Sports TV News
Joe Buck In Tough Spot With St. Louis Fans
It’s October in St. Louis, and with the Cardinals in the playoffs for the 12th in the last 16 seasons, it’s time for some local television journalists to throw away objectivity by putting on the Cardinals’ colors — or even gear — while on the air. It’s also time for some in the team’s fan base to believe the Redbirds are being intentionally slighted on the national scene.
First, there were Joe Buck’s comments published this week in the Chicago Tribune, in which Fox’s lead baseball and football broadcaster told Ed Sherman that calling Cubs World Series games “would be the highlight of my career.”
Some Cardinals fans took that as blasphemy from the St. Louisan and son of legendary Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck. As of Thursday afternoon, there were 117 comments on a story about it that was posted on STLtoday.com, the Post-Dispatch’s website.
While some stuck up for him, there were plenty of biting remarks. Among them:
“Buck said that to the Chicago fans because he’s a hack and a sellout who is only in it for the money.”
“Stupid comment Joe. Disappointing to dad.”
“No way he is Jack Buck’s kid! I think he forgot where he came from.”
Sure, he grew up and still lives in St. Louis. But so what? He hasn’t been on Cardinals local broadcasts since 2007 and has been on the national stage for more than two decades, calling four Super Bowls and 17 World Series — including four with the Cards, highlighted by their epic 2011 matchup with Texas.
Some have perceived his comments, which included saying doing a Cubs World Series at Wrigley Field “would be the cherry on top” of his career, as a slap at his roots. That’s ridiculous. Broadcasting something that hasn’t happened in the lifetime of anyone under age 70 would be a career milestone anyone would relish — nobody ever has done the TV play-by-play of a Cubs World Series game.
“This has nothing to do with the Cardinals. Zero,” Buck said Thursday. “It has to do with an opportunity that nobody has had in the history of television … let alone an organization that is beloved and hasn’t won the whole thing since before World War I.
“To anybody who has an issue with somebody saying that, I would say, ‘If you were given tickets to go, would you go? If it was on TV, would you stop and watch it?’ I think the answer’s probably yes, because of the significance of it.”
Buck is in a tough spot in St. Louis, where some expect him to follow step by step the path his revered father walked.
“I think some people are always going to see me as the little kid that got his chance with the Cardinals and got in on his dad’s coattails in this town,” he said. “I understand that, but it’s been a long time since 1991. I think some people, for obvious reasons, look at me as the son of the success story and somebody who was beloved in this city. And I respect that more than anybody here realizes.
“But I look at it from a different perspective and when I was saying that to the Chicago Tribune, that was said as a baseball fan. That was not said in any way having anything to do with St. Louis. Any baseball fan would jump at the chance to go to see, let alone call, a World Series at Wrigley Field on television — which never has been done. And that’s where it comes from.
“But I get it. I get why people feel that way. To a certain amount of people in the city, no matter what I say their (opinion) isn’t going to change.”
Another key contrast: Jack Buck was a Cardinals announcer first, a national broadcaster second. Joe is strictly national now. Quite simply, they are vastly different jobs. To Jack, the Cardinals were “we.” To Joe, the Redbirds are “they.”
Some fans have trouble making that distinction.
“There are certain segments of Cardinal fans, baseball fans, sports fans — especially here in the city — they’re going to have an opinion of me; they think they know me,” Buck said. “They didn’t know my dad; they think they knew my dad, what he would say. And when you get comments like, ‘Your dad’s rolling over in his grave,’ come on. I’ve heard, ‘You’re not your father.’ Well, you’re right. I’m not. We’ve had two different careers.”
Buck’s opinion about Wrigley Field actually respects the baseball roots he inherited from his dad. And I’d bet his father, who did the World Series on TV in the early ’90s and on radio for many years, wouldn’t disagree with his son’s assessment. After all, the Cards win often. The Cubs don’t.
Jack Buck loved big moments, and there would be nothing bigger in sports this year (this decade?) than the Cubs making it to the World Series for the first time since 1945 — unless, of course, they won it for the first time since 1908.
To read more visit STL Today where this article was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
JJ Redick: ESPN Sells The NBA As ‘Only 5 or 6 Teams Matter’
“To me, this could be the best thing possible for the NBA and its fans because we have not done a good job of selling the rest of the NBA.”
Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ elimination from the NBA Playoffs, the matchup between the Association’s two most accomplished clubs – the Lakers and Boston Celtics – is no longer a possibility. On Tuesday morning’s edition of First Take on ESPN, JJ Redick suggested how it would be a seminal occurrence for the NBA to have teams from smaller media markets square off for the championship, familiarizing basketball and sports fans at large with new teams and players.
“We somehow have sold the NBA as a league where only five or six teams matter and a league where only five or six players matter,” Redick said on the program. “To me, this could be a watershed moment for the NBA. To me, this could be the best thing possible for the NBA and its fans because we have not done a good job of selling the rest of the NBA.”
