DL417: Tannenwald on USA-Brazil & The Amazing LeBron Heel Turn

Jon Tannenwald of Philly.com’s soccer blog The Goalkeeper joins the show to talk about USA-Brazil. But first…

Don’t think for one min that I haven’t been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!

Is this, before our eyes, a real-life heel turn? We mentioned this before with regards to Tiger Woods. He’s made enough money, so why not go heel and try something new. At the very least, he can be himself and wouldn’t feel beholden to corporate interests. And, think about how many people love the villains (see: nWo) so the endorsements may be just as lucrative as a bad guy.

This, it seems, is LeBron’s marketing strategy. It’s fantastic. Or, if he’s not trying to do this, it’s a continuation of one of the worst summers in the history of public relations.

DL400: A World Cup Conversation with ESPN’s Bob Ley

This is the 400th episode of our little show. In that time we’ve probably done…carry the one…close to 200 interviews, including conversations with some really big names. But for a show that considers itself a sports media show, there are very few people in our industry who garner the universal respect and esteem as Bob Ley.

Considering Ley is anchoring ESPN’s fantastic coverage of the World Cup that culminates in the finale this weekend, it is my incredible pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with him, especially for one of the episodes that ends in 00. Those do feel more like milestone moments, even if it is just one more show than yesterday.

We discuss, at great length, the World Cup to this point and spend a lot of time focusing on the production by ESPN. Ley shares some insight to the interaction between those on the set — and the fortune of having analysts from USA, England and South Africa along with Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

We discuss some of the World Cup storylines, including the importance of Landon Donovan’s goal for the 2022 World Cup bid as well as Ley’s time in Africa what it’s been like being away from the United States for so long, yet (on TV at least) feeling no different than being in Bristol. He makes certain to point out that they are very aware of being in Africa, not Bristol.

Beyond the World Cup, I asked Ley who his favorite interviews have been, and he tells some fantastic stories about his opportunity to sit and chat with several American Presidents. He then tells a wonderful story about his time with Desmond Tutu, which is seriously a must listen.

Click to listen…

We talk about the USMNT win, the tennis marathon — and how ESPN handled the event — and the NBA draft, including the Washington Post story on John Wall. But really, this is about soccer. I don’t usually do this, but here’s my post from The Sporting Blog. I’d like to have it here as [...]

DL388: World Cup Talk (Be Warned)

Nick and I talk about the USMNT match with England. We also discuss the ratings for the match and the job that ESPN/ABC has done. In a word, fantastic. More on that at The Sporting Blog. We throw some baseball in at the end, but this is a back and forth soccer show. Be warned.

DL386: Matthew From The Shin Guardian On The World Cup & USA-England

We’ve started to talk a lot of soccer on this show, and will continue to do so during the World Cup. Sometimes it will be just one segment at the end of the show. Other times, like today, it will be the whole focus.

Matthew from The Shin Guardian joins the show to talk about the start of the World Cup, the likelihood that the USMNT could actually go out and beat England on Saturday and, well, gets us primed for this:

First, we talk a lot about what this means to America and to ESPN. How important is the World Cup for the WWL’s future soccer business. We don’t expect to see as many plugs for MLS as in the past, but will the announcers be charged with simply calling the matches, or does ESPN have a stake in capturing more and more soccer fans who only care every four years? Can this lead to increased exposure (and ratings) for future Premiership matches on ESPN? Could this help MLS? And does ESPN need to worry about that, or can they just revel in the fact that people are actually watching what’s on now?

We discuss US Soccer’s role in growing the game in America, which includes being progressive in social media and a heavy involvement with blogs. As a blog that covers soccer, does he feel more welcome than he anticipated? It’s easy for me to say US Soccer is doing a good job, but for those who do this every day, how helpful are they?

In Philly I spoke with Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard about how much pressure they feel going into the World Cup. Landon Donovan has been quoted as saying the average American doesn’t really care if the US doesn’t fare well, which is different than the pressure they feel in England. While true, has that changed from past years? Are there higher expectations on the US team this time around?

And can they win on Saturday? More important than that…can they get out of the group? And if they don’t, how devastating will that be?

We talk a great deal about the injuries in the World Cup and try to figure out . Essien? Drogba if he’s unable to go? Ballack? Nani? We run down how tough it will be for some of teams to replace their injured stars.

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What a holiday weekend in sports. We start with a conversation about Roy Halladay’s perfect game, but rather than discuss the game between us – full disclosure, I was watching the hockey then switched over and tracked back to watch after the fact while Nick had the foresight to watch both – we thought it would make more sense to talk with one of the men who had the opportunity to call the 20th perfect game in Major League history.

Scott Franzke, radio play-by-play man for the Phillies, joins the show to talk about that amazing performance, and what it was like in the booth. At what point did they start to think they might be witnessing something special? How was Larry Anderson during the game, and were they conscious of superstition throughout the broadcast? How many times did Franzke mention the word perfect? Did he say “perfect game” before it happened?

We also discuss the historic nature of calling something like a perfect game. After Dallas Braden’s perfect game this season, Nick and I talked about beat writers crafting the “perfect game story” knowing that more people will be reading that day than, perhaps, any other in a writer’s career. For someone doing play-by-play, Franzke doesn’t have the luxury of thinking out what he’s going to say, and hitting a delete key. So how perfect did he try to be? Did he have something in his mind for the last out should Halladay complete the perfect game?

