Montana State broadcaster Mark Martello was fired recently for comments he made during Saturday’s women’s basketball game between the Bobcats and Portland State.
Martello had been the play-by-play man for MSU women’s basketball games since the 2020-21 season. He also held the position in 2005-06, the first season of Tricia Binford’s tenure as Cats head women’s coach. Martello has called games for the MSU men, high school, and Bozeman Icedogs hockey as well.
During the broadcast in question, Martello made multiple analogies, specifically comparing the city of Portland with the South Side of Chicago and trying to parallel the Portland team to Antifa in an attempt at a joke. LEARFIELD, which represents MSU, let Martello go after MSU’s 71-56 win at Worthington Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Joe Terry of Big Sky Valhalla was the first to report the firing and shared his thoughts in a few tweets on Martello’s comments.
Made a reference to Portland being like the Southside of Chicago earlier in the game.— Joe Terry (@joseph_terry) January 22, 2022
Seems an odd place to fire off political tales but here we are.
Martello said Tom Boman, LEARFIELD’S vice president of broadcast operations, fired him because of Terry’s tweets.
“I am taking responsibility for what came out of my mouth,” Martello wrote in a text message to 406mtsports.com on Monday. “I will miss the team and coaches. There will be no apology, no one was harmed.”
The comment comparing Portland and the South Side of Chicago came at the 8:25 mark of the fourth quarter, Martello mentioned that Portland State center Rhema Ogele was battling in the middle with MSU’s Taylor Janssen.
“Ogele, from Saint Ignatius College (Prep) in Chicago, which is South Side. You’ve heard of (it),” Martello said on the broadcast. “Portland not much different, I don’t think, these days.”
Martello was trying to make a reference to the rising crime rate of Portland, an odd opinion to include during the broadcast of a basketball game.
“I’ve been to the South Side, a lot. Portland looked worse when we were there last year,” Martello wrote in a text to 406 Mt Sports‘ Victor Flores, adding a laughing emoji.
Not long after the South Side comment, MSU’s Kola Bad Bear got the ball inside and missed a post shot. Martello said on the air that Bad Bear “got fouled two or three times” on the play, but no foul was called.
“Evidently, Cats are up 19, Portland can get away with whatever they’re going to get away with,” Martello said on the broadcast. “Portland’s like antifa after a riot. They might go to jail, but they get out right away. They can get away with it.”
Martello paused for a second, then apologized.
“Uh-oh,” he continued. “I shouldn’t say stuff like that. I’m sorry.”
He quickly got back to calling the game after that.
This was another odd comment that did not seem to relate much to the game or setting. However, Antifa is often associated with Portland largely because of Rose City Antifa, one of the United States’ oldest active antifa groups.
“This is part of the world we live in, a big reason why I hate Social Media,” Martello texted. “Dumb thing to say maybe, but firing me represents MONTANA values? I think not. MSU promotes Portland values, in Montana. Kneeling is fine, political warm-ups are no problem, but some radio yahoo making wise cracks is a capital offense. Everything I said was true. I guess the truth hurts.”
This was another bad look for Martello. While he was referring to Black Lives Matter warm-up shirts, the actual warm-ups MSU wore had the phrase “No More Stolen Sisters” which was intended to raise awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls during Saturday’s game. Martello later said he supported those efforts.
MSU did not make a big deal over the firing but mentioned Martello’s dismissal in a press release. However, the school didn’t comment further. Both LEARFIELD and ESPN (the broadcast was also televised on ESPN+) declined to comment.
The Portland State athletic department issued a statement through a spokesperson to 406mtsports.com.
“That type of commentary has no place in the description of a college basketball game,” the statement reads. “The portrayal of Portland State was both inaccurate and inappropriate. We appreciate that Montana State acknowledges that as well.”
Peter Schrager: ‘Next Good Morning Football Host Has Massive Shoes To Fill’
“I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it.”
This week, Good Morning Football ended up winning a Sports Emmy for the best daily studio show. It is a show that has turned into part most football fans’ morning routines. However, there will be new people on the panel eventually with the departures of Nate Burleson and Kay Adams.
This week, one of those left, Peter Schrager, was on The Pat McAfee Show. He did not have a name for McAfee that would fill the role Adams leaves behind and he isn’t going to interfere in the process of the executives picking the next host.
“I would think that there is going to be a long line of people who will want that,” he said. “Those are massive shoes to fill. I don’t know where they are going for that and I don’t play coach or GM. I’m just going to sit back and if they ask my opinion, I’ll give it. But, for now, I trust the executives to hire someone who is going to take care of that hosting job.”
As for Burleson’s seat, the show has used a number of ex-players to fill-in. Schrager likes it that way because he can learn many different stories each week:
“Nate and I can finish each other’s sentences. Now, you have a guy I don’t know the story this player is going to tell. I don’t know where he’s going to take it and I think it’s kind of cool for us.”
Last summer, Schrager hosted The Flying Coach podcast on The Ringer with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Unfortunately, there will be no season 2 of that show this summer. That doesn’t mean there won’t be another season of the podcast in the future though.
