ESPNW Brand Coming with Mixed Reviews from Women

Some of the most influential women in sports are getting together this weekend for an espnW retreat to discuss a new brand being developed by ESPN. As USA Today explained, the network is planning to have espnW as “a new sub-brand that will soon begin as a blog and could end up being its own TV channel.” Clearly they’re looking to target a female audience and give them something they’ll feel is theirs.

So how do women feel about this? Well, the reaction is mixed.

Cubbie Julie writing at Chicago Now feels insulted by the idea. She feels that female sports fans can watch ESPN if they want sports. She also wants ESPN to appeal more to women by integrating females into the television and web product rather than relegating them to a sub-channel. Aspiring sports reporter Sarah Tyson had a similar reaction, “Believe it or not ESPN, there are some women who like watching sports without chatting about pedicures during timeouts.” Monica Idziak, a die-hard Bills fan echoed the sentiment “Why not just tweak existing ESPN to make it more enjoyable for EVERYONE?”

Though I understand their collective reaction, it’s hard to make judgments without knowing exactly what espnW’s plans are. Alana Nguyen, the Director of Programming for the sports blog network Yardbarker, is in the same camp. She thinks “As a business decision, if they feel they can segment the market and create a solid female audience that will appeal to advertisers, that seems like a good idea.” But Nguyen has questions, “What I don’t really know about is, how they intend to execute that, and whether it will resonate with female viewers,” adding “there are certainly many female sports fans who like ESPN as it is.”

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Jay Mariotti Avoids Jail with Plea Deal

With all the schadenfreude regarding Jay Mariotti’s arrest last month, it’s only fair that we update the case involving the screaming head. The blabbermouth pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence in exchange for the court dismissing the remaining six misdemeanor counts that included four domestic violence related counts, grand theft and false imprisonment.

Unfortunately, the jackass that is Mariotti will avoid jail and drop the soap time. Instead, he’s on three years probation and required to perform 40 days of community labor. He must also complete a 52-week domestic violence course and stay away from the woman with whom he was involved. In addition to the domestic violence charges, the courts should also examine the sanity of the woman who actually dated Jay (just a matter of opinion).

When Mariotti posted bail less than 24 hours after his arrest, we said he wasn’t locked up long enough. I must admit that the sports world is a much more pleasant place without him around. It’s also comforting to know that ESPN has no plans to use him in the future. That’s enough incentive for me to potentially lend Around the Horn an eyeball, as tough as that show is to endure.

Jim Mora and Doug Gottlieb Have Incredibly Uncomfortable Interview

I was listening to Doug Gottlieb filling in for Colin Cowherd this morning on ESPN Radio when I came across an extremely uncomfortable interview. They had former Falcons coach Jim Mora on the show and Gottlieb wanted to ask him about Michael Vick’s turnaround in Philadelphia. Mora was Vick’s coach in Atlanta and the two were extremely close. With Vick as his quarterback, Mora went 26-22 and reached the NFC Championship Game in his first season in 2004. So when Gottlieb asked if Mora was “bummed out” that Vick didn’t put in more effort during his time in Atlanta, things got testy. Here’s the video via The Big Lead:

It seems like Mora was expecting to do the interview with Cowherd and was disappointed he got stuck with the substitute teacher he deemed inexperienced. Gottlieb should have also done his homework and realized how close Mora and Vick were and then he would have termed his question differently. Gottlieb’s mistake was stating Vick’s behavior in Atlanta as fact instead of asking Mora to compare the two. In that regard, he came across as unprepared and got burned. Still, Mora was unnecessarily testy, but that’s part of his personality. Most of the people reacting on twitter feel like Mora was more inappropriate than the other way around. Even if Mora didn’t agree with the way Gottlieb was doing the interview, he could have been more cordial. It was just awkward all the way around.

PTI, Around the Horn Move to New HD Set for 3D TVs

Fans of ESPN’s afternoon talk shows Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn were in for a welcome surprise when they tuned in on Monday. Both shows had changed up their looks and layouts. The shows announced they’re now in HD, but you can tell it’s actually more than that. The graphics were fuzzy and seemed to be made specifically for 3D TVs.

ESPN is actually leading the way in the 3D TV movement, broadcasting certain sporting events in that manner. Even though I’ve never seen anything broadcast on a 3D TV, I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews. In fact, most viewers had supportive comments on twitter, though hardly any of them seemed to realize the 3D association, focusing mostly on the HD aspect. Here are some of the reviews from people on twitter:

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Chris Berman Rocking the Mustache

Football season is back which means it’s time for four months of anchor Chris Berman’s Sunday NFL Countdown and fastest two minutes in football! Before you get too giddy, we’re here to warn you that the Berman you may be expecting won’t be there. Instead, you’ll see a retro version of Berman rocking the old school stache which seems to be a combination of part Dave Wannstedt, part Bernie Lomax. Check out the Chris Berman mustache pictures present day vs. past:

He called it the Ron Burgundy look but I think it’s just old school. It’s no John Axford, but it’s not bad, Boomer.

Yardbarker Makes TIME’s Top 50 Sites

As you probably have been able to tell, our site is part of the extensive Yardbarker Network. Yardbarker represents hundreds of high quality sports blogs and they pull some of the best stories from around the network for placement on their entertaining homepage. The site has an incredibly clean look, is constantly updated, and it tracks 40 of the top trends in the sports world. Putting all those factors together helped Yardbarker make TIME’s Top 50 sites for 2010 list which is some strong recognition.

In addition to congratulating Yardbarker on the excellent accomplishment, I wanted to share this ringing endorsement. My cousin recently told me that he finally started checking out Yardbarker after seeing it at LBS all the time and said it’s great, “Between your site and Yardbarker, I’ve already seen all the stories by the time I get home to watch PTI.” Amen to that. Congrats to YB and hopefully they continue to receive great recognition.

50 Best Websites 2010 [TIME]

Larry King Wants to Join MLB Network

Larry King announced on Tuesday night that his run as host of Larry King Live on CNN is coming to an end in the fall. King said he wants to spend more time with his family but that he will still contribute to CNN in the future. Apparently King is also eying another broadcasting opportunity — one with MLB Network as he told Ben Maller on FOX Sports Radio:

“This time I’m gonna get a chance, which I rarely get on CNN, to do sports. I would do sports tomorrow. I told Bud Selig today he’s taking my kids to the All-Star game. And I would go to MLB in the drop of a hat.”

I’d like to do Costas west. We’ve got Bob Costas east doing interviews and games, so if they need a guy, they don’t have a West Coast facility I’d have to setup or lease something, but I’ll talk to Bud at the All-Star game. That will be something that will definitely interest me because baseball is my avocation.”

If you’ve ever been to a Dodgers game and sat field level nearby the third base dugout, you’ve probably seen Mr. Suspenders hanging out in his season seats. There’s no doubt that King is a big baseball fan and that he can probably score a gig there pretty easily. Plus, there aren’t many other people who carry more clout than King. Think he won’t be able to land whatever interview he wants? MLB Network, hello!

Exclusive: Larry King eyes MLB Network [Ben Maller]
Statement from Larry King [Larry King Live]