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NFL writer Jason La Canfora tweets he wants Orioles to ‘drill’ Dustin Pedroia ‘hard in the knee’ 05.03.17 at 11:40 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia has been at the center of the Red Sox-Orioles feud. (Patrick McDermott/USA TODAY Sports)

Dustin Pedroia has been at the center of the Red Sox-Orioles feud. (Patrick McDermott/USA TODAY Sports)

NFL writer Jason La Canfora really, really wants the Orioles to hit Dustin Pedroia. So much, in fact, he’s tweeted about it a couple of times over the last two weeks.

La Canfora’s crusade started April 23, when Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado’s head. The pitch was an apparent response to Machado spiking Pedroia at second base two days prior. Barnes was suspended four games for the incident.

After the pitch was thrown, Pedroia was shown on camera telling Machado he didn’t order the headshot. He expanded on his comments after the game, throwing Barnes under the bus in the process.

“That’s not how you do that. I’m sorry to him and his team. I love Manny Machado. That’s a mishandled situation,” he said.

Despite Pedroia’s contrition, La Canfora, an Orioles fan, started tweeting two weeks ago about his desire to see Baltimore drill the second baseman. If Pedroia wasn’t playing, he said the Orioles should target Mookie Betts.

Though the Orioles haven’t plunked Pedroia, Betts was drilled with a fastball in the thigh Monday. But apparently, that’s not enough for the CBS NFL Insider. He still wants Pedroia’s knees to be taken out.

La Canfora didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia,
Michael Wilbon: Red Sox should consider shutting down Fenway Park after Adam Jones incident 05.03.17 at 10:33 am ET
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Michael Wilbon had strong words for the city of Boston Tuesday. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

Michael Wilbon had strong words for the city of Boston Tuesday. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

“Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon called out Boston Tuesday, questioning whether the city is “Boston Strong” and saying the Red Sox should consider shutting down Fenway Park.

In a spirited back-and-forth with his partner, Tony Kornheiser, the veteran sportswriter lambasted Red Sox fans for allegedly hurling the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones during Monday’s game. In fact, he proposed the Red Sox temporarily not allow fans into games.

“What the hell is this? 1947? Is that what this is?,” Wilbon asked. “Adam Jones has to be Jackie Robinson, and he has to have stuff thrown at him because he doesn’t look like the people throwing the stuff in the stands? Is that what we’re talking about? Then shut the stadiums down. Do like they do in Europe when they have incidents like this because of racist acts or violence and they say, ‘You know what? We’re having a closed door game.’ Then no fans!”

Wilson also challenged Boston to be “strong enough” to combat bigotry, invoking the slogan that arose following the 2013 Marathon Bombings.

“If you want to tell me all of the time about being ‘Boston Strong,’ then be strong enough and advocate that you can’t have this,” he said. “Be strong enough to have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior in your stadium and in public places.”

The Red Sox condemned the reported behavior in a statement, saying they’re “sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.” Owner John Henry and club officials met with Jones prior to Tuesday’s game as well. The Fenway Park crowd gave him a standing ovation when he stepped up to the plate in the first inning.

Though Wilbon acknowledged racism exists in other cities, he relayed a personal story about being called the N-word at the Boston Garden.

“The only place I have ever, to my face in a public place, been called the N-word is the Boston Garden,” he said. “This behavior is not new there. And I know people there –– a great many of my friends and relatives, my family members who are Bostonians –– they say how long can we live with this? As long as you continue to have it happen! This isn’t ancient history what happened to Adam Jones. It happened yesterday.”

 

Read More: Adam Jones, ESPN, Michael Wilbon,
A man proposed to his girlfriend at Fenway Park. She appeared to say “no” 05.01.17 at 3:44 pm ET
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People who propose to their partners at sporting events better be certain the answer will be “yes.” Because if it isn’t, things could get a little awkward.

An ugly scene unfolded at Fenway Park Sunday night, when a mid-inning scoreboard proposal appeared to go wrong. According to fans in attendance, a man asked his girlfriend if she would marry him –– standard enough. But then she seemingly said “no,” leading to an argument that everybody in the ballpark could watch take place in high-definition

As Boston Magazine notes, live proposals cost a $350 donation to the Red Sox Foundation. That’s a lot of money to pay for the privilege of getting embarrassed in front of tens of thousands of people.

 

Read More: Fenway Park,
Prosecutors say vacating Aaron Hernandez’s murder conviction would be a reward 05.01.17 at 2:39 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez could have his murder conviction vacated. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

Aaron Hernandez could have his murder conviction vacated. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe)

Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers are trying to vacate his murder conviction. But prosecutors aren’t budging.

