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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Joe Davis

“The sky is the absolute limit for this guy. I’m a little jealous, in fact, of the talent and poise that he possesses right now.”

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“Joe Davis back to throw, looks left, now over the middle, complete, touchdown!”

Before his meteoric rise in the world of play-by-play, Joe Davis was a four-year letter winner at Beloit College in Wisconsin. He was the quarterback for two seasons until a shoulder injury forced him to move to wide receiver. 

Perhaps the most important move for Davis in college was assuming play-by-play duties for the school’s athletic department. When football was out of season, Davis called baseball and both men’s and women’s basketball on local radio and television. He served as the voice of Buccaneers spring sports for his final three years on campus before graduating in 2010. 

Now Davis holds two very high-profile jobs. He’s the television voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers and has been named the number one baseball guy at Fox Sports. In both cases, he’s replaced an announcer of legendary status, first Vin Scully and now Joe Buck. Big shoes to fill in both cases. If how Davis has handled the former is any indication, he’ll be equally as accepted in the latter position. 

Davis is another in a long line of broadcasters that seemed to know what he wanted to do at an early age.

“If you had asked me when I was 10 what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would’ve told you ‘Call the World Series.’ So, when I say this is a dream-come-true, I really mean it,” Davis said in a statement after Fox named him Buck’s replacement. 

In a recent story in The Athletic, Richard Deitsch chronicled how the offer was made to Davis. He recalled meeting with Brad Zager, who is the executive producer of Fox Sports. Zager flew to Las Vegas where Davis was for the Pac 12 Tournament. It was about 4-hours from the tip and the two met at a hotel bar in the MGM Resort. The offer was made, and a very emotional Davis accepted.

“It took me a little while to get it together after the meeting,” Davis told The Athletic. “And there were a number of times over the course of that week where I broke down because of the emotions of thinking it could happen and being so close to a dream coming true but not knowing.”

ROAD TO FOX/DODGERS

Before his senior year of college, in 2009, Davis secured a summer job as the manager of broadcasting for the Schaumburg Flyers baseball team of the independent Northern League. He served as the team’s play-by-play voice and media relations director. Also, during the fall, he filled in on men’s and women’s volleyball broadcasts at Loyola University Chicago. That year Davis was the voice of the State High School Volleyball Championships, for the Illinois High School Television Network. 

From there Davis would go to work for the Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League. The Biscuits were the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. Davis called Biscuits games for three seasons and was named the Southern League Broadcaster of the Year in 2012. In the offseason, he also gained experience as a radio host for the Baylor Independent Sports Properties Network. While working that job, he also caught on at Comcast Sports Southeast, where he picked play-by-play duties for college football, basketball and baseball.

In July 2012, at the age of 24, he joined ESPN as a play-by-play announcer. He called college baseball, basketball, football, hockey and softball games. Davis also appeared in spot duty for Major League Baseball games that were broadcast on ESPN Radio. He made a little history in December of 2013, when he was assigned to call the Poinsettia Bowl between Utah and Northern Illinois. At the age of 25 he became the youngest person to ever announce a bowl game for ESPN. He was soon hired by Fox, and then a couple of years later by the Dodgers to call road games, and eventually succeeded the legendary Vin Scully for the team on TV. 

WHY IS HE SO GOOD?

There is a smoothness about Davis that is kind of hard to describe. He’s calm at the right moments and he elevates to the big moments almost perfectly. Calling baseball can be a challenge at any age, but he seems a natural fit for the pacing of the sport. There are moments when the game is left to itself to breathe during his broadcasts. Now, there are also times when Davis shows off his ability for the big call.

The Dodgers have been in the pennant race, seemingly all the time. Huge moments demand a great call. Davis hasn’t disappointed yet. 

Among his many moments with the Dodgers already were walk off home run calls, some miracle finishes, and a lot of victories.

In an article on MLB.com in August of 2020, Davis surprised a lot of folks, when saying a home run by pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was his favorite so far. It took place on Sept. 22, 2019, in a 7-4 win over the Rockies that provided the Dodgers with their 100th victory of the year.

“High fly ball, centerfield and deep, back goes Hanson at the wall…it’s happened! It’s happened! Babe Ryu!” Then nearly 40 seconds of crowd noise. 

Davis provided the backstory in the article.

