Recent behavior from the Houston Astros’ front office caused at least one notable baseball fan to stop watching. Disgusted with the Astros actions, New York Yankees radio announcer, Suzyn Waldman told The Boston Globe she has not watched any of the World Series.
In 2018, pitcher Roberto Osuna was suspended 75 games by Major League Baseball for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. Osuna was charged with assault, but the alleged victim refused to testify and the case was never prosecuted. At the time, Osuna was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Houston Astros chose to ignore backlash and trade for the pitcher.
The Yankees traded for their closer, Aroldis Chapman under similar circumstances a few years ago. But Waldman’s disgust for the Astros is less about the acquisition of Osuna and more about their offensive interactions with female sports reporters following the 2019 ALCS.
“Listen, they did what they did and Osuna did what he did. I understand it. I don’t like it, but I understand it,” Waldman told The Globe regarding the Astros decision to acquire the pitcher.
While the Astros celebrated their ALCS victory, assistant GM Brandon Taubman repeatedly yelled, “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f—ing glad we got Osuna!” directing the chant at a group of female sports reporters. One of the reporters was wearing a domestic violence bracelet and previously promoted the phone number for domestic violence hotlines on Twitter. Those tweets which sometimes coincided with Osuna entering a game for the Astros, reportedly generated complaints from Taubman.
When SI’s Stephanie Apstein reported Taubman’s actions, the Astros quickly defended their assistant GM and called her story misleading, irresponsible and fabricated. Days later, the Astros began to backpedal as they apologized and fired Taubman who admitted wrongdoing.
“My brother is a teacher. As he used to say to the kids, when they’d say sorry: ‘You’re not sorry, you’re caught,’ ” Waldman said. “There’s a difference. …They lied about the whole thing.”
“What [the Astros] did was worse than [assistant GM Brandon] Taubman yelling at her, which is vile enough,” Waldman told The Globe of the Astros attempt to discredit a reporter and defend the despicable actions by their now former assistant GM. “They tried to ruin a young woman’s career. How do you come back from that?”
Waldman is a pioneer in the sports broadcast industry, having battled sexism and harassment during her own career. The first ever voice of WFAN and a full-time Yankees broadcaster since 2005, Waldman has received insolent hostility, vile letters and death threats. Even today at the age of 73 and in the midst of a career spanning more than three decades, Waldman is not fully accepted in an industry largely dominated by men.
Sportsnet Rolls Out New Audio Lineup Across Canada
“Canadian sports media blogger Toronto Mike has a list of other talents that have reportedly exited Rogers’ Sportsnet.”
The shake ups are back at Rogers Media in Canada. A press release from the company says that new live and on demand Sportsnet radio shows will launch on October 4 replacing the current lineup.
While a lot of it does look like traditional radio with an on-demand replay available, Rogers does promise “seasonal, sport-specific and spontaneous programming,” adding that it will give listners more of what they want, when they want it.
The FAN Morning Show with JD, Blake and Ailish will kick things off from 6-10 each day. The show features current Sportsnet host JD Bunkis alongside Blake Murphy, who covers the Raptors for The Athletic, and Yahoo Sports host Ailish Forfar.
The network will have two baseball season shows. Blair and Barker will air weekday evenings at 5. Ben Ennis will host Jays Talk weekdays from 10-noon, with postgame editions hosted by Blair and Barker.
Sportsnet is bringing for Maple Leaf Nick Kypreos back. He will partner with Justin Bourne during hockey season for afternoon drive. Insider Jeff Myrek will host his show in mid days.
Finally, The Raptors Show with host Will Lou will air at 2 pm on weekdays during the NBA season. The back half of afternoon drive during the winter will be filled by The Fan Drive Time, which will cover both hockey and basketball.
All of the new programming means plenty of changes. Scott Rintoul, who hosted the mid day show on Sportsnet’s Vancouver affiliate has confirmed that he is out. Jason Ronzon of The Fan 590 in Toronto says that he is out as well.
