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Matt Vasgersian is Not a Social Media Addict

“I’m just very skittish about the whole thing.”

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Matt Vasgersian
Courtesy: Billie Weiss, Boston Red Sox, Getty Images

Social media has been a longstanding topic of debate in the sports media profession, with some personalities opting to use it while others have steered clear of it at all costs. Matt Vasgersian has been calling Major League Baseball games for over three decades – whether that be on a national stage for MLB Network or, more recently, locally for the Los Angeles Angels. As the MLB All-Star Break approaches, the versatile commentator and studio host appeared on the STUpodity podcast to discuss the way he approaches his job, especially from the perspective of dealing with critics on social media and utilizing various platforms as a whole.

“I have an Instagram account; I don’t really do much on there,” Vasgersian said. “I’m just very skittish about the whole thing. I feel like it’s invasive [and] I feel like too many of my colleagues in this profession just use it to show off.”

On Instagram, Vasgersian communicated that he primarily keeps up with his favorite bands and other pages that appeal to him as a man in his mid-50s. Yet when it comes to Twitter, Vasgersian has made it a point to avoid the platform because of the frequent turmoil that seems to be associated with it. Even so, not being exposed to the content on social media platforms, mainly pertaining to baseball, does not make Vasgersian feel as if he is being excluded from the mainstream conversation. Instead, he goes about watching the game in his own unique manner, some of which guides his commentary and makes it stand out.

“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything,” Vasgersian said. “I kind of consume the game and appreciate the game on my own level. It might be rudimentary for some; I don’t hate on any of that stuff. I think that some of those trends that get kicked around especially [with] regards to baseball are pretty fun, but do I feel I’m missing out on any of it? No, I don’t.”

Vasgersian continues to call games for the Angels and contribute to MLB Network across a variety of different programming. During the offseason, he has co-hosted Hot Stove, a studio-based morning program, with Harold Reynolds.

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Dave Portnoy: Anyone With ‘Unbiased Mind’ Would Look at Accusations and ‘See There’s Nothing Here’

“I’ve come to grips it’ll never ever change.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dave Portnoy
Courtesy: Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy opened up Thursday about his viral video confronting Washington Post food reporter Emily Heil, saying that it’s crazy that media outlets continue to come after him with stories and accusations from the past that he says are not rooted in truth.

Portnoy in recent years has been the subject of investigative pieces by outlets that paint a picture of Portnoy as a sexual deviant.

On Barstool Radio on Thursday, Portnoy wished people that continue to bring up these accusations would do a modicum of research.

“There is quite literally, if anybody sat down even for 15 minutes, and went through each accusation from the least important to the most important. Anybody with a clear, unbiased mind would be like, ‘There’s nothing here,'” he said. “That’s the only explanation to come from when you look at both sides. They just don’t look at both sides.”

Portnoy continued his assertion from the phone conversation with Heil that a negative story about him was already written by the Post and that they either had no intention of actually talking to him as evidenced by the cancelled interview Thursday morning, or they planned to reach out after they had formed their narrative talking to sponsors of his One Bite Pizza Festival in Brooklyn on Saturday.

He said it’s par for the course when it comes to journalists and outlets that clearly don’t like Barstool or him.

“I’ve come to grips it’ll never ever change,” he said. “Thats just the way it goes, but it is frustrating when you’re trying to do a f–king pizza event that has nothing to do with anybody and people are trying to destroy it.”

Dave has always said he’s caught flack from folks on both sides of the political spectrum, and that it doesn’t matter whether it’s FOX News, the Washington Post or the New York Times. He felt like they’re all of the same cloth.

“If you want to get a straight spin on a story, where do you go?” Portnoy asked.

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Dan Le Batard: Chris Russo is a ‘Caricature of a Sports Media Personality’

“He’s had a rejuvenation – a radiant rejuvenation.”

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Chris Russo
Courtesy: Bedford & New Canaan Magazine

Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo has turned heads lately in his First Take appearance, specifically through his “What Are You Mad About?” segment where he waxes poetic on various topics that agitate him. It was during a usual sit-down conversation though that produced a viral segment when he intricately outlined his Saturday plans with his wife being out of town.

Throughout his monologue, Russo insinuated the use of THC gummies, stating that he will have half at 12 p.m. and the other half at 3:25 p.m. in order to watch the college football games. The fact that Russo was allowed to divulge details of such, along with the fact that he is betting $10,000 on ESPN, a network owned by The Walt Disney Company, surprised Le Batard, one of its former employees.

“He’s had a rejuvenation – a radiant rejuvenation,” Dan Le Batard said on Thursday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “He did something yesterday that I’ve never seen, [and] on Disney television – on Disney television!… I have never seen a media member just say, ‘Yep, drinking, drugs and gambling – that’s my Saturday,’ and I’m jealous of him. I want that to be my Saturday.”

Mike Ryan Ruiz, the executive producer of the program, chimed in on the situation and reminded Le Batard that Russo went to many Grateful Dead concerts. In response, Le Batard referred to it as “circumstantial evidence” that did not directly support Mad Dog’s drug use.

