Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Giants, Jets are second-rate on TV

Quarterback Eli Manning of the Giants looks over

(Credit: Getty Images)

New York usually trails smaller, less cosmopolitan markets when it comes to sports ratings, especially for football, and 2013 was no exception.

Average local ratings for both the Giants and Jets dropped for a second consecutive season as the Super Bowl co-hosts finished 30th and 31st in that category among the 32 NFL teams, according to Sports Business Daily.

Giants games averaged 15.3...

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Alex Rodriguez news hits on sleepy Saturday morning

Alex Rodriguez walks back to the dugout after

(Credit: Getty)

One of the oldest tricks in the public relations book is to wait until late Friday afternoon to release news that you want buried.

But Major League Baseball and/or the arbitrator deciding the Alex Rodriguez case took that a somewhat comical step further by announcing a ruling on A-Rod's appeal of his 211-game suspension on a Saturday morning.

And not just any Saturday morning, but the...

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ESPN scores with BCS 'Megacast'

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston celebrates after defeating

(Credit: Getty)

As with any experiment, there were both hits and misses in ESPN's inaugural "Megacast," in which the network used its many TV, radio and Internet platforms to come at Monday's BCS National Championship from many angles.

Mostly, though, it was a worthy endeavor that with fine tuning could become a staple of big-event coverage as we move further into the 21st century.

By far...

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Tim Tebow debuts for ESPN, talks about singing chaplain

Tim Tebow speaks on ESPN before the BCS

(Credit: AP)

Tim Tebow debuted Monday as an ESPN analyst and acquitted himself rather well, mixing detailed technical analysis of the BCS National Championship Game with the kind of personal experience the network is looking for from him.

Still, the anecdote he offered during a morning SportsCenter appearance from the Rose Bowl had a distinctly wholesome, Tebowesque aspect to it.

When asked...

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ESPN experts whiff on picks

The Amazing Kreskin

(Credit: The Amazing Kreskin (Getty Images))

First, full disclosure: I predicted the Titans would beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl XLVIII in Newsday’s preview section, which is why my lovely and talented wife does not permit me to bet real money on sports events.

The good news is I was not alone in whiffing dramatically on my preseason picks for the ever-wacky NFL.

Before the season ESPN sent a chart showing predictions for 35 of...

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Detroit was Hockeytown AND Rose Bowl Town Jan. 1

Fireworks go off as the Toronto Maple Leafs

(Credit: MCT)

Many Americans spent big chunks of their New Year's Eve and New Year's Day watching college football and hockey, beginning with Tuesday night's Chick-Fil-A Bowl. In case you missed it because you have a social life, Johnny Manziel led a wild rally by Texas A&M over Mrs. WatchDog's Dukies and helped ESPN draw 5.3 percent of homes in major markets - its best ever for a non-BCS bowl game.

Wednesday...

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Football Nation tuned in again in '13

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws a pass

(Credit: Getty)

There are those who fear for the future of football, given increasing concerns about its dangers. But in the present the sport never has been stronger.

Nielsen released its year-end roundup of television viewing and it showed nine of the top 10 programs were NFL related. The lone exception was the Academy Awards, at No. 7 with 40.4 million viewers.

No. 1 was Super Bowl XLVII at 108.7...

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Radio days in New York sports

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, left, appears on

(Credit: YES Network)

It has been 92½ years since live sports first broke into the radio business, when KDKA in Pittsburgh carried a bout between lightweights Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee, neither of whom tweeted about the no-decision afterward.

Nearly a century later, let us pause before recycling another calendar to marvel at the medium’s staying power in an era of communication marvels, because nothing made...

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Jeff Van Gundy responds to report ESPN yanked him from Knicks game

ESPN NBA analyst and former Knicks coach Jeff

(Credit: AP, 2012)

USA Today reported last week that ESPN and Jeff Van Gundy agreed it would be best if he did not call the Dec. 11 Bulls-Knicks game after his name surfaced as a potential replacement for Knicks coach Mike Woodson.

Van Gundy was asked about the report on a conference call Thursday promoting the slate of Christmas Day games next week. Here is what he said:

"That sort of got ramped...

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NFL uses flex to maintain flexbility

Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes

(Credit: AP)

The NFL’s decision to flex the Dec. 22 Ravens-Patriots game out of prime time for Eagles-Bears initially caused much head-scratching, until Sports Business Journal reported it was driven by an arcane TV contract provision.

It turns out the gap between games taken from CBS and Fox for prime time windows in any given season may not exceed three. If Ravens-Patriots had remained at night, CBS’s...

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