The guys breakdown the news of Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel heading to the disabled list for the first time in his career as a result of a pinched nerve in his neck. What does this mean for the Astros, and how does self-reporting injuries in baseball compare to other sports? Austin and Jeremy offer their analysis.
Then, The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay joins Kevin Cook to discuss problematic owners, the sports media landscape and whether or not James Harden is the right “cultural fit” for the Houston Rockets. Gay has written for publications including GQ, Rolling Stone, Outside, The New York Observer and Vogue. He is also the author of “Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living,” which can be found on Amazon.
The show closes with Austin and Jeremy discussing the detainment of Enes Kanter in Romania, the role of politics and sports, and more. As always, subscribe to The Weekly Brew on iTunes, Facebook and Twitter.
Is Johnny Cueto Houston-bound ahead of the MLB trade deadline?
by Austin Staton
San Fransisco RHP Johnny Cueto could be a midseason trade target for the Houston Astros, Michael Rathburn told The Weekly Brew podcast on Sunday.
Cueto, who is currently under contract with the Giants through 2022, has an opt-out option following the 2017 season. With the Giants currently sitting near the bottom of the NL West, and with Madison Bumgarner out indefinitely, Rathburn suggests that the Astros have the trade pieces to make a move for the veteran arm.
“If the Giants are completely out of [the playoff race], which it looks like they’re going to be — and Bumgarner is hurt, does a guy like Johnny Cueto get on the market? If so, I think Houston, without a doubt, is going to back up the truck and go get a guy like that who could win them a World Series.”
If a move is made, Cueto (4-2, 4.15 ERA) would immediately add depth to an Astros pitching staff that is anchored by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.
If Cueto is made available, should Jeff Luhnow consider a trade? Stay tuned.
Listen to Michael Rathburn’s full interview here.
Hunter Yurachek is the Vice President of Athletics for the University of Houston, and he joins the show to break down his first major hire (Major Applewhite, head football coach), the astounding facilities expansions and upgrades he is overseeing and the overall state of the union for UH Athletics (as well as how he made Tom Herman $1.6m richer before he left for UT).
Next, Michael Rathburn (“Rath,” to those of us in the know), of RotoWire, joins us to break down the Astros’ hot start and project their postseason prospects, as well as some possibly and likely trade moves on the horizons. Go follow Rath on Twitter, tweet that you heard him here on the show, and you might win his fantasy baseball almanac!
Kevin and Austin also love on their respective moms and bloviate about the week’s top headlines. Go leave us a review on iTunes!
New Era of Sports Media
by Kevin Cook
The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis joined Bill Simmons and the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay to discuss the changing face of sports media in the ‘new era,’ but before he broke it down on The Bill Simmons Podcast, he broke it down on The Weekly Brew.
A lot of Curtis’ points are covered in the piece he wrote for The Ringer’s website, The Familiar Lousiness of the ESPN Layoffs.
Episode 210 of The Bill Simmons Podcast, “The New Era of Sports Media” is available on iTunes and can also be found at SoundCloud and YouTube.
- Dick Schaap: In discussing The Sports Reporters, Curtis talks about Schaap being on television for a long time, having ‘legitimate literary bona fides’ and calls him a literary godfather before pondering who that is now. ‘They were all kind of working for him in a way.’ I think no one in the room (Gay is technically on the phone) can or will say it, but the first name that comes to mind for me is… Bill Simmons. Simmons kickstarted 30 for 30, some of the best content ESPN has ever consistently produced, was the founder and driving force behind Grantland, which targeted some of the most talented writers – inside and outside of the ‘sports media’ world – and provided them a platform to produce thoughtful, longform journalism and think pieces. Look at guys like Zach Lowe, Jalen Rose, and I would argue guys like Jonah Keri and Rembert Browne… the list goes on. I would argue there is an entire generation of sportswriters/reporters/broadcasters/thinkers that owes either its start or its national profile to Bill Simmons’ largesse. Reasonable minds may differ, but – to me – Bill Simmons is the modern-era Dick Schaap.