And seriously, how nervous were they in the booth? More on this later today on The Sporting Blog.

The Weekend that Was:

Nick and I rundown the weekend in sports, including the Stanley Cup finals (and the ratings for game one that some people — looking at you John Gonzalez — thought wouldn’t be good because of the holiday). We also discuss the rest of the series, and if the Flyers should be worried or feel fine with the fact that, on the road, they were in both games.

Next, we spend a lot of time talking about the game both of us attended on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. The U.S. men’s soccer team defeated Turkey in their final Send-off Match before heading to South Africa for the World Cup.

I worked the match for Sporting News, so we give a rundown of some of the storylines that came out of the even. I also try to convince you, Nick and myself, that soccer is now for the cool kids. If a member of the media says they don’t watch soccer now because it’s boring, that’s an old and tired meme that will, finally, make them look stupid. Soccer isn’t boring, we just weren’t any good at it. Now, we might be.


We talk about Lakers Celtics and if we’re rooting for the Lakers (and Kobe) or just rooting against everything related to Boston. We also talk about which is a more lame way to win a game, a walkoff balk or a walkoff grand slam where you break your leg.

Thanks to Scott and click here to listen…

The headline basically says it all. And I wish we knew about the latest Cushing details before we recorded. Alas…click to listen.

DL368: The Weekend That Was

Nick and I talk about the goings on in sports this weekend. We talk about the perfect game and wonder if the reporters writing about it felt they had to write the perfect game story. Also, when do you start writing that game story, because on a normal day you’d be writing throughout the entire game. Is that the case, or at some point do you stop as not to jinx what you’re watching?

Also, Dallas Braden provided a great story on Mother’s Day, having lost his to cancer when he was younger. But is this the beginning of some great things for him, or will be be one of the few “who the heck is that guy” names on the list of 19 men to ever throw a perfect game.

We also touch on Jamie Moyer’s amazing two-hitter and have a conversation about how wins really mean absolutely nothing to indicate how well a pitcher threw.

We shift to golf to talk about Tim Clark finally becoming a PGA bride after all the years as a bridesmaid. Quite a tournament to get his first PGA win, too. Oh, and some guy named Tiger has a neck thing. That’ll dominate the headlines, eh?

We also touch on the English Premiership. Did you know Chelsea needed a win to bring home the championship and won 8-0 this weekend. Yikes. Can’t wait for the playoffs to start. Oh, that’s right, Bill Simmons reminded me last week that there aren’t playoffs.

Speaking of playoffs, lots of that kind of talk in NHL and NBA later in the week. Click to listen.

DL360: And Now For a Bunch of Things These Two Know Nothing About

Oooh, episode 360. You spin me right round, internet, right round. Like a record, internet, right round, round round.

Today’s show talks about women’s basketball, coaches who can’t get fired for performance quite possibly doing so for getting in an argument at a game for which they aren’t even a coach (as Nick says, Rutgers basketball coach Fred Hill may as well have taken a bucket of money, lit it on fire and thrown it at the Pittsburgh baseball team), the magic of Lionel Messi — and if he’s reached that level of transcendent sports icon, even in America — and David Shuster getting suspended, and maybe canned from MSNBC for filming a pilot with CNN.

So basically, it’s a show of topics we really know nothing about. Well, except the Rutgers stuff. And, I suppose, the women’s basketball stuff. And the soccer, a little. And even the TV and PR angles.

Hey, not so bad. Thanks for listening.

We’re back. Please tolerate the congestion.

Pleased to have Gary Thorne, venerable broadcaster and the voice of MLB2K10 on the show. We talk a bit about the game and the process by which he records all those sounds. I never knew they do it in a booth with no visual aids. They are basically calling an imaginary baseball game? Wait not just one game…like 70 hours of imaginary games.

We talk about the fact that Thorne isn’t given a script – that he’s hired for the way he calls the game as much as his voice – and how different the game is when there’s nothing to cross-talk about. Isn’t the cross talk what makes baseball announcing so much fun?

We discuss actual baseball as well, as I ask Thorne about the differences between calling national games and local games for the Orioles. And being in Baltimore, does he find his audience is much more dedicated, and therefore baseball savvy, than a larger audience of bandwagon jumpers may be in, say, Philadelphia or Boston? Thorne does agree that it’s important to know the audience, but not to talk over them and get to inside baseball.

Speaking of that, we do discuss the balance of stats and sabermetrics in a broadcast with the “Joe Morgan” types of announcers. Thorne’s wife has a company that trains former players to become broadcasters, so we discuss the importance “having been there” with “the numbers indicate”. What is the balance? And could it be that TV and radio – due to the audience and the time constraints of the game going on in front of you – lend themselves more to “experience” as expertise while the number crunchers can have more focus in print and other non in-game mediums?

We talk a lot about , and if it’s a viable idea for change. In fact, is any change needed? Thorne does bring up the concept of buying a championship, which you can make the case that only a handful of teams can afford to do. Of course for every Yankees (or Red Sox of Phillies) there is a Dodgers or a Cubs, who can get to the playoffs, but can’t win anything – a concept to which Thorne rightly brings up the point that getting to the playoffs has been far too marginalized in baseball. It’s still a really big deal.

Last, we talk about hockey. Well, hockey and baseball and which Thorne likes to announce more and which he thinks he is more known for. The short answer: it’s like asking him which kid he loves more.

Continue reading and listen to the show…