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.

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The Two-Way
3:30 am
Sun February 2, 2014

5 Points To Help Simplify Sunday's Super Bowl

Fans gather on the Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square on Friday in New York. The Seattle Seahawks will play the Denver Broncos on Sunday in NFL football's Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 6:31 am

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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Sports
2:43 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Cold Super Bowl Could Lead To More Turnovers

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 5:24 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This Sunday's Super Bowl features the number one defense, the Seattle Seahawks, against the number one offense, the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning. That is a surprisingly rare matchup, number one defense against number one offense. It's only happened a few times in all the Super Bowls to date. But of course that means there is a defense and an offense in the game that are not number one. NPR's Mike Pesca looks at what having greatness in one phase of the game does to the rest of the team.

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Sports
5:28 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

A Closer Look At The NFL's Most Taken-For-Granted Point

Kicker Matt Stover, then an Indianapolis Colt, celebrates after nailing a field goal against the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.
Doug Benc Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:17 am

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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Sports
8:29 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Two Long-Time Braves And A Slugger Go To The Hall Of Fame

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

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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Sports
3:03 am
Wed December 4, 2013

NFL Thursday Matchup: 2 Losing Teams Will Still Get Ratings

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 5:14 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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Book Reviews
3:14 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

An Inside Look That Strips The Face Paint Off The NFL

New York Jets tight end Josh Baker celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter in the game against the New York Giants in 2011.
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 6:44 pm

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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NPR Story
3:01 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Red Sox Take One-Game Lead In World Series

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 6:07 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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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NPR Story
3:19 am
Wed October 23, 2013

What To Watch For In The World Series

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 4:47 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hi.

GREENE: You're going to be at the game.

PESCA: Yes.

GREENE: So we have the two teams with the two best records. That has to tell us something about his World Series. Or maybe in this crazy world of sports it tells us nothing.

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Code Switch
3:22 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

'Fetch Clay, Make Man': Ali, Fetchit And The 'Anchor Punch'

In 1965, Muhammad Ali and Lincoln Perry (Stepin Fetchit) teamed up in pursuit of a legendary boxing technique: the anchor punch.
Courtesy of New York Theatre Workshop

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 4:38 pm

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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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Sports
2:34 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Yankees Say Goodbye To Rivera And His Cut Fastball

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 5:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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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Sports
4:25 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Qatar's Heat May Force World Cup Schedule Changes

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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.

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Sports
3:12 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Olympic Committee To Select Host City For 2020 Games

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 3:20 pm

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.

Sports
2:45 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Clint Dempsey Leaves Behind Stellar Resume To Join MLS

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 3:30 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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.

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Sports
3:49 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

What To Make Of Tiger Woods' Major-less Year

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the third hole during the first round of The Barclays golf tournament on Thursday.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:12 pm

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.

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Sports
3:11 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Alex Rodriguez Among MLB Players Suspended For Doping

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 4:24 pm

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.

Sports
2:54 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Quarterback Controveries Plague Numerous NFL Teams

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 3:48 pm

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.

Planet Money
12:25 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Which Can Of Shaving Cream Should I Buy? A Surprisingly Complex Analysis

iStockphoto.com

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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Sports
2:17 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Cleveland Cavaliers Shock NBA With First Draft Pick

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 7:22 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. The NBA season may have ended, but there is still a lot of pro basketball to talk about. The NBA draft took place last night with a real surprise choice leading things off, and there's a big trade in the news too. NPR's Mike Pesca is with us. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

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Space
2:52 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Miami Wins Back-To-Back NBA Championships, James MVP

Originally published on Fri June 21, 2013 4:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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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Sports
3:14 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Miami Heat Force Game 7 In NBA Finals

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 7:40 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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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Sports
3:03 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

San Antonio Spurs One Game From Winning Fifth NBA Title

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 3:45 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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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Sports
2:24 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Wrestlers Grapple To Save Sport From Olympic Chopping Block

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 12:11 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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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Sports
3:45 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Not Even Instant Replay Could Prevent These Bad Calls

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 5:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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?

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Sports
9:46 am
Sat April 6, 2013

Always In The Zone, Syracuse Is Hard To Beat

Syracuse celebrates after the team's 55-39 win over Marquette, in Washington last Saturday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 9:08 am

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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Sports
4:40 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Why College Basketball So Celebrates The Semifinalists

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 10:33 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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.

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Sports
3:42 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Personality Of Each Coach Reflected In NCAA Men's Basketball Teams

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 5:55 pm

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.

Sports
1:44 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Deflections: The Unofficial Stat That Measures Success

Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals is adamant about recording his team's deflections. It seems to be paying off: The Cardinals have been doing well during the NCAA tournament.
Andy Lyons Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 10:08 am

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.

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Sports
6:13 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Rhymed Wrap: NCAA So Far, In A Poem

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

Sports
3:39 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

College Basketball Teams Hope For More Money By Leaving Big East Conference

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.

Sports
3:01 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Major League Soccer Finally On Solid Footing, But Hasn't Reached Big Time

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:01 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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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