Canadian sports media blogger Toronto Mike has a list of other talents that have reportedly exited Rogers’ Sportsnet. The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch is said to be among them. Deitsch had been hosting an afternoon drive show on The Fan 590 in Toronto.
How Do We Talk To Coaches On The Hot Seat?
“What the fanbase doesn’t understand is this sponge of ire is a person.”
Bad seasons are tough on everyone. Management, coaches, fans and yes, broadcasters. It’s why I never understood a player’s rational when saying “you are rooting against us”. Um, no, I’m not. It’s just hard to sugarcoat what isn’t happening on the field. But as the old saying in baseball goes, “you can’t fire 26 players, so you fire the manager.” That’s usually what happens. With the money being paid to some coaches/managers, the front office will let it play out. In other words, not a quick hook, more of a delaying of the inevitable. Social media adds fuel to the fire and whips a fanbase into a frenzy. Pundits will place that coach/manager on the “hot seat” and that typically puts everyone on guard and unsure how to deal with that person.
How should you prepare for an interview or a production meeting with a coach/manger on the hot seat? Go in with the understanding that, yes, this individual knows what’s going on already. Even if he/she says, “I don’t read the papers or listen to the radio,” they have someone who does. So, don’t beat around the bush, just get right to it. They are pretty well in tune with the fact that seat he/she is sitting on is indeed hot. Don’t make it the “elephant” in the room, but don’t add fuel to the fire. Allow this person to explain where they are coming from, you may get a better understanding with what that coach/manager is going through. He or she may have a good explanation for some of the moves made, plays called and roster moves made. Give them that opportunity. Now you’ll have their side, right from the mouth of that ‘hot seat sitter’ to allow you to have another angle to the situation.
It’s a different story if you are a local team broadcaster. You have to walk that fine line, since you and the coach are probably employed by the same people. You will likely see this person every day. The fine line is between acknowledging what is going on without erring on the side of “team shill.”
Most fans will be quick to tell you that you’re the latter, but don’t let that affect how you do your job. It’s hard to cover up the truth and you probably shouldn’t do that. Also, as a broadcaster you are likely privy to some things that are going on behind the scenes. Like a player that refuses to play a certain position, or an injury to a key member of the team that he/she is playing through. All of these things limit what a coach/manager can do, but it’s not information you can divulge. It’s sucks, because you’d like nothing better than to identify the problems, but that would open up a whole new can of worms for you. So how can it be explained? How can it be handled? Facts tell the story. Your listeners will appreciate it and you at the same time won’t be betraying any trusts.
For an example in today’s world, living in Chicago, we’re going through the pains of watching the Bears play. Head Coach Matt Nagy is probably on the hottest seat in the NFL right now. He’s a nice guy, very pleasant to deal with. He’s likeable. But he’s not getting it done. I can see it. You can see it.
It’s easy to go for the low hanging fruit, especially when a team is struggling. It feeds a rabid fan base, but if you’re calling games, you can’t do it. Rather than saying his play calling is “inept” or “he needs to give up the play sheet”, let the obvious numbers tell the story. You’ll need to prepare for these things. Figure out a softer way to express things, or just go to the numbers. Something like, “the Chicago Bears are ranked 32nd in total offense, have allowed the most sacks in the NFL and have averaged only, ‘this many points’, so far.” You are protected. These are stats readily available to everyone. Let the fans draw their own conclusions.
Working in Chicago for as long as I have, I can speak from experience in what it’s like to deal with someone on the hot seat. I got to know two managers pretty well along the way here in town, both were let go as the team was under performing. There was no denying what was likely inevitable. That doesn’t mean you have to treat the situation or the person any differently than you did before. Getting labeled as a ‘front runner’ or somebody that’s with you ‘win or tie’ isn’t a good thing. Especially in our line of work as broadcasters. Covering losses are not a lot of fun for anyone, trust me. Losses put extra pressure on everyone and affect people’s livelihoods. Respect for the human being is of utmost importance. Just because that person is losing games, doesn’t mean that individual is a loser. They are the same person they were during winning times, so why should you change your tune as well?