“The call is, whatever, not a spectacular call, but Orel [Hershiser, analyst and Davis’ partner] and I had jokingly talked about it the entire season. You could go back to Opening Day [which Ryu started], and we were predicting he would hit one. Those of us who are around batting practice see how he swings, and we would joke every time he came up that this would be the time, and then it actually happened. It’s the only time Orel and I both stood up and high-fived, just the incredible feeling it had actually happened.”

It’s just an example of how the moment is never too big for Davis. He can have fun and still keep his composure, so the fans know what is actually happening as well. 

His runner-up call at that time, was a more obvious choice. It his “absolute madness” call of the Dodgers’ 6-5 walk-off win over the Phillies in 2017. For more reasons than just the great call.

“It was my first month or so on the job after Vin,” said Davis. “It was maybe the first time where the fanbase seemed to say, ‘Hey, maybe this kid is not bad.’ Because of that, it will always be special to me.”

Also of importance, is the fact that Davis is able to play off of, and work well with, his analyst Orel Hershiser. The two have great chemistry. That’s the hallmark of a good play-by-play announcer, get the most and more out of your color commentator. 

It speaks volumes as well, to have that kind of relationship with all the people he works with. That includes John Smoltz, his new partner for MLB on Fox games starting this season. 

“Having worked with Joe before, finding our chemistry in the booth is already well underway and I’m looking forward to our partnership over the next several years,” said Smoltz in a statement. “I had the opportunity to work with the very best at Fox Sports in Joe Buck, and I feel fortunate to get to continue with another exceptionally talented ‘Joe’ in Joe Davis.”

For someone as young as he is, it’s impressive that he had those skills early on and continues to hone what has worked for him. When he was just 24-years-old and had a crack at the national spotlight, he might have been overwhelmed. Well, if he was, it surely didn’t sound like it, because he was able to advance in the business at a rapid rate. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Davis named his third child, a boy, to honor his partner in the booth, Orel Hershiser. Theodore Orel Davis arrived in July of 2021. Hershiser was very touched by the gesture from the Davis’. 

Did you realize that Davis’ daughter Charlotte broke the news of her daddy getting the World Series assignment from Fox? Davis explained to The Athletic that he tried to see if his daughter would understand the significance of the moment. Charlotte didn’t seem to grasp how important this was. After all, she is only 5 and a half. Davis wanted to make the point that the World Series was a big deal and that Charlotte, could achieve anything she wanted to. 

“I dropped her off at her school one day and her teacher said, ‘Joe, congratulations!’ Mind you there were like five people in the world that knew at this point.” he told The Athletic. “I said, ‘Oh boy, I guess you have an inside source.’ She said, ‘Yeah, the first thing Charlotte did yesterday when we got into the classroom was announce to everyone, my daddy got the World Series.’ For whatever reason, that was another moment that just got me. I got in my car and broke down.” he recalled. 

Eat your heart out Ken Rosenthal! 

CONCLUSION

The sky is the absolute limit for this guy. I’m a little jealous, in fact, of the talent and poise that he possesses right now. There are just a few people blessed with all of that, plus a kind nature.

It’s hard not to cheer for a guy like this, he paid his dues, made some good choices and basically let his talent do the talking. It’s pretty amazing and so well deserved. I’m pretty confident that the Fox MLB broadcasts are in very good hands.

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Ryan Ruocco

The extra work makes the broadcast sound better and in turn the broadcaster.

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Dream big, because you never know how things will turn out. Ryan Ruocco is living proof.

“If you look at my fifth-grade yearbook, under career goals, it says to play and announce for the Yankees,” Ruocco told the Daily News in 2023. “The playing didn’t work out, but the announcing has. I kind of knew it right away.”

Ruocco grew up idolizing Derek Jeter and several years later was covering the Yankees for the YES Network. Not bad for a kid from Fishkill, NY, which is a little over 60 miles north of Manhattan.

The dream began as a student at Fordham University. There, Ruocco called Rams football and basketball on WFUV. Ruocco’s path to doing play-by-play for a living, included working at YES as an intern and as an in-booth statistician. He gave ESPN Radio updates and was even an in-game host featured on the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium.

There was a method to his madness when it came to the road he followed.

“I just sort of had this natural progression where people got to know me for one thing, saw my work ethic, took an interest in me, then listened to my work and said, ‘Oh, we think Ryan’s pretty good.’ My whole mentality was if you crack the door open, I’ll kick it down,” Ruocco told the Daily News.

He’s doing just that.

PROFESSIONAL WORK

We almost have to split his work in the profession into local and national. The local part also seems like a national job because it’s the Yankees. He’s a busy guy.

