Connect with us

BSM Writers

Nothing Else Matters: In 2020, Sports Crushed Racism

“What was thought to be a lost year in American sports has transformed into a sweeping revolution — the shakedown of racial inequality — that trivializes the now-tenuous resumption of games.”

Jay Mariotti

Published

on

This will sound strangely counterintuitive without games to watch, trophies to award and over-unders to wager, but sports already has won the year. The ref can stop the fight, in fact, because racism is getting its ass kicked. If the apocalyptic haze of 2020 couldn’t have been foreseen even with 20-20 vision, sports still has conquered all with its extraordinary embrace of a movement — Black Lives Matter — that never has mattered much beyond lip service and business necessity in an industry lorded by white billionaires.

Suddenly, shockingly, nothing else matters. Nor should it when this country, suffering from a collective guilty conscience, is awash in soul searching that should have happened centuries ago.

“Ask the questions, ask the uncomfortable questions, and you will come to the conclusion, I hope, that I have,’’ said Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, one such white billionaire. “You don’t feel it enough and you don’t live it enough if you’re not willing to say it: Black lives matter.’’

The raw significance: Bisciotti considered signing Colin Kaepernick in 2017 and declined, concerned that segments of his team’s fan base would rebel. Now, he says he’d be “the worst kind of hypocrite’’ if he didn’t speak out about race. Did you just feel the earth move? We’re still waiting for Jerry Jones and other prominent NFL owners to stand up and say something, anything, but if they don’t, they’ll now be perceived as bigots who ignored the social justice crusade. That’s how three weeks have changed America, hopefully forever.

Progress? No, this is a cultural avalanche — a reckoning, I reckon, that reduces everything else in sports to gravel dust.

2020 MLB SEASON IS CANCELLED?? - YouTube

Let Major League Baseball implode in greed and delusion, its shrunken manhood naked to a mocking world. The owners and players continue to insult the national intellect, if not commit institutional suicide, by flailing like two punchdrunk bums and failing to reach common ground to resume the season. At this point, we’d be happy if they fade away like floppy disks, Hummers, David Lee Roth and other ‘90s bygones. Shame on the owners for crying poor after generating $10 billion in revenues last season, then refusing comment after cutting a $3.3 billion TV deal with Turner Sports, which either likes wasting money or had Charles Barkley brokering the talks in a bar. And shame on the players for not immediately going on strike, having heard St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. say, “The industry isn’t very profitable, to be honest.’’

Tweeted pitching smart-ass Trevor Bauer: “Oh good so … we can play now, right? Seems there is plenty to go around here. Seems there is plenty of money being made by the league and the teams. Given tha(t) players are the product, I’m sure some of this can be distributed to them, right? Yay for baseball.”

A commissioner-mandated, 48-game season would be a bastardized farce amid racial unrest and a pandemic, typical of a sham sport where the Yankees have joined the Astros and Red Sox in the electronic sign-stealing sinbin. Is anyone to be trusted in this godforsaken racket? Why would any established, wealthy-for-life star agree to play and take health risks — MLB has yet to establish an official COVID-19 testing protocol — when a better idea is to stay home until next year. And If Mike Trout and other superstars don’t suit up, what is the point of playing an illegitimate season? Just declare a work stoppage and leave us alone. If you miss baseball, you must be 85, playing John Fogerty’s “Centerfield’’ on cassette and still calling it the national pastime. Which makes you Bud Selig, who somehow wrecked the game AND made the Hall of Fame while still believing Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were heroes.

Why Kyrie Irving is Overrated - Last Word on Pro Basketball

Let a coronavirus bubble chase off some NBA players and confound others, such as Kyrie Irving, who think resuming a season would diminish Black Lives Matter momentum and overshadow protests when, of course, it also would draw attention to the league’s social conscience. As Austin Rivers said, echoing LeBron James and those who do want to play in the Disney World biodome: “Us coming back would put money in all of our pockets. With this money, you could help out even more people and continue to give, more importantly, your time and energy toward the BLM movement.’’ The league boss, Adam Silver, should have known some would balk at virus risks in Florida, where infections are surging in the Orlando area, and lockdown rules that won’t let players leave the bubble for restaurants, golf courses or strip clubs. But when Irving, who isn’t healthy enough to play, suggests the league is racist for trying to resume a season, that’s an outgrowth of the bigger cause.

“I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit,’’ Irving said on a conference call with fellow players, per The Athletic. “Smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.’’

