July 23, 2009

WatchDog has a new look and a new home

Yo, readers, WatchDog no longer is located here.

It's located here.

C'mon over.

(UPDATE: Comments and RSS feeds not available for blogs on new site yet. Patience.)

July 22, 2009

ESPN bans New York Post staffers from its outlets

ESPN retaliated Wednesday against the New York Post for its decision to use still images of Erin Andrews from a surreptitiously obtained videotape, banning Post staffers from its various outlets, including its TV networks and 1050 ESPN Radio.

"In light of the New York Post's decision to run graphic photos of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, we have decided to stop utilizing Post reporters on any of our outlets," ESPN's senior VP of communications, Chris LaPlaca said.

"Erin was grievously wronged here, and while we understand the Post's decision to cover this as a news story, their running photos obtained in such a fashion went well beyond the boundaries of common decency in the interest of sensationalism. This is not a decision we undertook lightly, but we feel it is an appropriate one."

The Post used images both in print and on its Web site Tuesday from a video the showed Andrews in the nude in a hotel room.

It is not yet clear where the video was shot or who shot it, but Andrews' attorney has promised legal action against any media outlet that publishes the material.

It has not been determined how long the ban on Post employees will remain in place.

Among those most affected are Kevin Kernan and Lenn Robbins, who regularly appear on "First Take" on ESPN2 and Joel Sherman, who appears on 1050 ESPN radio.

Mark Cannizzaro also appears periodically on ESPN outlets, and beat writers from various sports sometimes are interviewed in 1050 or other stations.

LaPlaca stressed that the decision was not directed at the Post employees who have appeared on ESPN outlets, whom he called "innocent bystanders."

A spokesman for NewsCorp, which owns the Post, declined comment. The Post's communication department did not respond to a request for comment.

CBS and Fox used snippets of the video itself Tuesday, which LaPlaca called "beyond the pale."

But he said ESPN could not take the kind of action against those networks it did against the Post because ESPN does not regularly employ those networks' personnel.

End of an era in Newsday blogging, start of better one

image4541008g.jpgSometime in the next few hours, if the Web gods allow, Newsday will flip the switch on a new-look site with new-look blogs.

Thanks for reading the 5,222 posts on this platform since May 2, 2007.

Time to start over. Please come along!

Photo: AP

ESPN reports on some civil suits, not others

44825063.jpgESPN still is on the journalistic sidelines regarding allegations of sexual assault aimed at Ben Roethlisberger.

Why? The network offered some context today to try to further clarify its policy regarding reporting civil suits, which it sometimes does and sometimes doesn't.

Here is what it said were among factors it considered in the Roethlisberger case:

"We're generally very cautious with civil suits that impugn a person's reputation or character."

"We consider the subject's track record/previous history with similar allegations."

"Whether the subject addresses it publicly." Didn't Big Ben's lawyer do that? "In this case, we did not feel Roethlisberger's lawyer's response was enough to warrant our reporting."

"We also consider how such allegation might impact upon the professional performance of the subject/his team."

Example? Roethlisberger is scheduled for a taping of Shaquille O'Neal's reality show. If he doesn't appear, ESPN might revisit the matter based on the possibility it might be "impacting his business decisions and/or his team." An even more obvious example would be if he has to skip part of training camp to be deposed.

ESPN said it recently reported on a planned civil suit against Shannon Brown "because he was playing significant minutes for Lakers in the middle of their championship run in the NBA Playoffs; there was also a police report filed in that case."

In the past, ESPN has passed on reporting civil suits against Michael Vick and Robert Alomar - in the latter case only doing so when Alomar's father discussed it publicly.

What about reporting a suit against Adam (Pacman) Jones?

ESPN did so, it said, "because of his history/past record."


(UPDATE: ESPN.com posted a Big Ben story tonight!)

Photo: AP

College football to be featured on ESPN again in '09

ESPN/ABC will be televise college football games again this coming season.

