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All Betts Are Off: We Have a World Series

“Just when it seemed the electric Mookie Betts and the Dodgers might sweep, the Rays seized a curious L.A. flaw — shallow and unpredictable pitching — and reminded us why they’re here.”

Jay Mariotti

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He is everything that’s joyful and jazzy about baseball, this Mookie Betts fun doll. The World Series quickly became his empire, a takeover involving the typical arsenal — bat, defense, leadership, neck jewelry almost bigger than him — but also the lost art of the stolen base, assuring free tacos for 330 million Americans if they wait in Taco Bell drive-thru lines for a waived $1.49 heap of promotional heartburn.   

LeBron James was tweeting about him. HIs teammates were comparing him to God. Trending? Betts was propelling the Los Angeles Dodgers to a place they haven’t been in 32 years, along with possibly saving a slog sport desperate for his speed and fire and all but giving America a new Election Day option. Who wasn’t talking about Mookie?     

Well, Blake Snell wasn’t talking about Mookie. He wanted to know why people generally ignore him and the Tampa Bay Rays, who happen to be in the same pandemic-neutral ballpark as champions of the American League. “I just think a lot of people don’t talk about us because there’s other teams to talk about, but when you look at this team, it’s a very fun team to watch, very fun team to talk about,’’ he said. “We just don’t have the (Mike) Trouts or things like that, or the Betts and (Cody) Bellingers and (Clayton) Kershaws. We don’t have that because the hype around Tampa isn’t as big as it is in L.A. for obvious reasons.”     

Snell then took the mound and backed his babble, reminding a scarcely watching world how the Rays can bump Mookie off center stage and still make this a competitive fight. He began Game 2 by blowing away Betts on strikes, then mixed sliders and curveballs with 95-mph heat. The Dodgers kept whiffing, eight times without a hit before the fifth inning, allowing the Rays to rediscover their minimalist mystique. With Brandon Lowe — as in Wow — breaking out of a slump with two home runs, the Rays rode their robust bullpen to a 6-4 win, tying the Series at 1-1 while the Dodgers again were following the blueprint of how they’ve blown championships.     

It’s doubtful they will blow another. But before anyone builds an Andrew Friedman statue at Dodger Stadium, consider that the spreadsheet savant left the rotation short of arms when he cut ties in the offseason with elite starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and veterans Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill, then traded Ross Stripling in August. Thus, Game 2 became a night to use an opener — the strategy originally hatched out of necessity by the inventive Rays due to scant resources and a low payroll. It is unbecoming of a major-market, revenue-rich team to borrow from the Rays, especially when Friedman left his Tampa Bay creation for L.A. six years ago, and it’s even more dubious when the strategy doesn’t work. A team with a prorated payroll of almost $100 million in a COVID-shortened season, compared to $28 million for the Rays, can’t do better than rookie Tony Gonsolin and a flock of relievers who allowed runs and don’t compare to the Rays’ arsenal? Oh, the horror: The franchise of Kershaw, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser used an opener in a World Series game.      

“We didn’t have anybody that was on regular rest,’’ explained Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who didn’t want to use Walker Buehler on three days’ rest after Kershaw started Game 1.     

So, we actually have a series now. Aren’t the Dodgers skippered by Roberts, who can make errant decisions in October like no one we’ve seen this century? Can they win with Buehler and Kershaw, both unpredictable,as the only front-line starters? Would forgotten man Alex Wood really start a Game 7? Do the Rays have their undefinable mojo back, with postseason master Charlie Morton pitching Game 3 against Buehler? “That game was a better indicator of the kind of team we are,’’ Rays third baseman Joey Wendle said. “Just a complete team win, everybody contributing at different parts of the game.’’      

All that said, let’s not have short-term amnesia. The Dodgers still have Betts, the difference between this team and previous flameouts. It’s one thing to channel the late Kobe Bryant and summon the “Mamba Mentality,’’ with Betts endearing himself to an already adoring Los Angeles by enacting what the legend told him last year: “He said each and every day he wants to be the best person in the gym and to put on a show.’’ It’s quite another, in Game 1, to join Babe Ruth as the only players with a walk and multiple steals in a World Series inning, allowing us to imagine a foot race between Betts and the portly Ruth and wonder: Did the Babe do it for tacos, too?     