Let the football season never start because a line of scrimmage is a petri dish for the coronavirus. Let the inevitable positive tests thwart preposterous attempts to resume seasons and recoup lost fortunes. Let the concept of spectator-free events turn freaky in golf, where a hole-in-one happened without applause and a CBS boom mike picked up Jon Rahm’s F-bomb. Let there be no titles, no MVPs, no parades.

Who really cares when we’ve seen sports finally examine itself in the looking glass, see a self-image it has grown to despise and realize it too has failed massively — even after Jackie Robinson, even after John Carlos and Tommie Smith, even after Muhammad Ali — in a twisted culture that allows a white Minneapolis policeman to knee-choke-murder an unarmed black man two decades into the 21st century. It took those eight minutes and 46 seconds, the killing of George Floyd, for the athletic world to at last acknowledge what so many resident activists have said for eons about racial injustice and police brutality in America.

The hatred must end.

The world must change.

UEFA confident Euro 2020 will be free of racism

And so it has, with sports figures of all races and ages joining America in a swirl of protests, statements and pro-inclusion advocacy, to the point sports might play a prominent role in a substitution a bit larger than Tom Brady for Drew Bledsoe and Lou Gehrig for Wally Pipp — say, Joe Biden for Donald Trump. The country’s abrupt revolution, inspired by the pulsating protests after Floyd’s death, has jolted sports leaders who have no choice but to speak out and change policies … or risk being linked to complicity in racism. For the first time, the politically connected magnates of sports — why does Jones’ grin always pop up first? — appear helpless in stopping the Kaepernick-led peaceful kneeling protests that surfaced in 2016 but faded two years later. That’s because seemingly everyone in sports — commissioners, executives, coaches, athletes — is committed to Black Lives Matter. If only sports would have acted so responsibly when health experts, in early March, were advising shutdowns of arenas and ballparks because of a novel virus.

COVID-19 kills people. But racism, in a progressive America, might kill entire leagues. That’s what grabs the establishment’s attention. We’ve seen the NFL, which normally genuflects to no one, dramatically change course and urge players to protest. We’ve seen NASCAR, reluctant through time to break from racist roots, ban the confederate flag — lower-case c, please — after its only full-time black driver, Bubba Wallace, said, “It starts with confederate flags. Get them out of here.’’ The Boston Red Sox decried cases, including seven last year, in which racist fans poisoned the Fenway Park experience. During MLB’s amateur draft, the predominantly white heads of franchise front offices displayed placards: “Black Lives Matter. United for Change.’’ The U.S. Olympic Committee, known to punish athletes for protests during medals ceremonies, is forming an athletes-led panel to “challenge the rules and systems in our own organization that create barriers to progress, including your right to protest.’’ Collegiate sports factories such as Clemson, Iowa and Texas have been reminded we’re in a new millennium. So has the U.S. Soccer Federation, which will let players protest after requiring Megan Rapinoe to stand when she was kneeling in solidarity.

Tweeted Trump: “I’d rather the US not have a soccer team than have a soccer team that won’t stand for the National Anthem. I won’t be watching much anymore.’’

And Drew Brees? Anyone heard from him lately? His dated views about anthem protests have been modernized by a younger white quarterback, Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill, who said, “When the kneeling first started to happen, it was a bit of a shock, I guess, because it hadn’t been done before. I think I had to get past the fact that it wasn’t about the flag. It wasn’t about the anthem. It wasn’t about our country. It was about the injustice and raising awareness and getting people’s attention. I think once I got past that fact, I could really support it.”

Baker Mayfield Says He Will 'Absolutely' Kneel During National ...

Another white quarterback, Baker Mayfield, scolded a fan who wrote on Instagram, “Please tell Browns fans you’re not going to be kneeling this season.’’ Replied Mayfield, not always the most savvy bro-dude: “(P)ull your head out. I absolutely am.’’

Racists always will lurk. But in sports, they’ve climbed into the closet and turned out the light, drowned out by legitimate hope in numbers. We expect James, a tenured veteran of social activism, to be front and center. “Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,’’ he said. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. We do feel like we’re getting some ears and attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.” But why does 2020 feel like a landmark and not another half-hearted charade of opportunism? Through technology, billions of eyeballs have seen Floyd, unable to breathe, a visual that makes us tremble and cry while shining a light on police brutality that cannot be minimized by the coldest of hearts.