“Yes, his performance showed that he had short-circuited and fried all of his brain cells in a way that was obvious, but he wasn’t saying out loud, ‘You know what I’m doing during my sports analysis consumption time? I’m going to come on next week and talk about Colorado, and I’m telling you right now, I was high while I was watching,’” Le Batard said. “Not usually part of the commentary.”

Le Batard referenced former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who smoked marijuana on the night before games and tested positive for the drug three times. The reason he brought him up was to assert that he thinks Russo would have been one of the most likely people to defame Williams’ character.

“[He is] one of the guys most likely to rip him as a character assassination for daring to do marijuana that all of it would get so normalized that my media member who’s on ESPN representing old-timey media [who] can’t shut up about Bob Cousy – that guy is out there saying, ‘Yeah, I’m doing drugs on a Saturday,’” Le Batard expressed.

Le Batard acknowledged his incredulity towards Russo betting $10,000 on a college football game, but understands that he has been successful throughout the years with his time on WFAN, SiriusXM and MLB Network. The style of sports television that has pervaded the airwaves in recent years lends personalities the ability to frolic in palaver and enjoy themselves, a stark contrast from when Le Batard was with the “Worldwide Leader.”

“What I see happening all over television now – sports television – [is that] there are so many people dancing and laughing and having a good time on sports television, genuinely enjoying themselves,” Le Batard said. “It used to be starched and stiff, and now I am watching.”

In a recent conversation with Stephen A. Smith on his podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show, the First Take featured commentator called Le Batard “sanctimonious.” Reflecting back on the conversation, Le Batard agrees with him because he does not seek broad appeal and adheres to the principles and platforms he views as righteous and worthwhile.

Earlier this week, Le Batard revealed that he declined an interview with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill when he was informed that he could not ask him about off-field issues. Although Russo is one of the most accomplished sports radio personalities of all time, Le Batard is not sure what to think about these types of situations and a new style of sports talk taking the airwaves.

“He has made a lot of money in this industry being a caricature of a sports media personality,” Le Batard said of Russo. “Skip Bayless – before Skip Bayless, man, that dude invented argument television. That started with [Mike] Francesa and Russo on the radio, and it infected everything in the coverage of newspapers, fandom [and] sports television.”

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Dave Portnoy Accuses Washington Post of Tortious Interference

Jordan Bondurant

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Dave Portnoy
Courtesy: Emmy Park

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy went viral on Twitter Wednesday after posting video of him confronting a Washington Post reporter over the phone and accusing her and the newspaper of tortious interference.

Portnoy called Post food writer Emily Heil after he learned that she had been contacting advertisers of his pizza festival in Brooklyn this Saturday. Heil sought comment from those advertisers about doing business with Portnoy, who she wrote in one particular email that Dave “has a history of misogynistic comments and other problematic behavior.”

Heil said she was working with fellow food writer Tim Carman on a piece about the festival, which will feature over 35 pizzerias – all of which Portnoy has featured in his “One Bite” reviews at one point or another. But Portnoy felt like there was more to what she and Carman were up to.

“To me, it’s kind of like tortious interference,” Portnoy said. “Like we’re doing an event. Everyone’s happy about the event. I’ve raised $50 million for small business, I’ve helped pizzerias, none of that. It’s ‘Dave’s misogynic and problematic.’ And I’m happy to talk about it! Because to me nobody would like if someone’s going around sending that email to their sponsors. And again, you’re not questioning it. It’s almost like a statement of fact. This is what I am.”

“You said it in a way that is putting sponsors on the defensive!” he added.

Portnoy felt like Heil and Carman were going to publish something similar to what was posted on nj.com Tuesday calling out sponsors for working with Portnoy. He didn’t believe Heil and Carman would give him a fair shake, that they already had their minds made up about him and that they were only going to contact him after they’ve compiled a mass of negative topics to discuss.

“It seemed like you were going to try to shame sponsors for being associated with me and put them in a box when I know they all love me,” he said. “But nobody wants the Washington Post writing an article, ‘Sponsor associated with misogynic, racist piece of shit.’ Nobody wants that and that’s what you’re trying to do. And even on this call it’s pretty clear that’s what you were trying to do.”

“I’m afraid with what I’m seeing already here all it does is it validates a hit piece,” Portnoy added.

Dave challenged Heil further, who said the one particular email Portnoy was referring to was the most pointed of the emails sent to festival sponsors. She said it was worded that way to try and get a response.

“Sometimes you have to say something like this,” Heil said. “It’s like it’s sort of a reporting tactic. When you want someone to respond, you kind of have to indicate that there might be something negative and then you get them to engage. That’s all I was trying to do.”

“That is a sad state of journalism if that’s a tactic you have to, what I would say is make up something about somebody,” Portnoy responded.

Eventually they settled on a time of 10 a.m. today to conduct an interview. Portnoy said he would be recording the conversation like he was the one on Wednesday, and Heil didn’t have issues with that.

But later Wednesday, Portnoy tweeted that the interview had been cancelled. He said Heil attempted to reschedule for 5 p.m., but since Portnoy had previously agreed to 10 a.m., he stuck with that or nothing at all.

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