ESPN comments on Dan Le Batard giving Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin

Dan Le BatardOne of the major concerns for writers who were considering selling or giving their Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin was the potential loss of their job. Dan Le Batard gave his vote to Deadspin without knowing what kind of backlash he might receive from his employers. It sounds like ESPN disagrees with his actions, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to discipline him.

Shortly after it was revealed that Le Batard gave his vote away to Deadpin, ESPN commented on his actions.

“We respect and appreciate Dan’s opinions and passion about Hall of Fame voting. He received his vote while at the Miami Herald. We wouldn’t have advocated his voting approach, which we were just made aware of today,” ESPN said in a statement to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.

That seems like a pretty soft stance by them, which I think is fair. Le Batard will almost assuredly lose his Baseball Writers Association vote because of what he did, but I don’t see why ESPN would have a reason to discipline him.

Le Batard was looking to make a statement and he is advocating change to the process. I agree with his feelings on the change that is needed. Mainly, I want the Hall of Fame to get rid of its outdated morals clause and to create a
“Steroids Wing” so that all players from the Steroids Era will be judged solely by what they did on the field. It’s wrong to put writers in the position of picking and choosing who they think did steroids and who didn’t; players should all be evaluated equally.

ESPN film room calls Florida State fake punt (Video)

Florida State fake puntESPN had a “BCS Megacast” going for the BCS National Championship Game on Monday night in which they offered various looks at the game on different channels. It was Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit announcing the game on ESPN, different personalities offering commentary on ESPN2, radio calls on ESPN3, and the “film room” on ESPN News.

The “BCS Film Room” proved its usefulness when the analysts called Florida State’s fake punt before it happened. As The Big Lead points out, the “BCS Film Room” was comprised of head coaches Steve Addazio (Boston College), Paul Chryst(Pitt) and Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) along with ESPN’s Matt Millen, Chris Spielman and Tom Luginbill.

A few of the people — I couldn’t tell exactly who — could see the fake punt coming (it definitely wasn’t Millen), which was pretty cool.

I actually think Auburn was prepared for the fake punt — they had a few guys covering the direct snap — but I think they weren’t expecting the reverse. That wrinkle may have allowed FSU to get the first down, which led to a touchdown.

San Jose Sharks, ESPN exchange barbs on Twitter over ‘Sharknado’

SharknadoIf you haven’t at least heard of “Sharknado” starring Tara Reid and former “Beverly Hills 90210″ actor Ian Zeiring, you are probably just waking up from a 48-hour nap. The ridiculous movie that debuted on the Syfy channel Thursday night is all everyone has been talking about.

The movie basically centered on a tornado that spit man-eating sharks at people. Don’t believe me? Just Google it — you’ll see. On Friday morning, ESPN decided to get in on the trending hashtag #Sharknado by tweeting a lame joke at the San Jose Sharks’ official Twitter account:

The joke was harmless and certainly not offensive, but whoever was operating the Sharks’ Twitter was in no mood for joking around with the World Wide Leader.

And that was the end of that. ESPN now knows better than to try to get chummy with the Sharks. Either start showing more hockey highlights, or stop tweeting at the boys from San Jose. Clearly they have no interest in entertaining your corny humor.

Howie Schwab laid off by ESPN

Stump the SchwabESPN is in the process of cutting hundreds of jobs, and Howie Schwab, former star of “Stump the Schwab,” is one of the employees who has been let go.

Schwab posted the news on his Facebook page and wrote the following message:

After 26 years at ESPN, I am extremely disappointed to say farewell. I have been proud of my association and my work during my tenure. I was a loyal employee, displayed respect for others, worked with numerous charities, represented the company well. I always did everything asked of me and more. What did I get in return today … word that I should get lost. The only thing that mattered was my salary, which in my view was the lone reason I lost my job.

Schwab had worked for the company since 1987.

Deadspin reported last month that ESPN planned to cut a few hundred jobs over a few phases. They are currently in their second round of layoffs.

Schwab gained notoriety as the star of “Stump the Schwab,” a trivia-based game show that aired on ESPN 2 and ESPN Classic from 2004-2006. I am not ashamed to admit that my friends and I watched and enjoyed the show when we were in college.

We honestly wish the best for Howie and anyone else who lost their job in the past month.

Bill Simmons reportedly suspended from Twitter for criticizing ‘First Take’

Bill-SimmonsBill Simmons reportedly was suspended by ESPN from Twitter for a few days for criticizing “First Take” last week.