“In the time since I’ve been alive, I don’t remember it being this strong of an impact and reaching this many people and this many people being upset and emotional about it,’’ said the vocal NFL social observer, Richard Sherman. “The way the world has been, when those guys (Kaepernick and other kneelers) were making it about police brutality, (skeptics) found a way to dull down that message and divert it and make it about something else, as a way to avoid the conversation. I think this time, it’s too full-fledged. Most people are actually getting the messaging and seeing it first-hand. Any human with any true empathy in them for their fellow human being would feel that strong. Nobody can turn their eyes away.’’

From George Floyd. From Ahmaud Arbery. From Breonna Taylor. And, this past weekend, from Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot by police in a struggle over a Taser outside an Atlanta fast-food restaurant.

Is Patrick Mahomes Married? The QB Met His Sweetheart In High School

Also consider that Black Lives Matter has an unexpected wild card: Patrick Mahomes, face of the most prominent league in American sports, who has emerged from the Gen Z shadows to condemn systemic racism and stir the waters of social change. Best known for his otherworldly quarterbacking skills and beach photos with his girlfriend, Mahomes was the biggest star in the epic players’ video that forced NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to admit the league was “wrong’’ and immediately change policy on activism, now encouraging players to “speak out and peacefully protest.’’ Mahomes represents young people in their mid-20s — a voting demographic that potentially could reshape the White House.

“Enough is enough,” Mahomes said. “ We’ve got to do something about this. I’m blessed to have this platform. Why not use it? We (need) to come together as players and show that we believe black lives matter. We need to be the role models to go out there and take that step.’’

It’s working. In 2016, when anthem displays were most demonstrative, polls showed that only 25-30 percent of Americans appoved of kneeling. Today, a Yahoo News/YouGuv poll of 1,564 Americans has 52 percent indicating approval for “NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African-Americans.’’ This time, Goodell and Jones cannot curtail the sideline protests if TV ratings are adversely impacted and advertisers are concerned. Kneeling will proceed en masse, likely involving every team and every game until further notice, despite indications by some franchises that protest decisions will be made as organizations. Once Goodell said in his video, “I personally protest with you,’’ it will be hard to walk back from his declaration without creating chaos. Among those suspicious of Goodell’s motives is the noted anti-Trumper, Gregg Popovich, who told the New York Times: “He got intimidated when Trump jumped on the kneeling (and) he folded.’’ This time, Goodell will stay true.

It’s Jones who might be foolish enough to resist as the bad cop. Three years ago, remember, he said any Dallas Cowboys player who “disrespects the flag’’ wouldn’t play. Sherman is among those asking why Jones has been silent recently. “Jerry Jones, especially, has no problem speaking up any other time about anything else,” he said. “But when it’s such a serious issue, and he could really make a huge impact on it with a few words, his silence speaks volumes.”

Carolina Panthers removing Jerry Richardson statue

They may be white, male and privileged, but most of the owners aren’t stupid. They saw the protests, filled with young people who will decide if the NFL and other sports leagues are relevant in the future. They saw how the statue of Jerry Richardson, once revered in Charlotte for bringing the Panthers to town, was carted away from the stadium to an undisclosed storage facility, two years after racial and sexual misconduct allegations forced him to sell the team. No doubt they’ve been weakened, as well, by an ongoing health catastrophe that has left them vulnerable.

So they are opening the doors they’ve kept shut. And more are speaking out, regardless of harsh consequences during cocktail hour at the owners’ meetings. The more they speak out, the more confident Black America becomes that this is not the usual lip service. “Back when Kaepernick took a knee, it was almost kind of scary,” Los Angeles Rams receiver Robert Woods said. “You could lose your job, you could be on the bench. I think now being able to have a voice, knowing that your political views shouldn’t (be punishable) … I think you’ll see players speak up on what they believe in and have confidence that their team is able to back them.”

Said Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks: “Finally having Goodell say those things and having our back, I feel like we can all move forward now.”

Texans' Bill O'Brien: "I'll Kneel With Players" | News Radio 1200 WOAI

Hell, at least one white NFL coach says he’ll kneel with his players. “Yeah, I’ll take a knee — I’m all for it,’’ said Bill O’Brien, who represents the Texans in Houston, George Floyd’s hometown. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.’’

Face it. Sports needed a comprehensive deep cleanse, a massive reboot, a push of the reset button. I’ve been saying and writing since March 11, the night Rudy Gobert’s positive test halted the NBA, that the industry should shut down until 2021 to reassess its place in a new world. Now, I believe it even more.

