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Media Coverage May Pressure NBA to Change Free Agency

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The late night start to NBA free agency has never been ideal for TV viewership, but with the 2018 edition kicking off at 12:01 on a Sunday morning, it may have been even more lost in the shuffle for the league’s casual fans. Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing ponders what the league may do to avoid the same problem in the future.

There are a couple of different elements to consider here. One is the free agency period being linked to the first of the month rather than the days of the week, which is what made this year’s free agency stand out as particularly poorly-timed for media coverage compared to other years. The 12:01 a.m. Eastern start is pretty usual, in basketball and in other sports, but having that fall on a weekend this year was rough from a media perspective. And yes, it’s easier from the contracts side to just say all contracts expire as of June 30 each year, but changing that so free agency would always open, say, at 12:01 a.m. on the first weekday in July might have some advantages from a media perspective. (The first weekday seems like a better bet than “the first Monday,” as then there’s no chance of it falling on the July 4 Independence Day holiday.)

But beyond that, having free agency open at 12:01 a.m. Eastern isn’t the most practical solution. Again, that’s probably done because it’s easier for contracts and because it’s always been done, and other leagues do it as well. But it should be possible to set that time to whatever the NBA and the players’ association agree on, hopefully in consultation with media partners. Other elements such as trade deadlines are in the middle of the day, and those have turned into media extravaganzas (especially when it comes to the NHL trade deadline in Canada).

As Bucholtz points out, trade deadlines never have late night end times, so from a business standpoint, it shouldn’t be impossible to make a change. Also, the timing of free agency’s launch each year means that the NBA has a real chance to dominate public conversation and the pundit-filled airwaves if the league takes steps to time it properly every year.

The truth is that players and teams are going to get deals done when they get done. The NBA cannot force anyone to keep from posting something regarding their future on social media, but Bucholtz argues that moving the season’s kickoff event can be used to build the fanbase.

And this isn’t just about keeping media outlets happy; in fact, that’s the lower concern. The bigger issue is that the NBA has an event that’s generating tremendous interest, something that could theoretically be held at any time they and the players’ association agree on, and it’s happening at midnight on a weekend when many media can’t give it a full-court press. And the timing also means that the opening in particular is being followed more by the hardcore fans (especially on the East Coast) than by casual fans. Making the deadline at a more media-friendly time could pay significant exposure benefits for the league.

You can read the full column at Awful Announcing.

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Bob Costas Gets Choke Up While Telling a Vin Scully Story

“Just the pure love and connection was so touching,” Costas said.

Jordan Bondurant

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Bob Costas

The sports world was saddened to learn of broadcasting legend Vin Scully’s passing on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, tributes across sports media to the Dodgers icon came pouring in. Some could only hold in their emotions to the news but so well.

Bob Costas appeared on High Heat on MLB Network to remember his friend, and when talking about a particular memory that stood out in his mind, Costas got choked up.

The memory was from November 2016 when Scully received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then President Barack Obama. Costas said Scully invited him and his wife Jill to attend the ceremony at the White House.

After the ceremony, and following an interview for CBS Sunday Morning, Costas said something wonderful happened.

“When Vin Scully walked back out of the Rose Garden and back into the White House, the conductor of the Marine Corps Band spots him and immediately he cues the band to play Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” Costas said. “But then he hands Vin the baton and Vin steps up on the podium and he’s at least figuratively conducting the Marine Corps Band.”

Costas said Scully’s wife, Sandy, photographed the moment, and then Costas started tearing up.

“Just the pure love and connection was so touching,” Costas said.

In the moment, Costas caught himself and tried to regain his composure.

“I can’t believe I’m choking up,” he said. “You’re not supposed to do that. Be professional, Bob.”

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Joe Buck Says He Tried to Convince Vin Scully to Call Part of the World Series on FOX

“If I could somehow… pay homage to somebody who’s that great and let them take my spot, man that would’ve been in the weirdest way one of the highlights of my career,” he said.

Jordan Bondurant

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Vin Scully

Vin Scully is widely regarded as one of the greatest broadcasters ever and for good reason.

Even in his later years, Scully still knew how to captivate an audience while riding solo in the broadcast booth.

Joe Buck, remembering Scully in an interview on the Sports Media podcast with Richard Deitsch, said he did his darndest to try and get Vin in the booth during the World Series one more time.

“I tried to go through intermediaries to get him to do it,” Buck said. “I said we’ll make it as easy as possible.”

But Buck said it was likely the fact that Scully didn’t want to be a distraction and work with people he’s unfamiliar with that it never happened.

“You’re coming into a completely foreign situation, and now somebody’s talking in your ear, you have no idea who the hell that is, you’re working with a director you’ve never worked with, and you’re working with an analyst you’ve never worked with and what have you,” Buck said. “But just his voice and that cadence and that rhythm and that ability to just weave stories in and whatever would’ve been so great.”

Had the moment happened, Buck said there would’ve been zero chance he’d have stayed in the booth with Scully.

“I would’ve been in the lunchroom watching it,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been hovering. I would have been gone.”

Buck, like so many others in sports media, had a unique relationship with Scully. Buck said he felt like giving Vin one more chance to be on the microphone for a World Series game was the best thing he could’ve done to recognize an icon.

“If I could somehow, because I saw it in my own home, pay homage to somebody who’s that great and let them take my spot, man that would’ve been in the weirdest way one of the highlights of my career,” he said.

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ESPN Will Honor Vin Scully By Airing Iconic 1988 World Series Game 1 Tonight

ESPN will air an encore presentation of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series as a tribute to Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scull

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Vin Scully

ESPN will air an encore presentation of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series as a tribute to Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully. The network will air the game tonight, August 3 at 8pm ET on ESPN2.

The 1988 World Series was between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics. Scully was on the call for the classic game which is notable for an injured Kirk Gibson coming off the bench and hitting a walk-off home run.

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