Major League Baseball officially returned on Thursday, a week later than originally planned due to the lockout. In cities like Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, it was met with excitement and optimism.
Over on Murph & Mac on KNBR in San Francisco, Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo was asked about baseball’s place in American culture given how one of the major talking points has been dwindling interest in the sport by younger people. Russo told Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey that it really does depend on where you go.
“If you live in certain cities, I think that baseball’s as hot as it’s ever been,” the sports radio icon said. “I think if you’re in Baltimore, I think if you’re in Pittsburgh, I think if you’re in Cincinnati, Phoenix, maybe Cleveland, I think if you’re in those spots it’s a disaster. And that’s the difference between baseball and say the NFL.”
Russo talked about competitive balance in football and how every August fans of teams far and wide come into the fresh start of a new season hopeful for success. In baseball, he said, you don’t have that. Some teams will break the bank every offseason, while others just don’t or can’t afford to. And with baseball being such a long season to begin with, in some places you already know what you’re going to get.
“There are certain markets here that baseball never really gets on track in the course of the year because these teams can’t win,” he said. “And I think that’s a major problem. I’m not sure how they solve it.”
He did say that baseball will always be liked in other places.
“In certain spots the game is timeless,” he said.
Chris Russo has been outspoken this offseason regarding a number of things that had Major League Baseball in the headlines for the wrong reasons. He routinely voiced his opinion on the lockout that pushed back the start of the season. Just last week he lambasted the league for the number of games that will be streaming-only this season.
Mick Hubert to Retire After 33 Years As Voice Of Florida Gators
“This wasn’t the end of a five-year plan. I don’t know if I can explain how I knew, but I knew.”
After more than three decades and more than 2,500 games called in Gainesville, Mick Hubert is retiring as the voice of the Florida Gators.
Hubert, 68, will call it a career after the Florida baseball team concludes its regular season this weekend.
Hubert, who’s called numerous Gators national championships across multiple sports in his tenure, said he had been thinking about retiring but finally had peace about it to make the decision.
“This wasn’t the end of a five-year plan. I don’t know if I can explain how I knew, but I knew,” he said. “I had been considering this for a little while. I just had to do some praying about it and enjoy every game.”
The longtime broadcaster is a 2019 inductee into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
Hubert said he poured his heart and soul into broadcasts and that hopefully fans recognized that.
“I hope they heard the enthusiasm, and the credibility is important to me,” he said. “You need to be factual and credible, but you need to be enthusiastic. That’s what I always felt. I always wanted to take my audience on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. I also wanted to give them enough information so they could paint that picture in their mind.”
Reporter Tells Kevin & Query About NBA Draft Lottery Security Measures
“By the time you’re watching the production on ESPN for the lottery, we already know.”
The NBA Draft is coming up towards the end of June, and the top half of the draft order was set this week in the NBA Draft Lottery.
The lottery adds a level of excitement to the mix because you never know if the team with the best odds for the number one pick will actually get it.
But it’s a whole process that actually unfolds well before it airs on ESPN. Pacers reporter Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files told Kevin Bowen and Jake Query on 107.5 The Fan in Indianapolis what it was like to have access to the lottery.
“By the time you’re watching the production on ESPN for the lottery, we already know,” he said. “It’s already happened. But we’re locked down, sequestered in a room, a ballroom, can’t leave.”
What was even more interesting to Agness was the fact that even people representing lottery teams were under an embargo until the results aired on TV.
“We had all that good info, but the person that won the lottery for instance couldn’t call and celebrate with their people,” Agness said. “None of us in the room could tweet it out because none of us had our devices.”
Agness added that the league had contingency plans in case the lottery drum failed, if the same team had its ping pong ball drawn, and just about every other scenario you could think of. He said he was very impressed with how the NBA did things.
“It was kind of cool to see how well-run everything was in the end,” he said.
Tony Bruno Relives Favorite Moments With Angelo Cataldi on 94 WIP
“I loved every day. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that.”
Tony Bruno has been a staple of the sports radio business for decades. Bruno is from Philadelphia and was teamed up in the early nineties with a duo still dominating the local airwaves there today, Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti. The three reunited Thursday morning on 94 WIP to remember the glory days of their partnership and friendship.
One of the first moments Cataldi asked Bruno if he remembered was the update he did from a tree outside of their studio and the answer was an emphatic yes.
“Absolutely, it’s one of the highlights of my life – other than interviewing four Presidents and every sports athlete in history – there’s no bigger moment than me climbing up in the tree, which was obstructing our view of William Penn and the city skyline. That’s what I do, I was a man of action. I’m not one of these guys that talks the talk, I climb the tree to do whatever is necessary.”
More frivolity followed when Cataldi harkened back to a segment of ‘Damsels in Distress’ and a time in which Bruno was sent on the street during a snowstorm to help shovel people out of their driveways. Bruno quickly recalled, “Man of the people. I should run for – I should of run for Governor of Pennsylvania or Senate or something.”
Bruno added that his favorite rant (and one that Cataldi loved too) wasn’t about the Cowboys or sports at all. “My favorite was my Infinity Broadcasting rant where I went on one day and even ripped our bosses, all the way up to the top of Infinity Broadcasting.” Cataldi cackled and praised Bruno’s rants more before being interrupted by Bruno saying, “yeah, my only regret is I never really ripped Al (Morganti) the way I should have ripped him. I let him of the hook so many times.”
An insightful moment came at the end of the call when Cataldi asked rhetorically if Bruno ever thought they (Cataldi & Morganti) would still be doing this thirty years later and then asked if Tony ever regretted leaving.
“It was a tough decision, Ang,” Bruno answered. “I was given an ultimatum. When I came to work with you guys, I loved every day. Every day we had fun. We did stuff that put Sports Radio in Philly on the map and I’m proud of that. It wasn’t one of those, ‘oh I got to go; I’m too big for these guys’. I even turned the ESPN job down a couple of times.
“My kids were still younger then, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t have to move. They said just come up here on weekends and that’s how ESPN Radio started. So I was doing weekends and Tom Bigby (Program Director) didn’t like that either, told me it wasn’t going to work. It was a philosophical thing. When he told me, ‘you should go because we are not going to pay you what they’re paying you,’ I said ok.
Cataldi began to sign off with Bruno with genuine thanks: “I got to tell you something Tone, we are indebted to you for the rest of our lives because we both learned so much from you and you are one of the great talents that radio has ever had.”