“I wanted everybody to get some tacos,’’ Mookie said with a Mookie grin. “That’s what was important to me.’’     

Unfortunately, he’s also what’s wrong with baseball, this Markus Lynn Betts. No sooner did Joe Buck say the Dodgers don’t buy championships than Betts imposed his will on October, reminding us that he was given a 12-year, $365 million extension during a pandemic. The wee-revenue Rays can’t even dream about acquiring such a force until the afterworld. Tell me, in what economic sphere is this fair? It’s amazing, yes, that the Rays used intellectual guile to reach the Fall Classic, but it’s all hocus-pocus when the Dodgers were one of the few teams able to take on Betts and extend him for record numbers when he shockingly became available.     

None of this is promising for the competitive future of a teetering sport — Game 1 was the lowest-rated Series game EVER — that faces a crippling labor impasse after next season. Nor is it healthy when the Boston Red Sox, they of the substantial revenues and expensive ticket prices, trade Betts in an all-time-shameful salary dump and bamboozle fans by downsizing the grand plan. John Henry and Tom Werner might be jacked to have boatloads of freed-up money and long-term flexibility, but even as the owners who broke the Bambino curse and won four World Series, they’ll never live down dealing Mookie. it was as cold and cutting as the New England winter, dumping a generational superstar — “a six-tool player,’’ says Red Sox legend David Ortiz — to push the financial reset button.     

So any celebration of Mookie Mania must be accompanied by reality: He is to the Dodgers what James is to the L.A. Lakers — a hired gun — the difference being James’ arrival as a free agent while Betts came in a trade that brought modest returns to Boston. Both are 21st-century mercenaries. Both wanted to be in southern California, the most desired destination in American sports, and with the Dodgers valued at $3.4 billion, they could more than meet Betts’ ultimate price to stay. And in a few days, both could be attached in history as the driving forces behind two championships in pandemic L.A., the saviors who rescued prestigious-but-underachieving franchises from themselves.     

“@mookiebetts did it all,’’ James tweeted during a transcendent Game 1.

Think about it. What does it say for Mookie if he win a World Series in Boston, then wins one in L.A.? Until the Angels figure out how to surround Mike Trout with sufficient talent, which might be never, Betts stands to be baseball’s most valuable player in the 2020s regardless of annual trophies. “I think we would have beat the Red Sox if we had Mookie Betts,’’ said Roberts, referring to their 2018 loss.     

A three-hour opening glimpse of Betts was enough to think he could save the sport, too. Dating back to the scandalous steroids era, baseball has been fixated on home runs, ball-juicing, launch angles, exit velocity. Betts? He homered, but it ranked last on his list of Game 1 joys. He’ll take his track-meet sequence in the fifth inning, which resuscitated the vitality of stolen bases and how a running game can unnerve pitchers. He swiped second — tacos for all! — then third in a double steal. With an enormous lead off the bag, it took only Max Muncy’s contact grounder to first for Betts to safely slide home.     

Was this actually … excitement? Should we summon the kids, tell them to get off their video games and phones and watch Mookie? He was asked which satisfied him most, the home run or the steals? His favorite feat involved feet. “I’m most proud of the contact play. Got a run there, and then it was first and third and we scored a couple more,’’ Betts said. “It just showed we don’t have to hit home runs to be successful. Stolen bases are a thing for me. That’s how I create runs and cause a little havoc on the bases. Once i get on the base paths, I’m just trying to touch home. However I get there is how I get there.’’     

Listening, Rob Manfred?     

“Whether it’s a defensive play that helps the team or a base-running play that gets him into scoring position for a teammate to drive in a run — I think he just gets more satisfaction out of that,’’ Roberts said. “When it’s a home run, which certainly helps the team, he just doesn’t care for the statistics. He just plays the game to win.’’     

Listening, Barry Bonds?     

