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Don’t Be Fooled By MLB’s Phony All-Star Game Move

Rob Manfred has yet to fix baseball’s ills in six years on the job, yet he needed only two days to appease President Biden’s political wishes — a con job that exposes baseball’s desperation and hypocrisy.



Given the choice of trusting Major League Baseball or a roomful of history’s most infamous fabulists — Lance Armstrong, Bernie Madoff, Robert Ripley, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Pinocchio — I’d side with the room. In that vein, don’t make the mistake of thinking the privileged white lords who control the sport suddenly have grown a pair of activism testicles.

They want you to applaud their newfound social conscience in moving this year’s All-Star Game out of suburban Atlanta, protesting the Georgia law that appears to give Blacks diminished opportunities to vote. In truth, their motives aren’t about social justice as much as the story of the little Dutch boy who stuck his finger in a dam to prevent a region from flooding.

MLB pulls All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of restrictive new voting  law

With too many existential gushers to count, the last problem commissioner Rob Manfred needed was the threat of players boycotting his July showcase and again framing MLB as a racist operation. It’s hardly an unfair accusation against the hierarchy, which allowed the Cleveland Indians and (ahem) Atlanta Braves to keep insensitive nicknames, logos and rituals much too long and waited forever last summer before addressing the murder of George Floyd. Imagine the scorched-earth commentary, here and elsewhere, if elite players snubbed the All-Star Game only months before the industry’s interminable labor problems led to a work stoppage, this as baseball struggles to remain relevant in 21st-century Americana.

So Manfred played a public-relations card, thinking he’s flipping the sport’s approval arrow upward by suddenly going woke. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft,” he said. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. … Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

An MLB escape hatch, this is not. Rather, it’s another con game. It took Manfred only two days to heed pressure from President Biden to yank the game out of Georgia when, in the larger view of his wobbling sport, he has wasted SIX YEARS in failing to figure out the labor crisis, pace-of-play issues that are killing the game, a continuing TV ratings demise and a sense that the long, lost national pastime is growing old with its audience. Now, he risks incurring the ire of Republicans who form a sizable percentage of baseball’s traditional fan base — while also looking like quite the political hypocrite. Know what MLB was doing the day Biden supported the All-Star extraction?

Oh, cutting a new streaming rights deal with Tencent, a large and influential Chinese tech company — the same company that rebuked NBA executive Daryl Morey for his pro-Hong Kong tweet and punished commissioner Adam Silver by dropping game telecasts. All told, the NBA lost more than $200 million in China revenue last year. But MLB, which doesn’t like Georgia voting procedures, has no issue with China’s human rights violations in continuing a relationship with Tencent, which will stream MLB games in Asian countries through 2023 along with its ongoing package of 125 games per season in China.

Manfred wants his wokeness and his Communism on the same dinner plate. He wants to be on the right side of the politics, supporting Delta and Coca-Cola in the anti-Georgia crusade, while accepting deplorable policies overseas. The politicians — and enlightened members of the public, regardless of wing affiliation — aren’t buying his money-and-influence grab. “@MLB caves to pressure & moves draft & /#AllStarGame out of Georgia on the same week they announce a deal with a company backed by the genocidal Communist Party of #China,” tweeted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & anti-trust?”

What happens if the Braves, a serious National League pennant contender, make the World Series? Will Manfred move their home games elsewhere? And has the commissioner noticed New York offers fewer options for early voting than Georgia? Imagine a Braves-Yankees Fall Classic played at a neutral site because MLB is immersed in the political and financial game?

For the sake of his enterprise, Manfred should be focused on his current plight — how COVID-19, which has wiped out the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks via a Brazilian variant, continues to sideline the Washington Nationals. Hellbent on reopening revenue streams by allowing fans inside ballparks, MLB wants to believe the pandemic is over. But the Nationals have yet to play a game, with four players isolating after positive tests and seven others still in quarantine. “Position players haven’t worked out in a week. And pitchers haven’t thrown any competitive pitch in that same period of time,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “It’s something that we’re taking very seriously here. We’re thinking of creative ways under the protocol and under the guidance to get these guys as ready as possible.”

A fine way to start the season, wouldn’t you say? Since winning the World Series in October 2019, the Nationals still haven’t been able to celebrate their championship in front of home fans. Instead of assuming COVID-19 has been conquered, Manfred should consider the Canucks as a cautionary warning that COVID-19 variants remain undefeated in the sports world. Is Manfred ready?

How could he be, focused as he is on Georgia politics and China TV deals? And when the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, on the season’s first weekend, engage in a bench-clearing, pushing-and-shoving scrap that clearly violated MLB’s coronavirus protocols. “Fighting and instigating fights are strictly prohibited.” the protocols read. “Players must not make physical contact with others for any reason unless it occurs in normal and permissible game action. Violations of these rules will result in severe discipline.”

Cardinals-Reds brawl: Benches clear, Nick Castellanos ejected

Don’t count on it. The players know the commissioner is a flim-flam man, oblivious that one virus breakout could lead to several more.

Baseball is a continuing drag on American culture. At least our fictional Dutch boy managed to save his country in folklore. Rob Manfred isn’t helping anyone but the Chinese.

BSM Writers

Asking The Right Questions Helps Create Interesting Content

Asking questions that can get a subject to talk about their feelings is a much better way to get an interesting answer.



USA Today

When ESPN’s Mike Greenberg interviewed Paolo Banchero in the lead-up to the NBA lottery on Tuesday, he asked what I’ve concluded is the single most maddening question that can be asked of any athlete preparing for any draft.

“Why do you believe you should be No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?” Greenberg said.

