Larry Dierker, former Houston Astros pitcher, manager and broadcaster, joins us in studio this week to talk about the early days of the Astros franchise, promoting the sport of baseball and the success of the current roster and how it stacks up against the best teams he managed.
Harlem Globetrotter Corey “Thunder” Law also calls in to discuss the group’s three upcoming Houston shows July 8-9.
Austin, Jeremy and Kevin break down the NBA Draft, former Patriots/Chiefs tackle Ryan O’Callaghan and the rest of the week’s top stories.
Justise Winslow makes his second appearance on The Weekly Brew to preview his upcoming St. John’s basketball youth skills camp and talk NBA Draft and the Houston basketball scene. Likely top-five pick De’Aaron Fox was Winslow’s teammate on a Houston Hoops AAU team that featured Justin Jackson and Kelly Oubre, and said that it was apparent even when Fox was a freshman that he was special.
San Antonio Stars GM Ruth Riley, a WNBA and NCAA champion, as well as an Olympic gold medalist, joins us to break down her fight to end hunger, and its roots in her personal history.
Austin and Kevin also get into the Amazon/Whole Foods acquisition, the NBA Draft and other stories of interest.
Give it a listen! And when you’re through, go leave a five-star rating & review on iTunes; if you do, we’ll read it on the air next week.
Derek Fogel of CBS Sports stops by the studio and joins Austin and Hunter to discuss the latest on Dallas Keuchel and the Astros as the club inches toward the All-Star break.
Then, the Brew Crew offers their opinions on the James Comey hearing with Jeremy, who is three Vodka Tonic’s deep in Boston but offers cogent takes on the mess in Washington.
The show closes as Austin and Hunter provide a recap of game four of the NBA Finals as the Cavs knocked off the Warriors, 137-116, to force a game five in the Bay Area.
The guys welcome back Kevin after a brief stint in the hospital and discuss the Astros historic pace to the 2017 season.
The crew then breaks down the NBA Finals, what the Rockets can do to compete in 2017-18, and whether the playoffs have been entertaining.
Then, the guys discuss ESPN’s list of the most famous athletes on the planet before focusing on the latest terror attacks in the U.K.
Austin and Hunter are joined by former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy as they preview the highly-anticipated NBA Finals showdown between the Cavs and Warriors. Van Gundy explains why difficult defensive matchups for the Cavs will force Kevin Love off the floor, how injured Warriors coach Steve Kerr can coach well without being on the floor and that the Cavs can win only if something “unexpected” happens: “When you have LeBron James, you always have a chance.”
Also, be sure to check out Hunter’s feature as Van Gundy discussed Houston education and his work with Pro-Vision, a charter school in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods.
In a special Memorial Day episode, Austin Staton and Hunter Atkins are joined by CBS Sports’ Derek Fogel and discuss the Astros heading into their weekend series with the Baltimore Orioles.
The guys also discuss the highly-anticipated NBA Finals series between the Warriors and Cavs, and why the pressure is all on Golden State.
Lastly, the crew breaks down Brock Osweiler’s comments that his game film over the last two years speaks for itself. Hint: It does, and it’s not good.
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.