I have to laugh when Friedman, who created the Rays paradigm, claims he didn’t jump to the Dodgers’ baseball operations perch in 2014 because of the staggering financial advantages. “Payrolls,’’ he said, “don’t decide the standings.’’ Please. As a bargain hunter with the Rays, he could use his algorithmic acumen and more-with-less culture to contend for playoff berths more seasons than not. But other than perhaps one chance title, he wasn’t going to be a perennial World Series contender in a zillion years. At Dodger Stadium, whenever it reopens, he has the resources to sustain a dynasty, with zero dollars — not a one — committed to anyone but Betts beyond 2022. That way, there is money to make lucrative commitments to Bellinger, Buehler, Corey Seager and other homegrown gems. That way, Friedman has a comfort zone in creating depth and versatility throughout the roster. It’s easier to cultivate a farm system, as he has expertly done, and unearth castoffs such as Muncy and Chris Taylor when he knows team co-owners Guggenheim Baseball and Todd Boehly will approve a Betts windfall and future Bellinger and Seager windfalls with a single-syllable answer: “Sure.’’     

That’s why Rays owner Stuart Sternberg smacked of someone in bitter denial when asked by the Tampa Bay Times about Friedman’s departure. “I understand why he left, but I don’t understand why anybody ever doesn’t want to be part of what we’re doing. So it goes both ways,” he said. “It’s not fair to the people who have been with me since 2004 who are incredibly responsible for all this. And they’ve chosen to stay and be part of things. So I don’t want to feel great for somebody who’s left when I’ve got people here. I understand it. I’m just one of those guys — I don’t understand why people leave. Right? But they do and I get it. I get it. It’s just hard for me to fathom sometimes.”     

Then came the dagger. Sternberg said team president Matt Silverman, who replaced Friedman as baseball boss six years ago, has been most important to the Rays’ overall success. “At the end of the day, and I could say this definitively, there’s nobody more responsible for our successes than Matt Silverman. Period. There’s not even a doubt,’’ Sternberg said. “And also (executive) Brian Auld’s outsized role in creating, nurturing and pounding in our culture.”     

The Friedman Series had yet another angle: the unrealistic views of the owner he spurned. Why wouldn’t anyone want to remain with the Rays for life when you can run the Dodgers? As long as Major League Baseball doesn’t evenly split revenues among 30 franchises, it’s a no-brainer to leave behind a team valued barely at $1 billion while stuck in an untenable stadium mess. Last offseason, Friedman was allowed to add Betts to his overflowing roster while the Rays did their usual hoping and praying with minor deals. The Randy Arozarena pickup was a steal, but he could be a flash in the plan. Over the next dozen years, how many MVP awards and World Series runs will Betts have? That’s why Friedman left Rays blue for Dodger Blue. And that’s why, most likely, he’ll be wearing a ring this winter while Sternberg will wait the rest of his life. The Rays can defy baseball economics and slip through the AL during a pandemic. Can they really beat a blueblood with money and Mookie in the championship round?    

 Just the same, the pressure is squarely on the Dodgers to win it all after multiple collapses in previous autumns. Such is the tradeoff for having high payrolls and valuations and the wherewithal to bring in Betts. “The job is not done,’’ Kike Hernandez reminded. “The goal wasn’t to get to the World Series. The goal is to win the World Series. From the moment we were able to put a season together, once they figured out the COVID thing, everybody was expecting us to get to the World Series. We were expecting to go to the World Series.’’     

It’s the case every year, actually. So is this the year they finally don’t choke? Ask Kershaw, who, you might have heard, has marred his Hall of Fame legacy with personal fall failures. Calmed by Betts’ impact, he again reverted to his best-pitcher-of-a-generation form in Game 1. Doesn’t he look much more relaxed than typical October Clayton? “I think we’re the best team. And I think our clubhouse believes that,’’ Kershaw said. “As a collective group, if everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and playing the way they’re supposed to, I don’t see how that can happen.’’     

Meaning, another crash.     

The usual tension has been replaced by a welcome looseness. Bellinger, who fortunately suffered no damage when his shoulder popped in a violent forearm bash with Hernandez last weekend, had fun with the story. When he homered in Game 1, he safely tapped cleats with the others. “Going straight foot. It was pretty funny,’’ he said. “I think I’ll continue to do that maybe my whole career. Who knows?’’     

It’s no coincidence that the feelgood mood coincides with the feelgood Mookie. His leadership skills, as a vocal clubhouse presence, always invoke the fun mantra. “I’m having tons of fun,’’ he said. “I’m just happy to be here with this group of guys. They’ve made it so much fun and easy to play.’’     