Many of them.

The schedule can be viewed by clicking below and reading the news release fresh off the presses from Bristol.

No mention of Ben Roethlisberger in it. Sorry.

Continue reading "College football to be featured on ESPN again in '09" »

Ed O'Bannon would like college jocks to share in pie

Big-time college athletes in revenue producing sports have been getting cheated economically for more than a century.

Ed O'Bannon wants to help.

LeBron James dunketh, and he gets dunketh upon

It's the illicit video everyone was talking about before that other illicit video turned up.

Images of LeBron getting dunked on evidently have resurfaced!

Now I really need to dig up that video of me dunking on the big guy before a Cavs vs. Knicks game last season.

(UPDATE: The video is up now. Thanks Big Lead for heads up.)

Newspapers cut coverage, and sports teams suffer

Newspapers are cutting back on costly sports coverage - usually involving travel - and if you think the teams they cover are relieved to have the nattering nabobs of negativism out of their hair . . . you're wrong.

In other sports news, Yankees in first place, Mets not

headless.pngAnother interesting day of Erin Andrews coverage from our friends at the Post, this time featuring a front-page story built around her lawyer essentially reiterating what he said in a statement Friday night.

At least Erin is clothed in the picture on the cover, unlike Tuesday.

Unfortunately, I make an appearance in the story, too!

The article quotes something I wrote in Newsday about a brief conversation I had with Ms. Andrews recently.

But instead of crediting it as "Newsday's Neil Best wrote" it reads, "Sports blogger Neil Best said," as if the Post reporter had interviewed me for his story.

Oy. In lieu of an apology, please don't do that to anyone else ever again.

(Full Erin Exploitation disclosure: I just noticed the Newsday.com version of my column includes three separate links to photo galleries of her.)

July 21, 2009

Erin Andrews episode echoes through media canyons

What with the Erin Andrews video story refusing to die, I was asked to write a brief opinion piece on the subject for the Wednesday newspaper.

So I did.

I spent about three hours Tuesday discussing this with a half-dozen sports media figures - Is there anything else people talk about these days? - and ended up feeling lousier than ever about the whole thing.

Will this latest spasm of media navel-gazing make newspaper Web sites and bloggers less apt to rely on gratuitous pictures of attractive women?

Probably not, but I can't control that.

Will it make this particular blogger less apt to do so?

We shall see, I suppose, but I'd like to think so.

Chris King, Steve Mears out as Islanders' radio team

Breaking sports media news here and here from Isles beat scribe Greg Logan: Chris King and Steve Mears have been removed as the team's radio team.

Their replacements? Um, no one. Looking to cut costs, the Isles will simulcast MSG Plus' TV coverage, featuring Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe.

That's going to be a little strange.

In unrelated Islanders media news, Logan and I learned today that C.J. Papa did not have his contract renewed as MSG Plus' reporter for game telecasts.

No word on a replacement yet.

ESPN passes on story about a certain ESPN reporter

ESPN has decided not to report on the Erin Andrews video story, not out of sympathy for one of its own - although there is plenty of that throughout the company this week - but because of a judgment on news value.

The network's statement:

"We debated it internally and feel that this is the appropriate thing to do. Despite the attention it's gotten, it comes down to a news value judgment. We didn''t see the news value to this story, particularly since it has no bearing on her role as an on-air reporter."

After 10-month wait, Jets call at last offering me tickets

Someone from the Jets just called to offer me an opportunity to buy season tickets for 2009.

It seems I landed on the team's waiting list when I registered for the new stadium PSL auction last fall, and my less-than-a-year of waiting paid off with my big chance to join the Mark Sanchez/Rex Ryan fun at the Meadowlands.

I politely declined. The woman politely asked me why. I said because I just don't want to buy season tickets. She asked why I was on the list. I told her about the PSL auction thing. She asked if I were interested in tickets for 2010. I told her I was not.