It might be too much to rid the industry of cheating and avarice, but sports must try. We’ve seen the unshakeable monster, racial inequality, sacked and smothered into the earth. Finally, anything seems possible.

BSM Writers

In Defense Of Colin Cowherd

“How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of ‘oh my god, look at this!’?”

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

I don’t understand what it is about Colin Cowherd that gets under some people’s skin to the point that they feel everything the guy says is worth being mocked. I don’t always agree with a lot of his opinions myself, but rarely do I hear one of his takes and think I need to build content around how stupid the guy is.

Cowherd has certainly had his share of misses. There were some highlights to his constant harping on Baker Mayfield but personally, I thought the bit got boring quickly and that the host was only shooting about 25% on those segments.

Cowherd has said some objectionable things. I thought Danny O’Neil was dead on in pointing out that the FOX Sports Radio host sounded like LIV Golf’s PR department last month. It doesn’t matter if he claims he used the wrong words or if his language was clunky, he deserved all of the criticism he got in 2015 when he said that baseball couldn’t be that hard of a sport to understand because a third of the league is from the Dominican Republic.

Those missteps and eyebrow-raising moments have never been the majority of his content though. How did we get to this place where there are sites and Twitter accounts going through The Herd with a fine-toothed comb to create content out of “oh my god, look at this!”?

A few years ago, Dan Le Batard said something to the effect of the best thing he can say about Colin Cowherd is that he is never boring and if you are not in this business, you do not get what a compliment that is.

That’s the truth, man. It is so hard to talk into the ether for three hours and keep people engaged, but Cowherd finds a way to do it with consistency.

The creativity that requires is what has created a really strange environment where you have sites trying to pass off pointing and laughing at Cowherd as content. This jumped out to me with a piece that Awful Announcing published on Thursday about Cowherd’s take that Aaron Rodgers needs a wife.

Look, I don’t think every single one of Cowherd’s analogies or societal observations is dead on, but to point this one out as absurd is, frankly, absurd!

This isn’t Cowherd saying that John Wall coming out and doing the Dougie is proof that he is a loser. This isn’t him saying that adults in backward hats look like doofuses (although, to be fair to Colin, where is the lie in that one?).

“Behind every successful man is a strong woman” is a take as old as success itself. It may not be a particularly original observation, but it hardly deserves the scrutiny of a 450-word think piece.

On top of that, he is right about Aaron Rodgers. The guy has zero personality and is merely trying on quirks to hold our attention. Saying that the league MVP would benefit from someone in his life holding a mirror up to him and pointing that out is hardly controversial.

Colin Cowherd is brash. He has strong opinions. He will acknowledge when there is a scoreboard or a record to show that he got a game or record pick wrong, but he will rarely say his opinion about a person or situation is wrong. That can piss people off. I get it.

You know that Twitter account Funhouse? The handle is @BackAftaThis?

It was created to spotlight the truly insane moments Mike Francesa delivered on air. There was a time when the standard was ‘The Sports Pop’e giving the proverbial finger to a recently deceased Stan Lee, falling asleep on air, or vehemently denying that a microphone captured his fart.

Now the feed is turning to “Hey Colin Cowherd doesn’t take phone calls!”. Whatever the motivation is for turning on Cowherd like that, it really shows a dip in the ability to entertain. How is it even content to point out that Colin Cowherd doesn’t indulge in the single most boring part of sports radio?

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world’s biggest fan of The Herd. Solo hosts will almost never be my thing. No matter their energy level, a single person talking for a 10-12 minute stretch feels more like a lecture than entertainment to me. I got scolded enough as a kid by parents and teachers.

School is a good analogy here because that is sort of what this feels like. The self-appointed cool kids identified their target long ago and are going to mock him for anything he does. It doesn’t matter if they carry lunch boxes too, Colin looks like a baby because he has a lunch box.

Colin Cowherd doesn’t need me to defend him. He can point to his FOX paycheck, his followers, or the backing for The Volume as evidence that he is doing something right. I am merely doing what these sites think they are doing when Colin is in their crosshairs – pointing out a lame excuse for content that has no real value.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Even After Radio Hall of Fame Honor, Suzyn Waldman Looks Forward

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

Published

on

Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman was at Citi Field on July 26th getting ready to broadcast a Subway Series game between the Yankees and Mets. A day earlier, Waldman was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame and sometimes that type of attention can, admittedly, make her feel a bit uncomfortable.