What does he enjoy more, crossing home plate or driving in runs?  

“I like winning,’’ Betts shot back. “Whichover one is needed that day, I’m just trying to do that.’’     

You might say it isn’t fair, a player of his magnitude dropping into L.A. to form a baseball superteam. As it is, their use of institutional influence is almost bigger than the sport. After learning they lost the 2017 Series to a cheating Astros team that was electronically stealing signs, Friedman and team president Stan Kasten demanded instant justice from Major League Baseball. While Houston kept the trophy and the players somehow weren’t punished, the Dodgers did get heads on a platter through Manfred: those of general manager Jeff Luhnow, manager A.J. Hinch and then-bench coach Alex Cora, who lost their jobs. This week, Luhnow continued to deny direct involvement in the scheme and said he was targeted as a scapegoat by … the Dodgers.     

“I was certainly not expecting for the team I spent eight years building to fire me and let me go,” Luhnow said. “I know the Dodgers, for sure, were adamant about some big punishments. And they wanted the manager, and they wanted the general manager to go down in this scandal. And they got it. And I think the investigation was not attempting to really uncover who did what, and who was really responsible. The goal of the investigation was to deliver punishments that Rob could feel good about and that would calm the panic.”     

Whether that’s true or the desperation of a man trying to save his career and reputation, the Dodgers simply carried on with their process. They do what they want and spend what they want. For 32 years, they haven’t been able to win what they want. But because they had $365 million to offer Betts, along with warm weather and palm trees, they are close to getting it. The Astros outcheated them in 2017, the Red Sox outspent them in 2018, the Nationals outpitched them in 2019.     

Will the Rays out-algorithm them? Armed with the Mookie Betts, the Dodgers have no excuse not to win. Even if few are watching on screens and inside a spooky Texas ballpark, the fun doll is capable of transcending a spreadsheet, a pandemic and, I dare say, an election involving a sitting President who’s probably waiting in line for a free taco.

BSM Writers

Sweeny Murti Combined His Passions at WFAN

Derek Futterman

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From the time he was young, Sweeny Murti had a penchant for baseball and, by the time he was in junior high school, radio. He was able to find a way to combine his two passions by working in sports media, reporting on the New York Yankees on WFAN for the last 22 seasons as the station’s official beat reporter.

Murti, 52, announced his departure from the radio station last Friday, officially ending a chapter of his career as he seeks to figure out just what comes next. Sports radio, though, was never Murti’s goal because it is something that was nonexistent until later in his teenage years – although he was covering sports for his high school on its radio station WMSS-FM.

Murti learned the game of baseball by listening to Philadelphia Phillies games and had a profound amount of respect for the team broadcasters, including Harry Kalas, Andy Musser and Richie Ashburn. He later had an opportunity to work with the organization as a pregame and postgame show host in 1999, sparking his interest to aim to report on baseball regularly for WFAN. Getting to New York – the largest media market in the United States – took persistence and hard work, staying grounded in the day-to-day while continuously improving his craft and advocating his interests to executives.

“I listened to Phillies games growing up on radio and the announcers were just as big [of] people to me as the players,” Murti said. “Those were the guys that were in my house every night.”

Murti joined his junior high school radio station at the age of 12 and gained interest in broadcasting sports. He subsequently began to work with sports director John Wilsbach. Through his time at the radio station, Wilsbach knew Murti’s older brother (who was also working at the broadcast outlet) and helped mentor Murti, teaching him how to broadcast games by letting him shadow various sporting events.

By the time he was in ninth grade, Murti was the station’s sports director and was regularly broadcasting high school football and basketball games. He recognized the palpability of pursuing a career in sports media at this point and, consequently, matriculated at Penn State University to study broadcast journalism.

Unlike many college students seeking to work in media though, Murti’s involvement with campus media outlets, specifically in radio, was minimal. Because of his relationship with Wilsbach, he became connected with Scott Geesey, a talk show host on 1390 WRSC-AM.

Through Geesey, Murti began to converse with that outlet’s sports director Jerry Fisher, the son of legendary Penn State Nittany Lions’ football broadcaster and associate athletic director Fran Fisher. After just one meeting with Fisher, Murti was hired as a part-time assistant, giving him exposure to a professional radio station in his freshman year of college.