She asked whether she could take me off the waiting list. I told her I would like to stay on to continue receiving information about tickets in the future. She said the list mostly is for people actually interested in buying tickets. I said she could remove my name.

ESPN mum on allegations against Ben Roethlisberger

ESPN has been curiously silent today in reporting the allegations of sexual assault against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Newsday and many other outlets have published at least the AP account.

ProFootballTalk.com reported ESPN issued a "do not report" edict on the story to its staff.

Why? Roethlisberger has a warm relationship with ESPN, including business dealings with the network such as appearing at its "upfront" presentation to advertising buyers. Hmm.

It turns out ESPN generally avoids reporting on civil suits against sports figures.

Its statement on this matter: "At this point, we are not reporting the allegations against Ben Roethlisberger because no criminal complaint has been filed. As far as we know, this is a civil lawsuit that Roethlisberger has yet to address publicly."

(UPDATE: Not that ESPN never reports on civil suits, or even plans to file civil suits, as evidenced by this from last month. Hmm.)

(New ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer is going to have a busy first column in August!)

Popular sports media personalities protest Post pix

SI's Jon Heyman announced on Twitter that he has cancelled his subscription to the Post in the wake of it publishing nude pictures of Erin Andrews this morning.

Then SNY's Chris Carlin did the same.

Far be it from me to advocate anyone cancelling a subscription to any newspaper in these troubled times, but the Post's decision has struck a nerve in media land.

(UPDATE: Apparently the Post was not alone in widely disseminating the EA videos. It was done on national TV, too. Oy.)

Will Leitch, one of the founding fathers of sports blogging, has an interesting essay on all of this EA stuff here.

HBO updates medical challenges for Jorge Posada IV

HBO's "Real Sports" debuting Tuesday features an update on a 2003 piece about Jorge Posada's son, Jorge IV, and his struggles with craniosynostosis, a condition that causes malformation of the skull. Now 9 and after many surgeries, Posada's son is doing very well, thank you.

Bill Simmons bids adieu to ESPN The Magazine with a tribute to his father.

Sports Business Journal reports the Arena Football League - including Our Dragons - is considering bankruptcy, is $14 million in debt and might have to delay the start of its 2010 season until June, if there is a 2010 season.

Sorry about slow blogging pace. I'm just marking time until our Web relaunch later this week. Not sure I'm supposed to say exactly when, in case it's delayed.

There will be good things about it (better integration of blog posts and stories/columns), bad things about it (less interesting pictures) and good news/bad news things about it (a registration-based commenting system).

As for the new look, that will be a matter of personal preference. Some of you will love it and others will hate it. I think it looks kinda cool.

Stay tuned, as they say in the newspaper cliche business!

Rail service to Giants Stadium open for soccer Sunday

43211841.jpgI rode in a train car from Secaucus to E. Rutherford Monday with John Mara, Woody Johnson, Jon Corzine, Damien Woody, Jerricho Cotchery, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie.

Then I wrote a newspaper column about the new rail service to the Meadowlands, a feature 33 years overdue.

Mara called it the most exciting element of the entire new stadium project.

It's unclear how many fans will take advantage of the spur to the Meadowlands - particularly those in far-off Long Island - but the teams hope at least 10,000 per game will.

The idea is to fill some of the tailgating gap with new stuff to do (and eat and buy) near the stadium for those arriving by train.

Also in the column, Jets executive VP Matt Higgins discusses the recent mailing offering anyone on the waiting list a shot at tickets for 2009, and Mara discusses the Giants' decision to cut prices on some club level seats for 2010.

Photo: AP

Illegal images of ESPN reporter hit mainstream media

Generally I avoid criticizing competing New York-area newspapers, given my inherent bias, but Bob's Blitz is right on here in ripping the Post for publishing pictures in print and online of the Erin Andrews "peephole" video. (Which increasingly seems likely to have been shot from an adjoining room or a hidden camera, not a door peephole.)