What the fanbase doesn’t understand is this sponge of ire is a person. We as broadcasters get to know the leader as a person as well as a coach. You’ve met these people’s families, friends and mentors. So, you are seeing this person for what they really are, a human being with feelings. They don’t like losing. They don’t like the negative things being said about them. Fans see nothing of the sort. They see someone not capable of leading their team to glory. I get it.
Now, just because you know someone on a personal level, doesn’t give the situation a free pass. They just deserve to be treated fairly. One of the greatest compliments I got working in baseball, was by a manager who knew he wouldn’t be back the following year. He’d suffered through a couple of tough seasons. One day late in his final year, he called me into his office. I had no idea why he wanted to see me. I walked in and he shook my hand and invited me to sit down. He wanted to tell me how much he appreciated how I handled our relationship. He understood that I had to tell the truth on the air because it was my job. The thing that surprised me though was his expression of gratitude for the way I approached things. He said, ‘you were the same guy to me, whether we were winning or losing, and that goes a long way with me. I’ll never forget it.’ I was blown away, but proud at the same time.
Stay true to yourself not just as a broadcaster, but as a person in these situations. Just because everybody else is taking shots, doesn’t mean you have too as well. It goes back to treating someone like you’d like to be treated. Fans are sometimes irrationally passionate and turn some professional moments into personal ones. Being critical of someone’s work is one thing, it comes with the territory. Coaches that get into the profession understand that they will be questioned about play calls, lineups and general decisions. Keep that in mind as you’re discussing a coach’s future on the air during a game. Don’t let it get personal. Things can get heated at times, but stay above the fray. Remember, ultimately, it’s not your decision to make whether or not the coach is fired. Stick to the facts and let the other noise come from somewhere else.
Jason Whitlock: I Wouldn’t Let Myself Do What Shannon Sharpe Does On TV
“He said in the video that Americans tend to think the smartest people have the most money, when in reality, you make the most money by being willing to cut corners and compromise yourself.”
It’s hard to know how to describe Jason Whitlock’s role in the media these days. He isn’t covering sports anymore, but he certainly isn’t short on commentary about those that do or the games and personalities they cover. He took aim at some big names in a new video promoting his show at The Blaze.
Whitlock tweeted that his video was inspired by Shaquille O’Neal “renouncing his celebrity status” in an interview with the New York Post. He said in the video that Americans tend to think the smartest people have the most money, when in reality, you make the most money by being willing to cut corners and compromise yourself.
“If there’s a person watching this or a person on the planet that thinks Stephen A. Smith is smarter than me, you’re an idiot,” Jason Whitlock said. “And that’s not a shot at Stephen A. Smith. I’m not trying to put Stephen A. Smith on blast. But that’s not the reason Stephen A. Smith makes $12 million a year.”
Whitlock was careful to say that he was not singling Smith out or commenting on anything the First Take host had specifically done. The same was not true for Ryan Clark. Jason Whitlock made it very clear that he didn’t think the former Steeler and current NFL analyst was genuine in his appearances on television.
“I saw Ryan Clark from ESPN one day about a year ago crying on TV because some woman, some white woman in a drive thru called his son the N word or whatever as she’s going through the McDonald’s drive thru. And I saw this man crying on TV and I said ‘I’m not willing to do that.’ I’m not going to go on national TV and act like some white woman that I don’t know and that my son doesn’t know could bring me to tears because she called my son a name. I’m not gonna do that performance.”
Jason Whitlock is now part of The Blaze, the digital network owned by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck. He hosts hosts a show there called Fearless with Jason Whitlock, which airs weeknights at 7 eastern.
Whitlock says that is where he can be authentically himself. He singled out Shannon Sharpe, who he has been critical of in the past, saying that he could never allow himself to do what the Hall of Fame tight end does on TV.
“Trust me, there’s sin in my life and I’m not better than anybody, but I just want you to understand something about celebrity and wealth and fame and where it really comes from. Sometimes, it comes from a willingness to compromise your beliefs, a willingness to lie and be a fake, false person,” he closed the video by saying.
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