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Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985 after a two-year stint covering college hockey for The Anchorage Times in Alaska. From 1985-90 he covered New York City high school sports, then spent five years as Newsday's beat writer for St. John's and Big East basketball. From 1995-2005 he covered the Giants before leaving that beat to become a reporter, columnist and feature writer focused on off-field topics such as sports media and business. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept. 30, 2005.

Oh my: Dick Enberg still talkin' baseball

Dick Enberg interviews Roger Federer.

(Credit: CBS / Jeffrey R. Staab)

Dick Enberg, who has been summoned to call one last U.S. Open match for CBS Sunday, rarely works on national television anymore, which leads many sports fans to assume he has retired.

“Oh, I get that all the time,’’ he said. “People say, ‘Hey, what are you doing now that you’re retired?’ I say, ‘Well, let’s start with 140 games a season.’’’

Enberg, who turns 80 in January, has been the...

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'The Simpsons' are good sports

"Always feel with your heart, although it's better

(Credit: FOX)

With FXX’s 12-day, 552-episode marathon of “The Simpsons’’ winding down at last, soon it will be time to eat, sleep and reconnect with family members.

First, this observation: Until the network strung together the entire quarter century, I did not fully appreciate the depth of sports-themed shows in the archives.

ESPN.com once did a list of the best 100 sports moments on the show...

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SNY to profile Dwight Gooden in documentary

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Dwight Gooden, the last professional athlete I followed as an unabashed fan before I turned into a crusty, cynical old sportswriter, turns 50 this autumn. Fifty! Say it ain’t so, Doc.

Anyway, on at 9:30 p.m. Monday SNY will get a jump on the retrospectives surrounding that milestone – as well as the 30th anniversary of his first Mets season – when...

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For CBS, final U.S. Open is a labor of love

Dick Enberg interviews Roger Federer.

Dick Enberg interviews Roger Federer. (Credit: CBS / Jeffrey R. Staab)

It started with Arthur Ashe winning the first U.S. Open in 1968, and it will end at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2014.

"A lot of great memories here," CBS' Bill Macatee said Wednesday, standing amid the steamy bustle of another tennis afternoon in Flushing, "and very sad that this era is ending."

It is fitting that Macatee will do the honors Sept. 8 when he calls the men's final, given his nearly quarter-century association with the event, initially on USA Network, then CBS.

But he is but one of many old network hands for whom the final Open before ceding full control to ESPN in 2015 has been a wrenching experience.

"Emotionally, for a lot of people, there are some deep feelings," said Dick Enberg, CBS' lead Open voice from 2000-2011, who will call a match Sunday with analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo for old times' sake.

Enberg also will write and narrate a video look back at CBS' nearly five decades in Queens next weekend.

"They've asked me to take 47 years and condense it into four or five minutes," he said. "I enjoy writing, and that'll be a nice challenge."

The move from CBS to ESPN -- which has had cable rights to the Open since 2009 -- is but the latest on a long list of sports properties that have shifted from broadcast to cable, including Wimbledon from NBC to ESPN in 2012.

This one shocked no one in the business, given the 11-year, $825-million price ESPN was willing and able to pay and CBS could not justify, given tennis' lackluster ratings and lack of American stars -- not to mention the vagaries of rain delays.

Still, while CBS' relationship with the tennis Open isn't quite as long or passionate as its one with the Masters, the next 10 days mark a historical milestone in sports TV.

When Ashe won the first U.S. championship of the Open era at Forest Hills, Bud Collins and Jack Kramer called four hours of action over two days. (Virginia Wade won the women's final over Billie Jean King, for whom the entire National Tennis Center now is named.)

Enberg called Sunday's guest gig "a chance to represent Pat Summerall and Bud Collins and John Newcombe and Tony Trabert and Tim Ryan and Bill Macatee."

"I'm honored," Enberg said. "When I've shared it with my friends, they had the same reaction: That's really great. It will be nice to hear you one more time on tennis."

Enberg, 79, who is taking the weekend off from his job as the Padres' play-by-play man, credited Collins' mentoring on tennis early in his long run calling Wimbledon for NBC.

