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Simmons Weighs In On Le Batard’s Standoff With ESPN

“I just think he’s not one of those guys that’s like ‘I’m not saying anything,’ especially with you have an election coming next year. I just don’t see him backing off is, I guess, my bigger point.”

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Bill Simmons knows a thing or two about challenging ESPN management, and on this week’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast he predicts that Dan Le Batard’s current showdown with management in Bristol “doesn’t play out that well” for Le Batard’s future with the company.

Le Batard made waves late last week when he cited a tweet from FS1’s Nick Wright calling out the racism of a crowd in Greenville, NC at a rally for President Trump. Le Batard agreed with Wright’s take and called ESPN’s policy of not discussing politics unless it is directly related to sports “a weak-ass shield.”

While he was never officially suspended, Dan Le Batard did miss the first hour of Friday’s show. He also missed all of Monday’s show after reportedly “going back and forth” with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro over the weekend.

“Once you go down this road, now anytime [Dan Le Batard] says anything it’s going to be blog posts, news stories, all that stuff,” Simmons said. “I just think he’s not one of those guys that’s like ‘I’m not saying anything,’ especially with you have an election coming next year. I just don’t see him backing off is, I guess, my bigger point.”

Simmons is no stranger to ESPN discipline. Most famously, he received a three week suspension in 2014 when he served as editor of Grantland. He called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar on his podcast and then dared his bosses to suspend him.

There has been much speculation about Le Batard’s standing with ESPN brass since Thursday, but it should be pointed out that while Pitaro did acknowledge that he reiterated to his staff the company’s policy about discussing politics, he has not made any comment about a change in Le Batard’s job status with Disney.

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Russell Dorsey Joins Yahoo Sports

The addition of Dorsey is the latest transaction made by Yahoo Sports to bolster its MLB coverage ahead of first pitch for the 2024 season.

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Russell Dorsey
Courtesy: La Vida Baseball

Russell Dorsey announced that he will be joining Yahoo Sports as its national insider for Major League Baseball. Dorsey shared the news on social media while attaching a video and thanked various executives with the company. Later on Tuesday, Dorsey published his first story for the company outlining what he believes are the five best moves from the Major League Baseball offseason excluding Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar who inked a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The addition of Dorsey is the latest transaction made by Yahoo Sports to bolster its MLB coverage ahead of first pitch for the 2024 season. Yahoo Sports added the “Céspedes Family BBQ” duo of Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman onto its editorial team, which renders them responsible for producing audio, visual and written content pertaining to the sport. Within his social media post, Dorsey shared his excitement to work alongside Mintz and Shusterman in his new role.

“As a baseball fan, I can’t wait to see the ways in which Russ, Jake and Jordan will shape and elevate our coverage of America’s Pastime,” Sam Farber, head of content at Yahoo Sports, said in a LinkedIn post.

Dorsey recently served in a role by the same title for Bally Sports and also served as a co-host of The Rally alongside Brooke Fletcher. He was laid off by the regional sports network cluster after just over two years with the outlet, a role he balanced with his responsibilities for Apple TV+ on its Friday Night Baseball property.

Dorsey previously worked as a contributing writer for Forbes, responsible for covering the NBA and MLB by writing features, columns and analysis. Additionally, he worked as a contributing writer for Baseball Prospectus where he primarily focused on the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and facets of Major League Baseball. Dorsey has also had work published by the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Herald throughout his career in sports media.

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Sports Podcasting Company Blue Wire Raises Additional Funding

Blue Wire’s library of content features personalities such as Lolo Jones, Chris Long and Gilbert Arenas among others.

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Blue Wire

Blue Wire founder Kevin Jones has told Axios the sports podcasting company has raised new funding from Decathlon Capital. Jones did not offer more details on the total amount raised or the valuation it was based on.

Blue Wire had raised over $200,000 in a community fundraising round last year. Blue Wire was founded in 2018 and has raised $12 million since 2020. The company has primarily received its funding from former athletes, including former NBA guard Baron Davis, along with venture capitalists and Wynn Resorts. 

Jones said the investment from Decathlon would primarily be used for building proprietary technology to help podcasters run their businesses, hiring more salespeople and recruiting additional content creators.

Blue Wire’s library of content features personalities such as Lolo Jones, Chris Long and Gilbert Arenas among others.

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Richard Deitsch Forewarns Media Companies of ‘Athlete Generated Content’

“Athletes now have become their own media distributors, and now that content is competing against everybody else…It makes the space more challenging.”

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Richard Deitsch of The Athletic
Courtesy: Pat Mayo Experience

One sports media reporter has a message for established media entities — get ready for the age of “athlete-generated content.” During an appearance on The Pat Mayo Experience, Richard Deitsch of The Athletic discussed a variety of topics, including athlete-led production companies and how athletes can eschew traditional media companies and tell their own stories using their own production outfits. Deitsch cites players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Jason and Travis Kelce as athletes with their own platforms to distribute their messaging.

“Athletes now have become their own media distributors,” Deitsch said. “Whether it’s production companies owned by LeBron, the Kelce brothers have their own massive podcast entity now, Kevin Durant’s got his own production company, Steph Curry does…and that’s one thing that’s very, very new, is athlete-generated content, and now that content is competing against everybody else. It makes the space more challenging because there’s only so many advertising dollars to go around.”

LeBron James and Maverick Carter started SpringHill Company in 2020 and have since produced multiple fiction and non-fiction films, including What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Hustle, and Black Ice, among others. It also serves as the production company behind The Shop, LeBron and Carter’s pseudo-podcast where they interview guests and discuss current events in a barbershop environment.

Meanwhile, Durant co-owns Boardroom along with his business partner Rich Kleiman, a sports media and entertainment brand that features “premium video/audio, editorial, daily and weekly newsletters, showcasing how athletes, executives, musicians, and creators are moving the business world forward.” It is home to the Netflix property Two Distant Strangers, SWAGGER on Apple TV+, and the Emmy-nominated Showtime documentary NYC Point Gods.

Jason and Travis Kelce broke into the podcasting game during the 2022-23 season with their show New Heights, the name an homage to the pair’s hometown Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Last season, the show quickly rose to the top of the charts thanks to the pair’s obvious chemistry and the success of both teams. However, this season saw the podcast reach new heights (pun sort of intended) thanks to a budding romance between Travis and pop star Taylor Swift.

Travis used New Heights as a way to discuss the ongoing season while giving his growing audience a peek behind the curtain regarding his relationship. When asked about the show, Travis said, “The only way I’d do the show was with my brother,” while Jason has echoed similar sentiments in the past, crediting the show for improving the brothers’ relationship.

Possibly the largest athlete-owned production company that Deitsch failed to mention is Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, the company behind Peyton’s Place, Eli’s Places, and of course, the wildly popular “ManningCast” alternate Monday Night Football broadcast. Omaha has been adding new content for years thanks to the partnership with ESPN.

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