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Where To Go When You Need To Prep

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I’m sure you’ve found yourself sitting in the booth before a baseball game, getting frustrated because you can’t find that one nugget you need for a broadcast. The PR staff is busy and you are left to scratch your head. Never fear, the internet is here to help you solve your problem. But the web is tricky in that there is so much out there and some of it, isn’t legit.

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I know, unbelievable right? So, where can you go for quality, correct and instant info? I have a few suggestions based on my own experiences. 

One of my favorite sites is Baseball-Reference.com. You can research not only Major League players but also guys in your minor league system. If you have questions about pronunciations of a player’s name, they have you covered. Wondering about what uniform numbers a guy has worn over his career, again, it’s there. BR also allows you to dig deep into the archives of old games, complete with box scores of games from yesteryear.

The site is complete with yearly, season, career and franchise records. It will show you progressive records too, which shows what player led in a certain category at a certain point in time. For example if you want to know who the all-time leader in RBI’s was in 1930, it was Cap Anson, the active leader in that same year was Babe Ruth. It’s kind of a fascinating thing to look at if you’re a history buff.

For more cotemporary purposes you can easily access trends in players games. If you want to know what Player A has done since coming back from the IL, highlight the date he first played and highlight the last game played. The site will then generate his numbers from that range of dates. It’s a very helpful tool which also works on the game logs for minor league players. You can also use this site to see what happened on a certain date in MLB history, or birth/death dates of former players as well. Most of this information is free. They do have a pay portion called the Play Index which allows you to see batter/pitcher match ups and other head-to-head numbers.  This is a website I’ve gotten lost on for hours just looking at historical information. 

With today’s tendency to rely on analytics and internal numbers, there’s a great site that continues to get better. BaseballSavant.mlb.com.  The site evolves constantly and recently included in-game updated Statcast information from MLB.

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You can see how many of each pitch type a guy has thrown in real time. They’ve now included win probability, exit velocity leaders and the ability to still see a real time look at each at bat showing exit velo, launch angle, distance, pitch velocity and other useful information while the game is going on. If you want to see how hard Yuli Gurriel’s home run off of Ross Detwiler was hit, you can go to the White Sox/Astros game feed and see that the ball left the bat at 105 MPH at a launch angle of 25 degrees and so on. This is great for reference during a game.

It’s also a great spot to go for pregame prep as well. I use it to get Statcast numbers for the starting pitchers. What is his percentage of barreled balls? What is his average exit velocity? Both easily accessed on this site. I also like to see what a pitcher’s repertoire is. For example, what’s the percentage of fastballs thrown? Curves? Sliders? Also provided within those pages is info on average pitch speed and spin rate. I really enjoy getting lost on this site as well. 

Fangraphs.com is another excellent resource for analytics and stories about players. It’s a great place to check out what they call “Roster Resource”. This is invaluable to see a team’s “go to” lineup against RHP or LHP. You find out the main position, age, how they were acquired, how many options are left, service time, original signing info, where a player ranks on the prospect list and what position they’ve played in the last 6 games.  You get this for position players and pitchers and minor leaguer’s as well.

Fangraphs also provides stories about each player, just by searching his name. Also on a player’s page you can get a daily projection as to how he’ll do that day. As a member you can customize the information you receive on that page, but even for free, analytical info is available for each player. It’s a great resource for those that want to get more in depth on metrics. 

These are the main sites I tend to visit. Below I’ll list some of the other helpful sites folks in the industry have mentioned to me or I’ve also checked out. 

MLB

MLB.COM is the official site of Major League Baseball. So if it’s happening officially in the league, you’ll find the story here. Stat pages are pretty good with biographical information as well. 

Minor League Baseball

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MILB.COM is the official site of Minor League Baseball. You can get great statistical information about the top minor league prospects and all players in a team’s system. Game logs are included for the previous 10 games as well. There’s an option to sign up for MILB TV to watch games live for a fee. 

Baseball Prospectus

Baseballprospectus.com is another good site. This one is mainly a pay site with a basic plan option built in as well. You have to sign up for any service by providing email address, etc. The site has correspondents that cover each MLB team which can help research a team you aren’t as familiar with. Helpful during interleague play for sure.  

Baseball Almanac

Baseball-Almanac.com is basically what it sounds like, a historical account of the game. Check on history of ballparks, information about past playoff series and player information.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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