A couple of weeks ago in this space, I lamented Fox Sports president Jamie Horowitz’s decision to turn FoxSports.com into a receptacle for nothing more than video clips of “hot-takes” from the network’s unwatchable and mostly unwatched debate shows.
I stand by that lamentation. In fact, with new revelations coming to light in recent days, the decision looks even more ridiculous.
It should be noted that Horowitz has since been fired — in a sexual-harassment scandal — before his content plan could get around to its inevitable spectacular failure.
The reason it looks even more ridiculous now is because Ken Rosenthal, one of the most respected and plugged-in national baseball columnists, revealed on Twitter Wednesday night that he no longer had a writing home and would be posting his stories on Facebook until he finds one.
“As I wait to find a new writing home [hopefully soon], I will post stories on my Facebook page,’’ tweeted Rosenthal, who joined Fox Sports in 2005. “First story tonight. You guys be my editors.
“Foxsports.com has gone all video. That is why I can no longer write on the site.”
The realization that Rosenthal — who continues to work for Fox Sports as the in-game reporter on baseball broadcasts and the MLB Network as a studio commentator — had been caught up in Horowitz’s plan brought bewilderment from all corners of baseball social media.
Kevin Goldstein, current director of pro scouting for the Houston Astros, posted on Facebook in a hypothetical Rosenthal voice: “ ‘Hi, I’m the biggest name in baseball journalism, and I break more stories than anyone, and my reputation is beyond stellar. I’m also under contract to you and have a new article to publish and then I’ll send the link out to my nearly one million Twitter followers.’ FoxSports: ‘Nah, we’re good.’ ”
Rosenthal’s situation is, of course, one more blunt commentary on the state of the business. Rosenthal and Jayson Stark — let go in ESPN’s talent purge last month — have long been destination reading for many baseball fans. Now readers can’t even be sure where to find them.
With Horowitz out, it bears watching whether Fox Sports pivots toward common sense now, and perhaps even the written word.
Head of talking heads
In my near-decade of covering the media beat, there are a few things I’ve learned. One is that pretty much everyone who has ever hosted a show on sports radio thinks they invented sports radio. Mike Francesa and Chris Russo — better known as Mike and the Mad Dog, the WFAN (New York) hosts who were featured in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary that premiered Thursday night — have a legitimate claim, at least in the sense of how sports radio programs are structured nowadays. They may not have invented sports radio, but few have influenced it more. Their massive success at WFAN from 1989 until their split in 2008 was the prototype for the modern show in style and approach, and was critical in the spread of sports stations nationwide. But it also should be noted that there have been a number of hosts — especially in Boston — who had successful and popular shows long before Mike and the Mad Dog got together. Guy Mainella’s Calling All Sports was the trendsetter in the early ’70s, and the Bob Lobel/Upton Bell version of the same show was the soundtrack that shortened a lot of long car rides with my dad in the late ’70s. Eddie Andelman and Glenn Ordway also had a huge say in shaping Boston sports radio history, though I suppose neither is thrilled to see the other’s name in the same sentence.