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Pat Hughes Accepts Ford C. Frick Award

“My head started spinning with joy and emotion, and I truly wish that every baseball announcer could experience that thrill.”

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Pat Hughes
Courtesy: Patrick Gorski, Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Longtime Chicago Cubs radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in a ceremony over the weekend. The honor is bestowed upon a baseball broadcaster once per year and is considered an immense accolade within the industry. Previous winners of the award include Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell and Vin Scully among others, immortalized in Cooperstown and considered among baseball’s greatest commentators.

Hughes outlined the euphoric moment when he found out he was being honored with the award, recalling the scene in his living room. Ron Coomer, the team’s radio color commentator since 2014, was with Hughes – as was Audacy regional president Rachel Williamson and 670 The Score vice president and brand manager Mitch Rosen. Chicago Cubs President of Business Operations, Crane Kenney was also on hand and listened as Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch spoke to Hughes over the phone.

“Josh Rawitch says, ‘Pat, congratulations on being named the Ford C. Frick Award winner for 2023,’” Hughes recalled. “He said more, but I did not hear another word. My head started spinning with joy and emotion, and I truly wish that every baseball announcer could experience that thrill.”

Upon learning of his induction into Cooperstown, Hughes noticed his phone lit up with a text message from Bob Costas, one of the industry’s most accomplished broadcasters and a former Ford C. Frick Award winner himself. The message read, “Congrats, Pat. Richly deserved. Welcome to the Club.” Hughes particularly noticed the capital ‘C’ in the word ‘Club,’ a punctilious grammatical detail since ‘Club,’ metonymic for former award winners, is, in this case, a proper noun.

Hughes then waxed poetic about his love for the game of baseball, which he cultivated in his youth and hoped would emerge as a professional athlete. Although he played for championship teams, he recognized that his skill set was not good enough to make the major leagues. At the suggestion of his brother, he considered a path as a play-by-play announcer and started his career by delivering commentary as a bench player on the San Jose State University men’s basketball team.

After 12 seasons in Milwaukee working with the venerable Bob Uecker, Hughes made the move to Chicago and emphasized the importance of Ron Santo, his first broadcasting partner. On the night before the duo’s first game together in spring training, Santo called Hughes and offered him reassuring words and expressed how the experience would be a lot of fun.

Hughes vividly remembers feeling the tension exit his body and immediately finding an on-air chemistry with Santo in the booth. Since then, he has been at Wrigley Field and with the team for a deluge of memorable moments, perhaps none more so than its first World Series championship in 108 years. The listeners, however, are the ones who choose to listen to Hughes and Coomer call the games, and he conveyed his gratitude for the Cubs fans at the podium.

“What an extraordinary group of people you are,” Hughes said. “I want to thank you so much for your unbelievable passion for the ballclub, and your support of me. When I got the call from Cooperstown last December, I truly think there were some Cubs fans who were just as happy as I was with the news.”

Hughes closed his speech by thanking his colleagues, Cubs ownership, Marquee Sports Network executives, engineers and production employees behind the scenes. He also took the time to thank Rosen, who also serves as the executive producer for Cubs radio broadcasts and has helped craft and sustain the revered on-air product.

“In 41 years of big league baseball play-by-play, I’ve worked with dozens of programming directors and station management-types,” Hughes said. “…Mitch Rosen is simply the best I have ever worked with.”

The Cubs fanbase, widely regarded as some of the most loyal spectators in baseball, ardently cheer on their team with the hopes of capturing another championship. Whether they are listening to Jon “Boog” Sciambi call the games on television or Pat Hughes on the radio, the fans know they have an experienced broadcast duo who exude passion for the home team and sport at large. Hughes feels the Cubs fans have accepted him as one of their own and appreciates their benevolence and enduring congeniality over the years.

“You make me feel like I’m part of your family,” Hughes said. “You invite me to special events like graduations, bar mitzvahs and birthdays, and I absolutely love those games at Wrigley Field; those close ballgames where you fans are not just part of the ballpark atmosphere, but you become part of the ballgame itself, and you play a significant role in a dramatic Cubs victory.”

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Jeremy Conn: “How Pissed Would You Be if You Didn’t Have Apple Tonight?”

“It’s just this is how it’s going to be moving forward. If you don’t get in line and adjust to it, you’re going to be left out.”

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Graphic for the Big Bad Morning Show

The Big Bad Morning Show, featuring Rob Long, Ed Norris and Jeremy Conn, on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore this morning discussed the upcoming home debut of No. 1 baseball prospect Jackson Holliday. That game will take place tonight, however, for those who cannot make it to the game, they will need Apple TV+ in order to view it.

Host Rob Long said, “I am going to see it because I am going to be there live, but some aren’t going to be able to see it because it is on Apple TV+ tonight instead of on MASN. This is not an Orioles thing folks. This is Major League Baseball. Are they making a mistake with these Apple and Peacock games?”

