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ESPN’s Jeff Passan Apologizes For Phrasing Regarding MLB Owners’ Labor Offer

“I took the phrasing of a source and mistakenly did not make clear they were his words, not mine.”

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A remark made by ESPN baseball insider on the March 3 edition of the ESPN Daily podcast stirred up some controversy among Major League Baseball team owners and executives, who felt that the comment showed bias in favor of the players union and a lack of objectivity in reporting the MLB lockout.

Passan explained to ESPN Daily host Pablo Torre that he looked at the owners’ final offer after a long negotiating session at MLB’s imposed Feb. 28 deadline that ended past 2:30 a.m. and immediately asked players what they thought of it.

“I looked at the offer the next morning,” said Passan, “and I texted a few players, and I texted a few agents, and I said to all of them, ‘Are you really going to take this shit sandwich?'”

New York Daily News baseball columnist Bill Madden was among those who reported that MLB executives and team owners were “outraged” over Passan — who works for one of baseball’s TV partners in ESPN — encouraging players and agents to turn down the league’s final offer.

On Monday, Passan apologized in a statement ESPN issued to several media outlets, including the New York Post and Front Office Sports, and clarified what he intended to say on the ESPN Daily podcast.

“On a podcast recently, I took the phrasing of a source and mistakenly did not make clear they were his words, not mine,” said Passan. “ESPN and fans rightfully expect me to be objective, and my record shows I’m extremely committed to representing all sides of a story. In this instance, I fell short of that standard.”

According to both the Post‘s Ryan Glasspiegel and Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, ESPN said that it addressed the matter with Passan and was satisfied with his statement.

“We’ve addressed the situation with Jeff directly and as you can see from his statement, he understands his mistake,” said an ESPN spokesperson (via the Post). “We fully trust that going forward he will cover this important and sensitive topic in a fair manner.”

McCarthy went on to report that he’d been told ESPN did not penalize Passan with a suspension or fine for the remark.

From that, the reasonable conclusion to draw is that the network accepted Passan’s explanation that he mispoke and intended to quote a source with the “shit sandwich” remark, rather than make it sound as if that was his interpretation of the MLB owners’ final offer in the most recent negotiations with players.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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