He marvels at the fact more people he runs into tell him they miss him on tennis than on basketball or football.

"It's amazing, because I was a farm kid [in Michigan] and there wasn't a tennis court within 15 miles, and if my dad had found me with a tennis racket he'd have used it to spank my [butt]," Enberg said.

Macatee's first big match at the Open was Jimmy Connors' five-set victory over Patrick McEnroe on USA in 1991. He said calling Serena Williams' 1999 championship for CBS his favorite Open moment.

"There was so much anticipation for the Williams sisters, so much promise," he said. "And then it was Serena, the younger of the sisters, who won the first Grand Slam. You knew there were going to be many more."

Macatee noted how far the facility and event have come since the '90s -- and in the half century since he first visited the area for the World's Fair.

"I came here as a 9-year-old and stood by that Unisphere," he said. "Now I'm working a few thousand yards away from it as a 58-year-old man. So it's kind of neat."

Enberg will try to sum it all up next weekend.

"If somebody was writing the book, that would be 800, 900 pages," he said. "I'm going to try to do whatever I can in four minutes to pay tribute to the Open as CBS has covered it."

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Melo, Eli among investors in secondary ticket site

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 15: Professional basketball

(Credit: Getty Images / Jason Merritt)

Need a difficult-to-get ticket to a big game?

Eli Manning or Carmelo Anthony might be able to hook you up.

SeatGeek, the secondary ticket market search engine, announced Thursday it had raised $35 million in financing, with Anthony, Manning and Manning's brother Peyton among the investors.

Here is Bloomberg's story on the transaction, since reading the original news release turned...

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Josh Lewin's radio partner suspended for anti-Semitic joke

The new Mets radio announcer Josh Lewin will

(Credit: Handout)

No, not Howie Rose!

It was Josh Lewin's other radio partner - Hank Bauer, who works Chargers games with him - who landed in hot water thanks to an anti-Semitic joke he made during San Diego's preseason game against the 49ers.

Bauer was suspended for Thursday night's preseason finale against the Cardinals.

Lewin's primary summer job is calling Mets games on WOR radio....

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ESPN takes a bath on Michael Sam shower story

St. Louis Rams rookie defensive end Michael Sam

(Credit: AP / Jeff Roberson)

Could ESPN's Josina Anderson have done a better, more delicate job on some elements of her report earlier this week about how Michael Sam has been accepted by his Rams teammates?

Yes, she could have.

But was her story so egregious it warranted a firestorm of social media criticism, an apology from ESPN, an angry response from Rams coach Jeff Fisher and the full Jon Stewart indignation...

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CBS to launch all-female sports talk show 'We Need to Talk'

In this June 8, 2014, file photo, Allie

In this June 8, 2014, file photo, Allie LaForce poses during a red carpet event before the Miss USA 2014 pageant in Baton Rouge, La. CBS Sports Network will air an all-women sports show starting next month. The panel will feature a core of CBS Sports announcers: Lesley Visser, Amy Trask, Tracy Wolfson, Dana Jacobson and Allie LaForce. (Credit: AP / Jonathan Bachman)

There is no shortage of sports talk in 21st century media, but CBS Sports Network will offer a new spin on an old format with the cleverly named "We Need to Talk," which the network is billing as "the first-ever, nationally televised, all-female, weekly hour-long sports show."

That seems like a fair assumption.

The show will premiere at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30, and will feature on its regular panel several of CBS' most prominent female voices: Lesley Visser, Tracy Wolfson, Amy Trask, Dana Jacobson and Allie LaForce.

Other contributors will include Andrea Kremer, Lisa Leslie, Dara Torres, Swin Cash, Summer Sanders, Laila Ali and Katrina Adams.

"This is a very proud moment for all of us at CBS Sports," chairman Sean McManus said in a news release.

"A sports show featuring all women is long overdue and we are thrilled to be able to make television history this fall with the national launch of 'We Need to Talk.' "

The coordinating producers are Emilie Deutsch and Suzanne Smith, who directs NFL games for the network. Amy Salmanson and Julie Keryc will produce "We Need to Talk," with Smith serving as director.

