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Sports Media

Tirico unfazed by double duty

By Chad Finn
Globe Staff / December 3, 2010

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Mike Tirico is perhaps the most versatile among ESPN’s roster of play-by-play voices, which is why he sometimes finds himself in scenarios such as the one he will face this week: calling two professional sports in essentially the same city within 48 hours.

Tirico, who is in his 20th year at ESPN and his fifth season quarterbacking the “Monday Night Football’’ crew that includes analysts Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, will be in Foxborough for the Patriots-Jets matchup Monday night. Two nights later, he’ll be at TD Garden to call Celtics-Nuggets.

Such double duty might seem challenging to a less prepared or self-assured broadcaster. To Tirico, it’s practically a perk.

“It is a lot of work to fit into a short window, but what it comes down to is that I am still a sports fan,’’ said Tirico, whose résumé includes such high-profile events as the World Cup, the US Open (the golf and tennis), the BCS championship game, as well as the Ryder Cup, which he worked between “Monday Night Football’’ telecasts this fall. “The day that I stop being a fan is the day I stop doing this. I love watching games. If there’s a scoreboard and two teams, I’m drawn to it.

“It’s a Wednesday night in December in the NBA; that might be a dime a dozen to a lot of folks. But you sit front-row. You watch a guy who’s playing point guard as well as it can be played in [Rajon] Rondo. You’ve got one of the historic, all-time-best big men in Shaq [O’Neal]. You get to see Ray [Allen] and Paul [Pierce] and Kevin Garnett and guys who have had Hall of Fame careers. You get Carmelo Anthony, all that drama and one of the elite scorers of his generation. Those guys are 5 feet from you. How you don’t enjoy that as a broadcaster, I’ll never understand.’’

Tirico, a Syracuse alumnus who on his day off between the Patriots and Celtics games plans to slip down to New York to watch the Orange men’s basketball team take on Michigan State at Madison Square Garden, said his enjoyment doesn’t come only from the event, but the preparation.

He said he spent the early part of the week “doing a little bit of both’’ in terms of research for both Patriots-Jets and Celtics-Nuggets, watching the Celtics’ victory over the Cavaliers Tuesday on television as well as the Nuggets’ win over Milwaukee Wednesday. Today he will visit with the Jets in New Jersey before heading up to Foxborough tonight to check in with the Patriots tonight and tomorrow.

“I kind of ping-pong back and forth when I have two games in a week,’’ said Tirico. “In basketball, you have more of the same guys, a familiarity of smaller rosters, so you just update yourself on what’s been going on the previous two or three weeks.

“Football is the hardest prep that we have in our business because you’ve got the 45 guys who are active, plus coaches, assistant coaches. Any one of 100 guys could be the story of the night. You have a good idea going in that it’s probably going to be [Tom] Brady, [Mark] Sanchez, [Wes] Welker, Santonio Holmes. There’s a probability list. But you’ve got to be prepared for all 100.’’

Good month for Hub The Arbitron ratings are out for November, and 98.5 The Sports Hub has more than a few reasons to be thankful. In the period covering Oct. 14-Nov. 10, the Sports Hub tied for first overall with a 7.6 share among men 25-54, the most relevant demographic to advertisers, but also took first among men 18-49 and 18-34. In morning drive, “Toucher and Rich’’ swept all three aforementioned demographics, earning a 9.4 share among men 25-54, while in afternoon drive, “Felger and Massarotti’’ was first among men 25-54 (8.5 share) and men 18-49. Midday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., “Gresh and Zo’’ was No. 1 among men 18-49 and 18-34, and fourth in the men 25-54 demographic (6.0), up nearly 54 percent from October’s 3.9 share. “We have a great team here, we are all working hard and having fun, and it shows in these ratings,’’ said Mike Thomas, the Sports Hub’s program director. “We couldn’t be happier.’’ While WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan’’ was second with an 8.9 share in morning drive, it surpasses “Toucher and Rich’’ for No. 1 overall (9.7) when Providence-based WEEI 103.7 is included, as WEEI prefers to do. “Dale and Holley’’ was third in midday (6.3), but ranks second (7.4) with Providence numbers included; and “The Big Show’’ is third in both scenarios, with a 6.6 share bumping to a 7.2. Like The Sports Hub, WEEI has some meaningful demos in its favor. It is first with men 35-44 and 35-54; “Dennis and Callahan’’ is first in both of those, while “Dale and Holley’’ and “The Big Show’’ are first in their time periods among men 35-44. Said WEEI program director Jason Wolfe, “A solid performance, I’m very pleased.’’ During 6-11 p.m. weeknights, WEEI, which features “The Planet Mikey Show’’ and Celtics game broadcasts in the time slot, finished third in the men 25-54 demo (6.2). The Sports Hub, with the “D.A. Show’’ and Bruins broadcasts, was tied for fifth (5.1). Changing the measure to 7-midnight and including the 103.7 Boston share, WEEI was third (7.6) while The Sports Hub was sixth (4.3).

Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globechadfinn.

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