Mike Pesca

Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent  for NPR based in New York City.

Pesca enjoys training his microphone on anything that occurs at a track, arena, stadium, park, fronton, velodrome or air strip (i.e. the plane drag during the World's Strongest Man competition). He has reported from Los Angeles, Cleveland and Gary. He has also interviewed former Los Angeles Ram Cleveland Gary. Pesca is a panelist on the weekly Slate podcast “Hang up and Listen”.

In 1997, Pesca began his work in radio as a producer at WNYC. He worked on the NPR and WNYC program On The Media. Later he became the New York correspondent for NPR's midday newsmagazine Day to Day, a job that has brought him to the campaign trail, political conventions, hurricane zones and the Manolo Blahnik shoe sale. Pesca was the first NPR reporter to have his own podcast, a weekly look at gambling cleverly titled “On Gambling with Mike Pesca.”

Pesca, whose writing has appeared in Slate and The Washington Post, is the winner of two Edward R. Murrow awards for radio reporting and, in1993, was named Emory University Softball Official of the Year.

He lives in Manhattan with his wife Robin, sons Milo and Emmett and their dog Rumsfeld. A believer in full disclosure, Pesca rates his favorite teams as the Jets, Mets, St. Johns Red Storm and Knicks, teams he has covered fairly and without favor despite the fact that they have given him a combined one championship during his lifetime as a fully cognizant human.

The chatter, hype and jargon in the weeks leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII is more impenetrable than the Seahawk's secondary.

Perhaps you've heard the Seattle Seahawks have a running back who enters "Beast Mode." Maybe you've heard that the Denver Broncos' counter to Beast Mode is a defensive lineman nicknamed "Pot Roast."

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The extra point might just be the most unexciting play in football. After all, the post-touchdown, 1-point kick is successful 99.5 percent of the time — so successful that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently talked about eliminating it.

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Pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were Atlanta Braves teammates, Cy Young Award winners and, as of this afternoon, they are the newest members of Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame. Also making the hall was the slugger known as the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas.

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It must be said the NFL game between the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars tomorrow night, is not a marquee matchup. The Texans are two-and-10, the Jaguars look a little better, having won three of their last four games, but that was only after losing the first eight games of the season. In fact, these teams combine for the lowest-winning percentage in the history of the NFL Network's "Thursday Night Football" games.

Nicholas Dawidoff's Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football may be the best book I've ever read about football. It is certainly the most detailed account of the players inside the helmets and the coaches obscured from an enthralled public by large, laminated playsheets.

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The Boston Red Sox have taken a one game to none lead over St. Louis in the World Series, beating the Cardinals eight to one last night at Fenway Park. The evening started off badly for the visitors and didn't improve from there. NPR's Mike Pesca was there and has this report.

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For the first time since 1999, the two teams with the best record in baseball will meet in the World Series. The Boston Red Sox host the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park tonight.

Enough said, let's bring in NPR's Mike Pesca. Hey, Mike.

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Muhammad Ali's first title defense, a first-round TKO of Sonny Liston in 1965, propelled Ali to the status of icon. In Ali's training camp before the fight was an icon from an earlier era: Lincoln Perry. He was the first African-American movie star, who went by the stage name Stepin Fetchi. The relationship between the two men is the subject of an off-Broadway play called Fetch Clay, Make Man.

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OK, the baseball post-season is not quite settled. The Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays will fight for the final playoff spot in a game tonight. The post-season of the New York Yankees is settled: There is not one. The Yankees failed to make it into the playoffs for only the second time in the last 19 years. And that means one of the most successful careers in baseball history has ended. Mariano Rivera has officially pitched his last game. And with that exit, NPR's Mike Pesca has this remembrance of his signature pitch: the cut fastball.

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The global governing body of soccer, or football as the rest of the world calls it, has a big decision to make next week. Some in that group, known as FIFA, are rethinking their plan to hold the 2022 World Cup in the desert nation of Qatar in the middle of summer.

NPR's Mike Pesca reports on what he calls the Confluence of Football and Fahrenheit.

The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Buenos Aires this weekend. They'll select a host city for 2020, determine which sports will be included in those games and will choose a new president.

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Last night, the Seattle Sounders defeated arch-rival Portland, one-to-nothing, or since this is soccer, we say one-nil. This was the home debut of Seattle's Clint Dempsey, one of the best American soccer players in the game. Dempsey had been playing in the English Premier League, arguably the best league in the world. And he was very successful. So why come back to the MLS, Major League Soccer?