“I won’t do it without McVay. I begged him. He’s just out….He’s getting married this offseason. He’s got his honeymoon. He’s like, we’ll pick it up another offseason. I’m upset. I love doing it. All these new coaches, Sean and I would have had a good time with it and we talked about it, but it’s his decision and he’s saying no and I totally get it. He’s really good at it and he liked it. He’ll have opportunities and you see some of these numbers that these guys are getting. Trust me, he’s aware.”
Shan & RJ: ‘Inside The NBA Was Trying To Prevent A Riot Last Night’
“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?”
Things were very far from normal on Thursday night on the set of Inside the NBA. During the postgame show, Warriors fans threw objects at Charles Barkley as TNT was broadcasting live outside of the Chase Center in San Francisco.
Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Shan and RJ discussed the scene and said things felt out of the ordinary long before anything was even thrown.
“You know that moment? Everyone’s joking around. Everyone’s having fun, then someone doesn’t take the joke as a joke anymore and all the fun is sucked out of the room and things are awkward and serious?” Shan Shariff said. “That’s what happened yesterday on Inside the NBA both in the pregame and the postgame.”
Barkley had been picking on Warriors fans calling them annoying and describing San Francisco as having “dirty ass streets full of homeless people” throughout the series.
Shariff said even in the pregame show, it seemed that the Inside the NBA crew was wary of the crowd gathered behind them.
“It felt like yesterday instead of having fun and cutting loose, it felt like they were trying to prevent a riot.”
After a rolled-up t-shirt struck Barkley, he got up and acted as if he was going to throw a ceramic coffee mug into the crowd. Shariff said it was clear that Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith thought Barkley was about to be involved in an altercation of some sort.
RJ Choppy disagreed though. His immediate thought in seeing the video was that Barkley was just taking his ribbing of the crowd to the next level like a WWE superstar might.
“I think he knew the wrestling role, but I don’t think the other guys did,” Choppy said.
Sean and RJ expounded on the wrestling comparison, saying that he had a specific event in mind. He compared the way the crowd treated Barkley on Thursday night to how the crowd at ECW’s One Night Stand in 2006 treated John Cena. Cena and security may have thought they knew what was coming, but it was clear when fans started throwing chairs at the WWE champ that their ire was more serious than anticipated.
There can be peace for the time being. TNT’s NBA season ends at the conclusion of the Western Conference Finals. It will be interesting to see if this animosity returns in the 2022-23 season.
Don La Greca: ‘Howie Rose Was The Only Sports Talk Host As Passionate About Hockey As Me’
“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose.”
Don LaGreca has been working on Rangers radio broadcasts since 2005, and has served as the backup play-by-play announcer for the last few seasons, filling in for Kenny Albert when he is unable to be on the call. Because of Albert’s responsibilities in calling national playoff games on television amid the new media rights agreement between the league and its partners (ESPN and Turner Sports), La Greca has called more Rangers games of late, and received positive reviews.
Yesterday on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York, Kay mentioned the compliments callers have been giving La Greca for his ability to call hockey games, some of whom credit him for introducing them to the sport.
“The one thing hockey is is underexposed,” said La Greca. “Because you hear a lot of people say, ‘Boy, I didn’t realize how much fun this sport is; how great it is to go to a game,’ because a lot of us don’t grow up around it.”
La Greca realizes that he is in a unique position being the co-host of a sports radio show and an NHL play-by-play announcer, giving him a responsibility to communicate and opine on the game of hockey to his listening audience at large. He considers himself the second person to have such a distinction – the pioneer of which, while he may no longer be calling hockey games, still frequently discusses the sport on Twitter.
“When you look at the history of sports radio, the only person that I can think of that called games and was [as] passionate about hockey as I am that had a regular radio show was Howie Rose,” said La Greca. “And Howie Rose has been out of the sports radio game for 25 years.”
Rose was with WFAN from its launch on July 1, 1987 as its weekday nighttime host. Additionally, he served in the same role as La Greca, backing up Kenny Albert’s father Marv on Rangers radio broadcasts – where, in 1994, he delivered the illustrious call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in game 7 that sent the team to the Stanley Cup Finals. One year later, Rose left WFAN to begin calling games for the NHL’s New York Islanders on Sportschannel, and did not host a sports radio show during his time as a lead hockey play-by-play announcer.
While there are other sports radio hosts in the New York marketplace that exhibit a passion for hockey such as Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti, La Greca is the only one who actively calls the games – akin to how Michael Kay is the only active New York sports radio host who regularly calls professional baseball.
“You don’t have somebody who is as close to the sport as I am to have this kind of forum, so maybe there are a few people like, ‘Hey, I’m a fan of Don. I really don’t like hockey, but he calls a few games so let me listen,’ and it kind of opened a door that otherwise wouldn’t have been opened” said La Greca. “….I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing. It’s just an opportunity that I have, and it is humbling and it’s pretty cool to hear and I hope those people stick with the sport.”