Peter Gammons Is Now Analyzing Thongs

On Monday evening, venerable MLB analyst and the face of the $20 bill, Peter Gammons, sent the following tweet from his Twitter account about a thong:

The tweet was sent by text message, so it’s quite possible that Gammons was just responded to a picture message sent to him by his hot stripper girlfriend. Either that, or he could have just been talking about Aubrey Huff or Jason Giambi.

I like to think this is just Peter talking dirty.

Eagles Reporter Howard Eskin Said He’d Bike to San Francisco if 49ers beat Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin was so confident the Eagles would beat the 49ers Sunday, he told a San Francisco radio station he’d bike cross country if the team lost.

Appearing with Gary Radnich and Larry Krueger on KNBR Friday, Eskin declared the Eagles a “stone-cold mortal lock.”

“I will tell you right now, there is no chance the 49ers will win. Zero,” he stated. “I’ll take a bike from Philadelphia to San Francisco [if the 49ers beat the Eagles].

“There’s no way the Eagles go 1-3. None. Absolutely none.”

Naturally, the Eagles proceeded to blow a 23-3 3rd quarter lead, missing two field goals and fumbling on their final drive to lose 24-23. The self-proclaimed “Dream Team” is now 1-3.

Eskin, you may recall, is the same person who reported that Michael Vick would be out 2-4 weeks after injuring his hand last week. Vick didn’t miss any games. Eskin also said in July that the Eagles would be interested in Brett Favre as a backup once Kevin Kolb was traded. They signed Vince Young instead.

We’ll consider this strike three for Eskin, who apparently learned nothing from the failures of LA radio host John Ireland. You can listen to Eskin’s radio guarantee in the audio clip below. Thanks to Injury Rate for the tip.

UPDATE: As Off the Bench pointed out to us, Eskin’s son wrote a blog post demanding that his father honor the bet. Let’s hope he does.

Brad Pitt Makes Sports Illustrated Cover, Is Now an A’s Fan

Actor Brad Pitt made the cover of Sports Illustrated this week for his portrayal of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane in Moneyball the movie. An actor making the cover of the most well respected sports magazine in the country for playing a movie role seems weird. Did Charlie Sheen make the cover of the magazine for winning Rookie of the Year with the Indians? Did Steve Nebraska’s perfect perfect game with the Yankees get Brendan Fraser on the cover? I think not, and if those guys can’t get the front flap, then I’m not so sure I support Pitt making it.

I get it, I get it — Moneyball is based on reality while those movies are not. Just know, SI, that I’ll be disappointed if Al Pacino wearing a coaching headset doesn’t make next week’s cover. But I do get it — if you have a chance to put Brad Pitt on the cover of you’re magazine, you’re going to do it. It’s a rare opportunity to appeal to an audience you wouldn’t normally be able to target.

You might be surprised to know that Pitt isn’t the first non-coach, non-athlete to make the cover. According to a press release from SI, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, Stephen Colbert, Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, Steve McQueen and Arnold Schwarzenegger in addition to former presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (appearances on the 11/26/84 and 2/16/87 covers) and Bill Clinton have all made the cover.

As for Pitt’s knowledge of the game, he says it’s shameful how little he knows about baseball. Pitt also says he now follows the A’s and feels a bit romantic about them. Yup, Moneyball does have that power. It’s hard not to at least respect the A’s after learning the Moneyball story.

ESPN’s NFL Coverage Will Focus More on Xs and Os Than Off-Field Stories

One of the criticisms of ESPN’s coverage of the NFL is that they focus on too many off-the-field issues. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Just watch this video from 2008.

I don’t entirely blame ESPN for this issue. Sometimes television networks like ESPN need talking points to fill their air time. They do that by venturing into off-field stories, discussing trade rumors, or running anonymously-sourced stories. That sort of coverage can become annoying for traditional sports fans, but it’s a somewhat understandable trade-off for having comprehensive coverage. Luckily for us ESPN has realized that football sells itself and their coverage this year may try to reflect that.

