ESPN Reporters Practice Backstabbing?

If Joey Votto doesn’t have to like his teammates at the All-Star Game, why should ESPN reporters have to play nice with their co-workers? According to some nifty reporting done by The Big Lead, they don’t. While Rachel Nichols and Jeremy Schaap are denying there was ever any type of friction between them, sources have told The Big Lead that Nichols tried to steal a Plaxico Burress interview from Schaap in August of 2009.

According to the report, Nichols was sending text messages to Burress when he sat down for an interview with Schaap to talk about his unlicensed gun case. Burress allegedly showed Schaap the texts and went on to conduct the interview. Sources say Schaap even told an ESPN news editor what had happened, although based on his comments today through ESPN PR he’d certainly deny that. Here’s what ESPN’s PR department had to say about the alleged incident:

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Seth Meyers Hosts the ESPYs … Really

So ESPN selected Seth Meyers to host the ESPY Awards 2010 … really. Because so many athletes don’t have games on Saturday nights nor are they out partying so they must all be familiar with Meyers … really. As a sports fan, you probably are wondering to yourself who this Seth Meyers guy is. Well, he’s a dude who’s from New Hampshire and apparently is a big Red Sox Fan. If you’re like me and unfamiliar with Meyers, he hosts the weekend update on Saturday Night Live along with Amy Poehler. He’s got some funny jokes and a pretty good delivery, but his job was made even more difficult because he had to host the show while it was live instead of tape delayed.

Meyers actually killed the monologue, getting more and more laughs as he went on. Meyers started off somewhat slowly, going after Shaun White whose coach was caught cussing on TV during the Olympics. After his start with White, Meyers rotated into the comfort zone of Brett Favre old jokes. The Favre jokes were pretty ordinary and you could tell that Deanna didn’t find them very funny. Luckily Meyers moved onto Tim Tebow to ease the tension. After a jersey-selling, Jesus joke, Meyers started to get his groove.

ESPN televising the LeBron decision became a hot topic which later was spoofed by Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. The LeBron decision was an easy target, but Meyers’ jokes weren’t anything special, and they resulted in some unamused faces from ESPN personalities Erin Andrews and Stuart Scott. When Meyers transitioned to the Lakers and eventually the World Cup, he started tearing it up. Meyers had an outstanding bit about Pau Gasol’s European look, cracking on Pau’s neck beard (not his man-purse), saying that we didn’t need any more reminders that Gasol was a Euro. It was towards the end of the Lakers bit that Meyers threw in what might have been his best line of the night, saying that the ESPYs are where sports and entertainment come together … like a Kardashian sister’s bedroom. That joke may have drawn the loudest roars from the crowd and was hilarious.

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ESPN Summit: Good Idea, Bad TV

Waiting for the second game of the College World Series to begin, I wound up watching a trial balloon show on ESPN that was sandwiched between the end of the 6pm ET SportsCenter and the 7:30pm ET start time in Omaha. After a few moments I realized this was the same program Dan Le Batard’s referenced in a chat that was picked up by The Big Lead a few weeks ago. I wound up trying to watch the program but had a difficult time enjoying it for several reasons.

Let me start by saying that the ironic nature of ESPN putting together their star players for a free agent summit was funny in itself. Secondly, assembling the hosts of PTI Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, along with two humorous debaters in Dan Le Batard and Bill Simmons would make you think the program had to be good. Unfortunately it wasn’t that good and it turned out to be a visual issue of “not enough basketballs to go around.”

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ESPN Wrong for Tony Kornheiser’s Hannah Storm-Related Suspension

Watching Pardon the Interruption on Monday, I was surprised that Tony Kornheiser was off while Dan LeBatard was in. There were no sports-related activities on Sunday that would have precluded Tony from being on the show so I was could not figure out why he wasn’t on. The reason, as The Big Lead tells us, is pretty weak. According to TBL, Kornheiser was suspended for his comments about Hannah Storm’s outfit last week on SportsCenter. That is wrong on two different levels.

First, ESPN should have addressed the wardrobe of Hannah Storm a long time ago (her pictured outfit is from last year). Short skirts and long boots have no place on TV where a professional appearance is emphasized. All the male anchors wear suits and ties; the females should be similarly dressed (Erin Andrews should take note). Secondly, ESPN is sending the wrong message to its employees by discouraging them from commenting on their coworkers. They’re so large as an entity that they should be challenging each other. While this should be limited to discussing opinions and reports for the most part, I don’t see where Kornheiser was wrong to discuss Storm’s poor choice of dress considering it’s a reflection on his company.

There should have been two outcomes of Kornheiser’s comments and a suspension is not one of them. Tony should have apologized to Hannah for invoking her age (whether Storm is young or old has nothing to do with the inappropriateness of her outfit). Tony has already done that. Next, ESPN should have realized they need to tell Storm to dress more professionally. I just want TK back on PTI!

Heath Bell Complains ESPN Goes Overboard with Yankees, Red Sox, Mets

And I agree. On Monday I wanted to see highlights of Orlando Hudson hitting for the cycle for the Dodgers. Considering how tough it is to accomplish that feat at anytime and the fact that he was practically the first Dodger since Brooklyn to accomplish the trick, you figure it would get some good attention. And because it was the Dodgers’ home opener and a day game, I didn’t get to see it live but figured I would catch the hits on a a highlight show. Naturally I watched both SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight to get my fix, figuring I would only need to wait a few minutes to catch the highlights — a player hitting for the cycle usually is at the top of the list when it comes to day-to-day activities in MLB. I was wrong. Thoroughly. Hudson’s cycle got buried halfway through each show. Why you ask? ESPN was too busy slurping the Mets for the opening of Citi Field. That not only upset me, it also pissed off Padres closer Heath Bell something good when he spoke prior to Monday’s game:

“I saw John Kruk on ‘Baseball Tonight,’ and he said, ‘[the Padres are] playing real well, but I don’t believe in them,’ ” Bell said before Monday’s game. “And I saw ESPN’s promo for tonight’s game. They mention the Mets are opening Citi Field, they mentioned the starting time, but nowhere did they mention the Padres. That gave me the (expletive).”

Bell was just getting warmed up in his pregame commentary.

“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and Yankees and Mets – and nobody else,” said the closer, a former Met. “That’s why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I’m really turned off by ESPN and ‘Baseball Tonight.’ When Jake Peavy threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning and that was it. It’s all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”

The beginning of the season, if not any other time, is when you should be the most open-minded about showing highlights equally. Since it’s a fresh year, anything goes — expectations are out the window and so is last year’s performances. If Aaron Harang throws a three-hit shutout for the Reds against the Pirates and it’s the best pitching performance of the season thus far, you should place more prominence on those highlights. Instead, how the Yankees, Mets, or Red Sox fared, good or bad, always seems to come first. It really is a big turnoff and I might have to start joining Bell at MLB Network, too.