“I did a lot of scoreboard updates and a lot of production shifts and DJ shifts,” Murti said. “By that fall, I was doing Friday night high school football scoreboard shows and covering some games, and working on our massive Saturday football coverage on pregame and postgame shows for Penn State football…. We spent a lot of our time talking about sports, and I spent a lot of it thinking about talking about sports and how it was going to translate into my radio career.”

In the summer before his senior year, Murti relocated to New York and worked as an intern at WFAN, the inaugural radio station in the sports talk format that had just launched four years earlier. Over the nearly three months, he worked from the outlet’s Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens and demonstrated a strong work ethic. He helped whenever he was needed, even painting the walls at the station, and sought to augment his versatility.

In his mind, everyone at the station had an immense base of knowledge when it came to sports and displaying your own expertise would not impress the personnel. Although he was interning at a growing media outlet with hosts including Mike Francesa, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Don Imus, and Steve Somers, Murti remained optimistic there would be an on-air role for him one day and quickly adjusted to life in “the Big Apple.”

“It’s a pretty big leap and I’d never spent more than a couple of days in New York; now I’m spending the whole summer in New York,” Murti said. “I wasn’t overwhelmed; I knew I’d already been doing a lot of things in radio so this was [at] a much bigger scale, obviously. I was comfortable and I think I was confident in what I could do.”

Following this experience, Murti returned to Penn State University for his senior year with a new perspective on sports radio. Once he graduated, he began working as a reporter at WHP 580 and as a sports anchor at the Radio PA Network. Before he returned to New York as a full-time producer at WFAN exactly one year later in 1992, he received a valuable piece of advice from news director Bill Richardson. It reminded Murti of a principle critical to the success of athletes, managers and reporters alike and continues to guide him to this day.

“The advice he left me with was, ‘It’s only radio. If you screw it up, just come back and do it again tomorrow,’” Murti recalled. “I’ve never forgotten it [and] some version of that pops into my head quite often. I think I amended that a little bit to say, ‘Listen, let me just do the job today and I’ll figure out how to do it again tomorrow.’”

Murti always sought to be a voice on the air and was placed out of his element in his role as a producer. Through working with established on-air hosts and reporters, including Steve Somers, Suzyn Waldman, Howie Rose, and Ian Eagle, Murti gained an understanding of the responsibility garnered upon them. In order to succeed in the marketplace, the hosts had to be informative and entertaining to sports fans, overseeing a place where fans could express their emotions and convey their opinions about the teams and players they cared about.

“I learned what kind of preparation it takes [and] what kind of personality it takes,” Murti said. “I was a good on-air personality, I thought, when I was in high school and college. This was just a different world; a different level that I was learning and soaking in.”

While Murti did not feel apprehensive about working in the New York-metropolitan area, he was unsure about producing on a full-time basis, leading him to have several conversations with executive producer Eric Spitz.

Nonetheless, Murti absorbed a large amount of information and picked up on intricacies related to producing and stood out. As a result, he was afforded the opportunity to travel with Spitz and his crew at Westwood One Radio to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. That experience, quite simply, changed everything, as Murti realized he had the ability to transition from being a producer into a bonafide reporter.

“I got done with those couple of weeks and realized, ‘Wow, I can do what those guys are doing,’” Murti articulated. “It wasn’t, ‘I’m better than that guy.’ I [just] somehow thought this was a different level of something that was higher than me, and after working with them and being around them and helping them do these things, I realized I would be able to do that job just as well as they were because that’s the kind of confidence I had and I knew I’d be prepared for that.”

One year later, Murti joined SportsRadio 94 WIP in Philadelphia to become a full-time sports anchor and had the chance to regularly go on-air. After working at the station for a year, he returned to WFAN and was placed on the air, albeit in a part-time role, doing overnight updates. He also returned to the Summer Olympics in 2000, this time in Sydney, Australia, working with Westwood One Radio as a reporter.