Co-host Ed Norris said, “I don’t know if they are making a mistake, it’s just the way we live now, it’s the way it is done. I don’t think so because I think by now people have gotten very used to this.”

Jeremy Conn added, “No they are not making a mistake, this is the money-making part of this business, and this is what’s going to keep happening across sports. It’s here guys and it’s either adjust or get left behind. “I’m sorry, I’m not even trying to be rude to people that can’t afford these things. It’s just this is how it’s going to be moving forward. If you don’t get in line and adjust to it, you’re going to be left out.

“It sucks for everyone out there who can’t afford those things and can’t do it, but there’s a reason why Apple is paying so much money to have these games, because people are going to subscribe to watch.”

Rob Long pointed out some statistics showing 4 of the top 10 and 10 of the top 25 shows were carried by networks which exclusively stream. “If these shows are so popular, who doesn’t have streaming?” he said.

Conn then used tonight’s Orioles game as the example of times when we will see people very upset with Major League Baseball even though it is one game out of 162 regular season games the Orioles will play this year. “I’m not trying to be a jerk by saying either get in line or get left behind, because that’s what happening,” said Conn. “…You’ll still be able to see some baseball games…a lot of them…but how pissed would you be…if you didn’t have Apple tonight to watch this?”

The hosts talked about baseball needing to attract the younger audience and pointed out that streaming platforms is where those younger fans can be reached. They also wondered why more heat isn’t thrown at the NFL, where one or two games carried exclusively by a streamer is a much higher percentage of a team’s games than if baseball does the same

Ed Norris added, “The NFL has paved the way for this so people are used to it. I think it sucks a little more in baseball because there’s so many games. I don’t want to have to chase the team all over…if it’s going to be on Apple and Peacock and Prime, I don’t want to be purchasing all of these.”

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Spike Eskin: Chris Oliviero ‘On the Precipice’ of Deciding Next WFAN Program Director

“For the sake of the place and you guys, he should know that it’s not just lunacy here every day.”

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Spike Eskin

Audacy is in the midst of its search for a new program director for WFAN, borne out of Spike Eskin returning to SportsRadio 94WIP to serve as an afternoon drive co-host. It was revealed on Thursday that Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, member of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz and various other programs through Meadowlark Media, was offered the position but ultimately turned it down.

Weiner called into the Boomer & Gio morning show on Thursday to explain his rationale, citing his family and desire to take the air as part of the reasons why he decided to decline the opportunity. Eskin himself joined the morning show live in the studio on Friday while wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt, prompting speculation as to whether or not it was his last day on the job.

Eskin confirmed that he would be at the station next week, but he did acknowledge that his tenure at the outlet is coming to a close. Morning program co-host Gregg Giannotti explained that whenever he was asked when Eskin was leaving the station, he told people that it would be when he wore the Iron Maiden T-shirt. Giannotti then wanted to know if Eskin wearing the T-shirt was a ceremonial selection ahead of his final days at the station.

“I felt like a Friday shirt – maybe not ceremonial, but certainly on the precipice of – as you were talking to Stugotz yesterday, obviously Chris is on the precipice of deciding who the next program director will be,” Eskin said.

Eskin went on to explain that he understood the upside of deciding to hire Weiner to take over the responsibilities of program director. Morning co-host Boomer Esiason then reflected on when Eskin was hired for the job last May, explaining that he did not initially know that much about him within the sports media industry.

“I took one look at you and thought you were some sort of meth addict because all the [tattoos] and all that stuff, but it turned out that you were actually a great guy and you turned out to be [a] really, really great program director and got this whole station back on track, I believe,” Esiason said. “A big part of Boomer & Gio Live, which has been great, and now I hear that they got Mark Chernoff possibly coming back in – is he going to fill in until the new guy is hired or a new person is hired?”

“I do not comment on any of those,” Eskin said. “That is for the Architect to comment on.”

Audacy has yet to announce a new hire to fill Eskin’s position with the company, but Giannotti felt that the process is taking longer than anyone expected. As a result, he perceived that Audacy New York market manager Chris Oliviero may have felt bad about that and wanted to get him to Philadelphia rather than having him train the new hire. Eskin, however, said that he will be able to assist the new hire nonetheless and help them become familiar with the outlet. From there, he commented on Weiner saying that Eskin did not make the program director job sound more attractive, a proposition with which he disagreed.

“I told him it was the best programming job in America without question… and I said it’s a lot of fun, but I assured him it is an actual job that has emails and meetings and salespeople and all of those things,” Eskin said. “For the sake of the place and you guys, he should know that it’s not just lunacy here every day.”

