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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NPR Story
6:09 am
Fri February 1, 2013

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

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 1:09 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
3:17 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 7:55 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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Business
5:37 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Who Is The Real Victims Of The NHL Lockout?

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 5:59 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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Sports
11:17 am
Fri January 4, 2013

On Ray Lewis' Retirement, Some Media Fail To Mention 2000 Murder Case

Linebacker Ray Lewis announced Wednesday that he will retire after the Baltimore Ravens' season ends. Most media coverage of Lewis' legacy has omitted his part in a 2000 double-homicide case.
Harry How Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 6:41 am

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis' announcement of his retirement Wednesday was cause for reflection, celebration, some sadness — and not a single mention by two of the largest purveyors of NFL information of his role in a murder trial.

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Around the Nation
5:39 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Sandy Didn't Sack High School Football Team

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 6:43 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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Sports
4:29 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 4:59 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
11:16 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
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
2:20 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

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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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
5:13 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Olympic Preview: Rowing

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 7:25 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We're counting down to the London Olympics. And this morning, we're going to meet two rowing competitors. American women have been dominant in the eights in international competition; that's boats with eight rowers and a coxswain. They've won the last six world and Olympic championships. In fact, the American team is so strong and so deep that many talented athletes are forced to look for spots in other rowing events.

Qualifying for women's pairs was recently held in Princeton, New Jersey. NPR's Mike Pesca was there.

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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
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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