Someone asked Bobby Ojeda what he would have said on SportsNet New York last Saturday after Jenrry Mejia was suspended 80 games for testing positive for Stanozolol. We could almost see him glaring intensely into the camera before he decided there was much more to offer than knee-jerk commentary concerning the closer’s selfishness.
“I would have said, ‘Bud Selig, thank you for not initially addressing the problem. Thank you for sweeping it under the rug for years,’ ” Ojeda, sarcastically, said. “What we see now is some 20-odd years later guys are still using the drugs.”
Ojeda continued ranting, resurrecting memories of the six years of viewer whiplash he caused with fearless unpredictability anchored with analysis built through the course of a baseball life. His summer pulpit was chopped down when Ojeda and SNY brass, who hired Nelson Figueroa to replace him,could not reach an agreement on a new contract.
Money, as always, played a role. Our guess is they were not that far apart, more like five figures than six — but what do we know? “I know a lot was made about the difference and the money, although it was minor,” Ojeda told me over the telephone. “But I didn’t make a decision like that based solely on one thing, which would have been money. That would have been disingenuous on my part.”
See, on his way to becoming the top local studio analyst in baseball, Ojeda learned you don’t arrive at that destination without plenty of help. Walking the high wire like Ojeda did necessitates a safety net. For the first four or five years, he worked largely with the same production personnel. They made it possible, and provided everything, for him to focus solely on working in front of the camera.
Last August, Ojeda said, he saw things beginning to change. Craig Germain, the senior coordinating producer, who oversaw the pre- and postgame shows, left SNY to join NFL Network. Gerard Guilfoyle, who produced the shows, began taking on other projects.
Ojeda looked down from that wire and saw nothing but concrete.
“All of a sudden it was, this is going to be a daunting task ahead of me. Am I able to do it? Are we going to be able to continue doing as good a job as we had been doing?” Ojeda asked. “When the players (production personnel) started to change, then go, the uncertainty started creeping in. . . . I found myself almost having to train people, very good people, to do what we had been doing.”
Through almost all of Ojeda’s SNY tenure, Guilfoyle was his producer. “(Last season) his time in the producer’s chair was starting to turn over,” Ojeda said. “Honestly, it was Gerard who was driving this thing. I cannot be more emphatic about that. His ideas, his insight — especially with the man on the street. He knew what the man on the street was curious about. Gerard really fueled me. He was a big boost to me.”
Let’s look at this logically, which may not be a great idea. But what the hell? Last season, Ojeda saw the infrastructure SNY built around its Mets studio beginning to change. That has an affect — even on little things. Like while the core group knew exactly what video to pull when Ojeda wanted to analyze a certain style of pitching, Ojeda now had to get more involved in the production process. Get it?
On top of the changes, Ojeda was looking down the barrel of a contract negotiation. In his mind, he was worth more dough not only because of his performance but he believed his job description changed.
“It began to be a little bit more than I signed on for. I was willing to do it,” Ojeda said. “But with that added responsibility, I think there should be added compensation. That’s quite fair. It’s that simple.”
The “responsibility” includes the prospect of being a target of criticism that is not deserved because of a behind-the-scenes glitch. “If it doesn’t fly, me and Gary (Apple) are going to take the fall,” Ojeda said. “Sure I miss doing the show. But it started to become a lot more than I felt I was able to do.
“But the reality is that’s just my own shortcomings I was afraid of,” Ojeda continued. “That was part of it. I had so many people helping me do that job and they began to turn over. And I began questioning my abilities a little bit.”
History tells us insecurity is in the air all these guys breathe. Yet Ojeda is quick to embrace the idea of a return to broadcasting. Or a front-office position. Or becoming a member of a coaching staff. For through all that went down, all the experiences over six years behind a microphone, Bobby Ojeda learned something about himself.
“I found out I still have a passion for the game that I didn’t know existed,” he said. “Now, I’m sort of in between innings.”
Credit to the NY Daily News who originally published this article
Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts
“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”
In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage.
Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.
“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.
“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”
Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion.
“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.”
When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone:
“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.”
AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive
“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”
Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.
While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.
A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.
After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.
The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.
“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”
You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket.
Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.
While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.