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Dan Le Batard: Rob Manfred Could Have Had Me Fired From ESPN

“ESPN defended us a hell of a lot better than MLB Network defended Ken Rosenthal.”

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Earlier this week, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that MLB Network decided to cut ties with Ken Rosenthal over comments that Rosenthal made in an article for The Athletic that criticized Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred. While Rosenthal is still with The Athletic and FOX Sports, it was news that surprised many in the industry. 

On Tuesday’s edition of The Dan Le Batard Show with StuGotzthe show dove into the surprising news story while also looking back at the interview Le Batard and StuGotz did with Manfred back in 2017. 

When looking back at the interview, Le Batard thinks it’s arguably the worst interview that a sports commissioner has ever given. Despite that interview, he thought ESPN was by his side more in that situation than MLB Network was for Rosenthal: 

“You can say that we’re terrible because we are terrible, but it was a terrible interview that he did,” Le Batard insisted. “He was defensive. We caught him saying some things that we could prove factually through documentation were not true. In doing that interview, what happened after that, ESPN defended us a hell of a lot better than MLB Network defended Ken Rosenthal.

“MLB Network is a propaganda arm. NFL Network is a propaganda arm. There are things that will not be discussed on those propaganda arms because they are not independent entities. If Rob Manfred could have gotten me fired at ESPN, he would have…It is a propaganda machine once you are eliminating the ability to criticize without punishment from your employers.”

While Le Batard thinks Manfred could have had him fired at ESPN, StuGotz disagreed.

“I knew it was dangerous. I remember thinking going into it, it doesn’t matter what happens here. We weren’t going to get fired for it…It would have taken a lot for them to fire us,” said Stugotz.

Stugotz noted that the big difference between them and Ken Rosenthal is that Rosenthal did have a paycheck tied directly to Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball. He argued that the reporter had to at least wonder what the fall out would be before he wrote about people questioning the league commissioner.

“At some level, Ken Rosenthal took a job at the MLB Network and should probably know better than to rip the commissioner on any platform.”

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Bomani Jones: ‘Tim Anderson Asked Me To Interview Him’

“I got to comport myself in such a way that dudes I cover respect me, if I want them to talk to me. I have to go the extra mile in terms of earning respect if I want to have these cats listen to me.”

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Josh Donaldson and Tim Anderson were all over the news last week after the two exchanged words during the Yankees-White Sox series. Over the course of two days, an altercation between the two started a bench-clearing brawl, and then a second altercation occurred when Donaldson called Tim Anderson “Jackie,” a reference to Jackie Robinson.

Bomani Jones was one of the few people in the media to land an on-camera interview with Anderson for his podcast, The Right Time, where they got a chance to discuss what really took place during that moment.

Donaldson’s “Jackie” comment was a reference to a Sports Illustrated article from 2019 in which Anderson referred to himself as being similar to the Dodgers Hall of Famer. Anderson said publicly that it may have been a joke to Donaldson, but it did not feel that way to him.

On Friday’s edition of his show, former NFL player and current ESPN NFL analyst Domonique Foxworth asked Jones how he landed an interview with Anderson. Jones said Anderson was the one pursuing him.

“He sent me a DM and was like yo, I want to talk,” Jones said to Foxworth. “I not gonna lie to y’all, he was hoping to not have to do media availability so we were sitting on it because we wanted it to be the big surprise, we wanted to drop the big joker when all the spades have been played.”

The trust level between an athlete and a reporter is arguably the most important thing for any journalist. Jones said he has had to build that trust in a different way from many in his position.

“I didn’t come up reporting, I wasn’t on the ground. And so I am in a lot of ways the dude sitting in his house popping off at people. I get every criticism that comes with that, so as a result, I got to comport myself in such a way that dudes I cover respect me, if I want them to talk to me. I have to go the extra mile in terms of earning respect if I want to have these cats listen to me. So for me it feels good when something like that happens because it means my goal, at least with that one person has been achieved.”

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John Skipper: ‘Tom Brady is a Very Expensive Trophy for FOX’

“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time.”

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The NFL broadcasting world went through a series of massive changes this offseason. Outside of the No. 1 crew at CBS (Jim Nantz and Tony Romo), every other network will have new faces appear on our television screens during game days.

Out of the large amounts of money being thrown around at various networks in the industry, it was Tom Brady’s massive 10-year,  $375-million broadcasting deal with FOX that turned a lot of heads. Not only does the deal indicate that the seven-time Super Bowl champ will be retiring in the very near future, but some, including Dan Le Batard, wondered why such a fortune was being given to someone who has “never said anything interesting'” during his career in the NFL.

During the “local hour” of his popular show on Thursday, Le Batard welcomed former ESPN president and his Meadowlark Media partner, John Skipper. He expressed a similar.

“There’s very little economic value. He’s a very, very expensive trophy,” Skipper said on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I think he’ll probably be okay on the game. It doesn’t really matter that much other than for pride and I guess he’ll shake advertisers’ hands.”

To put into context how massive Brady’s deal is, the future Hall of Famer will not only be making more in 10-years than he has throughout his entire 20+ year NFL career ($302.96 million in total earnings) but he will also be leapfrogging broadcast vet Troy Aikman–getting paid twice the amount of the former Cowboys QBs’ new deal with ESPN.

 “I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time,” Skipper said.

Skipper continues to add that the money FOX gave Brady could’ve been put to better use, making a more significant impact in other areas of the business, including securing live event rights.

He then brought up Mike Tirico, who called Monday Night Football at ESPN during Skipper’s tenure at the network. No matter how much faith he had in the play-by-play man, Skipper said he didn’t feel the need to overspend on a partner to help him shine.

“I put Mike Tirico in the booth and thought he did an outstanding job, but I would not have paid any ex-player $15, $20, or $25 million to sit next to him.”

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North Carolina Lawmakers Expect Mobile Sports Betting By Football Season

“North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.”

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It is already legal to place bets in North Carolina on sporting events. It is just incredibly difficult. Bets can only be made inside of 2 Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state. That could change before football season.

The State Senate, which is politically divided, passed SB 688 last year. If it makes it through the State House, it would become law and North Carolinians could then theoretically place bets online legally.

SB 88 was sponsored by Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County. He told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that he is optimistic about what will happen in the House.

“We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have,” he said. “I feel confident about it.”

North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.

Politically, North Carolina is considered a purple state. That is showing up in the effort to legalize mobile wagering. One of the bill’s biggest advocates in the House is Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County.

“We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve not heard any new opposition,” he told WRAL. “I think we have a pretty smooth glide path once we do kind of start rolling into session.”

The state’s Lottery Commission would oversee sports gambling. If the SB 688 is passed, operators would pay $500,000 for a five-year license, which can be renewed for $100,000. They would also pay an 8% tax on adjusted gross revenue. Both of those numbers are low compared to other states.

“Once we pass this bill, there’s some tweaks we’re going to do,” Lowe said. “But right now we’re just trying to get it out of the chute.”

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