Oakland was once a three-sport city. Throughout each year, Oakland-based fans could catch Athletics baseball, Raiders football and Warriors basketball without having to drive across a bridge to San Francisco. That all changed in 2019 when the Warriors left Oracle Arena in Oakland and relocated to the glamorous new Chase Center in San Francisco. After the first metaphorical domino fell, the Raiders officially relocated to Las Vegas, Nev., and now play home games in the new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium.
The Athletics are the lone professional team remaining in Oakland and play their home games at RingCentral Coliseum. Yet proposals within different cities, including Las Vegas and Portland have made it entirely plausible that the A’s may follow the Warriors and Raiders out of town.
The Athletics are in the midst of a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park, a stadium that was entirely privately-funded and has consistently attracted many fans. After a photo of empty seats at the ballpark last night was shared online, Oakland Athletics Team President Dave Kaval tweeted an emoji and tagged a Twitter account that posts pictures of empty stadium seats – despite the total attendance figure of 32,000. The Athletics, through their first seven home games of the season, are averaging a crowd of just under 8,000 fans per matchup. Kaval questioned whether San Francisco-based media would comment on the lack of attendance after he had opined earlier in the day that Oakland does not receive “fair and balanced” media coverage.
Damon Bruce, the co-host of Damon & Ratto on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, replied to Kaval saying that the station’s parent company Audacy has not directed him to discuss a single subject, including fan attendance. Additionally, he claimed that Kaval and his team are tacitly engaging in “intentional fan suppression” because of the owner’s direction of the team.
This began a Twitter exchange between the two, which ended in an agreement to hold a live-streamed Twitter debate about the Athletics organization’s treatment of their fans.
Bruce has a $5,000 appearance fee which he will donate to the Alameda Food Bank, and Kaval said that he will match it by contributing another $5,000 of his own.
While Kaval originally thought the debate would be this Friday, Bruce has yet to agree to a date and has refused to partake in it live on his show.
“Because we’re not giving three hours to any single subject in the middle of the NBA playoff[s] and the day after the NFL draft,” said Bruce in a tweet as to why he prefers to have the debate off the air. “There are levels to this.”
On Wednesday, The Morning Roast on 95.7 The Game reacted to the Twitter exchange between Kaval and Bruce.
“When you’re led by a guy like that, it’s no wonder that your fanbase has dwindled,” co-host Joe Shasky said of Kaval, “and I don’t blame the fans at all. You’re being run into the ground and they’re trying to leave.”
Kaval appeared as a guest on The Morning Roast last year and, according to show co-host Bonta Hill, did not directly answer any of the questions they posed to him. While he is not an Oakland Athletics fan himself, Hill said he feels bad for those who root for an organization Kaval runs.
“You’re a team president,” stated Hill. “You shouldn’t be commenting on whether or not a stadium’s empty…. Everything about it was minor league…. He’s a carnival; He’s a circus act.”
Hill believes that Kaval’s Twitter exchange and forthcoming Twitter debate with Bruce is a plea for attention amid an inauspicious start to the 2022 regular season both on and off the field.
The sentiment around the Bay Area seems to be that the team will soon be headed elsewhere, leaving the city of Oakland with no professional sports teams of its own. He does not blame Athletics fans for being dismayed with the current state of the team and for neglecting to show up to games this year.
“It’s just tone deaf,” asserted Hill. “You can’t draw 5,000 people right now because you’ve lost all the faith in your fanbase.”
NBC Sports Names Al Michaels To Emeritus Role
The partnership will keep Michaels on for the Olympics and NBC’s NFL playoff coverage.
NBC Sports, which had been the home of Al Michaels since 2006, will still feature the veteran broadcaster despite Michaels’ moving to Amazon for Thursday Night Football.
The network announced that Michaels will still be a part of NBC Sports’ high-profile broadcasting properties including the Olympics and NFL Playoffs. Michaels’ last broadcast with the network had been Super Bowl LVI in February, his eleventh Super Bowl.
NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement, “Revered by viewers and colleagues, Al has been the soundtrack for many of the greatest moments in sports television history. We are thrilled that he’s staying in the family and raising the stature of our events for years to come.”
“I’m looking forward to continuing my longtime NBC relationship while also launching the Thursday Night Football package on Amazon this fall. A special thanks to NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua and the folks at NBCUniversal for their help in making this happen,” Michaels said.