Well, NPR's Mike Pesca asked Dempsey that question and got his outlook for next year's World Cup.

By the standard of normal golfing mortals, Tiger Woods has had an incredible summer. He's won multiple tournaments and millions of dollars in prize money. What he didn't do was win any of golf's four major championships, and that has led some to write off Woods' 2013 as a failure.

On Monday, Major League Baseball dropped the hammer on more than a dozen players for using performance-enhancing drugs. Twelve have accepted 50 game suspensions. Alex Rodriguez was suspended through 2014, pending appeal.

The New York Jets are one of many teams with a quarterback controversy headed into the new season. But in New York, it seems that controversy attaches itself to everything the Jets do. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath reflects on the difficulties of leading the Jets.

Because my morning routine involves the waking, feeding, dressing, brushing and sunblocking of a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, certain personal morning grooming habits fall by the wayside. Like, all of them. This is why I think of the gym mainly as a place to wash up.

Which is a long way of saying I ran out of shaving cream the other day.

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By now, you might have heard, for the second straight year the Miami Heat are NBA champions.

INSKEEP: They defeated the San Antonio Spurs 95-to-88 in Game 7 in Miami. The Heat's LeBron James scored 37 points on his way to a second consecutive MVP award.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Mike Pesca was at the game and he has this report.

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It sure looked like the NBA season was coming to an end last night. World champions San Antonio Spurs - no, not so fast. The Miami Heat were not ready to give in. After a thrilling, improbable comeback, the Heat are still alive, pushing their NBA final series with the Spurs to the brink; a decisive Game 7 tomorrow.

Last night, the Heat were down by five points with just over 20 seconds remaining. They came back, forced overtime - and won. Final score: 103-to-100. One of the people in the crowd was NPR's Mike Pesca.

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The pendulum of this year's NBA finals has swung again. The first win in the series went to the San Antonio Spurs, the next to the Miami heat, then Spurs, then Heat. And last night, the Spurs won game five. That puts them one game away from winning their fifth NBA title, all with Gregg Popovich as their coach and all with Tim Duncan as one of their key players. But the series reverts to Miami tomorrow night. NPR's Mike Pesca will be there, and he joins us now. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

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How often do you find Iran, Russia and the United States united behind a single message? Well, representatives from all three countries were in New York City yesterday rallying support for the sport of wrestling, which could be excluded from the upcoming Olympic Games. It was quite a show of sportsmanship and diplomacy. Of course, there was time for some conflict among the wrestlers. It took place at New York's Grand Central Terminal, that's why they called it the Rumble on the Rails.

Here's NPR's Mike Pesca.

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Major League Baseball has admitted that umpires have made some big mistakes in the last few days. On Wednesday, umpires ruled even after looking at television replays that Adam Rosales of the Oakland A's hit a double. The ball clearly left the park with the game on the line. And last night in Houston, umps botched a fairly simple rule about pitchers. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now to second-guess the men in black. And, Mike, everyone makes mistakes, right, even umpires. Why are they getting picked on?

Any recreational league basketball team, any police athletic league squad and every group of 8-year-olds who wear the same uniform are, on the first or second day of practice, introduced to the 2-3 zone defense.

The coach will say, "On defense, you two short guys stay near the foul line, and you three bigger kids, you go down near the basket. Put your hands up, and you're now playing the 2-3."

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The NCAA men's basketball tournament resumes tomorrow. Louisville plays Wichita State and Syracuse faces Michigan. On the women's side, it's Louisville again. They're playing California. Notre Dame is playing Connecticut. These quartets of teams, of course, are known as the Final Four, and this stage in the tournament is a resume booster for teams and coaches. NPR's Mike Pesca ponders the question of why college basketball, unique among major team sports, celebrates the semi finalists.

To achieve a deep run in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament, players have to be skilled and well-trained but also well-motivated.

The Louisville Cardinals are among the teams dominating at this year's men's Division 1 NCAA basketball tournament, which resumes Thursday night. The team credits harassing, active defense for its wins.

But there's something else at work, too: deflections. The team puts a lot of stock in them, though deflections aren't an officially tracked statistic.

NPR's Mike Pesca rhymes his way through the 32 opening-round games of the NCAA basketball tournament.

For years, the Big East conference has been an elite force in men's college basketball. That ends this weekend. Realignment has dramatically transformed the Big East, as major powerhouse teams are moving on to other conferences.

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The Major League Soccer season starts tomorrow. Superstar David Beckham is gone and there aren't any new teams to get excited about this year. But the MLS is on solid footing, and as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, the league has big ambitions.

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