- Gay says: “What I find a little tough to swallow is people wrapping it up into some self-serving agenda or cultural statement about where ESPN is or isn’t heading.” Curtis got into the discussion about whether or not ESPN is a ‘liberal organization,’ on The Weekly Brew. His thesis was essentially that, if you’re asking the question whether ESPN is or isn’t left-leaning, then the answer is probably yes… but does that matter? I brought up Colin Kaepernick and his National Anthem protest, which was widely reviled (not by me – I consider it the absolute highest form of patriotism, on par with Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics), but didn’t impact viewership. Conservative morons were happy to tweet about how much they hated Kaepernick and his stance, but they didn’t quit watching the NFL. I think what Curtis was saying on the Brew, and I think this is accurate, is that ESPN’s stance on things like gay rights, trans rights, promoting women’s voices certainly rubbed a lot of the idiots in flyover country the wrong way, but they were angrily tweeting at their televisions, not turning them off or to another channel. If you’re one of those dolts tweeting about how ESPN is ‘failing’ or had to make these cuts as a concession to conservative values in order to win back viewers, check yourself. Much smarter people than you disagree with that analysis.
- Is ESPN failing? That’s another common theme of uninformed commentary online. ESPN isn’t failing, and likely isn’t going to fail. You can list off deals like the Longhorn Network (Curtis had a hysterical line on the Brew that he just threw away: “How about ESPN becoming essentially a branded content arm of the University of Texas?”), the $5.6 billion deal with MLB for Monday, Wednesday and exclusive “Sunday Night Baseball” games, and the list goes on, that probably hurt ESPN, overextended or weakened the Worldwide Leader’s position – making it necessary to trim fat – but make no mistake: this is a move designed to keep ESPN competitive and profitable. I made reference to ESPN’s “Content Evolution Strategy” (linked to from the John Skipper message to ESPN employees), which you can see here.
- Simmons, Curtis and Gay go back and forth on what this must look like, and what it must mean, to a hypothetical 20-year old pursuing a career in sports media. Simmons: “Writing is always going to matter. Being a good writer is still an advantage, so read and write as much as you possibly can.” Curtis and Gay both allude to ‘range,’ the idea being that if your skill set is diversified (print, online, audio, video), you stand a better chance of standing out and getting looks. Evidently, the old advice was, ‘find a beat – something you know better than anyone,’ but that granular approach doesn’t necessarily lead to success in today’s sports media landscape. A better piece of advice is to do as many things (well) as you can, and demonstrate that you can do it any which way. That’s why I have a two podcasts and a full-time writing job and a place like this to write whatever occurs to me.
- Final Thoughts: A lot of people responded to the ESPN Layoffs like they were unique or unusual. I work for a newspaper. Trust me, this is nothing new. If anything, it’s the reality of the media landscape catching up to what was once thought to be an invincible giant. When the company I worked for two years ago was bought by the larger conglomerate that runs it today (you can listen back to the tape – I’m not going to name names here), the larger company laid off about 30% of the editorial staff in absorbing the smaller company. There was a period of about a week where all of us at the smaller company went and interviewed at the big, downtown building and were told we’d know if we still had a job on Wednesday or Thursday. I heard back Friday (after two days of pretty panicked texts and phone calls) that I was being retained. Two of the guys I worked with most closely before the merger were let go (they’ve both landed elsewhere, which I’m glad for). This has been happening everywhere, and ESPN is not immune. That’s what we’ve learned. But, just as newspapers have found a way to survive by futzing with subscription models, cutting staff, etc. ESPN will ‘survive’ and continue to be a presence in sports media, though I’ll be interested to see how strong and omnipresent that presence is.
Would love to hear the listeners’/readers’ thoughts (unless you have an “ESPN is liberal, and that’s why it’s failing” take – in that case, don’t bother) on Facebook.
