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 Torch
12:04 pm
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 2:25 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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Sports
5:00 am
Tue August 7, 2012

India's Olympic Effort Faulted

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 2:39 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, as we cover the Olympics, some of you have asked for spoiler alerts, but for this next report that is probably not necessary. NPR's Mike Pesca is taking us inside the world of India's men's field hockey team. We're not too worried about spoilers. Not just because most Americans don't care much about field hockey, but because the Indian squad has done a pretty good job itself of spoiling things. As Mike reports, the team's record tracks with the overall state of the Indian Olympic effort.

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The Torch
9:19 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 4:00 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
11:04 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 1:08 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
6:37 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
11:28 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
4:11 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 11:32 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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Sports
3:42 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Behind The Crowns And Roses, A Deadly Race

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 7:41 pm

Today had the promise of history — that is, until the horse I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont Stakes. Also scratched: hopes for a long-awaited Triple Crown winner. It was yet another piece of bad news for the horse racing industry, which is under new scrutiny over the safety and treatment of the horses.

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Sports
4:22 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Olympic Runners Find Unique Was To Raise Funds

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 6:38 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.

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Sports
5:12 am
Fri April 27, 2012

NFL Draft: Quarterbacks Go In First Two Picks

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 7:24 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.

Sports
4:00 am
Tue April 3, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed April 4, 2012 2:01 pm

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.

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Sports
7:09 am
Sun April 1, 2012

Kentucky To Face Kansas In NCAA Title Game

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

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

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.

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The Two-Way
4:13 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Defending Kentucky's Coach Calipari: Not A Tough Assignment

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

Originally published on Sat March 31, 2012 3:04 pm

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.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Mon March 26, 2012

NCAA Men's Final Four Set To Play Saturday

Only four teams remain in the NCAA men's basketball tournament: Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas. Kentucky already has seven national titles. Kansas has three championships, Louisville has two and Ohio State won its lone title in 1960.

Sports
8:00 am
Sun March 25, 2012

On To The Final Four: Louisville, Ohio State Win

Originally published on Sun March 25, 2012 4:04 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.

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Sports
8:00 am
Sat March 24, 2012

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.

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Sports
4:00 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Mostly Majors In Men's Sweet Sixteen

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 9:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We are sorry to report that Lehigh is out of the NCAA tournament. They lost in the second round after a huge upset of Duke in the first. Murray State is gone, too.

But as the tournament gets down to 16 teams, one of those teams is Ohio University. Traditionally not one of the powerhouse teams we talk about year in, year out. In fact, it's been more than four decades - 48 years to be precise - since the school has made it this far in the tournament.

NPR's Mike Pesca reports on the team's quest.

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Sports
8:00 am
Sat March 17, 2012

A Basketball Wrap-Up, In Verse

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 10:07 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, BYLINE: Every school invited to the NCAA basketball tournament has had a chance to play. So we thought we'd bring you details of every game. Well, maybe not details, but at least a mention from NPR's Mike Pesca. And what he lacks in specifics, he makes up for in rhyme.

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Sports
6:30 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Iowa State Defeats UConn; VCU Beats Wichita St.

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 1:08 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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Sports
4:00 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Giants Tower Over Patriots As Super Bowl Champs

The New York Giants came back with a last-minute score to beat the New England Patriots 21-17 Sunday night for New York's fourth Super Bowl title. It was a rematch of the 2008 NFL championship, when Eli Manning led New York past New England to ruin the Patriots' bid for a perfect season.

Sports
8:00 am
Sun February 5, 2012

On Defense, Neither Super Bowl Team Wins

In football, defense wins championships, or so the saying goes. That hasn't been true recently. In fact, both teams in Sunday's Super Bowl, the Giants and the Patriots, featured less-than-stout defenses through the season. NPR's Mike Pesca has some possible reasons why.

Sports
6:11 am
Sun February 5, 2012

Why Do Laymen Love The Giants? It's All Psychology

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning warms up before the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers last month in the City by the Bay. Oddsmakers have their money on Manning and his Giants to once again prevail over the Patriots on Sunday. But is that prediction based more on psychology than facts?
Julie Jacobson AP

The Super Bowl: an annualized marketing event-cum-gambling extravaganza. That they have to play a football game to justify the ads, gambling and Ines Sainz's career is still in the official rule book somewhere, but that rule book is now sponsored by the Gatorade G2 series. Why does Gatorade have more series than Telemundo?

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Sports
8:00 am
Sat February 4, 2012

Does Eli Manning Belong Among The Elite?

Tom Brady will lead the New England Patriots into Super Bowl 46 in Indianapolis on Sunday. He´s already won the Super Bowl three times before. Standing in the way of yet another Patriot victory are Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Manning has been superb this season, but is he elite?

Sports
3:00 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

The Physics Of A Football Player's Performance

The New York Giants' Brandon Jacobs is a 6'4", 270 pound running back. And with that kind of size, you think he'd be able to run right through would-be tacklers, especially when he only needs to pick up a few yards. But he often can't — Jacobs's stats are below average in those situations. A couple NFL greats and a physics professor have the answer.

Sports
4:00 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Giants, Patriots To Meet Again In Super Bowl

Originally published on Mon January 23, 2012 9:25 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Announcers also remembered Joe Paterno during yesterday's pro football games. Those two conference championships on Sunday determined the lineup for the Super Bowl. The New York Giants will play the New England Patriots in a rematch of a Super Bowl from four years ago. Neither team made it to the big game easily. Both have great quarterbacks, but on Sunday, both had to rely on defense. Here's NPR's Mike Pesca.

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