Esiason reflected on a caller from the Thursday show who stated that Weiner is lazy, meaning that he would be unable to assume the position Eskin is leaving behind. Eskin responded by yielding that it would be a difficult job for a lazy person to adequately perform. From there, Giannotti repeated the syllogism explained by Weiner that he was unsure if he would be able to resist finding a spot on the air if he were to have programming responsibilities at the outlet.

“I talked to Stugotz for a while, [and] I reported back to Chris [Oliviero] what I thought, and I was positive about the conversation,” Eskin articulated. “I said, ‘One thing I am thinking though,’ I said, ‘You know, I guess it’s possible that he’s just coming here to [wait] for an air job to open up, and then you lose a program director.’”

“It was 100% trojan horse,” Esiason concurred. “Just get in the building and wait until somebody either dies – me – or somebody else is going to leave or say something stupid – Sal [Licata] – on the air.”

Eskin assuaged Esiason’s fears of Audacy hiring someone who is coming to the station not genuinely wanting to perform the programming job, conveying that he did not have anything to worry about. After that, Esiason asked Eskin if he knew who the program director was, to which he replied, “Maybe.” To close the segment, Giannotti outlined the moment that he is eagerly anticipating upon the start of the new vice president of programming.

“Whoever this is, I just can’t wait for this first real ‘has to ask Boomer something’ interaction, because I was talking to Al,” Giannotti explained. “You had been in the business; your father was in the business for a long time. I knew you had – and you had dealt with Angelo Cataldi – I knew you had that in you, so I wasn’t as excited about your first interaction with Boomer as I am this one because whoever this person is is going to have to ask him to do something at some point, and I just can’t wait to see it.”

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Mike Evans: ‘NBA Unplugged’ is ‘Kind of a Rip Off of the Manningcast’

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans.”

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Mike Evans
Courtesy: Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan

The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves took the court on Wednesday night in a matchup between the two top teams in the Western Conference. On the strength of a 41-point game by center and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets secured the 116-107 victory and propelled themselves to the No. 1 seed in the conference. During the preceding game between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, ESPN2 broadcast NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart, a new alternate broadcast that premiered earlier in the season. During the second quarter appearance from Cedric the Entertainer, there was a conversation pertaining to if Jokić should be named the league MVP for the third consecutive year.

Hart stated that the NBA cannot grant Jokić another MVP award, stating that it would not be good for the Association. The conversation continued to see if he would be allowed to win a Finals MVP award should the Nuggets qualify in the final round. Cedric the Entertainer ultimately agreed that Jokić could not garner the MVP and stated that it did not feel like he was having as much of a dominant year. Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan morning program Schlereth and Evans played the audio after reviewing a quote from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone where he expressed that he hoped the national audience would recognize the greatness of the center.

“I get a little pissy about people out there in the NBA universe who just refuse to acknowledge what’s so obvious in front of us,” co-host Mike Evans said to lead into the sound. “During the Dallas game that was broadcast earlier in the night, their NBA Unplugged, it’s kind of a rip-off of the whole Manningcast, they had Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer on chopping it up about basketball; a couple of basketball experts.”

Evans went on to explain that he believes there are four reasons why people diminish Jokić and his ability to earn a third-consecutive NBA MVP award. The first of which is that he plays in a small marketplace, something that could have precipitated the comment from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone during his postgame press conference.

“I do think that if Nikola Jokić was doing what he’s been doing the last several years – if he was doing it in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philly, LA – it’d be a completely different narrative around him,” Evans said. “That’s one – Denver, sorry, just being honest.”

The second point Evans made pertained to Jokić’s style of play, much of which comes under the rim and involves setting up his teammates. Jokić is a skilled mid-range and three-point shooter as well, but he tends not to have jaw-dropping plays in this regard. As a result, Evans stated that he is not a dream for someone trying to compile a highlight package for an ESPN program. The latter two points related to the fact that he is European and white, and Evans proceeded to explain that there is prejudice, bigotry and racism in the world.

“The only guys who don’t say he’s the best player in the NBA that are NBA players are former NBA players,” co-host Mark Schlereth added. “Have you noticed that?”

In response to Schlereth, Evans stated that former point guard Gilbert Arenas has been vocal about Jokić lately, but that people who are still playing or recently retired recognize and acknowledge the prowess of the Nuggets center. He then concluded the segment by thanking Jokić for continuing to drive people crazy, but not before he delivered a parting message to Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer. In fact, he began to refer to Cedric the Entertainer as “Cedric” because of what he had to say during his NBA Unplugged appearance.

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans,” Evans said.

ESPN, Hartbeat and Omaha Productions announced in December that NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart was scheduled to broadcast seven episodes during the NBA season. Earlier this week, ESPN and Omaha Productions agreed to a nine-year media rights extension, extending their partnership which has included alternate broadcasts, original podcasts and content exclusive to ESPN+ since beginning their collaboration a few years prior.

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