Leading up to the World Series between the New York Mets and New York Yankees in that same year, WFAN reshuffled its midday show. Russ Salzman and Steve Somers were moved out of the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot in exchange for Jody McDonald and Suzyn Waldman. Because of Waldman’s new role hosting middays and doing television work with the Yankees, her role as the station’s beat reporter for the team opened. Since Murti was working overnight shifts, he made sure to stay early into the morning one day to meet with Mark Chernoff, then-program director of WFAN (he would often arrive for work at approximately 6 a.m. each morning).

Once he made his intention known to Chernoff, he scribbled Murti’s name down on a pad of paper and had other people advocating for him to land the job around the station. Around the time of the Christmas party, Murti received the news that he had landed the job – very much representative of his dream role – and prepared for the upcoming spring training in Tampa Waldman proved to be a vital resource for Murti to learn the role, accessible both by phone and at the ballpark.

“She helped me kind of work through the early stuff,” Murti said. “After a little while, I just tried to figure it out on my own. I wanted to lean on her to get myself going, but I didn’t want to constantly lean on her. I kind of wanted to see how I could figure it out myself at that point. It was great getting to figure it out with her to start and then kind of going off on my own.”

Murti had been on the air from the time he was in high school and was cognizant of his long-term goals. Combining his adoration for baseball and skillset in reporting was his ultimate intent – and he was fortunate that the timing worked out.

“Those jobs were kind of created,” Murti said. “I didn’t know they existed. I can’t tell you that was a goal; I just knew I wanted to be the play-by-play announcer for the Phillies when I was 13 years old. That was my goal but I didn’t go do Minor League Baseball play-by-play when I was 22. I came to FAN and moved on that track.”

Walking into the clubhouse for the first time in Tampa, Murti knew not to expect to immediately foster deep relationships with any of the players and uncover concealed stories. Instead, he focused on the long game, gradually cultivating dialogue and learning the vernacular to become familiar with the team. He expected this role to last much longer than one season and segmented the process by piecemeal.

“I think that I had the idea of hoping to get to do this for a while so let’s just take it slow,” he recalled. “Let’s just not try to talk to Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams every day about something that’s going to make me be their confidant.”

Through performing his role, Murti observed the quotidian routines and habits of the great players – and the Yankees, coming off a stretch of four championships in five years, knew how to optimize their play to get results conducive to success. Murti was able to apply some of those lessons to his own craft as a journalist, keeping him focused and motivated to perform.

“The great ones put yesterday behind them very quickly whether they had a great game or a bad game,” Murti said. “That’s probably where watching Jeter up close really mattered because he was so good at that. He would be pissed off if he made outs or [if] they lost a game, but he wasn’t smashing water coolers like Paul O’Neill or throwing things. It was just, ‘Okay, listen, that’s over. Let’s focus on the next one.’”

Murti focused on both the trials and tribulations of the players, but always looked at the macro (team) rather than the micro (individuals). To him, the big picture was most important and taking each result in stride – just as a well-balanced team establishing and maintaining a winning culture aims to do. It helped him create a style – one that transferred from radio to television to writing. Murti endeavored in all three over his time as WFAN’s Yankees beat reporter, a job he exited last week.

Over his time as a reporter, Murti has contributed to programming on MLB Network, YES Network, and SNY among other networks. The production tactics and time constraints in television contrasted with radio – in fact, Murti likened it to being a cog part of a larger system to execute a play in football – and it gave him different methods in which to present his reports.

“The teammate aspect of what I used to do at FAN is definitely something I loved and appreciated,” Murti explained, “but there are a lot more moving parts to television that make you rely on other people’s help to make everything look and sound better.”

He also had the ability to live out his dream doing play-by-play announcing in a Major League Baseball game when filling in for Yankees’ radio voice John Sterling. With Waldman as his color commentator, Murti brought fans the action in the Yankees’ matchup against the Houston Astros as family and friends listened from his hometown. He did not view the assignment, for which he volunteered, as an audition; instead, it was more about embracing and making the most of a unique opportunity.

“I think I brought a lifetime of caring about being on the radio and loving watching baseball,” Murti said. “I think I bring that every night; I hope I brought [it] that night to a degree that satisfied everybody. It was just a thrill beyond belief.”