Michaels moved to Amazon Prime Video this season for their Thursday Night Football package. He will be paired with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. This season will mark his 37th NFL play-by-play campaign in primetime.
Following another historic broadcasting moment in which Michaels deftly demonstrated his expertise and versatility, he became just the second sportscaster in history to receive a News Emmy nomination for his coverage of the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series.
In addition to the 11 Super Bowls, Michaels has worked nine Olympics and called eight World Series.
In December 2020, Michaels was honored with the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Michaels is one of only five distinguished broadcasters to be recognized with the baseball honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Award (Dick Enberg, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, and Curt Gowdy).
One of television’s most respected journalists, Michaels has covered more major sports events than any sportscaster, including 20 years as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football. He is the only commentator to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and host the Stanley Cup Final for network television. In addition, Michaels called the classic 1985 championship boxing match between Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler.
Among his many accolades, Michaels has captured eight Emmy Awards – seven for Outstanding Sports Personality – Play-by-Play and one in 2011 for the Lifetime Achievement Award, and has three times (1980, 1983 and 1986) received the NSSA Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association; he was inducted into the NSSA Hall of Fame in 1998. Michaels was named Sportscaster of the Year in 1996 by the American Sportscasters Association, and, in 1991, he was named Sportscaster of the Year by the Washington Journalism Review.
Thom Brennaman Continues to Search for a Second Chance
Brennaman has been searching for a broadcasting gig since he spoke a homophobic slur in August 2020 on a Cincinnati Reds broadcast.
The last time Thom Brennaman sported the microphone for a major broadcast was August 19, 2020. It was game that featured a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and the Kanasas City Royals and in between the two, Brennaman blurted a homophobic slur that has thus far kept him off radio and television.
Brennaman has struggled to find his footing since that error. Recently, Brennaman recorded an episode of Tell Me A Story I Don’t Know, a podcast hosted George Ofman. That episode was available Tuesday and in it, Ofman asks where Brennaman thinks he’ll be in six months.
Brennaman said, “I have no idea. I really don’t. There were a couple of times I thought that maybe somebody out there was going to give me a chance to broadcast again and then this same thing comes up again.”
Brennaman sounded baffled that he’s still searching for work, citing other influential local leaders and what they opined in the days after the incident. “You know what you find out George, the guy who’s considered to be the leading voice of the LGBT community here in Cincinnati, he’s a big executive with Johnson and Johnson, a guy named Ryan Messer. He had written, and I had never met Ryan Messer at this point in time, like two days after what I said, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, local paper, that Thom Brennaman should not be fired. There is room for growth here in so many areas and a great opportunity for him, for the gay community, for the Reds, for our society.”
Brennaman added that the two met as well as did Brennaman with other leaders in the LGBT community at the time. “I reached out to the guy and made contact with him and he’s the guy who’s house we went to that I made reference to earlier in listening to a bunch of the stories with some gay leaders. But anyway, I said ‘if you have people there – and I know you do – that are gay that work there, I would put up the amount of hours that I have spent in the gay community in some form or fashion over the last year against anybody you have that works in that office that’s gay’.”
Despite his efforts, the broadcasting veteran is dismayed that it’s failed to sway opinion, “it’s almost like in some cases it just falls on deaf ears.”
Regardless of where he is at now, he’s confident that eventually he’ll be afforded another opportunity. “But I ‘d like to think there’s somebody out there – and there will be and all it takes is one – is just to say ‘you know what, this was a mistake. Here’s the documentation of what the guy’s tried to do since then. We’re going to take a chance – answer some tough questions – and take a chance and get him back in the booth.”
And if another opportunity doesn’t present itself? “If it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to be the end of my life.”
The Rundown With Jeff Michael Coming To SportsMap Radio
“The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6.”
Jeff Michael is getting a promotion at SportsMap Radio. He is moving from the part-time staff into a new midday show.
The Rundown with Jeff Michael will debut on June 6. The network describes the new two-hour show as energetic and fast-paced.
“Sports talk radio always meant the world to me,” Jeff Michael said in a press release. “Having an opportunity to reach such a large national audience is something I do not take lightly. While I’m so grateful for the opportunity, my focus will always be on creating captivating and informative content.”
Michael has been with SportsMap Radio since 2020. He has also been a prolific host in the podcasting space.
“I feel this is a perfect format for Jeff to excel,” CEO David Gow added. “From listening to fill-in appearances, you can tell he has tremendous command of his audience. You cannot easily teach what Jeff Michael already possesses.”