In a court filing Monday, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III argued against granting Hernandez abatement, saying it would reward his “conscious, deliberate and voluntary act” of committing suicide. Under Massachusetts law, a defendant’s criminal convictions can be voided upon his death if he hasn’t exhausted all of his appeals. Hernandez, who was acquitted of double-murder charges five days before he hanged himself in his cell, was appealing his first-degree murder sentence from the 2013 Odin Lloyd shooting.

“In this circumstance a balance must be struck between the policy interests advanced by abatement, the effect of the defendant’s actions in frustrating the interests of justice and the interests in maintaining the validity of the conviction,” the document reads.

Prosecutors also say Hernandez’s appeal had a “negligible probability of success.” Last week, his attorneys moved towards expunging the murder conviction from the disgraced ex-NFL star’s record.

A hearing on the matter is schedule for May 9.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,
Report: ESPN hires Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo’s NBA scoop machine 05.01.17 at 2:01 pm ET
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ESPN is hiring Adrian Wojnarowski away from Yahoo Sports.  (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN is hiring Adrian Wojnarowski away from Yahoo Sports. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week, ESPN cut several dozen reporters from its staff. On Monday, it reportedly hired perhaps the most prominent sports journalist who wasn’t already on its payroll.

According to Recode.net, ESPN has finalized a deal with Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports’ standout NBA reporter. The move, which Deadspin first covered in February, represents a massive shakeup in the basketball reporting landscape.  Just last year, Yahoo signed Wojnarowski to a four-year contract worth more than $6 million and gave him his own channel, The Vertical. The NBA-focused website poached reporters from the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and other outlets shortly after it had launched.

ESPN’s move to acquire Wojnarowski, who constantly upstages the WorldWide Leader during the NBA Draft, is a reminder the Disney-backed company remains the dominant force in sports media. For all of its troubles, ESPN is still available in more than 88 million households and owns rights agreements to every major professional sports league.

While numerous NBA writers, including Marc Stein and Chad Forde, were laid off last week, the addition of Wojnarowski shows ESPN is still committed to breaking big basketball news. As Wojnarowski demonstrated at Yahoo, his output can exceed any entire army of reporters.

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN,
ESPN undeserving of criticism for showing Joe Mixon domestic assault video during NFL Draft 05.01.17 at 12:30 pm ET
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The Bengals' decision to select Joe Mixon was the most controversial of the NFL Draft. (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

The Bengals’ decision to select Joe Mixon was the most controversial of the NFL Draft. (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Heading into the NFL Draft, only four teams were reportedly interested in selecting running back Joe Mixon out of Oklahoma. That’s because three years ago, Mixon pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge after punching a woman in the head at a restaurant. Video of the incident surfaced last season, which reignited the debate surrounding his playing status.

So when the Bengals drafted Mixon in the second round Friday, it was a big story. WCPO, a news affiliate in Cincinnati, published an editorial urging fans to boycott the team. The two stations that aired the draft, ESPN and the NFL Network, were charged with putting each selection in context. It’s impossible to tell the complete story of Mixon, and the controversy surrounding him, without showing the videotape of his domestic violence incident. ESPN fulfilled its obligation, airing the footage after host Trey Wingo had warned viewers of its graphic nature.

The league-owned NFL Network didn’t show the video, perhaps in an attempt to help insulate the Bengals from criticism. But on social media this weekend, they weren’t facing significant pushback over their efforts to whitewash history. Instead, it was ESPN, for showing people the same video that Mixon’s lawyers released to the public themselves.

The notion that ESPN should be concerned with letting Mixon “have his moment” is asinine and goes against every tenor of journalism. It’s also a mindset that threatens the existence of a free press. A majority of U.S. adults now get their news from social media, which means they’re reading personally curated feeds. As a result, many Americans now live in information echo chambers, where they don’t hear any news they don’t want to.

In the sports media world, league- or team-owned networks are becoming increasingly prevalent. All four major sports leagues have their own cable channels and produce a bevy of digital content. That means some of the most well-known sports journalists in the country now report on outlets that sign their paychecks. The conflicts of interest are endless, and look a lot like not showing the videotape that caused Mixon’s draft stock to plummet.

Much like in the political world, where Democrats and Republicans largely tune into partisan news sources that affirm their world views, some sports fans are no longer seeking out objective content. That explains the rise in fan blogs that are unapologetic about their biased slant.