Last Thursday, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman went on the offensive attacking host Skip Bayless during an appearance on the ESPN morning show. The video went viral, and there was no comment from ESPN on the embarrassing segment.

Simmons, who is the most popular writer at the network, addressed the Sherman-Bayless exchange on his Twitter account later that night.

“I am not defending this segment,” Simmons tweeted before linking to video of the exchange. “I thought it was awful and embarrassing to everyone involved. Seriously.”

He also sent this critical tweet:

The tweets apparently violated ESPN’s social media policy (pdf link).

The Sherman-Bayless interview gained plenty of attention because Sherman refused to go along with the questions asked of him and instead made it his mission to bash Bayless.

“I am intelligent enough and capable enough to understand that you are ignorant, pompous, egotistical, cretin,” said Sherman. “I’m going to crush you on here in front of everyone because I’m tired of hearing about you.”

Deadspin noticed that Simmons did not tweet Tuesday or Wednesday. They pointed out that he only tweeted one item Monday and two on Thursday — all three of which were links to Grantland stories. That is after Simmons tweeted daily from November-February, save for Feb. 7, per Deadspin. Deadspin also adds that Simmons did not appear on “NBA Countdown” Wednesday night despite being previously scheduled to do so.

Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch says ESPN declined comment on the suspension report.

“First Take” has come under criticism many times before because of some of the antics we have seen on the show. Stephen A. Smith seemed to use the N-word on the program and escaped without penalty. Bayless turned the Washington Redskins quarterback situation into a racial matter, while Rob Parker did something similar and was let go by the network. The show has no credibility or respect by anyone with a brain, and its sole purpose is to rile up viewers by having hosts make outrageous statements.

By suspending Simmons for his critique of the show, ESPN is proving once again that it is choosing ratings over quality programming.

ESPN reportedly was tipped about girlfriend hoax by Teo’s agent day before Deadspin

manti-teoFor those who care about how the Manti Te’o investigation developed, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated have stories for you.

Deadspin broke the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend being a hoax last Wednesday, over a week after Notre Dame was blasted by Alabama 42-14 in the BCS National Championship Game. Deadspin writers say they acted on a tip received on Friday, five days before they published their story.

One of the biggest questions has been why no other outlet caught onto this story earlier. ESPN has said they had knowledge of the alleged hoax before Deadspin published, which makes them look bad for letting the story of the year get away.

The New York Times says ESPN was tipped about the story by Te’o’s agent, Tom Condon. Sports Illustrated says the tip came on Jan. 10, a day before Deadspin received its tip. The network had an extra day to investigate, but they sat on the story because they were apparently trying to track down Te’o for an interview.

There reportedly was a conflict at ESPN between those who wanted to publish the story, and those who wanted to wait to see if they could secure an interview with Te’o.

Deadspin felt comfortable with their exhaustive reporting, and the result is the biggest story the site has ever uncovered. ESPN secured the first public comments from Te’o in response, and also got to benefit from Deadspin’s report by publishing several subsequent stories.

Did ESPN blow a big opportunity? Of course, but they still made out fine in the end and didn’t take a risk in publishing inaccurate information when it came to a complex story. As for Deadspin, well, they got to work on the story and everything has unfolded perfectly for them.

ESPN apologizes for Brent Musbuger gushing over Katherine Webb

katherine webb espnESPN was busy issuing statements on Tuesday. First the network announced that Rob Parker was fired for his RG3 comments, and then they apologized for announcer Brent Musburger drooling over Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend.

ESPN flashed to a shot of McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, during the first quarter of the BCS National Championship Game Monday. Musburger and broadcast partner Kirk Herbstreit began gushing over Webb.

“You see that lovely lady there? She’s Miss Alabama, and that’s AJ McCarron’s girlfriend,” said Musburger. “Wow, I’m telling you, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman, wow, whoa!

“If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pops,” Musburger joked.

ESPN and many others didn’t find the comments too amusing. ESPN PR rep Mike Soltys issued the following statement:

“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

Webb found the praise to be complimentary.

“It was kind of nice,” Webb told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue.”

Webb is a certified beauty queen, so it’s most peoples’ opinion that she is attractive. Still, Musburger was so over-the-top with his comments that many people found the 73-year-old’s words to be excessive and creepy. That’s why ESPN apologized.