O'Donnell: Jay Mariotti is monitoring changing tides of Chicago sports talk

  • Former Sun-Times columnist and ESPN radio host Jay Mariotti says he'd consider a return to Chicago after a lengthy hiatus.

    Former Sun-Times columnist and ESPN radio host Jay Mariotti says he'd consider a return to Chicago after a lengthy hiatus. Courtesy of Jay Mariotti

Updated 10/23/2019 6:47 PM

JAY MARIOTTI HAS BEEN LOATHED, Jay Mariotti has been respected.

There has been no more polarizing individual on the Chicago sports media terrain in the past half century.


In the 11 years since he decided to stop writing a daily newspaper column in these parts, no one has come close to matching his jagged-edged style of impact.

His major broadcasting career ended almost a decade ago after a sequence of personal contretemps.

Now, from his Elba in California, is he eyeballing a possible comeback?

And could it be that his target is the anticipated makeover of dormant ESPN AM 1000 under new boss Craig Karmazin and Good Karma Brands market manager-designate Mike Thomas?

Mariotti is saying:

"New blood in Chicago radio?


"Given how I routed 'The Score' in my last ratings book, sure I'd consider defending my belt and making Chicago sports talk great again with a cool company."

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"Loving what I'm doing -- creating and writing for a Hollywood production company -- but the No. 3 market misses the element of fierce editorial independence.

"Meaning, me."


Yes, Mariotti was whuppin' WSCR-AM (670) as a midday host on WMVP-AM in his last Chicago ratings book.

But that book was back in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Then, he was let go on the day after Christmas by AM 1000 medfly Jim Pastor, allegedly because he refused to stop going after Jerry Reinsdorf.

Reinsdorf wielded major sway with the hod carriers at AM 1000 at the time because the station held broadcast rights to both the Bulls and the championship-bound White Sox.

Now it's a different chessboard.

And yes, Mariotti doesn't have the power base of a daily newspaper column.

Nor is the revival plan of Karmazin and Thomas clear.


But one thing can be guaranteed:

If it's polarization they want, Mariotti is the best bet to provoke this side of Russian intelligence.

THERE WAS AN OBVIOUS SENSE of deja vu with Theo Epstein's selection of David Ross as new Cubs manager on Wednesday.

Since Ross was considered the favorite from the outset, wasn't Epstein's method -- bringing in no fewer than five other candidates for tea and show -- the same one Jerry Krause employed before officially walking Tim Floyd down the aisle as new Bulls head coach back in 1998?

Floyd opened at 1-9 to start and then Krause danced with stars Scott Skiles, Paul Silas, Ron Rothstein and Rick Carlisle before the charmer from Iowa State formally said, "I do."

Cubs cognoscenti are pointing to Epstein's fawning foreword in Ross's 2017 autobiography "Teammate" as a key tell that held to the river:

"The watchful eye from the dugout to make sure we respected the game and played the Cub Way.

"Unselfish, team-first winning baseball.

"The glare when someone did something that wasn't 'Cub.' "

All Theo left out was:

"The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gray.

"The glory that was Rome is of another day."

Maybe Ross and Epstein can get a deal on the old Krause-Floyd bro' rings.

THE BULLS WADDLE INTO their latest flashing chance at pricey mediocrity this week without the grand broadcast tone of Steve Kashul at courtside.

After 18 seasons and more than 1,600 games as the team's wraparound host, the crisply talented Kashul has departed WSCR-AM (670)'s Bulls setup to focus on his expanding executive duties with Essex Hayes Insurance Group of Naperville.

He's also prioritized family: son Cory Kashul, 15, made the U15 Team Illinois Triple "A" hockey squad while Troy Kashul, 12, is playing on the platinum-travel Illinois Rockets basketball bunch.

STREET-BEATIN': Any players-only meeting at Halas Hall should have included Ed O'Bradovich and Dan Hampton as keynote speakers (with appropriate sedation available just in case). The Roaring Raconteurs were sorely missed after the New Orleans debacle on WGN-AM (720) last Sunday due to the station's scheduling conflict with a Blackhawks-Washington lamer. … Despite Matt Nagy's offensive anemia, the Bears-Saints mismatch was the highest-rated Fox Week 7 game since 2015. Three of Fox's top 5 Sunday games this season have involved Sean Payton and his buoyant voodoo chillun'. … Leave it to Lovie Smith to gum up the grand plans for Saturday's diminished Ohio State-Wisconsin showdown (Fox, 11 a.m., Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt). The Buckeyes are now two-touchdown favorites and given Paul Chryst's propensity for buckling his Badgers in big games, should breeze. … Try as they might, Fox's World Series wrappers Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Kevin Burkhardt simply can't match the 2016 classic that featured Pete Rose instead of Ortiz. (Rose remains the wild river man's answer to Mike Ditka.) … Radio analyst Dave Corzine and other high-profile DePaul rooters have been pulling for Max Strus, who pinballed through a closing week of NBA preseason. The Blue Demons-bred gunner appeared to have made the 15-man roster of the Celtics late last week, then was released and finally signed a two-way with the Bulls on Tuesday. … And die-hard LAL fan Snoop Dogg, on his historic disregard for the Clippers, told TNT's all-aces panel: "They was who we used to find out who was comin' to town. Is Jordan gonna be here? Is Shaq? That meant $10 tickets and good seats."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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