Awesome start to an awesome #worldseries matchup…and I am so excited to be covering it with this guy. 18 years after he hired me in Tampa, we’ve been officially reunited as partners thanks to @sportscenter On The Road. There is no one in this business that I respect, trust & love more than Jay Crawford & his entire family. Here’s to making great TV …and a ton of fun on the road! #SCOTR @jaycrawfordespn
Part of what makes ESPN’s coverage of the World Series stand out is that while there are a variety of avowed fans of both teams as well as former players who are contributing across multiple platforms, they are still dedicated to bringing viewers the most balanced coverage.
– Jay Crawford, SportsCenter anchor, Cleveland sports fan
For SportsCenter anchor and vocal Cleveland Indians fan Jay Crawford, finding a way to separate his fandom from his role as a reporter has been easy, especially when the results are in his favor.
“Staying objective in the reporting is easy. What happened, happened, and I can easily separate analyzing what actually happened from what I wish happened,” said Crawford. “That said, it’s easier to report it when the results are favorable.”
Both MLB analysts Rick Sutcliffe and Doug Glanville played for the Cubs, which is an advantage when it comes to analyzing the team with an insider perspective; however, they have to work a little bit harder to make sure their audience understands they’re still offering an objective analysis.
“It is challenging to make sure the audience understands that despite that history, you can remain impartial, that even with your connection, you can objectively analyze the bigger picture,” Glanville said. “In the end, we all have history, but I love baseball and that is bigger than one team.”
Sutcliffe knows he wouldn’t be in the position he is today if he didn’t remain impartial.
“It doesn’t come off that way in the telecast [his love for the Cubs] or my bosses wouldn’t allow me to do those games,” he said. “I did a lot of Chicago Cubs baseball games this year and I think the reason I was chosen was because I’m going to be objective.”
For others like espnW reporter and ESPN Radio host Sarah Spain, her fandom is so well-known that therein lies her biggest challenge.
“The toughest part about covering a team I’m a fan of is probably the fact that my fandom is so widely publicized and publicly known,” Spain said. “When my team stumbles, I’m an easy target and really hear it from people on social media. But that’s a small price to pay to get to be a part of the Cubs’ run, not just in the stands cheering but on the field, too.”
– Michael Wilbon, PTI co-host, Chicago sports fan
Another Chicago native, SportsCenter reporter Michele Steele, recently left Boston – where she was covering Tom Brady’s return from an NFL suspension to quarterback the New England Patriots. Now in the Windy City, she views covering the Cubs as an incredible assignment but being a fan doesn’t distract her from doing the job she loves.
“As a native Chicagoan, I feel I can finally use the phrase ‘living the dream’ un-ironically. It still feels so, so surreal,” she said. “As a reporter, to go from the biggest story in the NFL to the biggest story in sports in the last century – you couldn’t ask for a better and richer set of assignments.”
Pardon the Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon has a unique opportunity to embrace his fandom and not worry about being objective since he’s not reporting on the team.
“I’m 57 years old…not even if you were 50 years older than me could you have seen the Cubs in the World Series,” Wilbon said. “So, every pitch is nerve-racking and it’s the most anxiety I’ve ever felt watching anything. The challenge is that I’m a fan, a lunatic. I’ve been a fanatic since I was five years old. I’m not anywhere near objective.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s coverage of World Series Game 3: Cleveland Indians at Chicago Cubs on Friday features Baseball Tonight pregame coverage airing from Wrigley Field (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2); SportsCenter on the Road at 6 p.m. ET; and ESPN Radio’s Game 3 broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. For more on ESPN’s World Series coverage, visit ESPN MediaZone.