Why the move to ESPN?
Windhorst: They approached me a few months ago and it really took awhile for them to figure out what the vision of this thing was going to be. I really didn't know if I wanted to go. Regardless of what people think, it wasn't a snap decision. It wasn't like it's easy to leave your home and it's not like we're going to be welcomed with open arms in Miami. There's a lot of acrimony that surrounds that beat right now, a lot of negativity. It wasn't an easy decision. It took ESPN making a historical commitment from a national outlet to a team to do this. They're really doing something here they've never done before, and I believe the interest in that team is going to be higher than the interest in any NBA team in history. Whether they end up holding that interest for more than a couple years is yet to be determined.
It had to be a really attractive offer to leave. I told the people at the Plain Dealer this, that there's probably no other newspaper job in the country I would leave for. I was that happy in Cleveland. I got great support there, so it had to be a really special opportunity. I had other offers come up that I bypassed, and it really took being part of something special to leave. But it's also something I stewed over.
Are you worried at all about Heat overload on that Heat page with ESPN's blitz of coverage?
Windhorst: It definitely has to be dealt with. For as much difficulty as there is, you can't deny the interest, even at the PD. Stories about LeBron James get huge amounts of traffic on the website. Commenters say, "Why are you running these stories?" and the comments are negative in general, but the hit numbers show people do care. And nationally, the hit numbers at ESPN and the viewer ratings convinced them people really do care. We're going to take criticism for the level of coverage, and whether or not we make anybody happy or not, we're responding to the desire in the market. We'll see if it works. We think it will. We think the interest will meet the demand.
People in Cleveland seem to really love your work and are taking this a little personally.
Windhorst: It was a really hard decision. My preference would have been to continue to cover the Cavs like the last two years with LeBron on it. Last year I tried to report as down the middle as I could. I tried to report as many facts as I could. There were so many others offering their opinions on the situation. I personally wish the facts were that he resigned. I think there's a collection of great people at the Cavs organization who have taken opportunities outside the organization once LeBron moved on. I think everyone should realize how special the situation was over the last few years. I'm not moving on because I don't think the Cavs will be an interesting story. I'm moving on because I think there's a story that supersedes them. I can't envision a job I would have taken besides this one. You have to be careful making absolute statements, but I've interviewed with the New York Times, I've interviewed at Yahoo! and other internet sites, but I really can't say for sure I would have taken any other job offered to me besides the offer to join ESPN.
I'm really appreciative of the people that enjoyed my work and I know this upsets a lot of them. But I have a lot of family in South Florida and I've had real estate in South Florida for the last four years. It's a business decision as well as a personal one. It's not just to follow LeBron. I know people won't believe that, but I'm covering the Heat. Obviously LeBron's a huge factor in that, but it's not like I'm just going to some city I don't have ties to.
What do you think it's going to be like December 2?
Windhorst: I really hope that the Cavs let the fans have their say and don't edge them along. The team doesn't need to have the reputation of being vindictive; they need to move on. I hope the fans do it and get over it, because if you do something to give the city a black eye, you're only hurting yourself in the long run — making yourself look bad and swinging national sympathy LeBron. Maybe they don't care about that. Let them know what you think. You don't have to be respectful, but you have to keep in mind what your reputation is. The Cavs are going to have decades more of playing basketball here, and you have to keep that in mind. I hope the fans voice their displeasure, but I hope it doesn't turn into something of a black mark for the city.
First it was the Muni Lot and the city's choice to move the opening of the sacred tailgating lot back to 7 a.m.
Now, another favorite pre-game spot has earned the ire of tailgaters.
Alexa Marinos, the lovely lady behind Cleveland's a Plum, says that on Sunday "The Pit" was collecting a $5 cover charge from anyone walking in. Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous.
She tweeted: "A big EFF U goes to network parking charging a $5 pedestrian fee to WALK THROUGH the pit. What is this a club? A cover charge? Ridiculous."
There was a lot of talk during the NFL offseason about improving the entertainment quality for those folks that choose to go to the games. The logic: It's freaking awesome to watch games at home, less so at the stadium, where you can't check in on other action, etc.
The Browns are taking the idea of bringing the at-home experience into the gameday experience to a new level — for an albeit limited portion of their fans.
Yesterday Club Level season ticket holders got an email from the Browns about "FanVision." Today, they received the units in the mail.
What is it?
A hand-held TV, essentially, with an HD compatible 4.3-inch screen that gives you access to control your own instant replays, live video and audio to other games including Red Zone, fantasy team tracker, local audio, live feeds from multiple cameras around the stadium, split screen capabilities, and more video content — all facilitated by 8.4Mbps continuous streaming.
