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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.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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