Whether it was watching the Yankees win the World Series in 2009; writing articles about the team and its players for WFAN’s website; or hosting various podcasts, Murti thoroughly enjoyed his time at the station. Just as the landscape of media has endured rapid evolution and realignment, the role of a beat reporter was analogously shifting – leading to Murti’s departure from WFAN last week.

“We tried for a long time to figure out how to evolve and create the different content that would click,” Murti said. “It just became harder to accomplish, I guess. I’m grateful that it lasted as long as it did.”

The nature of working in radio has drastically adapted amid a marketplace saturated with an overabundance of content and platforms on which to consume it. As a result, radio faces a maelstrom of competition from media outlets and, nowadays, independent creators disseminating their work. Yet it still remains a medium based on a communal aspect, representing and implementing the authentic voice of the fan as an outlet of both catharsis and jubilation.

“Even though a lot is consumed individually through phones now and through social media, to hear the actual voices and the emotions in those voices – good or bad; high or low – it’s still something you can’t duplicate on social media,” Murti said. “You’ve got to come to the radio to be a part of that. That’s something I hope never goes away.”

The greatest compliment Murti could have ever received was a listener remaining in their car to finish hearing one of his reports – and he hopes to continue to be able to fuse baseball and journalism together in whatever his next role may be. Amid a post-WFAN world, he looks to continue bringing viewers the story and create new memories, utilizing his versatility to be an asset to any media brand.

“I enjoy lots of stuff,” Murti said. “I do enjoy writing and I hope I still get to do some of that. I enjoy the TV work; I love interviewing people and getting to tell those stories. It’s a really big thrill turning on a microphone, wherever that is, and telling people what’s happening. I hope I still get to do that.”

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BSM Writers

FOX or Football? Tom Brady Doesn’t Have an Obvious Choice

“After Jayron Kearse picked Brady’s pass off in the end zone in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s playoff loss to Dallas, it looked like the GOAT had resigned himself to just running out the clock and going home.”

Demetri Ravanos

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What does the future hold for Tom Brady? No one can say they know for sure. I think we can all agree that after seven Super Bowl titles in 23 NFL seasons, he has more than earned a little time to make up his mind.

Most of us believe there are three options. He can return to Tampa, return to the NFL with a new team, or he can take the $375 million behind door number three and spend his future game days in the booth on FOX. Depending on how you feel about Brady’s 2022 season, there are either no bad options or only bad options.

Let me put all my cards on the table. I grew up a Buccaneers fan. While I don’t have any strong feelings about Tom Brady himself, I appreciate him bringing a second Super Bowl to Tampa.

Does that color my opinion when I say that I don’t think door number 3 is the answer? Maybe a little, but I’m not clamoring for him to return to the Bucs in 2023 either.

Broadcasting is a grind. The guys in the booth do as much prep for their jobs each week as the guys on the field. It’s not like being in FOX’s top NFL booth would be akin to a permanent vacation.

Tom Brady has always been an interesting case study. There haven’t been very many seasons where we looked at him and said “that is the best quarterback in the NFL,” yet there is no denying that he is the greatest to ever play the position. So, when I say this is the first year he really looked human on a football field, know that I know that statement is a bit wonky.

The Buccaneers are two years removed from winning the Super Bowl. They are a year removed from having the best regular season record in the league. This year, it looked like they won their division simply because, Jesus Christ! Someone had to.

Everything about Brady and the Bucs was joyless in 2022. He threw more tablets than touchdowns. After Jayron Kearse picked Brady’s pass off in the end zone in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s playoff loss to Dallas, it looked like the GOAT had resigned himself to just running out the clock and going home.

Given what we know now about what was going on in Tom Brady’s personal life last year, doesn’t it paint his deal with FOX in a new context? Doesn’t it seem like it was more about trying not to be home and face reality than about feeling like he is passionate about analyzing games alongside Kevin Burkhardt in the future? 

Maybe I am wrong. Like so many others that are the GOAT in their field, Tom Brady is pretty good at turning criticism into fuel. There has been no shortage of people calling his deal a trophy hire for FOX. Perhaps it isn’t an interest in broadcasting, but finding his next chance to prove the haters wrong that pushes him into the booth.

According to Jordan Schultz, Brady is not rushing into a decision. He is going to take a month to evaluate his options before deciding what he wants to do and where he wants to go.