“At first, I was really embarrassed because I’m not good at this,” said Waldman. “I don’t take compliments well and I don’t take awards well. I just don’t. The first time it got to me…that I actually thought it was pretty cool, there were two little boys at Citi Field…

Those two little boys, with photos of Waldman in hand, saw her on the field and asked her a question.

“They asked me to sign “Suzyn Waldman Radio Hall of Fame 2022” and I did,” said Waldman.  “I just smiled and then more little boys asked me to do that.”  

Waldman, along with “Broadway” Bill Lee, Carol Miller, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Ellen K, Jeff Smulyan, Lon Helton, Marv Dyson, and Walt “Baby” Love, make up the Class of 2022 for the Radio Hall of Fame and will be inducted at a ceremony on November 1st at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

Waldman, born in the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, was the first voice heard on WFAN in New York when the station launched on July 1st, 1987. She started as an update anchor before becoming a beat reporter for the Yankees and Knicks and the co-host of WFAN’s
mid-day talk show. In the mid 1990s, Waldman did some television play-by-play for Yankees games on WPIX and in 2002 she became the clubhouse reporter for Yankees telecasts when the YES Network launched.

This is Waldman’s 36th season covering the Yankees and her 18th in the radio booth, a run that started in 2005 when she became the first female full-time Major League Baseball broadcaster.

She decided to take a look at the names that are currently in the Hall of Fame, specifically individuals that she will forever be listed next to.

“Some of the W’s are Orson Wells and Walter Winchell…people that changed the industry,” said Waldman. “I get a little embarrassed…I’m not good at this but I’m really happy.”

Waldman has also changed the industry.

She may have smiled when those two little boys asked her to sign those photos, but Waldman can also take a lot of pride in the fact that she has been a trailblazer in the broadcasting business and an inspiration to a lot of young girls who aspire, not only to be sportscasters but those who want to have a career in broadcasting.

Like the young woman who just started working at a New York television station who approached Waldman at the Subway Series and just wanted to meet her.

“She stopped me and was shaking,” said Waldman. “The greatest thing is that all of these young women that are out there.”

Waldman pointed out that there are seven women that she can think of off the top of her head that are currently doing minor league baseball play-by-play and that there have been young female sports writers that have come up to her to share their stories about how she inspired them.

For many years, young boys were inspired to be sportscasters by watching and listening to the likes of Marv Albert, Al Michaels, Vin Scully, Bob Costas, and Joe Buck but now there are female sportscasters, like Waldman, who have broken down barriers and are giving young girls a good reason to follow their dreams.

“When I’ve met them, they’ve said to me I was in my car with my Mom and Dad when I was a very little girl and they were listening to Yankee games and there you were,” said Waldman. “These young women never knew this was something that they couldn’t do because I was there and we’re in the third generation of that now. It’s taken longer than I thought.”

There have certainly been some challenges along the way in terms of women getting opportunities in sports broadcasting.

Waldman thinks back to 1994 when she became the first woman to do a national television baseball broadcast when she did a game for The Baseball Network. With that milestone came a ton of interviews that she had to do with media outlets around the country including Philadelphia.

It was during an interview with a former Philadelphia Eagle on a radio talk show when Waldman received a unique backhanded compliment that she will always remember.

“I’ve listened to you a lot and I don’t like you,” Waldman recalls the former Eagle said. “I don’t like women in sports…I don’t like to listen to you but I was watching the game with my 8-year-old daughter and she was watching and I looked at her and thought this is something she’s never going to know that she cannot do because there you are.”

Throughout her career, Waldman has experienced the highest of highs in broadcasting but has also been on the receiving end of insults and cruel intentions from people who then tend to have a short memory.

And many of these people were co-workers.

“First people laugh at you, then they make your life miserable and then they go ‘oh yeah that’s the way it is’ like it’s always been like that but it’s not always been like this,” said Waldman. 

It hasn’t always been easy for women in broadcasting and as Waldman — along with many others — can attest to nothing is perfect today. But it’s mind-boggling to think about what Waldman had to endure when WFAN went on the air in 1987.

She remembers how badly she was treated by some of her colleagues.

“I think about those first terrible days at ‘FAN,” said Waldman. “I had been in theatre all my life and it was either you get the part or you don’t. They either like you or they don’t.  You don’t have people at your own station backstabbing you and people at your own station changing your tapes to make you look like an idiot.”

