“Mama, there goes that man!”
MSG Network could have ex-ESPNer Mark Jackson fill in for Clyde Frazier on some Knicks games this season, according to sources.
The Daily News mentioned MSGN was interested in Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy to team with play-by-play voice Mike Breen. The trio had been ABC/ESPN’s No. 1 crew for a long time before Van Gundy and Jackson were both fired during the late June layoffs.
Though MSG Network had interest, Van Gundy calling some Knicks games is very unlikely to happen, according to sources.
Both Jackson and Van Gundy had money remaining on their ESPN contracts and likely would need permission from ESPN to be allowed to do it.
ESPN is handling them on a case-by-case basis, and Jackson’s case is trending the right way for him to fill in on some games for the 78-year-old Frazier.
Jackson — whose catchphrase for when someone does something exceptional is: “Mama, there goes that man!” — did local games years ago for the Nets on YES.
I would give ESPN+’s “Toy Story” presentation of Jaguars-Falcons on Sunday morning a 4.2 out of 5 clickers, which is a pretty good grade. The idea worked, though some of the execution — admittedly very difficult — had kinks that needed to be worked out. But I could see kids and adults really liking it as an alternate offering. Drew Carter and Booger McFarland were fine in the booth, though I would’ve had McFarland refrain from any technical stuff and would’ve skipped the ayahuasca reference. Their 12-year-old sideline reporter, Pepper Persley, was excellent. Overall, it was something to build on.
… Last week, we reported Robbie Hummel will move from ESPN to NBC and Fox for men’s Big Ten basketball. Sources said NBC’s Peacock play-by-player will be Noah Eagle, while another ex-ESPNer, Jordan Cornette, will be a studio analyst for the Big Ten men’s games. Eagle is NBC’s lead play-by-player on the network’s Saturday night Big Ten football package. Cornette was part of ESPN’s big on-air layoffs at the end of June. Meanwhile, on the women’s Big Ten side, Zora Stephenson will be the lead play-by-player on Peacock, according to sources. Stephenson is already part of NBC as its Notre Dame sideline reporter, among other roles. Stephenson has done play-by-play on Milwaukee Bucks games.
… Sean McDonough will call a wild-card-round MLB playoff series for ESPN. McDonough, taking the spot that was Dave Flemming’s, will be teaming up with Tim Kurkjian and Jessica Mendoza. The rest of the ESPN crews: Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez; Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez; Jon Sciambi and Doug Glanville. …TBS will return with the same broadcast teams for the playoffs they rolled out last year. Bob Costas is partnering with Ron Darling, and Brian Anderson will be matched with Jeff Francoeur for the division series.
… Yankees interim hitting coach Sean Casey will return to MLB Network and “MLB Central” on Monday and “MLB Tonight” for the rest of the week. At this point, he is not scheduled after that for MLBN. On Sunday, Casey indicated he has not yet received a Yankees contract offer for 2024. … YES will have Bob Lorenz and Frank Isola host a two-hour show on Monday at 11 a.m. for Nets’ Media Day. … Amazon Prime Video’s weekday shows are saying “au revoir” after they just said “bonjour.” If you don’t get that, that was precisely the problem. Not enough people knew that Amazon had a show called “Bonjour! Sports Talk” as well as a few other talk programs. Amazon is shuttering the shows after making a low-money experiment that didn’t seem like it would work — and ultimately didn’t. In a streaming world, daily studio shows don’t seem to have traction except on YouTube.
… Skip Bayless gets destroyed by media folks, and some of it is deserved. However, Bayless does prepare, and many people who have worked with him or whom he has covered closely have a lot of respect for him. On Friday’s “Undisputed,” Colorado coach Deion Sanders said to Bayless, “Skip, you get heat oftentimes, but you’ve given us opportunities that people look past and don’t recognize. I appreciate you.” … MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was John Ourand‘s and my guest on our podcast, and he forecast that networks could offer a sports betting alt-cast. “I see that at some point coming as an alternate digital product,” Manfred said. “You’re always going to have that clean broadcast. If we get there to betting off the screen, it’s going to be a separate digital feed that the true gambler can opt-in to.”
Woj wins the Dame trade
The Damian Lillard trade went down with Lillard ending up in Milwaukee instead of Miami. As usual during all the talks, the NBA insiders seemed to have an outsized amount of focus on them.
In the end, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the clear winner. While Wojnarowski broke the deal, his rival, The Athletic/Stadium/FanDuel’s Shams Charania, initially tweeted out the wrong team, saying the Raptors were getting Lillard. This was after Wojnarowski took some slings, didn’t respond and ended with a behind-the-scenes opus as an exclamation point.
After Lillard made it clear he wanted a trade to Miami, Dan Le Batard and some of his sidekicks went after Wojnarowski for reporting that the Trail Blazers were going to take their time making a deal. Le Batard and company seemed to have a stake in whether or not their hometown Heat would get Lillard. Le Batard made it very personal with Wojnarowski, saying he was “bought and paid for by Portland.”
The top-insider game can be dirty at times, but did Le Batard really know Wojnarowski’s sources? You can only report a story where it stood at the time. If he is conveying what executives with teams are telling him, isn’t that the job?
The Le Batard crew felt Lillard was coming to Miami. If he had, they probably would’ve said they were right the whole time and taken a victory lap.
Instead, with Lillard now in Milwaukee, they played clips of all the things they got wrong.
Let’s add one more: They seem to think Wojnarowski — who is a powerful reporter — can help dictate trades, which is pretty preposterous, especially with no evidence.
You can question methods and go after reporters, but Le Batard should have led with facts, which is what Wojnarowski did.
Clicker Book Club
John Feinstein’s latest book, “Feherty: The Remarkably Funny and Tragic Journey of Golf’s David Feherty,” traces his life as an excellent golfer and commentator while also detailing his personal challenges, including alcoholism, a tragic death of a son and his marriages. The book also goes through golf and dives into the impact of LIV, which Feherty joined as an analyst. Papa Clicker gives this Feinstein book 4.3 out of 5 clickers.