Speaking with SI’s media columnist Richard Deitsch, ESPN senior coordinating producer for the NFL, Seth Markman, says the plan is to focus more on Xs and Os. “The last few years, the one area I wanted to focus on was getting a little bit back on the field,” said Markman. “Some of it was the last few years there were so many off-the-field stories that it took us in a lot of different directions. When I looked at the shows, I found that we could do a better job of getting people ready for their games. If that means being a little more Xs and Os this year, then I think we can do that.”

This will definitely be a welcomed change for most sports fans. I understand why ESPN has had a problem with this in the past. Other sports are different from football — there isn’t an inherent interest in day-to-day NBA, MLB, NHL or college basketball games — so off-field story lines are needed to heighten interest. With the NFL, people love it for what it is. Many fans are educated about their teams and follow the sport closely. B.S. stories aren’t needed. If the Worldwide Leader sticks to Markman’s words, all viewers will benefit.

Bleacher Report Merely Window Dressing with New Hires

Bleacher Report announced the hiring of five new “lead writers” on Monday, sparking some pats on the back and commentary that the organization is becoming more credible. While the reputation of the new writers can bring more respect to the organization, it does not change that this is classic window dressing by Bleacher Report intended to strengthen the company by quieting the critics.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Bleacher Report, they’re a widely mocked sports website known for extremely low-quality content that is gamed to dominate Google’s search engines. They have a reputation for spelling errors, typos, and slideshows created in poor taste. Really, all you need to know about Bleacher Report is that they used the tsunami in Japan as an excuse to publish a slideshow on the “worst natural disasters in sports history.”

Noted bloggers Dan Levy, Bethlehem Shoals, Josh Zerkle, Dan Rubenstein, and Matt Miller were given new positions within the company. While Miller is a “homegrown” talent for Bleacher Report, the other four men gained their reputation through years of outstanding contributions to the blogosphere. I am friendly with a few of the new writers and happy they found jobs about which they’re excited. And while I’ll continue to support a few of those individuals and their exemplary work, the hirings do little to change my overall opinion of the company.

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HBO Rolls Out the Red Carpet to Bring Back Manny Pacquiao in November

Manny Pacquiao has returned to his familiar television home of HBO for his upcoming November fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao’s last fight in May was televised by Showtime, marking a significant departure from HBO Sports.

Showtime displayed extreme creativity in luring Pac-Man away from HBO. They offered him an appearance on 60 Minutes, a countdown series on CBS, and promotion during March Madness. HBO’s reluctance to match Showtime’s offer resulted in them losing arguably the biggest draw in boxing, and it led to the firing of Ross Greenburg. After losing Pacquiao’s May fight, HBO wasn’t about to miss out on his November bout.

The suits at HBO landed Pacquiao’s brawl with Marquez by putting together a package comparable to the one previously offered by Showtime. Lem Satterfield at RingTV.com has the details on everything HBO has promised:

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Pac-12 Making the Upgrade with New National and Regional TV Deal

Upgrade today like the Pac-12 and Best Buy will buy it back when you’re ready for the next big thing

Larry Scott continues to impress as the commissioner of the Pac-12. Since taking over as the conference’s commissioner two years ago, the conference has expanded from 10 to 12 teams, flirted with major programs like Texas, and increased its national exposure. Scott already signed a 12-year national TV deal with FOX and ESPN that netted the conference $3 billion. His latest plan to launch a television network can take the conference to the next level.

Scott’s unveiled plans Wednesday to create six regional networks and one national network for the Pac-12. The regional networks will be based on local pairings. For example, there will be an Oregon network for the University of Oregon and Oregon State, and a Washington network for the University of Washington and Washington State. Cable providers Cox, Time Warner, Bright House, and Comcast have already signed on to broadcast the channels. Scott plans to add satellite and phone companies.

The new channels will be available in high definition and they will be owned by the conference. The best part of all? “With this arrangement, every [Pac-12] football game and every men’s basketball game will be available to a national audience on television,” Scott said Wednesday.

When Larry Scott took the conference’s coaches and top football players on a national media tour last year, his mission to expand their reach was clear. Rather than remain on the West Coast with limited exposure, the conference made stops at ESPN’s headquarters and New York City to appeal to a greater audience. With a new TV deal in place that includes a national network and regional networks, you can’t help but feel like the conference is in the hands of a man who knows what he’s doing. Larry Scott is making the upgrade and the Pac-12 is benefiting.