Designated Sitter, or, Manfred Ado About Nothing

manfred dp

For people who write about baseball, the All-Star break offers at least two things: (1) an intraseasonal oasis in which one can examine and address baseball topics over the span of a day or two without worrying that the otherwise constant barrage of new baseball events occurring that might, for example, mess up the performance numbers on which a writer had founded his or her baseball writing and (2) a probably countervailing force in the form of significant public interviews with the sport’s leaders addressing the sport’s Big Topics Of The Day.

Regarding the latter, Commissioner Rob Manfred kicked things off this morning with an appearance on Dan Patrick’s radio show. Here are my notes of the highlights:

manfred dp notes

People love to talk about the designated hitter and whether the National League will adopt it, and Manfred’s mention of the subject this morning predictably reignited the “conversation”:

I suspect that those on the fence or without a considered opinion on the subject may have found prodding from recent articles like this one Ben Lindbergh published last month illustrating the historically poor offensive numbers from current pitchers. What many of these conversants don’t do is think about this conversation from the DH side, however. There really is no doubt that a designated hitter is going to bat better than a pitcher, but the nature of the DH position is changing, both in terms of the players who are filling that role and their performance levels.

Regarding the union’s particular partiality to the DH, are David Ortiz-types really the players finding extra PAs as designated hitters? Take a look. Continue reading

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If he could do it again, Chris Webber would have gone to Michigan State?

The strong implication of Chris Webber’s comments on this morning’s Dan Patrick Show is that, if he could begin his basketball career again, he would have accepted Tom Izzo’s offer to become a Michigan State Spartan:

Continue reading

The selfishness of Colin Cowherd’s critique of Dan Patrick

dan patrick show

For reasons known, if at all, only to him, ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd wrapped up his Super Bowl coverage by taking a shot across the bow of former ESPN personality Dan Patrick:

Dan Patrick doesn’t work as hard as Jim Rome. Not even close. . . . Patrick needs thirty-five producers to fill a segment. Rome doesn’t. Bayless doesn’t. I don’t.

Cowherd is hardly a moral standard-bearer in this space, and his comments, like most of the things he says that garner attention outside his own sphere, are designed only to bolster himself, typically at the expense of others. Taking Patrick to task apparently for the sin of granting his (four) producers a more audible and visible role on his program is both nonsensical and selfish.

DP Show producers Seton O’Connor and Paul Pabst’s responses to Cowherd show the factual absurdity of Cowherd’s remarks:

The people actually hurt by Cowherd’s statements, however, are Cowherd’s own support staff, who probably are wishing they worked for Patrick, or someone like him, rather than Cowherd.

Radio shows are similar to sports team coaching staffs, with the on-air host as the head coach, and the typically off-air producers as coordinators and assistant coaches. Just as few in the coaching business envision themselves as lifelong defensive line coaches, for example, few in the radio business want to spend the entirety of their professional careers screening listener telephone calls. A sports team’s success provides exposure to the coaching staff, allowing the coordinators and assistants to move into head-coaching positions elsewhere. Further, good head coaches are wise to create an environment in which their assistants receive outside attention and have opportunities to move into more senior positions. It isn’t that head coaches want to lose their talented assistants. Given the inevitability of those departures, though, head coaches know they can recruit better assistants, who are destined for greater things, by offering them the opportunity to gain exposure while working under them. The notion is not unlike the one Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari employs with his player recruits.

By allowing his support staff to be heard and seen on his show, Patrick affords them individual opportunities that would be more difficult for them to come by without that exposure. Patrick’s producers might eventually leave to pursue their own interests or stay longer because they’re happier with the more prominent role Patrick provides them. Regardless, Patrick has styled his show to serve as a platform for more people who work on the show than just the on-air host.

Cowherd has taken the opposite approach, and his attack on Patrick bears out Cowherd’s selfishness. He demands all of the attention and credit for his own successes, and the people most hurt by his critical comments likely are those who work on his show, not Patrick’s.