Journalists can’t be concerned about their subjects’ feelings when they’re reporting a story. ESPN was able to put the Mixon pick in complete context Friday, because it decided the show the video –– no matter how unsavory it may be.

Read More: ESPN, Joe Mixon, NFL Draft,
Dennis Eckersley shares tweet that’s critical of ESPN broadcaster Jessica Mendoza 05.01.17 at 10:17 am ET
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Jessica Mendoza was on the call for Red Sox-Cubs Sunday night. (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

Jessica Mendoza was on the call for Red Sox-Cubs Sunday night. (Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports)

Those who were watching the Red Sox-Cubs matchup on ESPN Sunday night were forced to endure an interminable segment in which Jessica Mendoza quizzed Chicago shortstop Addison Russell about his Pokémon collection. The mind-numbingly tedious interview lasted for several minutes, propelling some disgruntled viewers to take their complaints to social media.

NESN broadcaster Dennis Eckersley tacitly joined the chorus.

The Hall of Fame hurler shared a tweet from a user named, “EWints,” who panned the bit.

Mendoza, a former member of the United States women’s national softball team, has been the recipient of some unjust criticism ever since she stepped into the “Sunday Night Baseball” booth in 2015. Last year, an Astros minor leaguer tweeted, “No lady needs to be on espn talking during a baseball game specially Mendoza sorry.” The team condemned his sexist language.

But the segment involving Russell’s Pokémon cards was brutal –– like most of the breezy interviews Mendoza shoots with players. They feel out of place and run for much too long.

While there’s plenty of blame to go around, the onus here ultimately falls on the producers who think airing an extended conversation with Russell about Pokémon is a good idea. No announcer would’ve been able able to salvage the segment.

Read More: Dennis Eckersley, Jessica Mendoza,
Tom Brady takes another turn towards the bizarre with speaking gig at self-help guru Tony Robbins’ ‘wealth summit’ 04.28.17 at 2:53 pm ET
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Tom Brady is appearing at a pricey "wealth seminar" with Tony Robbins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady is appearing at a pricey “wealth seminar” with Tony Robbins. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

It might be time to start worrying about Tom Brady.

The five-time Super Bowl champion is slated to speak at Tony Robbins’ “Wealth Summit” in Boston June 8. For those unfamiliar with Robbins’ work, he’s a self-help expert who’s perhaps best known for encouraging his followers to walk on burning coal. Tickets to attend the extravaganza cost between $149 and $2,495.

In defense of Brady, he’s not the only person who will be appearing on stage with Robbins at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. His teammate and devotee Julian Edelman will be right by his side, along with celebrity chef Bethenny Frankel and CNBC host Marcus Lemonis.

Now, there are two possible reasons why Brady is aligning himself with Robbins. Neither is particularly comforting:

TB12 is a true believer

Brady’s history suggests he might be inclined to buy Robbins’ apparent quackery. The Patriots quarterback is business partners with his fitness guru, Alex Guerrero, who was once a pitchman for a fraudulent cancer cure. Boston Magazine published an expose on Guerrero in 2015, revealing his history of nefarious business practices.  In 2012, the FTC ordered Guerrero to shut down the production of Neurosafe, a phony panacea for concussions and head trauma. Brady endorsed the product.

Brady’s weirdo plant-based diet has also been eviscerated by health professionals. Mike Roussell, who has a Ph.D. in nutrition, went as far as to call Brady’s diet “absurd” in an op-ed for Men’s Health, saying it’s “full of buzzwords, not science.”

Robbins, who earns an estimated $30 million annually, is a fixture in socially elite circles. Known as the “CEO Whisperer,” some of the country’s most successful business executives and politicians follow aspects of his self-improvement program. He was asked to advise Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings and hangs with billionaires like Virgin’s Richard Branson and casino tycoon Steve Wynn.

But all of this elbow rubbing with heads of state and business moguls doesn’t legitimize Robbins’ practices. Remember, the Church of Scientology attracts a wide collection of celebrities and movie stars. Rich people who are isolated from society sometimes adopt cockamamie belief systems. Brady is a prime example of that.

Brady is there to peddle his products

In case you haven’t heard, Brady is marketing an array of luxury items: $200 nutritional manuals, $100 recovery sleepwear and $78 “revolting vegan kibble,” to quote Deadspin. Folks who can spend thousands of dollars to hear Robbins speak would appear to be his perfect customer base.

These are Brady’s people now, and it shouldn’t be surprising. That can happen when you have a career net worth of $180 million and marry a supermodel who has even more money than that.