"This is nothing less than a cultural pivot point," Visser said in a news release. "There are many shows that have a woman on, but not one that has a table filled with women.

"When I started covering sports in 1974, the credentials often said, 'No Women or Children in the Press Box.' Forty years later we are accepted as members of the media, assistant coaches, college officials and executives. We have learned to love sports the same way boys and men do. Not all of them played the game either. I'm proud to play for CBS."

CBS sent statements from other members of the show's panel as well:

Adams: "I am so honored to be a part of a ground-breaking show that exemplifies knowledge and expertise in the world of sports with some of the most reputable and respected voices in the sports arena. There's no better time than now to express our views as women in the sports world that represent such a large base of athletes and fans."

Ali: "I am thrilled and honored to have a seat at the table for meaningful conversation with so many accomplished women in the sports world."

Cash: "As a passionate sports fan, as well as an athlete, I am excited to be a part of CBS Sports Network's historic sports-focused program hosted entirely by women, especially at a time when the influence of women in sports has evolved to where it is today."

Jacobson: "I'm excited to be a part of the show. While the buzz may be about this being an all-female sports show, once we start talking, I have no doubt that what we're saying, not the gender of who is saying it, is what will resonate most."

Kremer: "When I first heard about the show, my reaction was, 'Finally.' I applaud CBS for taking this historic step and am flattered and grateful to join the stellar group of women on the CBS roster and beyond. I have known and worked alongside Lesley Visser and Amy Trask for virtually my entire career. It's ironic that over the years we've had so many conversations that start out with, 'We need to talk about.' Now we all get to share our knowledge and opinions on the burning issues in sports in this unique new forum."

LaForce: "As human beings we have the opportunity every day to redefine the preconceived standards that others set for us. No one but ourselves can know what we are capable of achieving. This show gives women an opportunity to challenge the status quo and set higher standards for what we can achieve as broadcasters."

Leslie: "I am honored to join the CBS Sports family to inspire, entertain and deliver insight on a platform with amazing women doing what we do best - talk sports. I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of such a ground-breaking show. Yet we cannot do it alone. We hope to have the support of men and women because it's time, and 'We Need To Talk!'"

Sanders: "Sports have always been a huge part of my life and my conversations. It is a thrill and an honor to be a part of this ground-breaking show. I am a competitor at heart, but a true sports fan to my core."

Torres: "Being an Olympic Medalist was a team effort. So I am honored to be a part of CBS Sports' 'We Need to Talk' cast of iconic women. Being part of a show with some of my broadcasting and sports idols is an honor."

Trask: "I am delighted to be part of this electrifying project. It is certainly fitting that such leading edge programming is being presented by this tremendous network. I look forward to collaborating with the many terrific people who are working on this innovative project, both in front and behind the camera."

Wolfson: "The sports world is in need of a show like this and there is no better place for it than CBS. I am so excited to be part of this project and working alongside these talented, knowledgeable women as we bring OUR view on all the hot topics in sports."

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Jay Glazer recounts near-death experience

Inductee Michael Strahan, left, poses next to his

Inductee Michael Strahan, left, poses next to his bronze bust with presenter Jay Glazer during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Canton, Ohio. (Credit: AP)

Travel deals

Jay Glazer has a couple of best friends, both of which he honored in Canton earlier this month.

One, Michael Strahan, was being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with Glazer as his presenter, which secured him a seat for the ceremony near the likes of John Madden, Marv Levy and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

He credited the other with the fact he was able to be there for the big moment.

"I literally looked up to God and said, 'What am I doing here? How did I get here?' " Glazer recalled. "Nothing overwhelms me -- ever. Nothing, ever, ever. I don't get overwhelmed. But I really was."

Glazer, 44, had more than one reason to be overwhelmed, among them his rise from a hardscrabble start as a low-paid, journalistic nobody covering the 1993 Giants to Fox's king of NFL "scoopage," as he likes to call it, and a spot on the Hall of Fame stage.

