The SportsNewser Interview: Matt Winer

By Marcus Vanderberg 

With the Major League Baseball playoffs underway and the NBA regular season right around the corner, Turner Sports anchor Matt Winer realizes this is the reason why he left ESPN for Turner Sports.

“The way my schedule works, I get to do the best of both,” Winer said on the opportunity to cover the MLB playoffs and the NBA. He joined Turner Sports earlier this year and serves primarily as a studio host on NBA TV along with contributing to coverage of Major League Baseball, NASCAR and the PGA Tour.

Winer took time out on Wednesday from his duties as the studio host of TBS’ exclusive coverage of the 2010 MLB League Division Series to chat with SportsNewser.

SportsNewser: How did the decision to leave ESPN for Turner Sports come about?

Matt Winer: The usual way that these things come about; people talk to agents and agents talk to me. We interview and decide what makes the most sense for me. I could have gone back to ESPN. They had made me an offer to stay. I had a great run there, nine years. This made more sense in a lot of ways. Not the least of which, I had been doing so many NBA shows there and that’s obviously a big part of the portfolio here. It just sort of came together.

Do you have any regrets about leaving ESPN?

No, no. I did most of what I was going to do there I think. People kill Bristol but we enjoyed living in Connecticut. Not in Bristol but in the town where we lived. We had a good time there over the nine years. I miss a lot of people that I really enjoyed working with and liked and respected. But this just made more sense. It was kind of a no-brainer ultimately.

What’s the biggest challenge you face as an broadcaster as hosting an all-day event like the MLB Playoffs?

The biggest challenge is giving everything context. So many things going on and it’s important to remember not everybody is watching every pitch of every game over the course of a day. By the time we get to our postgame show tonight at Midnight or whenever that might be, you got to remind people not only what happened but give it context. Explain why things happened, how thing were setup, how it fits into a player’s season and what it means to the series.

Do you have a preference between covering MLB or the NBA?

Fortunately, I don’t have to. The way my schedule works, I get to do the best of both. We are in the preseason of the NBA and we can do the postseason of baseball. I can jump right into the NBA season when it starts in earnest at the end of the month. It times out just about perfectly. We have the ALCS and NLCS in alternating years. So if the ALCS were to go seven games, that would take us to the 23rd and the NBA season starts on the 26th. That played into my decision to come down here too. It’s stuff that I really enjoy talking about and covering and a big part of what they have here. That’s even before I knew about March Madness.

Is the media or LeBron James and the Miami Heat responsible for the overkill coverage they have received so far?

It’s shared, I suppose. But LeBron … he wasn’t exactly reticent about attracting coverage … put it that way. The way he chose to make the decision and the forum in which he announced that decision made it appropriate to cover. It’s also a historic thing in terms of the NBA. Everything is overhyped now. Regardless of the sport. Regardless of the event. That’s just the nature of the media and the competition for eyeballs. This really is a historic thing because we have never seen anything like it before. We may never see anything quite like it again. We will have players down the line that will collude like those guys did and decide to play together. It just doesn’t come up that often where you have players of that ilk who become available and decide to go to the same place in the same year.

You’re new to Twitter as of this week. What made you join?

I don’t know anything about it. I just signed up. One of the public relations folks here suggested that I try it and asked me if I would. I have never been on it. I don’t follow anybody on Twitter. I’m just throwing stuff out there and we will see what happens.

World Series Prediction?

I’m going to say Phillies and Rays in a rematch of 2008. I feel stronger about the Phillies. I think most people probably do because on paper, they are pretty easily the best team out there.

NBA Finals Prediction?

I’m going right back where we were last year [Lakers-Celtics]. It’s not a cop out but it’s such a hard prediction to make without watching the Heat play a little bit. I think the Celtics are good enough and experienced enough to get back if they remain healthy. At the moment without really watching the Heat play together and in a playoff setting, I would take the Celtics and I probably have the Magic and the Heat at 2A and 2B in the East.