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Anatomy of a Broadcaster

Anatomy of an Analyst: Dan Orlovsky

“When he appears on NFL Live or SportsCenter, his breakdown of film is very detailed, but not so highbrow that you can’t understand it as a viewer.”

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A Connecticut guy, born and raised, Dan Orlovsky played his high school and college football in the state. Now, he calls it home again as an ESPN football analyst in Bristol. Orlovsky was always the football version of a “gym rat,” constantly killing time by working on his craft, right in his backyard. 

“When I was younger, I would have garbage cans set up all around the yard,” Orlovsky recalled. “And I would have like 20 balls and just fire them into the cans. I really had nothing else to do back then,” he told the Connecticut Post in 2000.

Orlovsky attended Shelton High School and became the starting quarterback during his sophomore year. As a senior, he threw for 2,489 yards and 58 touchdowns as the Gaels went 12–0, winning a state championship. His overall record as a high school quarterback was 28–4. 

He started as a freshman at UConn in 2001 after Keron Henry suffered a sprained knee. Orlovsky threw for 9 touchdowns, but was picked off 11 times. He started every game the next three seasons leading the Huskies to its inaugural bowl appearance as a senior. He holds school records for pass completions (916), yards passing (10,706) and touchdown passes (84). 

Orlovsky was drafted by the Lions in the 5th round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He made his first NFL start 3 years later in October of 2008 in a loss against the Vikings. However, early in the first quarter when he lined up in shotgun formation, he accidentally ran out of the back of his own end zone for a safety. That turned out to be the difference in a 12-10 loss. 

“When they started blowing the whistle, I was like, ‘Did we false start, or were they offsides or something?'” Orlovsky said after that game. “And I looked, and I was just like, ‘You’re an idiot'”. The game ended up being the closest the Lions would come to a victory in their historic 0-16 season. 

Just last weekend, Gardner Minshew pulled an “Orlovsky”, inadvertently stepping out of his own end zone for a safety. Orlovsky felt somewhat vindicated and took to social media to proclaim such. 

“First Jimmy. Now Gardner. I’m off the hook. I’m off the hook!” Orlovsky proudly said.

Orlovsky was referencing Jimmy Garoppolo, who made the same mistake a year ago. Many still feel that Orlovsky, being the O.G. will always be remembered for the play.  He’s got a good sense of humor about it, one of the lines on his Twitter bio reads: “Endzones should be 11 yards.”

He also played for the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before returning to Detroit in 2015 for his final season.

AT ESPN

Orlovsky joined ESPN in 2018 after announcing his retirement from the NFL. He began appearing on NFL Live in 2019, and earned a more consistent, daily role in 2020. He’s also appeared on and contributed to, ESPN’s Get Up, First Take and SportsCenter. 

During the college football season, Orlovsky was an analyst on a game broadcast each week. He also joined the #2 Monday Night Football booth alongside Louis Riddick and Steve Levy in 2022, when Brian Griese left. That booth has since changed, as has Orlovsky’s role at the network. 

Chris Fowler has taken over the play-by-play role in that booth on MNF secondary broadcasts. The team will call 4 games (2 are already in the books) during this 2023 NFL season. This new role gives Orlovsky the best of all worlds, he’ll still get to call games, lend his expertise to studio shows and offer his opinions on those ‘panel shows’ on ESPN. 

WHAT MAKES HIM SO GOOD?

His credentials as a former NFL quarterback who had some success in his career come shining through when he analyzes both offenses and defenses.  You can tell that Orlovsky knows his stuff and is very passionate about this sport. When he appears on NFL Live or SportsCenter, his breakdown of film is very detailed, but not so highbrow that you can’t understand it as a viewer. 

Orolovsky’s summation of what he is seeing is crisp and informative. I imagine that in his days on the field, coaches had a hard time getting him out of the video room, because his analysis is so detailed and organized in thought. That had to come from his years of really paying attention to studying his craft. Now it’s really paying off for him as a broadcaster. 

In the booth, Orlovsky works well with Riddick, who I’m a big fan of. The two guys each have opinions, but there is a mutual respect between them, or at least that’s how it sounds in the MNF booth. While he doesn’t have as much time to make his point, Orlovsky is quite successful in conveying information and analysis. His unique perspective allows fans to really be taken inside the mind of an NFL quarterback. What the player should be seeing, where his progression should go and when it’s a good time for a check down. He doesn’t come across as know-it-all either. Orlovsky just relays from his experience and knowledge what the situation is and what should or shouldn’t have happened. 

He has the ability to offer a hot take. In watching and reading about him, the take doesn’t come across as a personal attack, like some of the talking heads offer. 

He did come out firing on a recent Get Up show, with some definite opinions on Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen after a rough start in Week 1. But notice, even though it seems like he walks it back, he really doesn’t. He’s just the voice of reason and keeps it about football and not the man. 

“Number one, I love Josh Allen’s accountability after the game. He absolutely did the right thing and wore it. Number two, someone in that building, and we’re Thursday, so I’m assuming this has happened,” Orlovsky started. “Someone in that building has to have the courage to sit down, look him dead in the eyes, a grown man, and say, ‘we have to grow up.’ And that is not a belittling statement, that’s not picking on him, but there are times in games where Josh has to sit there and say, it’s no longer cool or fun or wow, look at me, run around and make all these crazy throws. Someone’s gonna have to have the courage to sit there and go, ‘Josh, we gotta grow up. You’re one of the best players in the league. You are unquestionably our best player. But when we get reckless with the football, we hurt our football team.’” 

Then Orlovsky showed that voice of reason and keeps everything in perspective. “We got to take a chill pill as well. I’ve heard some things get said about Josh Allen over the past couple days that are absolutely ludicrous.” Orlovsky opined. “Josh Allen is a top three quarterback in the NFL. You absolutely can win a Super Bowl with Josh Allen. There’s no doubt about it that their window is as long as Josh is their quarterback, it is available. Stop saying that he’s oh my gosh gonna be the reason why they can’t get to the Super Bowl. He’s one of the best players in the game.” 

Refreshing to hear an analyst with his feet firmly planted on the ground. I like Orlovsky’s style and substance. He’s an easy listen and you just might learn something along the way. 

DID YOU KNOW?

Orlovsky used modern technology and a nudge from his wife to figure out what was next after retiring from the NFL in 2017. 

As the story goes, Orlovsky was watching the Week 10 Panthers-Dolphins Sunday night game in 2018 and was explaining to his wife the X’s and O’s behind a Cam Newton touchdown pass.

“She said you should make a video and put it on social media,” Orlovsky told The New York Post in late 2018. “At this point I thought social media was stupid, I had maybe 1,000 followers on Twitter. Three minutes later, I came to my senses. I paused my television, used the camera in my phone and just broke the play down. I went to bed and it went viral [on Instagram], and that was my moment to be like, ‘Huh, that’s how I can separate myself.’ ”

The rest is history. 

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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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