It's "complimentary" for this season, which means they're hoping to get as many Club Level fans hooked on the probably awesome combo of gameday and at-home NFL experiences.
And if you lose it this season? Or you break it? You owe the browns $200, thank you very much.
During the first tilt of yesterday's doubleheader, and foul ball went up to the mezzanine level and bounced off an empty seat and up in the air, toward the railing and the field.
Our talented father, baby in one hand, grabbed the ball with the other.
Yes, he was in the first row, next to the railing, and was dangerously close to having a Michael Jackson moment at the game. But he didn't. Instead he's a hero and lands on SportsCenter. Enjoy.
Update: A little incentive for you all. Miami New Times has graciously donated a pair of tickets to the Cavs vs. Heat game in Miami on December 15th. The person who drops off the most LeBron gear before our deadline (October 11) will get them. Yes, the tickets are for a game in Miami, but we really don't care if you go or if you sell them. In fact, similar tickets to these (Section 114, Row 29) are going for close to $200 on StubHub. So sell away if you'd like.
Bring us your stuff and the tickets could be yours.
Previous efforts by a certain group to collect the unwanted LeBron jerseys, shirts, and assorted paraphernalia of Clevelanders to donate to Miami homeless shelters are unsuccessful at this point, thwarted by politics in Miami.
We think that's simply not cool, and as one intrepid Miami reporter discovered last week, the homeless of Miami totally want Cleveland's LeBron-related stuff. And they should have it.
So, Scene's partnering up with Miami New Times for a drive of our own. And we're not going through official channels or dealing with those uninterested in clothing the downtrodden of South Florida in the finest of wine and gold threads.
Here's our promise: Donate your stuff to The Wino and Gold LeBron Jersey Drive and we'll personally make sure your formerly cherished items are given directly to a person of need in Miami. No, really. The good folks at Miami New Times will distribute the collection themselves.
We know you were too lazy to donate or burn your stuff this summer. It's still sitting in your closet, or a box, and we want it. Please.
Just drop your stuff off at Scene's offices (1468 W. 9th St., Suite 805, Cleveland, OH) by October 11, and we'll get it down to Miami. The office is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. (If those hours are an issue or you'd like to ship your stuff, email me and we'll figure something out: email@example.com).
No joke, folks. We want your LeBron jerseys, shirts, sweatshirts, shoes — whatever you want to give up. And we'll get it down to Miami for you and hand it personally to someone who would love nothing more than to wear your orange No. 23 gear.
Pass it on.
If you've stumbled upon this page, you know Cleveland.com is in the midst of launching something called the Digital Sports Network.
(There's also this page, which is only slightly more clear about their plans, and includes some blogs of various quality and such.)
WKNR has long been the only sports radio option in town, at least on terrestrial radio. For various reasons — quality, choice, etc. — it's a good thing for them to have a competitor, especially one backed by the power and money of Cleveland.com, even if we're just talking about internet radio (and, I'm assuming, podcasts, video, probably some broadcasting of high school games, etc.)
So what is the Digital Sports Network? And when is it launching?
The answers aren't abundantly clear, but here's what I know.
The project isn't just that of Cleveland.com; it's a partnership effort. Who the other entities are, where all the money is coming from, and who ultimately is in control — I have no idea.
Though anyone in the media — as well as your local sports bloggers — are well aware of some of the parameters and principles, no one likes to talk on the record. Denise Polverine, Editor-in-Chief at Cleveland.com, told me today that they'll be able to talk about the project more specifically later in the week.
I've heard they're aiming for 17 hours of original programming every day, which is a lot. That sort of time commitment means they need talking heads to spout their glorious Cleveland sports knowledge and opinions.
As for who those people are, Daryl Ruiter was recently hired by Digital Sports Network and will be leaving WKNR. I've also been told Les Levine is in the fold in some respect, probably as the big-name host. Greg Kozarik will be the Program Director. He also lists "host" on his Twitter profile.
It's encouraging that someone is stepping up to offer another option in local sports talk, and if they're hiring talent like Ruiter and paying them full-time salaries, I have to believe there's some actual money behind the project. Done well, and with the reach of Cleveland.com's audience, which is quite sizeable, there's a legitimate chance the Digital Sports Network might actually reach an audience.
The rest of the roster that Cleveland will be listening to, whether the PD's sports writers will be encouraged or required to lend their knowledge to shows, and the answers to more questions will have to wait until at least later this week.
The Cavs are going to have to be mighty creative when it comes to attracting fans to The Q next year.
Consider this a good start.
The Cavs Sweater Vest T-Shirt. Why not, right? A little nod to Ohio State and Coach Sweater Best can't be wrong.
All fans at the November 16th game will get one of these dandy formal but casual beauties.
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