That’s good. Maybe what he needs right now is some time to divorce himself from the grind. Just sit back and enjoy the press from the movie about the horny old ladies that follow you to the Super Bowl for a while.

The last image we have of Tom Brady on a football field is one of a man that is frustrated and tired. That cannot be the energy he brings into a broadcast booth. It isn’t fair to Kevin Burkhardt or the viewers. 

One thing has been clear about Tom Brady the whole time he has been in the public eye. He is a competitor. He takes losing seriously and he takes it hard. 

My untrained eye tells me that he is not capable of being the quarterback we have known since the 2001 season. Going back for a 24th season seems like a bad idea, but if he is resigning himself to television instead of coming at it with enthusiasm, FOX is not going to be happy with its investment.

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Ryan Edwards Snagged ‘Dream Job’ With KOA Sports Zoo

To see some of the greats that have been on in Denver in that time slot and to have an opportunity to really show what I’m capable of is a really cool opportunity.”

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For Ryan Edwards, it’s a dream come true.

Originally from New Mexico, Edwards was already a Denver Broncos fan because of his father when he moved to Colorado in 1998. The Colorado State alum began his sports radio career in the Denver market back in 2009 but now he has made his way to radio estate that he has been trying to get to for quite some time.

He is now part of the KOA Sports Zoo weekdays from 3:00-6:00 PM MT.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Edwards. “It’s been a dream of mine to work in afternoon drive. To see some of the greats that have been on in Denver in that time slot and to have an opportunity to really show what I’m capable of is a really cool opportunity especially with Dave Logan and Alfred Williams, two radio legends.”

Edwards had been co-hosting Broncos Country Tonight on KOA with Benjamin Allbright since 2019 after working nights for a couple of years at Orange and Blue 760 co-hosting First and Ten at 10. There’s certainly a difference in host a show at night as opposed to the responsibility that comes with being part of an afternoon drive program.

While this is a dream job for Edwards, he’s going to miss what he’s leaving in the evenings.

“You have a lot of freedom (at night) to kind of experiment with different topics and with certain bits,” said Edwards who began his career at 104.3 FM The Fan in 2009 and also spent some time at Mile High Sports Radio.  

“I’m going to miss working with who has been my radio partner for the last three years. We really developed a lot of chemistry and we built up Broncos Country Tonight as a brand for the market.”

And now Edwards becomes a third voice in afternoon drive where he hopes to bring what he calls a “fans perspective” to the program.

Edwards adopted all of the local sports teams when he moved to Colorado so he has a perspective on those franchises that the listeners can relate to.

“(Logan and Williams are) football guys and most of the time they look at things from a football perspective,” said Edwards. 

“Sometimes the football guys don’t get it right. Sometimes, they have an opinion on something but it doesn’t encompass everybody’s perspective including the fans which makes up so much of any team’s base. The way I view radio and media in general is a conduit to the fans and you’re a conduit to the team. I’m going to try to be the voice for the fans on that show.”

There’s a different dynamic to hosting a talk show when there’s one host as opposed to two hosts. But now, the Sports Zoo is going to have three voices and that presents a challenge in how the flow of the show is going to work between Logan, Williams, and now Edwards. 

It’s going to be the very definition of a “work in progress” and the topic of discussion will play a role in the flow of traffic.

“There will be times where (Logan and Williams) are going to be going back and forth because they’re very passionate,” said Edwards. “So, it’s been a bit of a fluid thing but it’s three voices and just using our background as perspective to break down every single topic.”

And Edwards will certainly be able to bring his own unique contributions to the discussion on the Broncos, Avalanche, Nuggets, and Rockies. From his experience, both as a fan and as a reporter, Edwards will be able to bring a lot to the table because he has cheered for and has covered all of the teams in town in various ways.

“I think it helps (being a fan) because it gives you some history and background and you know the people you’re talking to,” said Edwards. “I’ve covered all of these teams, I’ve been to their practices, I’ve been to their games and covered them for a long time. I’ve had a lot of history with these teams beyond just the Broncos.”

Sometimes, dreams do come true.

For Ryan Edwards, the dream of hosting afternoon drive in Denver has come to fruition and he’s doing it with two legends that he has admired for a long time.

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