Most importantly, let’s remember that these are real people, flesh and blood human beings, most of whom do or did good work in the field. I’ve dodged buyouts and mass layoffs (I’m relatively young and very, very cheap, which is probably helpful), but there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be one of these names at one of these organizations someday. Here is the current list of the real, human beings that ESPN parted ways with last week, courtesy of Deadspin.
Wade Phillips, a 40-year NFL coaching veteran, son of legendary Texas coach Bum Phillips, is tied as deeply into the fabric of Houston as any other figure in sports. Phillips, who graduated from the University of Houston, coached for the Houston Oilers during the height of the Luv Ya Blue era, then served as defensive coordinator and interim head coach for the Houston Texans.
His new book, Son of Bum: Lessons my Dad Taught me about Football and Life, deals with all of that history and more, and Coach Phillips joins us to delve into the themes and backstory of the book. You should buy the book. It is not just a good book, but a fantastic one that (allegedly) made Kevin weep at multiple junctures.
Also, joining us in-studio this week is fellow Houston podcaster Luke Brawner, of The H, a podcast about the people and places that make Houston Houston.’ Brawner’s show has covered topics ranging from a Tomball bakery to the scourge of human trafficking that is as bad in Houston as anywhere in this country. It’s a must listen and Brawner breaks down the impetus for starting the show, upcoming information and definitively settles, once and for all, the question of #HOU vs #HTX (hint: neither – just The H).
Austin and Kevin also chat about the Astros, unveil a new, big (baller) sponsor and break down the so-called Tim Tebow Bill looming in the Texas State Legislature. Give it a listen!
The Houston Rockets win their first-round series against the Thunder after taking game five, 105-99, on Tuesday night. The Weekly Brew also got a big win this week, breaking the 10,000-listener mark last week. Accordingly, Hunter Atkins and Kevin Cook jump on the mic to thank the listeners and break down the Thunder series and Houston’s chances against the Spurs-or-Grizzlies, and Warriors, going forward. Stay tuned for more bonus TWB content coming soon.
Howard Beck, a 20-year veteran NBA writer with the New York Times and Bleacher Report, joins The Weekly Brew this week to take a look at the NBA Playoffs. Beck tips his hand regarding his MVP ballot and offers a national perspective on the Rockets’ season so far (“Nobody saw this coming… this is one of the more unlikely turnarounds in the last five years.”).
Austin, Jeremy and Kevin also break down the week’s top stories, including David Fizdale’s already-legendary ‘take that for data’ rant, Aaron Hernandez’s bizarre prison suicide and others.
Give it a listen! And since you’re already here on iTunes, why not click ‘Ratings and Reviews’ and leave us a five-star review with a little blurb telling us what you like, and what you’d like to hear on the show going forward. If you do, we’ll read your review on the air, and make you famous for a week.
Robert Flores is a studio host at MLB Network and joins Kevin Cook to discuss expectations for the 2017 Astros, the pitching staff and whether or not the Astros will be true contenders in October. Flores, a U of H alum, also breaks down his pride for his alma mater and the outlook for Major Applewhite’s first season as head coach for the football program.
Austin and Kevin are all alone in the studio this week, with Jeremy and Hunter out, and they dive headfirst into a smorgasbord of topics: CBS’ recent NBA all-time top-50 players list; what is going to happen with Tony Romo, and is there any chance he’s a Houston Texan by the time next season rolls around? (Austin says, ‘yeah,’ and Kevin says, ‘no chance’); the brother of North Korea’s Glorious Leader Kim Jong-Un was assassinated by a woman who believed she was competing on a prank show, per The Guardian – Austin has some thoughts on what exactly is taking place behind the scenes; One Texas State legislator introduced some ludicrous anti-emoji legislation which natch led Austin and Kevin into a discussion of some of the weirder/crazier laws on the books in Texas today; finally, the guys take a look at Mark Zuckerberg’s manifesto and the future of journalism.
Austin and Jeremy breakdown Baylor’s thrashing of TCU and the Bears’ prospects heading into March Madness. The guys discuss the Big 12’s recent ruling which withholds league profits from Baylor, and Donald Trump’s tumultuous first days in office.