Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, January 22, 2007

Happy Hour 01/22: The Tao of Chuck Wilson

As something of a follow-up to Friday's post about Chris Sheridan pouring gasoline on the smouldering embers between Rasheed Wallace and Flip Saunders, I thought I'd post a link to an interview from the latest Baseball Prospectus Radio podcast.

This weekend, Will Carroll and Brad Wochomurka talked to Chuck Wilson, formerly of ESPN Radio, and now the host of "On Deck" on XM Radio. Among the many topics they discussed were the many changes in sports broadcasting during Wilson's career - especially with sports talk radio.

How are athletes interviewed these days? What sorts of questions are they asked? Is the idea to make the writer look good, because he was "tough" in the eyes of readers and listeners? No one wants to be accused of asking soft questions. But does a different approach elicit better, more thoughtful answers, and thus everyone learns something about the game?

While listening to the interview, I couldn't help but think about what happened with Sheridan and 'Sheed last week. What was really the story? Was it the tension between 'Sheed and his coach? Or had it become what Sheridan wrote for ESPN.com? And did he really help matters by writing the next day about how he was confronted at practice? Isn't that essentially making himself the story? Even if the article later went on to explore that tension and what may have caused it, which is arguably what he should've done in the first place?

I thought it was a really insightful chat, and of course, the discussion later turns toward the coverage of baseball and how it's approached from so many more angles than it used to be. Writers, managers, scouts, and executives aren't afraid to look at the conventional wisdom of the game and ask "Why?" anymore, resulting in a much different experience with the game.

Does anybody else miss the old days of ESPN Radio with Wilson and Tony Bruno doing late-nights? I spent many a Friday and Saturday night driving home listening to those guys. And you just don't hear the same kinds of long-form interviews Wilson used to have on his "Legends" series anymore. Certainly not on the radio.

The podcast can be downloaded here or from the Baseball Prospectus site itself.

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