Aside from being five-day-old news, using the illegally obtained material - on the front page, no less! - is way, way over the line of good taste and good judgment.

This episode gets more depressing by the day.

July 20, 2009

ESPN plans New York-centric Web site in 2010

_41313114_godzilla_ap203.jpgESPN announced this morning that in addition to ESPNChicago.com it will add three more city-specific sites in the coming months.

First up: ESPNDallas.com. And in 2010, versions for Los Angeles and, drumroll . . . New York.

Not sure what to say about this frontal assault on the last remaining stronghold of local newspaper sports sections.

Other than this: Bring it on!

Photo: AP

ESPN Radio hopes new antenna helps its 1050 signal

The New York Times recently sold the 96.3 FM frequency long used by WQXR to Univision, which will turn it from classical music to a Spanish language station.

That is relevant here because ESPN Radio was in the mix for that frequency, which it would have used to shift its New York outlet from the unreliable signal at 1050 AM.

For now, ESPN remains stuck there, with hopes a new transmitter in North Bergen, N.J., will improve its signal quality, especially after dark.

Speaking of which, need some help here: Would like to get feedback from WatchDog Nation members around LI - particularly in long-time trouble spot Western Suffolk - about whether the new antenna has helped the 1050 signal, especially after dark.

Sky Blue FC edges Chicago Red Stars in stoppage time

Sky_Blue_FC_logo.jpgAttended my first ever women's pro soccer game Sunday - Sky Blue FC vs. the Chicago Red Stars at Rutgers.

Several championship youth soccer teams from Long Island - including Commack, Plainvew and Massapequa - were honored at halftime.

It was a pleasant sports spectating experience that attracted a crowd in excess of 3,000.

Sure, the final score was what you would expect of a soccer match, but at least the lone goal was exciting. Kerri Hanks scored in the 91st minute to win it for Sky Blue.

Men walk on moon; journalist gets right to point

48157492.jpgI long have considered John Noble Wilford's lede in The New York Times of July 21, 1969, to be one of the best in newspaper history.

Rule of thumb: The bigger the event, the simpler the opening paragraph should be.

Forty years later, Mr. Wilford explains how it came about here.

Key excerpt:

I reach for my notebook and try several opening sentences. They must be put on a strict diet. I cross out adjectives. I eliminate clauses that are superfluous and sound too much like heavy music for a movie soundtrack. I begin again: “American astronauts landed.” No, too restrictive and chauvinistic; it will be clear soon enough that the astronauts are American and the goal of a decade has been achieved.

I finally get to the irreducible essence in one short sentence: “Men have landed and walked on the moon.”

>>Click here to see photos of the Apollo 11 mission

>>Click here to see more coverage of the Summer of 1969

Photo: AP

Tom Watson bums out boomers; Cink stirs Twitterers

48156230.jpgAs a journalist and a baby boomer, I was hugely bummed out by Tom Watson's late collapse Sunday.

As the man himself put it, "It would have been a hell of a story."

But as a human being and fellow Twitterer, I was happy for nice-guy Stewart Cink, who bailed me out with a story when I really needed one at the U.S. Open last month, and whose already impressive half-million-plus Twitter followers is sure to skyrocket now.

As for the coverage on ABC - the last before the entire British Open moves to ESPN next year - the announcers generally were good. Mike Tirico on Watson's gag at 18: "That was a zero confidence putt."

But some of the camera work was mind-boggling. That was mostly not ESPN/ABC's fault. The network has to rely on the BBC's feed, which at times offered strange angles that did not feature an important element of the shot: the ball.

Photo: AP

July 19, 2009

Michael Strahan is a natural in Fox sitcom 'Brothers'

strahan_brothers-dad-table.jpgFox sent the pilot of Michael Strahan's new sitcom, "Brothers," which premieres Sept. 18, along with strict instructions to use it for "informational" purposes and not for review, since it is not a final version.