When Brady retires, it’s apparent he’ll exist on a level far removed from the everyday world. If he’s not a believer in Robbins now, he may soon become one.

 

Read More: Tom Brady,
ESPN’s new rumored left-leaning lineup likely won’t bring lost viewers back 04.27.17 at 5:14 pm ET
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ESPN is in the midst of  massive layoffs. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN is in the midst of massive layoffs. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN’s broken business model is the driving force behind this week’s massive layoffs. The WorldWide Leader has lost 10 million subscribers over the last five years and is paying exorbitant rights fees to broadcast the NFL and NBA. Rising costs combined with declining revenue isn’t a sustainable business plan.

That harsh reality makes it appear as if ESPN’s plight was inevitable. Cable subscriptions are way down in the era of cord-cutting, meaning all networks are drawing from a smaller audience pool. There’s fewer eyeballs to go around.

Despite those troubling trends, ESPN is still available in more than 88 million households (as of December 2016). Even though its parent company, Disney, ordered executives to trim payroll, ESPN possesses more resources than most other media conglomerates. They have the tools to turn it around.

But their lackluster programming is preventing them from doing so.

Given the vast number of reporters who have been canned, it’s apparent ESPN is moving further away from news and veering more towards opinion. While that may cause haughty media critics to bemoan the direction of the industry on Twitter, it’s the right call. In today’s world, where information and highlights can be accessed instantaneously on social media feeds, there’s less of a thirst for news-based programming. Comcast SportsNet New England went through a similar overhaul earlier this year, in which it downsized its news department and expanded its nightly debate shows.

The problem with ESPN is, their studio shows don’t offer much in terms of disagreement or provocation. Outside of “First Take,” which now features Max Kellerman doing a poor man’s Skip Bayless impersonation alongside Stephen A. Smith, few of its programs showcase hosts with varying viewpoints. The exception is “Pardon the Interruption,” but ratings for the iconic program are down by more than 10 percent in comparison to last year.

On a recent edition of Sports Illustrated’s media podcast with Richard Deitsch, James Andrew Miller, who authored “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” predicted the network’s new weekday lineup. It is as follows:

6:00-7:00 a.m.: Re-airing of west coast “SportsCenter” with Neil Everett and Stan Verett

7:00-10:00 a.m.: Mike Greenberg’s new morning variety show

10:00-12:00 p.m.: “First Take”

12:00-1:00 p.m.: New show with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre

1:00-6:00 p.m.: Afternoon programming, including Dan Le Batard’s “Highly Questionable,” “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption”

6:00-7:00 p.m.: “SC6″ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith

Evenings: Live sporting events

11:00 p.m.: “SportsCenter”

Midnight: “SportsCenter” with Scott Van Pelt

The rumored Greenberg morning show seems especially problematic. Given all of the options for morning TV, including partisan cable news programs drawing record numbers in the Trump era, it’s difficult to find a constituency for Greenberg’s inoffensive style. The networks –– CBS, ABC and NBC –– already have the market cornered on breezy morning talk. It seems unlikely the milquetoast anchor would be able to offer anything different.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ESPN,
ESPN appears to be scaling back its MLB coverage –– big time 04.27.17 at 11:37 am ET
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Karl Ravech (right) is reportedly going to see his role at ESPN significantly reduced. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Karl Ravech (right) is reportedly going to see his role at ESPN significantly reduced. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN gutted its MLB coverage Wednesday, laying off several prominent reporters and analysts. As a result, the WorldWide Leader is now looking towards the outside in an effort to beef up its baseball programming.

In a press release, ESPN announced it’s partnering with MLB Network to air “Intentional Talk,” the slap-and-tickle fest hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. The program will run from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on ESPN2 beginning next week.

The collaboration between ESPN and MLB Network isn’t a surprise, given Disney’s 33 percent stake in MLB Advanced Media. It appears as if ESPN is dramatically cutting down on its original MLB studio programming, with “Baseball Tonight” mainstays such as Dallas Braden, Doug Glanville and Raul Ibanez receiving their walking papers Wednesday. The Hollywood Reporter says “Baseball Tonight” host Karl Ravech is going to see his role significantly reduced.

While ESPN pays MLB $700 million annually to broadcast games, it’s apparent baseball coverage is no longer a priority in Bristol. That’s likely a reflection on MLB’s lessened national standing. “Sunday Night Baseball,” once a marquee property, continues to see its ratings flounder in comparison to the network’s other major telecasts.

MLB will still be covered more prominently than the NHL –– ESPN canned three hockey reporters this week –– but the gap is closing.

Read More: ESPN, MLB,