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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Sports
5:06 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Blackhawks Beat Wings, Will Meet Kings In NHL Conference Final

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 7:18 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

As nail-biting hockey fans know well, there has been a lot of drama in this year's playoffs. Last night in the NHL, no different. The Chicago Blackhawks advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling Game 7 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings.

Chicago had the best regular season record in the NHL this year. But as NPR's Mike Pesca reports, that doesn't mean much when your back is against the wall in an elimination game.

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National Security
3:42 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Adding Security Along Marathons Would Be Herculean Task

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 1:46 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, the twin bombings at the Boston Marathon struck at a very special type of sporting event. Marathons have been called the most democratic of sports, with the fewest physical barriers between athlete and spectator.

NPR's Mike Pesca examines whether the attack could permanently damage that accessibility.

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Arts & Life
10:46 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 10:08 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
2:44 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 11:08 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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Arts & Life
4:28 am
Sun February 3, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 7:22 am

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.

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NPR Story
5:09 am
Fri February 1, 2013

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

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 12:09 pm

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.

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Sports
2:17 am
Thu January 31, 2013

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Colin Kaepernick?

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

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 6:55 pm

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.

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Sports
3:29 pm
Sun August 12, 2012

Hard Lessons At the Olympics, Like The Metric System

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

Originally published on Sun August 12, 2012 3:59 pm

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.

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The Torch
10:16 am
Fri August 10, 2012

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

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.

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The Torch
11:04 am
Wed August 8, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 1:25 pm

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.

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The Torch
8:19 am
Sun August 5, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 3:00 pm

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.

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The Torch
10:04 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Badminton's 'Detrimental' Conduct Rule, And Losing On Purpose

The Badminton Eight: That's the media's new nickname for the Olympic athletes disqualified Wednesday in a match-fixing scandal at the London Games. They are, from top left: South Korea's Kim Ha Na, Ha Jung-Eun, Kim Min-Jung and Jung Kyung-Eun. Bottom: Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari, and China's Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 12:08 pm

Eight Olympic badminton athletes have been thrown out of the London Games after being charged by the Badminton World Federation with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" — which is against the rules of the sport. Because even some journalists may have forgotten badminton's rules, it seemed time to take a fresh look.

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The Torch
5:37 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

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.

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The Torch
10:28 am
Mon July 30, 2012

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.

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Sports
3:11 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

For R.A. Dickey, Knuckleballs Are Personal

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

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 10:32 pm

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.

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