ESPN

Ruocco joined ESPN in 2008 working in a variety of roles, including calling college basketball and football on ESPN Radio. He was also the host of ESPN Radio SportsCenter and later became one of the voices of The NFL on ESPN Radio, starting with the 2013 NFL season. Also, that year, Ruocco was named the lead play-by-play voice for the network’s coverage of the WNBA, a role he still holds today. He also serves as the lead play-by-play announcer for Women’s College Basketball, including the Women’s NCAA Tournament.

Last year, ESPN formed a second core NBA broadcast team for the season, with Ruocco as play-by-play and former NBA players Richard Jefferson and JJ Redick as analysts. The three called the NBA Sunday Showcase series on ABC and worked into the NBA playoffs.

YES Network

Ruocco joined the Nets broadcast team in 2011. He is one of the play-by-play announcers on the Nets’ telecasts. He’s also called select college basketball games on the network.

Along the way he’s hosted pre-/post-game shows for Yankees telecasts and This Week in Football for YES, which focused on the New York Giants and New York Jets.

Ruocco added Yankees’ play-by-play in 2015, when he called a series against the Astros. During the 2019 baseball season, he stepped up as the main voice of the team, when Michael Kay underwent vocal cord surgery. Ruocco also had the distinction of filling in for the legendary radio voice John Sterling in July of 2019. Sterling decided to take a day off for the first time since 1989, a span of 5,060 straight Yankees games.

WHAT MAKES HIM GOOD?

Ruocco’s voice is unmistakable. That’s a good thing, because he doesn’t sound like the prototypical, stereotyped play-by-play guy. He’s easy on the ears with a style that is smooth and energetic all at the same time. His energy is infectious and reels you into the game. I really enjoy his approach to games and big moments, which he’s been no stranger to of late.

Lately he’s been involved in many huge calls and has done some pretty big games of late. Most have been in the realm of the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The last two years have provided ESPN with some big audiences as the popularity of the sport continues to rise, right alongside Ruocco.

He had a widely appreciated final call of the South Carolina Gamecocks win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the NCAA Women’s Title game a couple of months ago. The setup to the call was as good as the actual call itself. Ruocco, in the final moments of the game, mentioned South Carolina’s undefeated season, and the redemption in beating Iowa after a loss to them in the Final Four last year. The viewer was then prepared for a simple, but meaningful final call.

“Perfection with a touch of sweet redemption!” Ruocco said. “Undefeated South Carolina has won its third national championship!”

A good lesson to other broadcasters, the call of a championship doesn’t have to be a screaming, over the top thing to be memorable and meaningful. Less is more, this call proves that notion.

Calling a number of games in a given week can prove to be a challenge for broadcasters. Especially when most are nationally televised. It’s a different type of preparation, which requires a little extra.

“I think the key to doing a national game is not sounding like you’re parachuting in,” Ruocco told BSM. “You need to sound like you have your finger on the pulse of what’s been happening with that team because any fan that watches that team regularly is going to sniff out you not really knowing what’s going on with their team very quickly.”

That kind of recognition is why Ruocco is good at what he does. The extra work makes the broadcast sound better and in turn the broadcaster. Fans can tell when a broadcaster has ‘mailed it in’. They also know when you’ve done the extra homework.

WNBA APPRECIATION

Ruocco has been associated with the WNBA for over a decade now, but he never imagined the run would go on as long as it has. He appeared on the The Awful Announcing Podcast last month and described the process of taking over the coverage of the league and how his thinking changed.

“When I was first asked about it, and I’ve been honest about this, I kind of was like, ‘OK, that’s cool, but I’m already doing NBA. Why is this such a great gig for me?’ And there were people inside ESPN…who said, ‘Trust us, you’re going to love this. You’re going to love working with Rebecca Lobo, and this league is awesome to work on.’” Ruocco said.

“People used to love to use the WNBA as a punchline, as a joke,” Ruocco said. “Now people understand the value, first and foremost of the basketball, and also of these women and how incredible they are as leaders in our society.”

He and Lobo are really good together on the air and again will be the featured announcing duo for ESPN’s coverage of the WNBA this season.

DID YOU KNOW?

On June 28, 2023, Ruocco called New York Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán’s perfect game against the Oakland Athletics.

Ruocco is the co-host of The Ringer’s R2C2 podcast on Spotify alongside former New York Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia.

In 2008, Fordham honored Ruocco as the winner of the prestigious Marty Glickman Award, named for the legendary play-by-play announcer.