Before I point out exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to such a harmless question, I want to point out the positives because Greenberg’s question avoids some of the most common pitfalls:

1) It is an actual question. That’s not as automatic as you think given the number of poor souls who are handed a microphone and say to their subject, “Talk about (whatever issue they want a quote or a sound bite on).” This is the mark of an amateur, creating the opening for an uncooperative subject to slam the door by saying, “What do you want me to say?”

2) Greenberg’s question can not be answered with a yes or a no. Questions that start with the word “Can you …” or “Did you …” may sound like they’re tough questions for the subject, but they’re actually fairly easy if the subject wants to offer an answer. Now, most interview subjects won’t take that one-word exit, but some will in a touchy situation.

The problem with Greenberg’s question has to do with the result. Why do we ask questions of the athletes we cover? Seriously. That’s not rhetorical. What’s the goal? It’s to get interesting answers. At least that’s the hope whether it’s for a quote that will be included in a story, a sound bite to be replayed later or — like in this situation — during an interview that is airing live. The question should be engineered to elicit interesting content, and there was very little chance that the question Greenberg asked Banchero was going to produce anything close to that.

I know that because I have heard some version of this question asked hundreds of times. That’s not an exaggeration. I attended the NFL scouting combine annually for a number of years, and if a player wasn’t asked why he should be the first overall pick, he’d get asked why he should be a first-round pick or why he should be one of the first players chosen at his position. Never — in all that time — have I ever heard what would be considered an interesting or informative answer. In my experience, players tend to talk in incredibly general terms about their own abilities and then seek to compliment their peers in an effort to avoid coming off as cocky.

Here’s how Banchero answered Greenberg’s question: “Yeah, thank you all for having me, first off., I feel like I’m the number one pick in the draft because I’m the best overall player. I feel like I check all the boxes whether it’s being a great teammate, being the star player or doing whatever the coach needs. I’ve been a winner my whole life. Won everywhere I’ve went, and when I get to the NBA, that’s going to be the same goal for me. So just combining all those things, and knowing what I have to work on to be better is a formula for me.”

There’s nothing wrong with answer just as there was nothing wrong with the question. It’s just that both are really, really forgettable. ESPN did put a clip on YouTube with the headline “Paolo Banchero: I’m the best overall player in the NBA Draft | NBA Countdown” but I think I’m the only who will remember it and that’s only because I’m flapping my arms and squawking not because there was anything bad per se, but because there was nothing really good, either.

First of all, I’m not sure why it matters if Banchero thinks he should be the number one overall pick. He’s not going to be making that decision. The team that holds the top draft pick — in this case Orlando — is. Here’s a much better question: “How important is it for you to be the number one overall pick?” This would actually give an idea of the stakes for Banchero. What does this actually mean to him? Asking him why he should go number one is asking Banchero to tell us how others should see him. Asking Banchero how important it would be go number one is asking him to tell us about his feelings, something that’s much more likely to produce an interesting answer.

The point here isn’t to question Greenberg’s overall competence because I don’t. He’s as versatile a host as there is in the game, and anyone else in the industry has something to learn from the way he teases ahead to content. What I want to point out not just how we fail to maximize opportunities to generate interesting content, but why. Interviews are a staple of the sports-media industry. We rely on these interviews as both primary content that will be consumed directly, and as the genesis for our own opinions and reaction yet for all that importance we spend very little time thinking about the kind of answer this question is likely to produce.

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BSM Writers

The Client Just Said YES, Now What?

We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES.



One of the most significant moments in radio sales is when the client agrees to your proposal and says YES. But, when they do say YES, do you know what’s next? We better have an answer!

We spend a lot of time getting ready for clients with research, spec spots (thank you, radio sales trainer Chris Lytle-go to 22:30), proposals, and meetings. All of our focus is on getting the client to say YES. We should spend as much time on what we will do after the client says YES. For example, getting newer sales reps to sell annual advertising contracts would be ideal for building a list. They would have less pressure, more job security, and could spend more time making the advertising work for their clients. But, since most newer reps don’t know the business yet, they don’t bite off more than they can chew and sell a package of the month.

When a client says yes to the weight loss promotion, it’s pretty clear how to write the ads, what the promos will say, etc. BUT, if a newer sales rep starts selling annual contracts to a direct local client who needs a resource, how will that work? Let’s make sure we paint the picture right upfront. More experienced reps know that they need to assume the client will say YES to the weight loss promo and have a plan accordingly.

They have the next steps to building copy and promos, a credit app or credit card payment form, and any other detail the client must provide. But, when we ask a direct local client for an annual advertising contract, watch out! You have just made a partnership. Why not lay out, upfront, what that will look like. And I understand not every local client needs the same level of service.

A car dealer has the factories pushing quarterly promotions, agencies producing ads, and in-house marketing directors pulling it all together sometimes. Other clients need your help in promotions, copywriting, or idea generation. Make a plan upfront with your client about when you will meet to discuss the next quarter’s ad program. Include your station’s promotions or inventory for football and basketball season, a summer NTR event, digital testimonials with on-air talent, etc., in your annual proposal. Go out as far as you can and show what you have to offer to the client and how you can execute it. This exercise is good for you and, once mastered, guides the client on how you will take care of them after the sale. It also opens your eyes to what it takes to have a successful client partnership inside and outside the station.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise – Episode 74



This week, Demetri is joined by Ian Casselberry and Ryan Brown. Demetri talks about the NBA Draft getting an ABC simulcast, Ian talks about Patrick Beverley’s breakout week on TV, and Ryan reminds us that Tom Brady may be the star, but Kevin Burkhardt is the story we shouldn’t forget.

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