Redick pointed out how after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the talking points were focused on the Lakers and what the team needed to do to have a legitimate chance to win the series. He reminded people that Nuggets center and two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokić had his third consecutive triple-double, posting an unparalleled statline of 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists.
“We don’t do a good job of selling what the NBA is, which is 30 teams, 450 players [and] multiple superstars,” Redick said. “The fact that people are now being like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize Nikola Jokić was good’…. Well, let’s put him on TV more!”
Stephen A. Smith told Redick that the NBA has not established its games akin to “events” as much as the National Football League. Smith expressed how he has seen pastors change the time of their Sunday sermons in order to ensure they were home to watch professional football games. While football is very much a team sport, Smith offered Redick his perspective that basketball is “built on superstars.”
“The NBA became what it is because it gravitated to individuality,” Smith said. “Even though the Boston Celtics were a great team and the Lakers ultimately were a great team, they sold Magic and Bird. Michael Jordan comes along – they sold Michael Jordan, and obviously, all the names that we don’t need to get into followed. They sold the individual.”
Smith addressed Redick and accentuated the incredible feats of Jokić, but part of what has made him one of sports media’s most prominent personalities is by having a shrewd perception of his audience. ESPN and other major sports networks are fully aware that Los Angeles supersedes Denver in terms of media consumers, and that the Lakers are recognized as an international brand.
“I’m not where I am today if it were not for the NBA,” Smith said. “Basketball has done wonders for my life, and I’m incredibly grateful and thankful, and the NBA will always be promoted on this show. Please understand in the same breath, we also have to pay attention to what the audience wants to hear too.”
Sports TV News
Diamond Sports Group In Danger of Losing Padres TV Rights
“The company has a grace period to deliver the payment that runs through May 30.”
Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after failing to make a scheduled debt payment to its creditors. At the time, the company had more than $8 billion in debt and was commencing a process of restructuring. Yet the company stated its Ballys-branded regional sports networks would continue to operate as usual. Major League Baseball decided to take action though and establish a plan to broadcast games locally if the company missed a rights payment.
Now, it is looking that is exactly what will happen. Diamond missed a payment to the San Diego Padres last week, meaning the team’s media rights could soon be the property of Major League Baseball. The company has a grace period to deliver the payment that runs through May 30. If it were to miss the payment, it would mark the first time it will relinquish a contract in this way.
“Despite Diamond’s economic situation, there is every expectation that they will continue televising all games they are committed to during the bankruptcy process,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “Major League Baseball is ready to produce and distribute games to fans in their local markets in the event that Diamond or any other regional sports network is unable to do so as required by their agreement with our club.”
The company’s current contract with the San Diego Padres has nine years and approximately $540 million remaining with an escalator clause built into the deal. This means that the final year of the deal would cost Diamond Sports Group more than $70 million in rights fees, and while the team is in the top five for television deliveries, the entity perhaps may not view it as sustainable. The momentum headed in this direction was first reported by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.
The company has also pushed Major League Baseball teams to agree to deals to stream the games in order to recoup lost cable revenue. By being granted the rights to stream games directly to consumers, Diamond Sports Group has vowed to pay the rights fees it owes to nine MLB teams. The company currently has the streaming rights for just five of the 14 major league clubs on its regional sports networks.
Some industry experts believe Diamond Sports Group is utilizing this stalemate to be able to exit media rights deals that are losing the company money. For example, the Diamondbacks’ media rights contract garners an annual payment of about $68 million while amassing the second-lowest local television ratings of any Major League Baseball team.
On May 31, a bankruptcy judge will establish how much money Diamond Sports Group owes its clubs for media rights fees while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and whether it can continue broadcasting games at this time. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins filed emergency motions urging the judge to coerce Diamond Sports Group to make their payments. If the company is unable to distribute payments, the emergency motion calls for teams to issue default notices to the regional sports networks, which could permit the termination of media rights contracts.
Sports TV News
Devin McCourty Joining Football Night in America on NBC
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity from NBC Sports to learn from great individuals, chase new goals and provide viewers with my thoughts on the biggest games every week.”
NBC Sports has enhanced its roster of football analysts with the signing of Devin McCourty. He will join the cast of Football Night in America leading up to each week’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football.
McCourty is a three-time Super Bowl champion and played his entire 13-year career as a defensive back with the New England Patriots, and has the record for most career playoff games started by a defensive player.
“It’s rare when you have the opportunity to add a three-time Super Bowl-winner to your team, and we’re excited to welcome Devin McCourty to Football Night following an incredible NFL career,” said Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production at NBC Sports. “Devin is a leader in every sense of the word, both on and off the field, and his dynamic personality and passion for the game will be a great addition to the show.”
McCourty’s twin brother, Jason, currently works on the cast of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, and the two co-hosted a podcast together while playing called Double Coverage. Devin was a guest host on Good Morning Football earlier in the season and also contributed to pregame coverage on The NFL Today and NFL Draft content for CBS Sports.
“I’m excited to be a rookie on the best team in America again,” McCourty said in a statement. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity from NBC Sports to learn from great individuals, chase new goals and provide viewers with my thoughts on the biggest games every week.”