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.

Pages

3:28am

Sun February 3, 2013
Commentary

Super Bowl Cheat Sheet: Key Phrases To Keep You In The Game

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 6:22 am

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (right) and his brother, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Friday.
Jim Young Reuters /Landov

Sure, you can go to a Super Bowl party and be That Guy. The one who gleefully lectures the crowd on the merits of running the inverted veer out of the pistol in order to freeze the weak-side backer.

Read more

4:28am

Fri February 1, 2013
Sports

Ravens Are Super Bowl Underdogs, But Are Stats On Their Side?

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 11:09 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Baltimore Ravens are the underdogs in this Sunday's Super Bowl, going up against the San Francisco 49ers. Now, there have been bigger underdogs. And yes, the Ravens are not the lowest-seeded team to make it to the Super Bowl. But the Ravens have beaten the odds in another way. NPR's Mike Pesca talked to some football numbers guys and has this report.

Read more

1:17am

Thu January 31, 2013
Sports

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Colin Kaepernick?

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 5:55 pm

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws before the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons on Jan. 20.
David Goldman AP

There's always a question surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Years ago, people wondered whether the talented athlete would be good enough to start in college.

Then there was the question of what role he would play in the NFL. And after the 49ers took him, fans questioned whether he could throw enough to be more than a backup.

Read more

3:37am

Wed January 16, 2013
Business

Who Is The Real Victims Of The NHL Lockout?

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 3:59 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The lockout is over and the much delayed National Hockey League's season is now set to begin on Saturday. The regular season will run 48 games instead of the usual 82.

So what's the economic effect of missing almost half the season? NPR's Mike Pesca finds, not as bad as you might think.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: We've all seen the reports during the lockout, the empty bar near the arena should be brimming with Bruins backers or a Washington Avalanche acolytes. Or maybe it's not a bar. Maybe it's pizza in Pittsburgh.

Read more

3:39am

Mon November 12, 2012
Around the Nation

Sandy Didn't Sack High School Football Team

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 4:43 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

When Sandy brought high winds and a massive storm surge, the city of Long Beach on Long Island was among the hardest hit. The loss of the city's high school locker and equipment rooms may not have been the most tragic event, though it did make it unlikely that the school's football team would finish its season. But this weekend, the Long Beach Marines did manage to field a team. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

Read more

2:29pm

Sun August 12, 2012
Sports

Hard Lessons At the Olympics, Like The Metric System

Originally published on Sun August 12, 2012 2:59 pm

Turkey's Nevin Yanit (from left) United States' Kellie Wells and Russia's Tatyana Dektyareva compete in a women's 100-meter hurdles semifinal. Exactly how many yards is that?
Anja Niedringhaus AP

Olympic winners like gold medalist Claressa Shields have said the games were a learning experience, but what were they learning? Hard work? Sure. Sportsmanship? Maybe. The metric system? Certainly not.

U.S. judo competitor Kyle Vashkulat competes at 100 kg, which he knows means he weighs 220 lbs. But does he know height?

"We were in a sauna, and the guy's telling us the height of the boxers, and he's like, 'Yeah, this guy's like, 1.7 meters' — and we're like, 'How tall is that?'" Vashkulat says, laughing.

Read more

9:07am

Fri August 10, 2012
The Torch

Boxing Maths and Aftermaths: Why Similar Scores Are A Mean System

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 9:16 am

Shiming Zou of China is declared the winner over Paddy Barnes of Ireland during their men's light flyweight boxing semifinal in London. The match was scored a 15-15 tie; Zou won on the number of punches landed.
Scott Heavey Getty Images

Four years ago, Irish boxer Paddy Barnes lost to China's Zou Shiming by a score of 15-0 in Beijing. Today in London, Barnes fought his way back into their match to tie Zou at 15-15 — but he still lost. Barnes accepted the decision, but the result might confuse anyone who isn't familiar with boxing's scoring system.

Read more

10:04am

Wed August 8, 2012
The Torch

The Olympic Art Of Shushing: Who Decides When Fans Can Be Noisy?

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 12:25 pm

Fans make some noise as they watch Olympic women's beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade in London. There seems to be little consistency in which sports require quiet from spectators.
Julian Finney Getty Images

There seems to be a vague logic that dictates which Olympic sports are conducted against a backdrop of noise, and which operate in a cone of silence.

For the most part, the more a sport depends on a fine motor skill, the quieter the spectators are meant to be. Shooters squeeze triggers before mostly hushed crowds. But in many shooting disciplines, the competitors line up in a group and can shoot at any point during their time allotment. So not only is gunfire ringing in their ears, crowds often become noisy, depending on the results.

Read more

7:19am

Sun August 5, 2012
The Torch

Britain's Wiggins Starts A Row By Arguing For Bike Helmets

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 2:00 pm

Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain before a road race on Day 1 of the Olympics.
Bryn Lennon Getty Images

On the same day cyclist Bradley Wiggins became Great Britain's most-decorated Olympian, Daniel Harris, a 28-year-old cycling enthusiast, was killed when he was struck by a bus at an intersection outside Olympic Park.

Read more

12:20pm

Thu August 2, 2012
The Torch

Women's Sabre Teams: No Medal For You

Russia's Sofya Velikaya (left) fences against South Korea's Kim Ji Yeon in their sabre gold medal bout Wednesday. Because of a limit on medals, there is no women's team sabre title at the London 2012 Games.
Toshifumi Kitamura AFP/Getty Images

It's hard to find a discipline that Team USA has dominated more than the women's sabre. The team is anchored by two-time medalist Mariel Zagunis. And before Zagunis was upset in the bronze medal match Wednesday, five of the six medals that had been awarded since 2004 went to Americans.