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A note on rants

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

Jordan Schafer is Highly Questionable

Jordan Schafer returned to the Atlanta Braves as an outfielder this past season, and he has himself a very nice condo at the Downtown W. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a slideshow out today showing off Schafer’s residence. All’s well until you see how he’s decided to use his dual-mounted flat-screen televisions. This stopped me in my mouse-clicking tracks:

The man can watch anything in the world, and this is his selection? It doesn’t even make sense: these are the ESPN and ESPN2 simulcasts of two radio shows. Having both on TV at the same time seems at least impractical; at worst, that mirror thing offers more insight on the world than both of those TVs combined.

I love radio, and I love TV broadcasts of radio shows. Having done radio in the past, I love seeing the studio setups and silent communications that make a radio broadcast work. Maybe Schafer and I are alike in this way. If that’s true, though, he really ought to be watching the Dan Patrick Show, which has better content than either Mike & Mike or The Herd and offers a much richer viewing experience. Patrick’s show is a radio show, but it’s designed with a television audience in mind as well; with ESPN, the TV aspect feels like an afterthought.

News clips

Spending all day on the road meant I got to hear all the daytime sports radio I could handle. Thrilling, I know. I did pick up a few interesting nuggets, though:

– If Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman Trophy this year, as experts now expect, he will be the first freshman to do so. He won’t be the youngest winner, though. That distinction belongs to Mark Ingram, Jr.

– Apparently there’s some sort of adderall flap surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles and other NFL players. All the obvious issues aside, ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio said that he thinks the adderall story is a cover up. Because the NFL has a policy of not commenting or elaborating on players’ positive drug tests, the players are free to say whatever they’d like about the test. Florio thinks that adderall is the convenient cover story du jour for players who actually tested positive for a more controversial substance.

– Kentucky hired Florida State defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to serve as Joker Phillips’ replacement at the football head coach position. While Kentucky local sports talk radio listeners generally approved of the hire, citing the successes of the Stoops family and Mike’s own rapid improvement of the FSU defense, no one mentioned the only factor that matters right now for the future success of UK football: program funding. Don’t forget that the UK athletic department just spent more on a preseason basketball pep rally than it did on an entire year of football recruiting. For Stoops’ sake, I hope he negotiated a substantial increase in funding for the football program. If not, his pedigree and resume will be irrelevant.

– Before leaving Army for Duke, Mike Krzyzewski interviewed at Vanderbilt but didn’t take the job because the VU athletic director at the time, fearing media exposure of an ongoing search, wouldn’t let Coach K visit the campus.

Uncovering John Calipari’s true motivations and machinations

This week’s issue of Sports Illustrated includes a transcript of Dan Patrick’s interview with former Kentucky Wildcat and presumptive New Orleans Hornet Anthony Davis. Included was this exchange, initiated by DP’s curiously worded question:

Patrick: Did you tell Kentucky Coach John Calipari you were going to go pro or did he tell you?

Davis: He told me. He told me to [come into his office]. When I walked in, first thing he said: “Look, Ant, you have to leave. You did too many great things this year. Won a national championship, got every award. There’s no point in you coming back.” I started laughing. But he had no smile on his face. He was dead serious.

Patrick: Did you want to stay at Kentucky?

Davis: I wanted to stay. Great team, great coach. But the way life is, you have to move on.

It’s tough to know how much to make of this out-of-context exchange. When Coach Cal called Davis into his office, was that the first time they talked about the star freshman’s departure? When Davis laughed, was it because he found the suggestion outlandish and wanted to stay, or was he just being sheepish? When Davis told DP he wanted to stay, was he being serious?

Still, there’s a persistent feeling that Cal really was kicking the kid on down the line to make room for the next crop of high-profile players. In a program operated on a one-and-done model, having a player of Davis’ talent stick around for another season could mean that UK would lose at least one of its top recruits, who commit to Kentucky because they want to shine for a single season and move along to the league where players get paid above the table.