It was incontrovertibly an unparalleled four-and-a-half months devoid of live sporting events at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one that left sports fans fervently searching for something new to follow on a day-to-day basis. Sports networks, including ESPN, had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to reconstruct their programming to continue bringing in ratings and revenue. Most notably for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” the 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan’s career and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance,” was moved up from June to April, and, partly due to the abeyance of new content, was the number one program in television since mid-March. Additionally, it averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers per episode, making it the most watched ESPN documentary of all time.
Aside from the odyssey sports fans found refuge in the early stages of the pandemic, they also sojourned in international and niche sports, such as the Korean Baseball League and Formula One Racing. Many networks also showed replays of iconic contests from over the years in baseball, basketball and hockey, engendering a nostalgic catharsis on a mission to make satiable the unquenchable thirst sports fans had.
Tuesday afternoon, The Petros and Money Show on AM 570 LA Sports in Los Angeles harkened back to these uncertain, melancholic times, and how their show, centered on sports talk, was able to withstand these hardships and have a successful stretch on the air in their segment, “Top Story of the Day.”
“Today’s top story is reminiscent of something that we did at the beginning of that stretch of what our boss Don Martin called ‘Maybe the best two months of The Petros and Money Show I have ever had the great honor of listening to,’” divulged Matt “Money” Smith, co-host of the afternoon program and current play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers on KFI AM 640. Speaking from the perspective of the Senior Vice President of Premier Radio Network, Fox Sports Radio, and LA iHeartMedia Don Martin, Smith continued: “While other fish were out there flipping and flopping not knowing what to do for content, the two of you shone like a north star in our business.”
Indeed, AM 570 LA Sports ratings’ improved in June 2020, with the station gaining a tenth-of-a-point in Nielsen PPM numbers in a time where live sports had come to a halt. Utilizing the aspects of showmanship and entertainment embedded within the nascent being of sports radio, The Petros and Money Show finished ninth in the 2020 Barrett Sports Media list of Top 20 Major Market sports radio afternoon shows presented by Steve Stone Voiceovers.
“We asked the question — as baseball and basketball and hockey was all shut down [sic] — would you watch NASCAR?; Would you watch the truck series?; Would you watch golf?,” said Smith. “Would you watch these sports that you were never interested in your sporting fandom life before because it was the only thing that was on?”
Fast-forward to October 26, 2021 — Matt “Money” Smith began to ponder over that same question the sports world answered for itself last year in his monologue, contextualizing it in the terms of the current state of sports in Los Angeles.
“I’m trying to figure out if the Dodgers, who were overwhelming favorites to win the World Series at the start of the year, [have caused too much emotional distress for] Los Angeles sporting fans… to immediately shift their sporting focus to what is now available,” said Smith. “Will they support the 1-4-1 Kings? Will they support the old-ass Lakers, who seemingly lose a player a day? Will they get into NFL football; the Rams are 6-1, a game back [of] the best record in the NFC; the Chargers are 4-2, a game back [of] the best record in the AFC.”
In a city full of sports and entertainment stars, such as LeBron James, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Kawhi Leonard, Aaron Donald, Anthony Davis, Drew Doughty and an innumerable amount of others, everyone has begun to wonder who is satisfying the craving for live sports in Los Angeles. As a play-by-play announcer and radio broadcaster, Smith knows that those in his field can become quite emotionally invested in the teams they cover, much like a fan, to try to propagate the conversation, and ultimately the focus of Los Angeles sports fans, to their specific team.
“We get excited about our assignments — we get involved,” explained Smith. “We want you to watch; we want you to be entertained; we hope we’re a part of a product that you find to be to your liking.”
Smith’s fascination with the inherent fandom of those who cover the team, such as LA Clippers studio host and co-host of “UCLA Health Zone” Adam Auslund, whose Twitter feed during games contains many creative pseudonyms for Clippers players, including forward Isaiah Hartenstein and guard Luke Kennard.
“I envision him with a number two pencil and a yellow legal pad,” divulged Smith, “and he has each player’s name and [is] working through these nicknames he’s going to put out in the Twitterverse.”
Long story short — having live sports back as a constant in everyday life has stimulated new modes of thought for broadcasters, fans, reporters and others about which sports they consume and how much they support each team. On a “Tu Hermano Tuesday,” Matt “Money” Smith, in conversation with co-host Petros Papadakis, assuredly renewed a conversation that will endure for many months and years to come as the sports media world enters a “new normal” in all aspects of the industry.
Gregg Giannotti Has Zero Time For Baseball Hall of Fame Takes
“What does it matter? I can’t stand it. It’s the worst topic in sports talk.”
The 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class was formally announced on Tuesday evening and based on the results, former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was the only person on the ballot to surpass the 75% vote threshold needed to be inducted.
On Wednesday’s edition of Boomer & Gio on New York’s WFAN, co-host Gregg Giannotti made it clear the topic was something he had absolutely zero interest in talking about in-depth or taking callers on to discuss.