I'm a rule-following sort, so I don't want to do anything to upset the Fox public relations people. But I hope they won't mind me saying that while "Seinfeld" it ain't, the show has potential and Strahan is natural and comfortable as a novice actor.

Strahan plays a retired football player who played in two Super Bowls and won one.

Apollo Creed plays his dad, and there even is a "Rocky" reference in the pilot. At least the version of it I saw.

More in September . . .

Photo: Fox

July 18, 2009

Erin Andrews video should lead to jail for cameraman

Here is Deadspin's take (complete with an apology) on the Erin Andrews video scandal, prominently featuring a link to my earlier post on this subject.

Hmm. Thanks for the link, but now I feel I should clarify my position:

I certainly wasn't calling out Deadspin in particular. I meant to implicate the entire sports blogosphere (this one included).

Even though the vast majority of us obviously do not endorse what happened, our playful obsession with Ms. Andrews - about which she consistently has been a good sport - surely helped set the stage for this.

What I do endorse is this: That the guy (or gal) who pulled this hidden camera trick spend some quality time in prison.

ESPN's statement: "Erin has been grievously wronged here. Our people and resources are in full support of her as she deals with this abhorrent act."

Blogosphere's Erin Andrews obsession crosses line

To this point, the blogosphere's endless fascination with Erin Andrews mostly has been harmless, semi-wholesome fun.

But that changed this week with the surfacing of video somehow taken of Ms. Andrews through a hotel peephole, when she was in a state of extreme undress.

Not cool. The video has been deleted from most sites by now, but not all.

Via PRNewsire:

With respect to recent Internet postings of Erin Andrews, she has authorized her attorney, Marshall B. Grossman of Bingham McCutchen LLP, to issue the following statement:

"While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent. She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future. Although the perpetrator or perpetrators of this criminal act have not yet been identified, when they are identified she intends to bring both civil and criminal charges against them and against anyone who has published the material. We request respect of Erin's privacy at this time, while she and her representatives are working with the authorities."

July 17, 2009

Friday comment contest winner

nm_european_vacation_081125_mn.jpgThis week's winner is John H for this response to the post in which I report visiting Dodger Stadium while the Dodgers were in New York:

"Visiting LA without the Dodgers in town? Did Clark W. Griswald plan this family vacation?"

Photo: Getty

I read 2.33 baseball books while I was on vacation

2.jpgI took three books on my L.A. vacation but didn't quite have time to get through all of them.

So my mini-review of Marty Appel's new bio of Thurman Munson will have to wait.

I did read "Miracle Ball," Brian Biegel's account of his quest to solve the biggest mystery in sports memorabilia:

What happened to the ball Bobby Thomson hit to win the 1951 pennant?

Biegel weaves his personal story - and the story of his personal demons - into the tale, which despite some leaps of faith, logic and evidence makes for an oddly compelling read.

Still, even at a modest 227 pages, there are places the spy story feels padded.

This is a worthwhile book, but it likely would have been even better boiled down to the essentials as a magazine article.

"Pull Up a Chair," Curt Smith's bio of Vin Scully, has the same pros and cons as his recent look at Mel Allen's life in "The Voice."

Smith knows as much as anyone about sports broadcasters, and there is plenty of valuable information here.

But his bizarre syntax, tortured historical references and goofy word choices distract from his content.

Lesley Visser honored as top female sportscaster

Lesley Visser, a pioneer both among women in sports journalism and newspaper people who transitioned to TV work, was voted the No. 1 female sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.

She was named from a list of 36 finalists that included Andrea Kremer, Robin Roberts, Michele Tafoya and Hannah Storm.

SNY's Mets boothmates enjoy kibitizing on the air

An enjoyably quirky look at the enjoyably quirky SNY baseball booth from the New York Observer.

Get a 56-hit streak, win $10,000

56-game hit streak fantasy baseball game
  Select a player. If he gets a hit, you stay alive.
  Break DiMaggio's 56-game streak and win $10K.
Play 56-Game Hit Streak

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