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Damon Bruce, A’s Team President Agree To Live Streamed Debate

“When you’re led by a guy like that, it’s no wonder that your fanbase has dwindled.”

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Oakland was once a three-sport city. Throughout each year, Oakland-based fans could catch Athletics baseball, Raiders football and Warriors basketball without having to drive across a bridge to San Francisco. That all changed in 2019 when the Warriors left Oracle Arena in Oakland and relocated to the glamorous new Chase Center in San Francisco. After the first metaphorical domino fell, the Raiders officially relocated to Las Vegas, Nev., and now play home games in the new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium.

The Athletics are the lone professional team remaining in Oakland and play their home games at RingCentral Coliseum. Yet proposals within different cities, including Las Vegas and Portland have made it entirely plausible that the A’s may follow the Warriors and Raiders out of town.

The Athletics are in the midst of a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park, a stadium that was entirely privately-funded and has consistently attracted many fans. After a photo of empty seats at the ballpark last night was shared online, Oakland Athletics Team President Dave Kaval tweeted an emoji and tagged a Twitter account that posts pictures of empty stadium seats – despite the total attendance figure of 32,000. The Athletics, through their first seven home games of the season, are averaging a crowd of just under 8,000 fans per matchup. Kaval questioned whether San Francisco-based media would comment on the lack of attendance after he had opined earlier in the day that Oakland does not receive “fair and balanced” media coverage.

Damon Bruce, the co-host of Damon & Ratto on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, replied to Kaval saying that the station’s parent company Audacy has not directed him to discuss a single subject, including fan attendance. Additionally, he claimed that Kaval and his team are tacitly engaging in “intentional fan suppression” because of the owner’s direction of the team.

This began a Twitter exchange between the two, which ended in an agreement to hold a live-streamed Twitter debate about the Athletics organization’s treatment of their fans.

Bruce has a $5,000 appearance fee which he will donate to the Alameda Food Bank, and Kaval said that he will match it by contributing another $5,000 of his own.

While Kaval originally thought the debate would be this Friday, Bruce has yet to agree to a date and has refused to partake in it live on his show.

“Because we’re not giving three hours to any single subject in the middle of the NBA playoff[s] and the day after the NFL draft,” said Bruce in a tweet as to why he prefers to have the debate off the air. “There are levels to this.”

On Wednesday, The Morning Roast on 95.7 The Game reacted to the Twitter exchange between Kaval and Bruce.

“When you’re led by a guy like that, it’s no wonder that your fanbase has dwindled,” co-host Joe Shasky said of Kaval, “and I don’t blame the fans at all. You’re being run into the ground and they’re trying to leave.”

Kaval appeared as a guest on The Morning Roast last year and, according to show co-host Bonta Hill, did not directly answer any of the questions they posed to him. While he is not an Oakland Athletics fan himself, Hill said he feels bad for those who root for an organization Kaval runs.

“You’re a team president,” stated Hill. “You shouldn’t be commenting on whether or not a stadium’s empty…. Everything about it was minor league…. He’s a carnival; He’s a circus act.”

Hill believes that Kaval’s Twitter exchange and forthcoming Twitter debate with Bruce is a plea for attention amid an inauspicious start to the 2022 regular season both on and off the field.

The sentiment around the Bay Area seems to be that the team will soon be headed elsewhere, leaving the city of Oakland with no professional sports teams of its own. He does not blame Athletics fans for being dismayed with the current state of the team and for neglecting to show up to games this year.

“It’s just tone deaf,” asserted Hill. “You can’t draw 5,000 people right now because you’ve lost all the faith in your fanbase.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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?”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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