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Insider: Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports and The Athletic

“Even though I was on television, I always thought [that] what should distinguish me is my work.”

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For over 30 years, Ken Rosenthal has had the attention of Major League Baseball fans, front offices and even the commissioner. He’s been breaking stories and covering some of the most important stories in baseball since his start in 1987. Rosenthal is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Growing up in New York, his early goals were pretty simple. “I never wanted to be more than a beat guy on a major sport at a major paper. My dad, figuring I would never make enough money, would tell me early in my career, ‘Maybe one day you’ll be on TV.’ He told Pressbox Online back in 2017.

“I would laugh at him and say, ‘No chance.’” How wrong that would turn out to be.

Baseball fans should also be extremely happy that Rosenthal did not follow some early advice.

One day during the winter break in his senior year of college, he went to the Newsday offices to meet up with sports editor Dick Sandler. Rosenthal needed guidance on how to pursue a journalism career. The advice he got was a bit of a wakeup call.

“He did advise me to go to law school,” Rosenthal recalled to Barrett Sports Media last year. “It did light a fire under me, and my dad was an attorney. I remember he was pretty pissed off when I told him that. I just don’t think you should tell a young person something like that.”

The fire was lit and the rest is history.

ROAD TO FOX/THE ATHLETIC

Rosenthal graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984 and embarked on his career, starting at the York Daily Record in 1984. He quickly moved on to the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for two years. Then Rosenthal landed a full-time job with The Baltimore Sun, where he was named Maryland Sportswriter of the Year five times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association during his tenure from 1987 to 2000. 

At the same time Rosenthal was also contributing to Sports Illustrated from 1990 to 2000, providing weekly notes during baseball season. He then spent five years at The Sporting News until 2005. That association led him to Fox. The Sporting News had a partnership with FOX Sports and TSN writers would appear on various Fox RSN’s to talk about the local baseball team.  

Since he was the senior baseball writer, he would hold a ‘press junket’ of sorts, sitting in a studio for hours appearing on different city’s shows talking baseball.

Rosenthal started to expand his career. His television ‘hits’ were accompanied by feature stories, breaking news and a weekly column. Television made sense, especially since others in his position were starting to make a name for themselves in the medium. People like Tim Kurkjian, who was always reporting on stories via ESPN.

With the encouragement of his wife, Rosenthal started looking at television more seriously and actually got some offers, from both ESPN and Fox. He chose the higher profile position at FOX Sports. He was told that he would be reporting during the Game of the Week with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. It would represent a big break and a change in lifestyle, being away from home and focusing his attention completely on the national perspective of the sport.

Later Rosenthal would add duties at MLB Network, before a controversy caused him to lose that job. As I wrote a couple of years ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred did not like a column written by Rosenthal in June of 2020. It in a nutshell it was critical of Manfred’s handling of the start of the pandemic plagued season.  Rosenthal wrote “As if the perception that Manfred is beholden to owners and out of touch with players was not bad enough, he was trending on Twitter (now X) on Monday after performing a massive flip-flop.” That among other things led to the network not bringing Rosenthal back.

Most recently, as of 2017, he became the senior writer for The Athletic and broke one of the biggest stories of the last decade for the publication.

Rosenthal now appears regularly on a very popular podcast Foul Territory which streams live on YouTube 5 days a week. Former MLB Players A.J. Pierzynski, Erik Kratz, Todd Frazier and Adam Jones are the featured performers. Recently he signed on to co-host Fair Territory with Alanna Rizzo on the Foul Territory Network twice a week. That show is live on YouTube.

SCOOPS/ WHY IS HE A “GO TO” INSIDER?

Rosenthal has been behind countless scoops and ‘reported first’ over the course of his career, but one recent scoop stands out. In 2019, Rosenthal and his colleague Evan Drellich at The Athletic broke the story of the Astros sign stealing controversy. The Astros cheated in 2017 by stealing opponents’ signs with the aid of cameras and of course, banging of garbage cans to indicate what type of pitch was coming. It was a story that was well researched and featured former Astros players telling the story to Ken and Evan. The sources for this story were hard to argue with, because these players had first-hand knowledge of how it started, how it played out and what resulted from it. One of the sources, pitcher Mike Fiers, admitted to the setup and then told Rosenthal that he warned his subsequent teams of the deal with the Astros.  It was a well-crafted scoop that was ‘bullet proof’ thanks to Rosenthal and Drellich’s excellent reporting.