“It’s just so stupid that we care what a bunch of old baseball writers that didn’t get laid until they were in their 30s (think and) what they care about,” he said to the laughter of co-host Boomer Esiason. “Who cares?! It’s a museum in Upstate New York. Why are you wasting your breath?”
“Get a hobby, will ya? You losers!” Giannotti added. “What does it matter? I can’t stand it. It’s the worst topic in sports talk.”
Esiason said he was kind of surprised his colleague was so fired up about this. Obviously, whether players in the steroid era of baseball belong in the Hall of Fame is a highly-debated subject. But Esiason said he didn’t expect Gio to begin their show on edge.
“I just saw you like 25 minutes ago, and you seemed like you were in a good mood,” Esiason said. “All of a sudden, you come right out of the gates screaming about something stupid.”
Gio said he just wanted to get the whole thing out of the way first thing so it wouldn’t come back up later.
“There’s some guy that’s 95 years old that’s starting to dial the number. Stop,” said Giannotti. “All right, Maury? Stop! Don’t do it, don’t call us, I don’t want to hear it. I can’t take it anymore!”
KNBR’s ‘Murph and Mac’ Examine Barry Bonds’ Baseball Hall of Fame Exclusion
The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly joined the show to explain Hall of Fame balloting in baseball’s steroid era.
Amid the current team owners’ lockout, now the longest in Major League Baseball history, the sport is still generating publicity. But the headlines have nothing to do with the labor dispute between the owners and players.
Generating debate is the controversial omission of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens from being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in their final year of eligibility.
This year, 394 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voted in the election, with former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz being the only player on the ballot to surprass the required 75 percent threshold. Ortiz received 77.9 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility.
Bonds and Clemens both allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs during their careers, significantly impacting their candidacies for baseball immortality. There was outrage in many corners of the baseball world Tuesday night following the announcement, and widespread disappointment from fans of the game who feel that an apparent “blemish” on baseball history is trying to be forcibly erased rather than remembered.
On Wednesday morning, Murph & Mac on San Francisco’s KNBR welcomed The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly to their program to discuss the exclusion of Bonds from Cooperstown and the negative perception the voting process is receiving by members of the media and fans alike.
“In 2014, the Hall of Fame sort of unilaterally changed its rules and reduced the time you can be on the writers’ ballot from 15 years to 10,” Baggarly explained. “There’s no doubt that was intentional to clear the way for steroid-era players that would otherwise linger on the ballot forever.”
Bonds is widely regarded as one of the best hitters to ever take the field, and is baseball’s current record holder for both the most career home runs (762) and the most single-season home runs (73). He also won the National League Most Valuable Player award a record seven times, also receiving 14 All-Star Game selections and 12 Silver Slugger awards.
“When I hear guys like Chris Russo tsk-tsk… Bonds for using steroids, [I say] ‘What, are you kidding me?’” said Brian Murphy, co-host of the Bay Area morning drive program. “How widespread it was in the game, how owners and GMs and team presidents never told players that they would be facing penalties and kept giving them money, and everyone collectively participated? Now, [it’s] ‘No, Mr. Bonds, you can’t do that.’”
For those who are not members of the BBWAA, the perception of the Hall of Fame announcement has generated negative publicity for Major League Baseball during an already-contentious negotiation towards a new collective bargaining agreement. Baseball’s all-time home run leader in Bonds and a seven-time Cy Young Award winner are barred from Cooperstown – for now.
There is another way in, but it is sure to cause even more public controversy, according to Baggarly.
“Now [Bonds] goes to the committees,” outlined Baggarly. “All of [these] committees meet twice every five-year period. It just so happens that the Today’s Game Committee will meet at the Winter Meetings in December… and they can consider as many as 10 individuals [for the Hall of Fame]… Can you imagine if the panel who elected Commissioner Bud Selig will be the same people who don’t elect Bonds? If you think the writers are getting blasted, just wait.”
Parker Hillis Upped To APD At 104.3 The Fan
“Hillis has been at The Fan since April of 2019.”
All on-air talent at 104.3 the Fan in Denver now reports to Parker Hillis. He has been promoted to become the assistant program director of that station and ESPN Denver 1600.
“Parker has been critical to the success of our Bonneville Denver sports properties,” 104.3 The Fan and ESPN Denver 1600 Program Director Raj Sharan said in a press release. “He’s absolutely earned this opportunity to take on increased responsibilities managing our sports stations on a daily basis.”
Hillis has been at The Fan since April of 2019. He came from Dallas, where he worked for Audacy’s 105.3 The Fan.
With the promotion, the station is now looking for a new executive producer. Parker Hillis will oversee that search.
“I’m excited to work with our hosts in a greater capacity on a day-to-day basis,” Hillis said. “The opportunity to lead collaborative efforts among our amazingly talented team is truly an honor.”
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