There was also this feeling that some players were not all that comfortable with Waldman being in the clubhouse and locker room. That was nothing compared to some of the other nonsense that Waldman had to endure.

“The stuff with players is very overblown,” said Waldman. “It’s much worse when you know that somebody out there is trying to kill you because you have a Boston accent and you’re trying to talk about the New York Yankees. That’s worse and it’s also worse when the people
that you work with don’t talk to you and think that you’re a joke and the people at your own station put you down for years and years and years.”

While all of this was happening, Waldman had one very important person in her corner: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away in 2010.

The two had a special relationship and he certainly would have relished the moment when Suzyn was elected to the Hall of Fame.

“I think about George Steinbrenner a lot,” said Waldman. “This is something that when I heard that…I remember thinking George would be so proud because he wanted this since ’88.  I just wish he were here.” 

Waldman certainly endeared herself to “The Boss” with her reporting but she also was the driving force behind the reconciliation of Steinbrenner and Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. George had fired Yogi as Yankees manager 16 games into the 1985 season and the news was delivered to Berra, not by George, but by Steinbrenner advisor Clyde King.

Yogi vowed never to step foot into Yankee Stadium again, but a grudge that lasted almost 14 years ended in 1999 when Waldman facilitated a reunion between the two at the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping that my thank you to him was the George and Yogi thing because I know he wanted that very badly,” said Waldman.

“Whatever I did to prove to him that I was serious about this…this is in ’87 and ’88…In 1988, I remember him saying to me ‘Waldman, one of these days I’m going to make a statement about women in sports.  You’re it and I hope you can take it’ (the criticism). He knew what was coming.  I didn’t know. But there was always George who said ‘if you can take it, you’re going to make it’.”

And made it she did.

And she has outlasted every single person on the original WFAN roster.

“I’m keenly aware that I was the first person they tried to fire and I’m the only one left which I think is hysterical actually that I outlived everybody,” said Waldman.

WFAN recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, but that’s not something that Waldman spends too much time reflecting on.

“I don’t think about it at all because once you start looking back, you’re not going forward,” said Waldman. 

Waldman does think about covering the 1989 World Series between the A’s and Giants and her reporting on the earthquake that was a defining moment in her career. She has always been a great reporter and a storyteller, but that’s not how her WFAN career began. She started as an update anchor and she knew that if she was going to have an impact on how WFAN was going to evolve, it was not going to be reading the news…it was going to be going out in the field and reporting the news.

“I was doing updates which I despised and wasn’t very good at,” said Waldman.

She went to the program director at the time and talked about how WFAN had newspaper writers covering the local teams for the station and that it would be a better idea for her to go out and cover games and press conferences.

“Give me a tape recorder and let me go,” is what Waldman told the program director. “I was the first electronic beat writer.  That’s how that started and they said ‘oh, this works’. The writers knew all of a sudden ‘uh oh she can put something on the air at 2 o’clock in the morning and I can’t’.”  

And the rest is history. Radio Hall of Fame history.

But along the way, there was never that moment where she felt that everything was going to be okay.

Because it can all disappear in a New York minute.

“I’ve never had that moment,” said Waldman. “I see things going backward in a lot of ways for women.  I’m very driven and I’m very aware that it can all be taken away in two seconds if some guy says that’s enough.” 

During her storied career, Waldman has covered five Yankees World Series championships and there’s certainly the hope that they can contend for another title this year. She loves her job and the impact that she continues to make on young girls who now have that dream to be the next Suzyn Waldman.

But, is there something in the business that she still hopes to accomplish?

“This is a big world,” said Waldman. “There’s always something to do. Right now I like this a lot and there’s still more to do. There are more little girls…somewhere there’s a little girl out there who is talking into a tape recorder or whatever they use now and her father is telling her or someone is telling her you can’t do that you’re a little girl. That hasn’t stopped. Somewhere out there there’s somebody that needs to hear a female voice on Yankees radio.”

To steal the spirit of a line from Yankees play-by-play voice John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman’s longtime friend, and broadcast partner…“that’s a Radio Hall of Fame career, Suzyn!”

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

No Winners in Pittsburgh vs Cleveland Radio War of Words

“As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity. “

Published

on

For nearly 18 months, we’ve known the NFL would eventually have to confront the Deshaun Watson saga in an on-the-field manner, and that day came Monday. After his March trade to the Browns, we also could more than likely deduce another item: Cleveland radio hosts would feel one way, and Pittsburgh hosts would feel another.

