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Don Orsillo: ‘Wearability’ A Worry For Local Baseball Crews

“You are going to annoy people whether you want to or not because you are on all summer in their living rooms…”

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You may hear Don Orsillo broadcasting national baseball games on TBS and FOX during the regular season and some postseason games on TBS in the past, but he arguably has been more recognizable as the TV voice of the Red Sox on NESN from 2001-2015 and now the voice of the San Diego Padres on Bally Sports San Diego.

As he heads into his 23rd season of calling baseball games on local networks, Orsillo was a guest on the Baseball Isn’t Boring podcast with Rob Bradford and he said that he has always done local broadcasts differently than national broadcasts since his days at NESN.

“I have a philosophy that I have had since NESN is that a local broadcast is that you are local, you are one of them. When I was in Boston,  grew up in New Hampshire, born in Melrose, went to Northeastern…I was one of them there. That was a crucial part for me that when I got to Boston, I was very comfortable, it was home…The local broadcast is different from the national broadcast because the local broadcast is every day.”

When Orsillo first started, he told Bradford that Joe Castiglione gave him two key pieces of advice and one of them was about being wearable for the audience listening at home because they are with you every day for six months out of the year.

“Joe Castiglione said something to me when I first started that really helped me out. He said two things. First of all, I had done 10 years of minor league radio when I got my major league job and I didn’t really know anything about TV. He said put a caption underneath the picture, don’t be captain obvious. It was great advice. Number two is local TV is about wearability. I didn’t really understand the term, but you can annoy people because you are going to annoy people whether you want to or not because you are on all summer in their living rooms for 6 months every day for 3.5, sometimes 4 hours.

“Wearability is not annoying people, but just discussion, conversations, let them get to know you, show some personality. Don’t miss anything, the game is the thing, eyes on the field all the time. We never miss anything in Boston and we aren’t missing anything here…It’s two guys kind of sitting in a bar watching a game together and that’s baseball, it’s fun. That’s local baseball in my point of view and it’s always worked out.”

Orsillo knows that when he and Mark Grant call a Padres game, his audience is not going to be glued to their TV screen or phone or tablet for every pitch, so content has to remain fresh. He has also been impressed that the Padres broadcasts did well in all age demographics a year ago.

“You’ve got to be cognizant of the fact that people are not going to be locked in on everything you say for 3.5 hours…With that in mind, you have to keep things fresh, you have to account for the fact that they’ve not been there for the entire time and you’ve got to bring something else. You’ve got to bring something else besides what’s there. You can not just do balls and strikes and old-school baseball. That time is gone. The success that I’ve had here in San Diego and my partner’s philosophy is exactly the same. It works and I’m a real believer in that.

“I think the thing that really has impressed me is I thought okay there are some older people that are not going to like that. As it turns out, we finished first last year in the older demographic which let’s be honest, baseball for the most part is, but we finished first 15-24, which told me the young fans are there to. Whatever it is, it’s working. It’s my philosophy and I’m not going to change it. No one has asked me to change it and we are having a bunch of fun here.” 

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Report: Pat McAfee Does Not Currently Have an Agreement to Return to ‘College GameDay’

“With the start of the season a little more than two months away, Pat McAfee remains unsigned with ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

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Screengrab of Pat McAfee on College GameDay
Screengrab: ESPN College GameDay

College GameDay, the beloved college football pre-game show on ESPN, has a big change in store for it this coming season with the addition of former Alabama head coach Nick Saban joining the team. According to a report today from Andrew Marchand of The Athletic, there is no guarantee their most recent addition prior to Saban will be back. Marchand says that Pat McAfee remains unsigned as far as returning to the show.

Marchand wrote, “With the start of the season a little more than two months away, Pat McAfee remains unsigned with ESPN’s “College GameDay,” sources briefed on McAfee’s contract talks told The Athletic.

“McAfee, the 37-year-old talk show host, wrestling analyst and firebrand, said late last year that he would return to the program, but a deal to make that official is still not completed. McAfee has a separate contract that allows ESPN to license his daily “The Pat McAfee Show” on its network and YouTube.”

Marchand reports the two sides are continuing to talk but no agreement has been reached as of yet.