That’s the reason to me why Rosenthal is considered one of, if not the most trusted insiders around. He oozes credibility and has a style that’s pretty direct and not too flashy. That certainly helps his reputation as being fair and respectful when it comes to his sources and the stories he breaks.

He is well respected in the industry and isn’t all about just breaking stories. While there is some satisfaction in doing so, I’m sure, the fact is, once you break the story, everyone else jumps in to confirm with their own source. So, the party becomes very crowded and quickly. Rosenthal is a storyteller at heart and you can tell the pride in which he writes a column or feature. Even though many recognize him only from his television appearances, he is a writer doing television, not a television reporter that also writes.

Through it all he is staying true to his roots and continuously knocking things out of the park. Digging deep into a subject, much deeper than any sports fan could imagine. In the end, Rosenthal educates fans with his knowledge and the knowledge of the players he interviews. Longform writing is not easy, trust me, but Rosenthal handles it with ease.

Rosenthal is also very good on television, delivering pregame storylines and also in-game reporting for MLB on Fox games and into the postseason. He’s smooth and polished and as always, his reports are filled with terrific information.

BOWTIES

Rosenthal has become known on television for wearing a bowtie for every broadcast. It is not something he decided to wear, he was actually ordered to wear one. After joining MLB on Fox Game of the Week, his boss, David Hill, insisted he wear the bowtie to distinguish Rosenthal from other reporters.

“Even though I was on television, I always thought [that] what should distinguish me is my work,” Rosenthal told BSM. “A look – I didn’t want any part of that. But he was the boss, and he was a very strong boss and a powerful boss.”

Rosenthal wanted to ditch the practice after the Giants won the World Series that season (2010), but a phone call from a former NFL player changed the tune. Dhani Jones, a former linebacker, founded The Bow Tie Cause to represent different non-profit charities. Jones asked Rosenthal if he’d be willing to support the cause by continuing to wear the tie.

“I never imagined that it would become, I guess, kind of part of my identity, but it is,” Rosenthal said. “When I don’t wear it now – and even if I’m at the ballpark on a Friday preparing for a Saturday broadcast in my regular clothes – some fan or somebody will say, ‘Hey, where’s the bowtie?’ and so it is definitely part of it.”

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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Insider: Jeff Passan

The life of an insider takes no breaks, probably causes internal consternation and means you’re on your phone constantly, all in the name of being first to report on a story.

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Report: Jeff Passan is a tremendous ‘insider’ when it comes to baseball. Ok, this is actually a fact, but you get the picture. Usually that first word “report” is followed by Jeff Passan says according to his sources, and there’s usually some big news after that. Correct news, more often than not. The life of an insider takes no breaks, probably causes internal consternation and means you’re on your phone constantly, all in the name of being first to report on a story.

Passan grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and that’s where Passan’s love for baseball began. In his bio at ESPN, he says, “Getting to watch the 1990s Indians, with Albert Belle and Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez and Omar Vizquel and Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray, made a baseball fan of me forever.” Passan said he always had a passion for writing and sports and now has a career in both.

“The ability to marry the two seemed too convenient to work a real job.” Passan said on ESPN.

“Somehow, for upward of 20 years now, I’ve managed to make it happen. And for all the late nights, the days away from the family, the clacking away on the keyboard: Yeah, it really is the best job in the world.”

ROAD TO ESPN

Passan attended Syracuse and wrote for The Daily Orange while at school. He began covering baseball in 2004 while at The Kansas City Star before he moved on to Yahoo! a couple of years later. Passan worked at the internet site for 13 years.

Passan announced that he was joining ESPN’s Baseball team in January 2019. While working at ESPN, he makes guest appearances on SportsCenterGet UpThe Rich Eisen ShowBaseball Tonight, The Pat McAfee Show and other ESPN studio shows.

He is also a frequent guest on such ESPN podcasts as ESPN Daily and Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney. He has also contributed as an on-field reporter, including for Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball.

DESIRE, PASSION AND PITFALLS

“Insider” work knows no offseason. News is constantly breaking in baseball. Whether it be during the season, at the trade deadline or after the season, he’s on the scene. This kind of work can be extremely demanding and requires a passion and dedication to be among the best.

In 2022 Passan spoke to the New York Post and was asked where his passion came from. He credited his wife for sparking his career growth. As he recalled, he told his wife he wasn’t looking forward to attending baseball’s Winter Meetings in 2012. After his wife asked him what was wrong, he basically told her that this was the time (Winter Meetings) where he felt terrible at his job. The conversation continued.

