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Joel Sherman Passionately Debates Brian Kenny About Shohei Otani

Joel Sherman staunchly defended the Angels’ decision in letting star Shohei Ohtani both pitch and hit after Brian Kenny challenged the idea.

MIchael Quirk

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The term “once-in-a-generation player” is thrown around ad naseum in sports circles. In the case of Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, that adage appears to be true. The unbelievably rare two-way player is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA as a pitcher, and 32 home runs and a .700 slugging percentage, drawing frequent comparisons to the legendary Babe Ruth.

One reason a two-way player is so rare in baseball in this era is out of an abundance of caution due to injuries. A 162-game slate is a grind on both pitchers (even if they are starting once every fifth game) and hitters. Having a valuable prospect do both on a consistent basis has any worrier squirming in their seat. The tempting difference with Ohtani is the fact he is not good at both, he’s exceptional at both. This difference in ideas of “should you play him both ways or have him focus on one so he does not burn out” played out on MLB Network earlier this week between Brian Kenny and Joel Sherman.

“I’m glad we’re doing it,” Sherman said. “He’s succeeding. There’s thing rush to still try to come to judgment about what he should do. What he should do is…he’s the best starting pitcher and the best hitter on the team. Why would you stop him from doing one or the other?”

Kenny retorted by discussing injury risks with Ohtani, suggesting he would simply use him as a hitter, something he will showcase in next week’s Home Run Derby. The clip features a fascinating back-and-forth between the colleagues culminating in what most discussions do these days: in a still-set difference of opinion.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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