Friday, August 1, 2014

The "Price" We Pay For Actual Sports News

What ever happened to reporters waiting for facts before they report? The MLB trade deadline and all its fuery was fun for the fans, but aggravating at the time. The trade of David Price from Tampa to Detroit was the biggest of the trades made on deadline day, but it took a while to get the facts straight.

I happened to have been watching the Detroit vs. Chicago telecast at the time when rumors of the Tigers acquiring Price were going strong. The Chicago telecast also showed Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski go into the dugout and then motion for Tigers CF Austin Jackson to come off the field less than four minutes before the deadline time of 4 PM ET. This was during an at-bat, not between hitters or between innings.

Upon going to a variety of online sources, they were still "reporting" that baseball writer Ken Rosenthal was "reporting" the details of the trade. Even the Detroit Free Press web site has this "report" as its lead story. It took me at least 15 minutes before getting the official "facts" of that three way trade.

It shouldn't be such a big deal about who is first to break the facts of a story. How major news sources merely report what someone else is "reporting" without a confirmation or denial from their own sources is still beyond my comprehension. If you can't confirm or deny a report, then simply say "We are awaiting a possible trade involving David Price......." and leave it at that.

These same sources don't update their headlines to say "The Tigers are winning in the 9th inning, so they could win this game!". They wait until the game is over before publishing the final score. (That was example, regardless of how ineffective the Tigers bullpen has become!) They should be doing the same, if they are even going to bother with trade and signing rumors.

Worse yet are some of the "news" stories on sportscasts around the country within the past week. The NFL training camps are into full swing. The MLB trade deadline came and went with several major trades. The major college football conferences held media days. Yet, many sportscasts and reports outside of Boston wasted fans' time with the "story" about a Boston sports radio host being suspended because of comments about a sideline reporter.

This is not to say that punishment wasn't warranted, but, other than listeners of WEEI Boston (where the suspended host is employed), who cares? Why is this "news" in Chicago or Kansas City or anywhere else?

Same thing with controversial remarks by Stephen A. Smith. Other than possibly ESPN (which could "report" the controversy to smear his name) and Sirius/XM satellite which will now employ him for the Mad Dog Channel, why did stations and web sites bother to "report" this? If there isn't enough actual sports news to talk about, try confirming or denying speculation instead.

Meanwhile, ESPN managed to get Time Warner Cable, as well as Bright House, to pick up its SEC Network in time for its launch later this month leading into football season.  The Network will air at least 45 Conference football games. One of the markets that gains from this is the Cincinnati area, where University of Kentucky fans will be able to see those games shown on this channel. In addition, SEC Network plans to air three UK exhibition basketball games from the Bahamas in mid-August. And some were worried about having enough programming?

Fox Sports has added former NFL QB Brady Quinn to its NFL and college football coverage, where he will be a game analyst as needed. In addition, former pro and college coach Dave Wannstedt has been added as a college football analyst for Fox Sports, as well as on Big Ten Network. Wannstedt is expected to be a part of the Fox Sports college studio pre and post-game coverage.

LOS ANGELES: The chess game continues with the Dodgers TV situation, or lack thereof. As if it is a coincidence that Vin Scully, who in past years has waited until the off-season to announce a return to the booth, decides in July that he will be back for 2015. This "just happens" to provide an added element to Dodgers telecasts for next season, which are still not approved to be shown anywhere other than Time Warner Cable.

Earlier in the week, TWC said it is willing to allow for arbitration to determine a "fair price" for DirecTV and other carriers to carry the Dodgers channel. As expected, DirecTV does not approve. And the Dodgers brass still has no comment about all of this. Of course. DirecTV takes the "We don't want to raise our prices across the board" approach, while the Dodgers quietly generate enough money from the TWC contract to cover their payroll and then some no matter how few of their fans can watch the games.

On the radio side, and separate from the Dodgers, there is the possibility of KFWB 980 transitioning to all sports radio by Labor Day. What started as the intent to get the Jim Rome Show back on radio in Los Angeles has escalated to the point of the station considering adding more and more sports programming as well in hopes of gaining an audience. However, KSPN 710 ESPN barely cracks the top 20 in the ratings, KLAC hovers around a 1 rating even with the Dodgers broadcasts. KLAA, even with most of the Angeles games, has a tiny audience otherwise. While the only local team KFWB currently carries is the Clippers.

KABC 790 has jumped back into play-by-play with a new multi-year contract to air the Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings games starting in the fall. The Kings had been on KTLK 1150, and now gain a much stronger signal in the process. Nick Nickson will continue in his long-time play-by-play role.

BOSTON: It's still too soon to tell whether or not WEEI 93.7's Dennis & Callhan morning show will continue beyond Labor Day. The speculation is primarily the result of the simulcast of the show's first three hours is being pulled from NESN in September. No word yet if NESN will create its own morning show or what direction the TV network will go. It will be interesting to see whether WEEI makes a change or NESN will announce its morning intentions first.

SAN DIEGO: After moving from afternoons to mornings and put on shuffle over the past year, Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton is now gone from the Mighty 1090 XEPRS, as well as the Padres pre-game show, even though the season is still in progress. Hacksaw has been a part of the San Diego sports talk landscape for more than 25 years.

KNOXVILLE: Two smaller stations are dropping sports programming after nearly four years which included a huge focus on University of Tennessee sprots. WVLZ 1180 and WKCE 1120 (licensed to nearby Maryville TN) will be in a different format by the end of August.

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