The Morning Column: August 12, 2021

Skip Bayless’ response to Jenny Taft challenging his opinion while she was talking to him hit home for many women in sports media, who have been met with the same indifference when talking to men.

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Jenny Taft of Fox Sports is seen pitchside before the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on June 21, 2018 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

1. 🎤 Bayless-Taft dispute sheds light on larger issue

The on-air tiff between Jenny Taft and Skip Bayless during Wednesday’s Undisputed went viral as most on-air confrontations do. We love watching those uncomfortable moments of unscripted reality play out on live television whether it’s on FS1 or the local news.

But the disagreement between Taft and Bayless shed light on a bigger issue in sports media.

Let’s first begin with what started it. Taft took exception to Bayless essentially “fat-shaming” Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy while talking about McCarthy’s appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks.  

“This is just a personal preference on my part, I’m not taking a shot at him about this but he’s a little heavy,” Bayless said. “I wouldn’t want my head coach in the National Football League to not look the part at all because you got to stay in some semblance of condition to show that you know who you are and have some confidence in yourself. It’s just unimpressive across the board.”  

It’s a bad take on so many levels. Were Andy Reid and Bruce Arians, the last two Super Bowl-winning coaches, in the best shape? What about Bill Parcells? Does he think people who are not in shape don’t have confidence in themselves, don’t know who they are and are generally unimpressive and not worthy of a high-profile job?

There are plenty of reasons to knock McCarthy as a coach. He went 11-16 over his last two seasons with the Green Bay Packers before he was fired and was 6-10 in his first season with the Cowboys. (He also went 106-53, won a Super Bowl and advanced to the playoffs during nine of his previous 10 seasons in Green Bay.) But there is absolutely no reason to bring up his weight. Taft was actually being kind when she said, “I don’t know if I think that is a fair shot for Mike McCarthy. I’m gonna leave it at that.”

That should have been the end of the segment as Taft was simply trying to go to a commercial break but the problem was Bayless’ response to Taft for even slightly pushing back on his comments.  

“Thanks, Jenny. I appreciate that,” Bayless said sarcastically. “I don’t think that’s a fair shot.”

As Taft tried to explain herself to Bayless, he was clearly agitated; shuffling through his papers and saying, “Yeah, yeah, hmmm, OK. Next! Yep, hmmm, OK.”

Shannon Sharpe tried to calm the situation by saying, “We’re a team. We’re a team.” Bayless responded by saying, “Uh, no. No.”

It was clear this wasn’t the first time Taft has felt slighted by Bayless when trying to make a point when she looked at him and said, “And I’m allowed to have an opinion, Skip. I am allowed to say whatever I want on this show as you do too.”

Bayless’ response to Taft slightly challenging his opinion and his dismissiveness while she was explaining herself hit home for many women in sports media, who have been met with the same indifference when talking to their male counterparts at work or worse yet while interviewing for a job.

Would Bayless respond to Sharpe the same way he did to Taft? Of course not. He doesn’t consider her part of the team and said so himself. That’s a problem and that mindset needs to change, not only for Bayless, but many men in sports media.

2. 🏀🏈 Clippers arena ground breaking and possible NFL training facility in Inglewood    

I sat down with Inglewood mayor James T. Butts before this Saturday’s first preseason game at SoFi Stadium between the Rams and Chargers. It will be the first game at SoFi Stadium for both teams in front of a capacity crowd as there were no fans at games last season.

Butts said he hopes the Clippers will break ground on their new $1 billion arena by the end of the summer in time for the team to move into their new home in three years.

“We hope to have them break ground before the end of August for the venue to be open for the first season in 2024,” Butts said. “The Clippers arena will be done in time for the 2024-25 NBA season.”

The Rams moved back to Los Angeles in 2016 and the Chargers joined them in 2017 but both teams are still effectively training out of temporary headquarters with the Rams at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and the Chargers at an office complex in Costa Mesa. Both teams really couldn’t be further north and south from Los Angeles. While both teams figure to stay where they are for the foreseeable future, Butts would love to see one move their headquarters to Inglewood.

