN representing old-timey media [who] can’t shut up about Bob Cousy – that guy is out there saying, ‘Yeah, I’m doing drugs on a Saturday,’” Le Batard expressed.

Le Batard acknowledged his incredulity towards Russo betting $10,000 on a college football game, but understands that he has been successful throughout the years with his time on WFAN, SiriusXM and MLB Network. The style of sports television that has pervaded the airwaves in recent years lends personalities the ability to frolic in palaver and enjoy themselves, a stark contrast from when Le Batard was with the “Worldwide Leader.”

“What I see happening all over television now – sports television – [is that] there are so many people dancing and laughing and having a good time on sports television, genuinely enjoying themselves,” Le Batard said. “It used to be starched and stiff, and now I am watching.”

In a recent conversation with Stephen A. Smith on his podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show, the First Take featured commentator called Le Batard “sanctimonious.” Reflecting back on the conversation, Le Batard agrees with him because he does not seek broad appeal and adheres to the principles and platforms he views as righteous and worthwhile.

Earlier this week, Le Batard revealed that he declined an interview with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill when he was informed that he could not ask him about off-field issues. Although Russo is one of the most accomplished sports radio personalities of all time, Le Batard is not sure what to think about these types of situations and a new style of sports talk taking the airwaves.

“He has made a lot of money in this industry being a caricature of a sports media personality,” Le Batard said of Russo. “Skip Bayless – before Skip Bayless, man, that dude invented argument television. That started with [Mike] Francesa and Russo on the radio, and it infected everything in the coverage of newspapers, fandom [and] sports television.”

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Dave Portnoy Accuses Washington Post of Tortious Interference

Jordan Bondurant



Dave Portnoy
Courtesy: Emmy Park

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy went viral on Twitter Wednesday after posting video of him confronting a Washington Post reporter over the phone and accusing her and the newspaper of tortious interference.

Portnoy called Post food writer Emily Heil after he learned that she had been contacting advertisers of his pizza festival in Brooklyn this Saturday. Heil sought comment from those advertisers about doing business with Portnoy, who she wrote in one particular email that Dave “has a history of misogynistic comments and other problematic behavior.”

Heil said she was working with fellow food writer Tim Carman on a piece about the festival, which will feature over 35 pizzerias – all of which Portnoy has featured in his “One Bite” reviews at one point or another. But Portnoy felt like there was more to what she and Carman were up to.

“To me, it’s kind of like tortious interference,” Portnoy said. “Like we’re doing an event. Everyone’s happy about the event. I’ve raised $50 million for small business, I’ve helped pizzerias, none of that. It’s ‘Dave’s misogynic and problematic.’ And I’m happy to talk about it! Because to me nobody would like if someone’s going around sending that email to their sponsors. And again, you’re not questioning it. It’s almost like a statement of fact. This is what I am.”

“You said it in a way that is putting sponsors on the defensive!” he added.

Portnoy felt like Heil and Carman were going to publish something similar to what was posted on Tuesday calling out sponsors for working with Portnoy. He didn’t believe Heil and Carman would give him a fair shake, that they already had their minds made up about him and that they were only going to contact him after they’ve compiled a mass of negative topics to discuss.

“It seemed like you were going to try to shame sponsors for being associated with me and put them in a box when I know they all love me,” he said. “But nobody wants the Washington Post writing an article, ‘Sponsor associated with misogynic, racist piece of shit.’ Nobody wants that and that’s what you’re trying to do. And even on this call it’s pretty clear that’s what you were trying to do.”

“I’m afraid with what I’m seeing already here all it does is it validates a hit piece,” Portnoy added.

Dave challenged Heil further, who said the one particular email Portnoy was referring to was the most pointed of the emails sent to festival sponsors. She said it was worded that way to try and get a response.

“Sometimes you have to say something like this,” Heil said. “It’s like it’s sort of a reporting tactic. When you want someone to respond, you kind of have to indicate that there might be something negative and then you get them to engage. That’s all I was trying to do.”

“That is a sad state of journalism if that’s a tactic you have to, what I would say is make up something about somebody,” Portnoy responded.

Eventually they settled on a time of 10 a.m. today to conduct an interview. Portnoy said he would be recording the conversation like he was the one on Wednesday, and Heil didn’t have issues with that.

But later Wednesday, Portnoy tweeted that the interview had been cancelled. He said Heil attempted to reschedule for 5 p.m., but since Portnoy had previously agreed to 10 a.m., he stuck with that or nothing at all.

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Dan Le Batard: ‘ESPN Got Mad at Me’ For Giving HOF Vote to Deadspin

“I didn’t like the sanctimony and so I just made a cartoonish exit.”

Ricky Keeler



Dan Le Batard
Courtesy: Meadowlark Media

A recent ESPN investigative report by Mike Fish looked back at the Biogenesis scandal that rocked the sports world a decade ago and involved the likes of major stars in baseball such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. 10 years later, it is still talked about, but is the outrage about PEDs and steroids still the same?

Pablo Torre, Dan Le Batard, and Katie Nolan talked about that story on an episode of Torre’s podcast, Pablo Torre Finds Out. Torre remembered his days at Sports Illustrated where two highly acclaimed investigative reporters dedicated that time in their career to the scandal’s most high profile target.

“I remember being at Sports Illustrated and there was a beat. Selena Roberts and David Epstein, two great investigative reporters, were on the A-Rod beat. This was a thing we would crusade about morally. It felt important. All I can think about now is how we just had a conversation about all of the weird shit we are doing to improve ourselves. I don’t know if our tolerance for this stuff has changed consciously, but it just feels like we care less in general about the weird things we all try to do to get an edge to improve our performance on the field, as human beings.”

This story allowed Le Batard to relive the time in 2014 when he gave his Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin

“I just wanted to make the moral stand of you can’t keep these guys out of the Hall of Fame because you sportswriters are suggesting to me that if I gave you the ability to write better and make more money by smearing some cream on your muscles that you wouldn’t do it. I didn’t like the sanctimony and so I just made a cartoonish exit.

“ESPN got mad at me and were like why didn’t you do it on ESPN. Because then it wouldn’t have worked. I had to do it with an entity that was trying to make fun of the whole cathedral of sports.”

During the segment, Le Batard called the Biogenesis story “one of the most Miami sports scandals you will ever see” and reflected on how things have changed for A-Rod. 

“All of us were pissed off because he lied to us and the betrayal and all he had to do to erase all the outrage and get every sports broadcasting team to want to employ him is date J-Lo and he fixed all of it.”

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