Read more

4:37pm

Tue July 31, 2012
The Torch

We've Got Olympic Spirit, Yes We Do; How 'Bout You?

Cheerleaders perform during the women's beach volleyball preliminary phase Pool B match on the Centre Court Stadium at Horse Guards Parade in London on Monday.
Daniel Garcia AFP/Getty Images

When I say citius, you say altius; when I say altius, you say fortius. Or don't. That's fine, too, traditional even. But these Olympics have conspicuously defied traditional notions by having cheerleaders, in a few different styles, at a few different venues. In basketball, dance teams perform between matches. In beach volleyball, highly choreographed teams delight attendees.

Read more

9:28am

Mon July 30, 2012
The Torch

Overturned Judo Result Called A 'Farce' And Parody

A judo judge waves a blue flag to award victory to South Korea's Cho Jun-Ho Sunday. But moments later, judges raised white flags instead, giving the win to Masashi Ebinuma of Japan.
Franck Fife AFP/Getty Images

Judo is a sport of leverage, strength, tactics and cunning. These attributes can appear to the uninitiated to be two people attempting to grab each other, without success, for five minutes. And then when no points are scored, they try to grab each other for another three minutes of overtime.

One of these gripping contests — the men's quarterfinals at 66 kg — has become the source of international indignation over a perceived injustice. But with the sport of Judo, an apparently firm set of circumstances can flip in an instant.

Read more

2:11pm

Mon July 9, 2012
Sports

For R.A. Dickey, Knuckleballs Are Personal

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 9:32 pm

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey delivers his signature pitch, with its unusual grip, against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 6. He's the only knuckleballer in the major leagues, and the pitch has earned him a 12-1 record so far this season.
Kathy Willens AP

R.A. Dickey's career as a major league pitcher has been as unpredictable as his signature pitch, the knuckleball.

And on Tuesday night, the New York Mets' 37-year-old phenomenon will hit a new pinnacle: the pitching mound at baseball's All-Star Game.

He won't be starting for the National League — manager Tony La Russa chose Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants for that honor. But the manager says says Dickey will pitch.

Read more

2:22am

Wed May 9, 2012
Sports

Olympic Runners Find Unique Was To Raise Funds

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 4:38 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Anyone who watches NASCAR knows the cars out on the track are plastered with ads. Golfers almost all wear their sponsorships, but not U.S. Olympians.

NPR's Mike Pesca reports that some runners are now chafing at the long-standing rules blocking them from raising sponsorship money.

Read more

3:12am

Fri April 27, 2012
Sports

NFL Draft: Quarterbacks Go In First Two Picks

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 5:24 am

The first round of the 2012 NFL draft was held at New York City's Radio City Music Hall Thursday. The top-two picks are two of the most highly regarded quarterbacks to enter the NFL in quite some time. After those players were selected, teams began furiously trading picks and players in order to secure their presumed slice of future greatness.

2:00am

Tue April 3, 2012
Sports

Wildcats Roll To 8th NCAA Title, Coach Calipari's 1st

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 12:01 pm

Anthony Davis of the Kentucky Wildcats puts up a shot over Jeff Withey of the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Division I men's basketball final Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Ronald Martinez Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats beat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 Monday night in New Orleans, claiming their eighth NCAA men's basketball title and head coach John Calipari's first.

The Jayhawks trailed by 14 at halftime, and just 5 points separated the teams with about a minute left in the game. But Kansas couldn't get any closer to beating Kentucky, a team stacked with young talent that had dominated the whole tournament.

Read more

5:09am

Sun April 1, 2012
Sports

Kentucky To Face Kansas In NCAA Title Game

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 8:33 pm

Kansas' Thomas Robinson (0) fights for a rebound with Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas (1) during the second half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday in New Orleans.
Chris Steppig AP

The national championship game in men's college basketball is set. The Jayhawks beat Ohio State in a close one and Kentucky got past Louisville.

At the nine-minutes-to-go mark in games one through four of Kentucky's romp through the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats have had leads of 13, 11, 18 and 30 points. So it was significant that the Louisville Cardinals actually found themselves tied with Kentucky at that nine-minute juncture.

Read more

2:13pm

Fri March 30, 2012
The Two-Way

Defending Kentucky's Coach Calipari: Not A Tough Assignment

Originally published on Sat March 31, 2012 1:04 pm

Kentucky coach John Calipari has been criticized as being more of a recruiter than a coach. But that doesn't mean his approach to the game is easy.
Kevin C. Cox Getty Images

The critique of University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari is that he does what it takes to get his players, and they do what they want from there. Sure, this thinking goes, he's yelling at them from the sidelines whenever one — specifically Terrence Jones — puts up a 3-point shot from a step behind the arc. But he's not much of a coach.

Read more

6:00am

Sun March 25, 2012
Sports

On To The Final Four: Louisville, Ohio State Win

Originally published on Sun March 25, 2012 2:04 pm

Transcript

SUSAN STAMBERG, HOST:

In NCAA men's basketball, the Louisville Cardinals and Ohio State Buckeyes have qualified for the Final Four. Later today, two more teams will join them after Kentucky plays Baylor and Kansas faces North Carolina. With so much basketball peppered with reversals and upsets, it's hard to deny the madness of March. But, as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, most coaches try desperately to keep it at bay.

Read more

6:00am

Sat March 24, 2012
Sports

Kentucky's 'Not Allowed To Lose' NCAA Tournament

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And coming up, we'll talk about the scandal rocking the NFL. But first, in the NCAA last night: North Carolina needed overtime to put away Ohio. Kansas defeated NC State. Baylor beat Xavier. And Kentucky toppled Indiana 102 to 90. And with that win, the powerhouse Wildcats moved into the elite 8 of the tournament. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.

Read more

Pages