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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4:23pm

Fri May 10, 2013
Sports

Not Even Instant Replay Could Prevent These Bad Calls

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 6:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Major League Baseball has admitted that umpires have made some big mistakes in the last few days. On Wednesday, umpires ruled even after looking at television replays that Adam Rosales of the Oakland A's hit a double. The ball clearly left the park with the game on the line. And last night in Houston, umps botched a fairly simple rule about pitchers. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now to second-guess the men in black. And, Mike, everyone makes mistakes, right, even umpires. Why are they getting picked on?

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3:44am

Wed April 17, 2013
National Security

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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10:46am

Sat April 6, 2013
Sports

Always In The Zone, Syracuse Is Hard To Beat

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 10:08 am

Syracuse celebrates after the team's 55-39 win over Marquette, in Washington last Saturday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

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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5:40am

Fri April 5, 2013
Sports

Why College Basketball So Celebrates The Semifinalists

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 11:33 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The NCAA men's basketball tournament resumes tomorrow. Louisville plays Wichita State and Syracuse faces Michigan. On the women's side, it's Louisville again. They're playing California. Notre Dame is playing Connecticut. These quartets of teams, of course, are known as the Final Four, and this stage in the tournament is a resume booster for teams and coaches. NPR's Mike Pesca ponders the question of why college basketball, unique among major team sports, celebrates the semi finalists.

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2:44am

Thu March 28, 2013
Sports

Deflections: The Unofficial Stat That Measures Success

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 11:08 am

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

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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4:28am

Sun February 3, 2013
Commentary

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

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

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5:09am

Fri February 1, 2013
NPR Story

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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2:17am

Thu January 31, 2013
Sports

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Colin Kaepernick?

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

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4:37am

Wed January 16, 2013
Business

Who Is The Real Victims Of The NHL Lockout?

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 4:59 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.

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4:39am

Mon November 12, 2012
Around the Nation

Sandy Didn't Sack High School Football Team

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 5:43 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.

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3:29pm

Sun August 12, 2012
Sports

Hard Lessons At the Olympics, Like The Metric System

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

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10:07am

Fri August 10, 2012
The Torch

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

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 10:16 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.

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11:04am

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 1:25 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.

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8:19am

Sun August 5, 2012
The Torch

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

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

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1:20pm

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.

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