“Why’s that?” she asked.

Passan said, “Because I don’t really break news.”

“Why is that?” she said.

“I didn’t have a great answer. I think the thing I said was, “It’s really hard.”

Her response was, “Well, then stop being a p***y and go do it.”

Blunt.

“That sort of emasculation hits hard!” Passan admitted to The Post. “I listened to her. I focused on it. I prioritized it. I’m really glad I did, not just because it helped me land at ESPN, but I truly believe that being in the daily news grind the way you are required to be if you are in this job, opens up so many stories you wouldn’t have gotten by just not talking to the people it forces you to talk with.”

There are drawbacks to being the best at your particular livelihood. The job requires being tethered to his phone. He expanded upon the notion when he joined Andrew Marchand and John Ourand on their sports media podcast back in 2022.

“I’m a slave to it. That’s the reality,” Passan said. “I look at my screen time numbers every week, and seriously I will ask myself, ‘What are you doing? Is this worth it? What are you doing with your life?’”

“My kids are gonna be out of the house in three and seven years and I’m not present too often,” Passan continued. “I will hear them ask a question and I can’t tell you the number of times where I’ve answered, ‘hold on a second, let me finish this text.’ That may be the most oft said thing in my house. Is that how I want my kids remembering me?”

His kids are probably very proud of the excellent work their dad does in the industry. I can see though, how tough this has to be on a father. Being away from the house and always having to work.

USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Passan was one of the first in the field to start using platforms other than Twitter, now named X.  A Tweet in 2022 explained:

“I have no idea if Twitter is going to be around today, tomorrow, next week, next year. I love everyone here and want them to know that there’s a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency plan.”

Social media is an important part of an “Insider’s” job. It’s a great way to share information to a large audience at lightning speed. Many accused Passan of grandstanding, and “virtue signaling” for “boycotting” a platform now owned by Elon Musk. Now with other platforms available, like Threads and Blue Sky many of those ‘breaking news’ are doing so on multiple social sites.

It’s also dangerous sometimes.

Passan attempted to note in a post on X that Ron Washington was getting another shot as an MLB manager after nearly a decade. But, Passan accidentally wrote that Washington was getting another “s**t” instead of “shot”. No matter that he quickly edited the original post, because screenshots were taken of the post and now live in the dark corners of the internet.

WHY IS HE A ‘GO TO’ INSIDER?

It’s evident that Passan does a ton of work and is very careful about ‘breaking’ things before he has the confirmation he needs. There are those out there that just for the sake of being first, will throw something up against the wall to see if it sticks. That doesn’t seem to be Passan’s style. The guys he competes with may beat him from time to time, but that’s part of the gig. It’s comforting to know that if Passan is on social media with a ‘scoop,’ you can go with it.

In an interview with The Big Lead in 2020, he was asked about the feeling of getting the ‘scoop.’

“It is simultaneously exhilarating and nauseating. It’s a privilege to know that people are coming to me for information.” Passan said.  “I am extremely judicious about it because the one thing I can’t ever do is get something wrong. That is where the nerves and exhilaration come into play. I may know something, but do I know it? I may believe with 99.9 percent certainty that I know something is going to happen but that’s not enough. I need that extra .001 percent and that’s where the extra phone call always makes the difference.”

He admitted to losing scoops because he wasn’t completely certain about a piece to the story. That is the kind of thing that separates the greats from the internet detectives that think they have it right.

Getting the story isn’t just a matter of talking to sources the day of, say the trade deadline in baseball. Passan does the work and cultivates relationships weeks and months before that event even takes place. You can tell that Passan is plugged in and has a style that is easy to respect.

Fans hang on his words. Many feel that if the post isn’t from Passan, they don’t believe it. Creating that trust with the fans and fellow media members is vital. Passan has that trust and continues to earn it every day.

DID YOU KNOW?

Passan has a great sense of humor. A Cubs’ fan named Lisa, took to X on February 22, 2024 announcing:

I heard that they (Cubs) signed (Cody) Bellinger just now from a good friend who’s in AZ right now, but can’t find anything online about it. Have you heard anything?

Several days later, Passan reported on the Cubs signing of Bellinger. He had the details of the contract and all the pertinent information. Then in a post that followed, he simply stated:

Lisa was right

Very cool to acknowledge her and the statement of “Lisa was right” took on a life of its own in Chicago.

Prior to ESPN, Passan was the author of New York Times bestseller The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, and co-authored Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series.

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