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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of An Analyst: Troy Aikman

“While he may be controversial at times, he’s spot on with his criticisms of players, especially QBs.”

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From one of the greatest to ever play the game, to one of the best to ever call it. Troy Aikman has turned into a premiere analyst and it seemingly happened overnight. He walked off the field right into the broadcast booth and didn’t really miss a beat. 

Aikman spent the first part of his youth in Cerritos, California  which is between Los Angeles and Anaheim. When he was 12 the family moved to Henryetta, Oklahoma. There, Aikman played baseball and football at Henryetta High School. He earned All-State Honors. He also won a state championship in another ‘sport’, which I’ll tell you about later in the column. 

His high school career led to a contract offer from the New York Mets, they wanted him to play baseball. Aikman chose football and attended Oklahoma under head coach Barry Switzer.  In his first full season as a starter in 1985, he got off to a great start, but wound up breaking his ankle in a game. He was lost for the season. Jamelle Holieway took over and led the Sooners to the National Championship. Aikman decided to transfer. 

He headed to UCLA, where as a junior he was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. The awards kept on coming, as a senior he won the 1988 Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback. It was the first time a UCLA quarterback had won the award. Aikman would finish third in the Heisman that season. His time at UCLA got him into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and led to his number 8 being retired by the Bruins in 2014. 

NFL CAREER

Aikman’s Hall of Fame playing career began in 1989, when the Dallas Cowboys selected him with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. He and the Cowboys struggled early in Aikman’s career. He was 0-11 as a starter in his first season in the NFL. But things eventually got better, much better.  

He spent 12 years in the league and led Dallas to wins in Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII and XXX. He was named Super Bowl MVP in the first match up against the Bills. While at the helm of the Cowboys, the team advanced to 4 NFC Championship Games and won 6 NFC East championships. 

Aikman is one of only four quarterbacks to win three Super Bowls. He finished his career throwing for just under 33,000 yards. He was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton in February of 2006. 

ROAD TO ESPN

Troy Aikman retired from football after the 2000-01 season, but his broadcasting career actually started a couple of years before that. His first stint as a game analyst came during the 1998 and 2000 NFL Europe seasons. He worked for Fox Sports Net alongside Brad Sham.

Officially, after he called it quits on the field, Aikman joined Fox in 2001 where he joined Dick Stockton and former teammate Daryl Johnston to form the network’s No. 2 team. The reviews were so positive that Aikman wasn’t going to stick around the “B” booth for a long stint. 

After one season in the booth, Aikman was elevated to the network’s No. 1 broadcast team alongside Joe Buck and analyst Cris Collinsworth. The rest as they say is history. Collinsworth would move on after the 2004 season and the team of Buck and Aikman would be synonymous with big games in the NFL for the next couple of decades. Troy Aikman has now been a part of twice as many Super Bowls as a broadcaster (6) than he was as a player (3).

Following the 2021-22 NFL season, Troy Aikman and Joe left Fox for ESPN to become part of a newly revamped Monday Night Football booth. This past season was their 21st together, which equals John Madden and Pat Summerall as the longest tenured booths in NFL broadcast history.  

It was puzzling to many to find out that Aikman, whose contract had expired, was just allowed to walk away from a place he’d called home for 20 years. He wasn’t sure either.  

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Aikman said in an episode of the Sports Illustrated Media in March of 2022. “I don’t know that I ever will get the answer to that one. I think through it all, it’s a business. Fox is welcome to do whatever it is they feel is in their best interest as I am, as everybody is, so there’s no hard feelings about anything. I had a great 21 years at Fox. I guess what’s perplexing to me is that I had no conversation with my boss (Fox Sports president Eric Shanks) until he called me to congratulate me on my contract with ESPN.”

AS AN ANALYST

Aikman became one of the greatest football analysts because of his ability to ‘say it like it is’. With credentials of a Hall of Fame career behind him, usually when he criticizes it’s with good reason. Where he’s different than many other analysts with lesser or similar status, Aikman isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He doesn’t worry about, at least in the moment, who might be offended by his commentary. Aikman can back it up and isn’t that what you want from your number one analyst? 

Ok, that fearlessness has gotten him in some hot water at times. This season was such a time, when Aikman was calling a Monday night game between the Raiders and Chiefs. Kansas City’s defensive lineman Chris Jones hit Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from behind forcing a fumble. But Jones but flagged for roughing the passer. Aikman didn’t agree with the call, even from a former quarterback’s standpoint. Which led to this comment. 

“My hope is the competition committee looks at this in the next set of meetings and, you know, we take the dresses off,” Aikman said on the game broadcast. The comments went viral. He was called ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’, and a few days later Aikman walked it back and apologized. 

“My comments were dumb, just shouldn’t have made them,” Aikman said on 96.7 The Ticket in Dallas, via The Dallas Morning News. “Just dumb remarks on my part.”

While he may be controversial at times, he’s spot on with his criticisms of players, especially QBs. Case in point. Jacksonville hosted Tennessee in Week 18 with a chance to go to the playoffs. The Jaguars needed a big touchdown late to eventually win the game. But Aikman zeroed in on Trevor Lawrence, who missed some important throws that could have made things easier on Jacksonville. 

The Jaguars were down 13-7 and Lawrence missed a wide-open Zay Jones in the end zone. “That one’s kinda hard to even try to explain how you can miss a guy like that. He’s just as open as you could be … he’s got 10 yards,” Aikman said. “You don’t see many misses like that in the NFL.”

A quarter later, Lawrence missed Marvin Jones Jr. on a throw down sideline. Jacksonville trailed by three at this point. Aikman didn’t mince words when he talked about how much Lawrence was letting his team down in huge moments. “If Jacksonville fails to win this game, boy, it’s going to be a long offseason, because there’s been a lot of opportunities in this game for them. They’ve left a lot of points out there on the board,” Aikman said.

When you’re watching a game, don’t you want the analyst to be that blunt? Even if it is about your own team? There’s too many buttoned up analysts that talk in generalizations. Yes, you get the gist of what they mean, but that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure if they get directives from network executives to take it easy on players or the NFL. Seems like it when you compare them to Aikman. 

He may not be the flashiest guy, but I’m good with that. His delivery isn’t excitable, but that’s what the play on the field is for, and I don’t want a guy screaming at me for 3 hours. Aikman has a style, that’s pretty much his own. I hear, good information mixed in with some sarcasm, that sometimes leads to viral commentary. I’d rather hear it unfiltered and in the moment and with a calm and steady voice that drives the point home effectively.   

DID YOU KNOW?

I mentioned earlier that I would tell you about Aikman’s High School State Championship in a sport other than football or baseball. Aikman won the Oklahoma State TYPING title in 1983. You heard me right. His sister was supposed to be in the competition, but bailed. She talked Troy into it, because he loved to compete in everything. 

In an article in the Dallas News in 2017, Aikman was shooting a PSA to give shoutouts to a teacher that changed his life. For Aikman, it was Jean Froman, his typing teacher at Henryetta High School in Oklahoma, who mentored him in and outside the classroom.

Aikman was a sophomore and he along with several friends took Typing 1, thinking it would be an easy A. He immediately took to the class and the teacher. But after winning the title, he decided to continue on to Typing 2. 

He recalled the day that his name was announced as the winner in a school assembly. “Everyone knew already that I was an athlete,” he says. “And for me to go down the aisle as the typing winner was not one of my proudest moments, although winning the award certainly meant a lot.”

He says it’s not on his resume, but maybe it should be. 

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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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