If you’re not in tune to the “rivalry” between the two cities, that’s understandable. Both are former industrial cities looking for an identity in a post-industrial Midwest. Each thinks the other is a horrible place to live, with no real reasoning other than “at least we’re not them”. Of course, the folks in Pittsburgh point to six Super Bowl victories as reason for superiority.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when news started to leak that a Watson decision would come down Monday. I was sure, however, that anyone who decided to focus on what the NFL’s decision would mean for Watson and the Browns on the field was in a no-win situation. As a former host on a Cleveland Browns radio affiliate, I always found the situation difficult to talk about. Balancing the very serious allegations with what it means for Watson, the Browns, and the NFL always felt like a tight-rope walk destined for failure.

So I felt for 92.3 The Fan’s Ken Carman and Anthony Lima Monday morning, knowing they were in a delicate spot. They seemed to allude to similar feelings. “You’re putting me in an awkward situation here,” Carman told a caller after that caller chanted “Super Bowl! Super Browns!” moments after the suspension length was announced.

Naturally, 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi happened to turn on the radio just as that call happened. A nearly week-long war of words ensued between the two Audacy-owned stations.

Fillipponi used the opportunity to slam Cleveland callers and used it as justification to say the NFL was clearly in the wrong. Carman and Lima pointed out Fillipponi had tweeted three days earlier about how much love the city of Pittsburgh had for Ben Roethlisberger, a player with past sexual assault allegations in his own right.

Later in the week, the Cleveland duo defended fans from criticism they viewed as unfair from the national media. In response, Dorin Dickerson and Adam Crowley of the Pittsburgh morning show criticized Carman and Lima for taking that stance.

Keeping up?

As an impartial observer, there’s one main takeaway I couldn’t shake. Both sides are wrong. Both sides are right. No one left the week looking good.

Let’s pretend the Pittsburgh Steelers had traded for Deshaun Watson on March 19th, and not the Browns. Can you envision a scenario where Cleveland radio hosts would defend the NFL for the “fairness” of the investigation and disciplinary process if he was only suspended for six games? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous. At the same time, would Fillipponi, Dickerson, and other Pittsburgh hosts be criticizing their fans for wanting Watson’s autograph? Of course, you can’t, because that would be preposterous.

When you’re discussing “my team versus your team” or “my coach versus your coach” etc…, it’s ok to throw ration and logic to the side for the sake of entertaining radio. But when you’re dealing with an incredibly serious matter, in this case, an investigation into whether an NFL quarterback is a serial sexual predator, I don’t believe there’s room to throw ration and logic to the wind. The criticism of Carman and Lima from the Pittsburgh station is fair and frankly warranted. They tried their best, in my opinion, to be sensitive to a topic that warranted it, but fell short.

On the flip side, Carman and Lima are correct. Ben Roethlisberger was credibly accused of sexual assault. Twice. And their criticism of Fillipponi and Steelers fans is valid and frankly warranted.

You will often hear me say “it can be both” because so often today people try to make every situation black and white. In reality, there’s an awful lot of gray in our world. But, in this case, it can’t be both. It can’t be Deshaun Watson, and Browns fans by proxy, are horrible, awful, no good, downright rotten people, and Ben Roethlisberger is a beloved figure.

Pot, meet kettle.

I don’t know what Andrew Fillipponi said about Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault allegations in 2010. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’m guessing he sounded much more like Carman and Lima did this week, rather than the person criticizing hosts in another market for their lack of moral fiber. Judging by the tweet Carman and Lima used to point out Fillipponi’s hypocrisy, I have a hard time believing the Pittsburgh host had strong outrage about the Steelers bringing back the franchise QB.

Real courage comes from saying things your listeners might find unpopular. It’s also where real connections with your listeners are built. At the current time in our hyper-polarized climate, having the ability to say something someone might disagree with is a lost art. But it’s also the key to keeping credibility and building a reputation that you’ll say whatever you truly believe that endears you to your audience.

And in this case, on a day the NFL announced they now employ a player who — in the league’s view — is a serial sexual assaulter, to hear hosts describe a six-game suspension as “reasonable” felt unreasonable. As talk radio hosts, we often try to hold the moral high ground and if you’re going to hold that position, I can’t help but feel integrity has to outweigh popularity.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2021 Barrett Media.