“There is definitely one site that is large enough to accommodate a training facility and it is not even half a mile away from SoFi Stadium,” Butts said. “We’ll see what happens but we hope a deal could be worked out.”    

3. 🥪 Greenblatt’s Deli closes permanently

Greenblatt’s Deli Restaurant and Fine Wine Shop sadly closed its doors permanently yesterday after 95 years. The Sunset Blvd. staple was located next to the Laugh Factory and served up some of the best chicken matzo ball soup and pastrami on rye in Los Angeles. My personal favorite was the The No. 5, which was a three-decker hot corned beef, pastrami and Swiss cheese with coleslaw and Russian dressing, was one of the best sandwiches in Los Angeles.

4. 🎥 Video of the Day       

When I walked into the Chick Hearn Press Room at Staples Center over an hour before the start of Russell Westbrook’s introductory press conference with the Lakers, I figured I would be the first one there.

I should have known better.

Of course, the first one in the room and the first one to ask a question at any major Los Angeles sporting event or press conference is KCBS-TV’s Jim Hill, who began his career at CBS 2 in L.A. in 1976. Here he is in the locker room at The Form after the Lakers beat Philadelphia 76ers in the 1982 NBA Finals. (Stick around for a Connie Chung cameo around the three-minute mark.)    

5. 💵 Odds and Ends Powered by Bovada

Here are some recently posted odds if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:

Pro Football Hall Of Fame Class Of 2022:

DeMarcus Ware-175

Torry Holt-125

Devin Hester-115

Tony Boselli+105

Richard Seymour+150

Reggie Wayne+200

Robert Mathis+200

Zach Thomas+225

Jared Allen+250

LeRoy Butler+250

Andre Johnson+300

Ronde Barber+500

Steve Smith+700

Asante Samuel+850

Anquan Boldin+1000

Vince Wilfork+1000

Darren Woodson+1400

Steve Tasker+1400

US gold medalists Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant pose on the podium after the London 2012 Olympic Games men's gold medal basketball game between USA and Spain at the North Greenwich Arena in London on August 12, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages)

6. 📆 Aug. 12, 2012: Kobe Bryant leads USA to gold medal      

On this day nine years ago, Kobe Bryant led Team USA to a 107-100 win over Spain, led by Pau and Marc Gasol, in the gold medal game at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Bryant’s teammates on that squad included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, who are now all on the Lakers, along with Marc Gasol. Dwight Howard was a member of Team USA that year but back surgery forced him to miss the Olympics.

7. 🎂 Happy Birthday Pete Sampras

Happy Birthday to Pete Sampras, who turns 50 today. The 14-time Grand Slam champion won 64 singles titles during his hall of fame career and held the world No. 1 ranking for 286 weeks from 1993 to 1998. His older sister, Stella Sampras Webster, is the women’s tennis coach at UCLA.

8. 🎟 Ticket Time Powered by StubHub  

Here are the “get in” prices for tickets if you’re thinking about going to a game today:

⚾️ Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels – $9

9. 📺 On The Air

⚾️ 10 a.m. – Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies – SportsNet LA

⚾️ 6:30 p.m. – Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels – Bally Sports West

10. 📻 The Arash Markazi Show  

On yesterday’s show, we re-capped the Russell Westbrook introductory press conference in Los Angeles and talked to David Bloom about what the Clippers need to do this offseason.

Listen to The Arash Markazi Show on The Mightier 1090 Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., following The Rich Eisen Show. The Mightier 1090 has the second strongest radio signal in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies.” You can also listen to the show on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle Play and Stitcher.

And please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column at Substack. It’s totally free and will be delivered to your inbox every morning. Please also consider supporting my fellow colleagues at Substack (and former colleagues at ESPN): Marc SteinHenry Abbott and Chad Ford on the NBA, Molly Knight on MLB, Ariel Helwani on MMA, Dan Rafael on boxing, Leander Schaerlaeckens on soccer, Chris Peters on the NHL and Peter Bodo on tennis.

That’s it for today. Talk to you all tomorrow!

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