McAfee spent college football Saturday’s last season with host Rece Davis and co-hosts Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso. In October, a survey done by The Athletic showed that of 3,100 respondents, only 30.1% said they like McAfee on GameDay, with 48.9% saying they do not like him on the show. Another 21% said they had no opinion.

In response the survey, McAfee posted on X at the time, ““I have heard you all very loud and clear since the beginning of my stint with GameDay. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I have not resigned a contract with the legendary show,” he said. “I’m not right for some crowds and the ‘distinguished’ College Football folks are definitely one of those. Excited to enjoy the rest of this year, that’s shaping up to be a GREAT one, and then see what the future holds.”

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Indiana Fever-Chicago Sky Game on CBS is Most-Watched WNBA Game in 23 Years

The game peaked in viewership at nearly 3 million people tuning in.

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Screengrab from WNBA YouTube Page of Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese
Screengrab: WNBA on YouTube

This past weekend, CBS Sports carried the WNBA matchup between the Indiana Fever and the Chicago Sky. While neither team has gotten off to a great start this season, between them they have three of the top seven picks from this past year’s WNBA Draft. Of course, Indiana features Caitlin Clark from Iowa who was the No. 1 pick while Chicago has No. 3 overall pick Kamilla Cardoso from South Carolina and the No. 7 overall pick Angel Reese from LSU. The game lived up to the hype as it delivered an average audience of 2.252 million viewers, making it the most-watched WNBA game in 23 years.

The viewership for the game was up 225% over the comparable game window from last year with a game between the Phoenix Mercury and the New York Liberty. The game peaked in viewership at nearly 3 million people tuning in. On the streaming side, Paramount+ delivered its most-streamed WNBA game ever across households, minutes and average minute audience.

The Fever won the game 91-83. Caitlin Clark led the Fever with 23 points, and she also had 9 assists and eight rebounds.

CBS will look to draw an even bigger number when it next carries the Fever. That will be on July 6 when they host the New York Liberty. Currently the Fever have a 5-10 record on the season. New York has played 14 games so far on the season and has only lost two.

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Dick Vitale Is Cleared to Return to Work in the Fall

“The surgery that you had recently to reconstruct your vocal cords went beautifully.”

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Dick Vitale
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

ESPN basketball analyst and Hall of Fame personality Dick Vitale is cancer-free after being diagnosed with vocal cord cancer, but he is still recovering from vocal cord surgery he had earlier in the year. Vitale received six weeks of radiation treatment and was hoping to return to basketball broadcasts last November, but the plans changed when Dr. Steven Zeitels determined that he needed more vocal rest. This eventually led to a four-hour vocal cord surgery, after which he remained on vocal rest to determine its effectiveness. Vitale was in Boston to meet with Dr. Zeitels, who analyzed his progress and gave his subsequent evaluation, in turn delivering news that basketball fans had hoped they would be able to hear.

“The surgery that you had recently to reconstruct your vocal cords went beautifully,” Dr. Zeitels said, speaking to Vitale. “I’m very optimistic in the fall – it’s encouraging that you can get back to work here. I see absolutely no evidence of the cancer whatsoever, so I think this is a terrific visit, and I’m really optimistic that the future is really bright for what you want to do [with a] return to the court.”

Over the last several years, Vitale had fought against melanoma and lymphoma amid a global pandemic and always remained hopeful that he would return to calling basketball games for ESPN. Vitale made a return to the broadcasting booth during the 2022 college basketball season and is now looking to make it back again. In a previous interview with Barrett Sports Media, Vitale said that he hopes to call college basketball games at 100 years old and is motivated by the winning formula of passion, pride and perseverance.

Vitale understands that Dr. Zeitels wants him to minimize what he does up until the fall, utilizing a gradual assimilation into speaking more. By the time the fall comes around, it seems to be entirely plausible that he could be back calling college basketball games again.

“You can work with this, but you don’t want to take on too much,” Zeitels said. “When you take on too much, vocal problems can get worse quickly, so as long as you’re graded in your approach and you’re thoughtful about things, I think the future looks really bright.”

Vitale, a former college basketball coach, accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2022 ESPYS and discussed the importance of raising money to fulfill Valvano’s dream to beat cancer in his acceptance speech. Outside of his broadcasting work, he hosts the annual Dick Vitale Gala to benefit the V Foundation, which raised $24.8 million for pediatric cancer research in the past year.

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