He even added a new show to his busy schedule this past weekend, hosting Fox Sports 1's "Fantasy Football Uncensored," in which he kibitzes with comedians, commentators and his mixed martial arts pal Chuck Liddell about their fantasy league.

But more so than all that, Glazer is thankful this summer merely to be alive.

"I'm not trying to be a religious zealot here," he said, "but my best friend God saved me on this one and stepped in at the last second."

That was in March, when during a simple procedure on his back, Glazer vomited with his face down, quickly "drowning in stomach acid and bile and half-digested food." He suffered aspiration double pneumonia, in which his lungs were severely damaged and his oxygen intake compromised.

"They told me after that if I was older I would have died -- they used the word 'expired' -- and if I wasn't in the shape I was in I would've died," he said. "Even so, I was so far gone when they brought me in [they thought] there was nothing they could do. They were kind of going through the motions."

The NFL, MMA and sports media worlds were aware of his condition -- especially when he mostly skipped the NFL free-agency scoopage period -- but in the months that followed he misled followers on social media to believe he was well.

"I wasn't," he said. "I just wanted people to stop asking about it and start calling me again."

Glazer, who is known for his high level of energy, was told by doctors to relax, which he found "the most depressing thing I've ever been through in my life . . . I'm used to training with guys in a cage, and all of a sudden I couldn't walk."

He covered the NFL draft in May, which landed him back in the hospital. Strahan visited him there.

"I was filleted out," Glazer recalled. "He was like, 'Man, you look awful . . . I guess we're not having dinner.' "

Fox executives were supportive and cautious throughout, he said, but that did not stop him from pushing himself. He finally has felt close to normal since training camps opened, although he still has not returned to cardiovascular workouts.

"I'm praying I've turned the corner," said Glazer, who added the worst part of the ordeal was the effect on his 11-year-old son. "I couldn't get out of bed to take him to school."

All of that made that night in Canton mean even more than it otherwise would have.

"That was the coolest thing I've ever done in my career, by far," he said.

Glazer particularly appreciated Strahan's response when people wondered why he didn't have someone such as a former coach introduce him.

"He said the nicest thing he's ever said about me in his life," Glazer recalled. "He said, 'Hey, listen, I've had three head coaches. I have one best friend.' "

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Shannon Hogan to cover Islanders for MSG

Shannon Hogan will cover the Islanders on MSG

Shannon Hogan will cover the Islanders on MSG during the 2014-15 season (Credit: MSG)

Travel deals

Shannon Hogan went to high school in Northville, Michigan, outside Detroit, so working for Fox Sports Detroit for the past four years covering the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons was a comfortable fit.

But when her agent called during the Stanley Cup Final with news MSG was looking for a new Islanders reporter, she responded without hesitation.

"I said, 'Oh my God, absolutely; whatever I can do, I have to get in there,'" she recalled Monday, the day before the network officially was set to announce she will succeed Peter Ruttgaizer, who had held the job since 2011.

Turns out Hogan, 29, is a hockey true believer, a love affair sealed during her first exposure to the Red Wings upon moving to Northville for her freshman year of high school. (She was born in Syracuse.)

"This was Hockeytown," she said. "I will never forget going to Joe Louis Arena for the first time and saying, 'Oh, my gosh, this is such an amazing atmosphere.'"

Later, after she became a TV journalist following an All-Big 12 swimming career at Missouri, she got to work two World Series - one covering the Giants and one the Tigers.

But she said, "I firmly believe there is nothing more exciting than the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's a better atmosphere than any other kind of postseason. The energy around it is so fantastic."

Another appeal of the Islanders beat is she will be able to focus on one team and one sport, making it easier to get to know players and coaches. "That's really valuable as a journalist," she said. "It's all about showing the fans part of their personality and who they are as people."

The fact the Islanders will transition from Nassau County to Brooklyn after the coming season was yet another draw.

"That was a big part of why I wanted to be a part of the team now," she said. "The Coliseum has so much tradition ... It will be exciting and also emotional. Then there will be a lot of emotion and excitement around going to Brooklyn."

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